The last time I shared an update on the thru-hikers that I am tracking on the Appalachian Trail, two hikers had successfully completed their journey (Next Step and Bamadog), nine were off the trail having to abandon their thru-hike, and three were still on the trail (RTK, Sour Kraut and Chip Tillson) making their way north to Maine.
Bamadog reported seeing Sour Kraut on the summit of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, but Sour Kraut has not updated his journal since August 22nd. I am still awaiting his victory picture, although he might forget to complete his diary even though he has completed his journey. RTK has recorded his progress a week in arrears from the very beginning of his trek. His last post, August 24th, found him in Monson, Maine about to enter the 100-Mile Wilderness. He has had 15 days to hike 114 miles, so unless he has experienced an injury, he has completed his hike as well. Why RTK has not posted his photo from Katahdin, I don’t know, but I will let you know when he does.
I was scanning over some of the journals of those who have had to exit the trail before completing their goal and I discovered that Opa is back on the trail. I will post his story soon, but today’s update is on Chip Tillson. Chip crossed over the Vermont/New Hampshire border on August 22nd and since then he has hiked 142 miles to Gorham leaving only 17 more miles to the border of Maine. His pace has been rather slow, averaging 8.9 miles per day, but the terrain in New Hampshire is some of the most strenuous on the AT. (Chip does not post photos so I cannot give you a visual of his adventure.)
Chip has 298 miles to go and at the current pace, he will be hiking for another 34 days. Finishing a thru-hike during the first 10 days of October is risky because Mount Katahdin often receives a winter’s blast with a generous snowfall before mid-October. Freezing winds and ice can make a climb to the mountain’s summit impossible.
Chip is experiencing sore knees and has considered doing a flip by traveling to Katahdin, climbing the mountain before the snow comes, turning around, and hiking back toward New Hampshire. Chip’s journal post on September 2 reflects his thinking but he continues to hike NOBO (northbound), “This morning at a road crossing I got some great Magic from Stitches (NOBO class of 1999). She had soda, doughnuts, and a bag of baby carrots (I so miss baby carrots). She also shared info on conditions ahead and suggested I consider flipping up to Katahdan soon and hiking south to finish up. I’m glad she brought it up as it’s something I’ve got to consider.”
Chip made it to Mount Washington on September 3 but found minimal visibility and crowds of tourist, “At noon I arrived at the top of Mt. Washington. Visibility was less than 100ft and the place was mobbed with tourists who had driven or taken the train up. It was bizarre being amongst so many people so suddenly. There was a line of perhaps 50 people waiting to take a picture in front of a sign right outside the gift shop marking the summit. I went to the cafeteria for pizza and chili ….Then I headed back out into the fog, took some pictures, and wandered around looking for the trail: it was behind the gift shop and I had to cut through the picture line to continue my journey. Then just like that I was alone again in the cloud.”
September 4 brought a strenuous hike over Mt Madison and a rocky descent into Pinkham Notch leaving Chip with sore knees. The soreness continued for the next several days. September 5: “My sore knees want to take another zero but I cant loose momentum right now so I’ll cut the miles down for a few days instead. The views back towards Mt. Washington as I climbed out of Pinkham Notch were awesome. I can’t believe I was just walking around way up there.” September 6: “Another knee wrecking day of scrambling over and through the steep, wet, and rocky terrain. Thunderstorms rolled through before noon and the mountains were enveloped in clouds the rest of the day. September 7: “It was cold this morning, a reminder that pleasant hiking days are numbered. The mountains have me pretty beat up and I reluctantly concluded that a zero is necessary – just had to coax my sore knees over one more set of peaks then down to the Rattle River Hostel, right on the trail, for food and rest. …..Tomorrow I’ll rest, take inventory, then catch another shuttle to Walmart to buy food for the next leg.”
September 8 marks day 201 for Chip on his thru-hike adventure having started his trek on February 20th. I pray he uses wisdom in his decision-making concerning his knees and the weather ahead. I will continue to check his journal daily and keep you posted as he completes his hike.