Saddleback Mountain

Beaker Into Rangley

Beaker continues to make progress through the beautiful state of Maine on his journey through the 14 states that comprise the Appalachian Trail.

7/29/17 Destination: Hikers Hut, Rangely, ME   9.4 miles today

Beaker_2017The 9.4 mile nero day into Rangely was ushered in with beautiful weather. Beaker is hoping the nero-day will give Sitting Bull, Hoops, and others time to catch up. Beaker seemed to be the first hiker out of camp and the designated webwalker, clearing the spider webs off the trail. He was happy to pass an early rising SOBO hiker going the other direction, knowing that this comrade had cleared the webs ahead.

The Hiker Hut (hostel) is only 0.2 miles off the the trail but about 5 miles outside Rangely. It is also off the grid meaning there is no electricity, plumbing, indoor shower or WIFI. Steve, the proprietor, shuttled Beaker into town, where he was able to get lunch, go to the library and print off a legal document his wife needed him to sign, mail the letter, go to an outfitter store and replace a couple pieces of broken/worn out gear, and get some ice cream. Steve picked him up later in the day and made a stop at a local grocery for a resupply.  

When Beaker got back to the Hiker Hut, he repaired the outside mesh pockets on his backpack. Our equipment is beginning to get tired, too. I just have to get to Mt Katahdin. I can then figure out what needs replaced before I finish the Virginia portion.

7/30/17 Destination: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. Miles today: 18.7

Beaker Saddleback in Background

Saddleback Mountains Loom Ahead

Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15 am. Another beautiful day.  Beaker hiked over the Saddleback Range which included 4 miles above treeline. I never tire of the views above treeline. It’s just incredible. You feel like you are on top of the world.

Although the Saddlebacks are fairly strenuous, Beaker was able to hammer out 18.7 miles, a distance that has not been covered since entering the Whites. The terrain continues to be rocky, rooty, and boggy, but he hopes to do the same mileage tomorrow and set a pace to summit Katahdin on August 12.

Beaker passed Poplar Ridge Lean-to today and was painfully aware that this was the last hut visited by Inchworm in 2013. Inchworm, a thru-hiker, got lost in the woods and it was not until 2015 that her remains were found in her tent, having died from exposure and starvation. Passing the actual spot where this took place was very sad and moving.

7/31/17 Destination: Horns Pond Lean-to;  Today’s hike: 18.6 miles;  Miles to Katahdin: 183.1; Miles to complete his thru-hike: 501.

Beaker. Horns Pond

Horns Pond

Beaker was on the trail by 6:15 motivated by his ambitious agenda for the trail today. He started out by climbing over Spaulding Mountain, then Sugarloaf. The descent off of Sugarloaf down to the Carrabassett River proved to be quite steep and rocky. At one point, I stepped on a rock which turned under my foot, sending me to the ground. I went down hard on a pointy rock on my left quad, causing a deep bruise. I expect it’s going to be pretty stiff in the morning….[The trail in Maine is] the most physically demanding thing most of us have ever done. All of us take multiple spills every day. I am surprised that more people don’t get seriously injured, to be quite honest.

After crossing the Carrabassett River, Beaker started the long and steep climb up South Crocker Mountain. Part way up the mountain, he joined Misplaced, a 30 year old woman Beaker had previously met on the trail. They ended up hiking the rest of the afternoon together. He enjoyed the company of hiking along with someone else.

On the descent from the top of  North Crocker, the sky decided to open up and drenched them both. The road to Stratton, ME, sat at the bottom of the mountain. Arriving at the road, there was a man in a van dropping off two hikers. He asked if they needed ride to town. Yes! It was a quick five-mile ride into Stratton. Misplaced and Beaker went to the restaurant at the White Wolf Inn for a second lunch, followed by a quick trip to the grocery. They were back on the AT before 5:00 after a quick hitch to the trailhead. The 5.1-mile climb to Horns Pond Lean-to was muddy, but not too exhausting. They finally arrived around 7:30 and joined four other hikers in side by side huts. It was a tough day; but, a very good day. The plan for tomorrow involves more long miles over the Bigelow Mountains.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Rangley, Saddleback Mountain, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

RoadRunner and Will

RR and WillSandra and Larry Tyler (trail names RoadRunner and Will) make their home in Arizona but decided to travel to Georgia and attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail during 2016. Will has recently retired from the medical field and Road Runner works as an ultrasound technician. They have one grandson, William, and one Black Lab, Jedi.

The couple is not new to the long distance hiking adventure. They have been involved in long trail experiences since 2005. The hiked the John Muir Trail in 2005, The PCT in 2006 and 2013, The Arizona Trail in 2011, the Colorado Trail in 2012 and the Great Divide Trail in 2015. As they contemplated the AT in 2016, they were only able to commit to a four month window to accomplish it, from March 1 to July 1. This is a very aggressive agenda, but Team Tyler had the experience to understand the mileage needed and the physical ability to hike long distances.

I was rather surprised and disappointed for this Arizonan couple to see them pull off the trail at the 2,000 mile point just 190 miles short of Katahdin. It was day 112 of their adventure, June 18, 2016. Looking back over their journal, it was evident that RoadRunner had a rough go of it from the beginning. She broke out with poison ivy, contracted cellulitis, experienced a pulled calf muscle, took multiple falls, and on day 96 fell directly on her right knee. Despite a hefty pain killer and a regular dose of Vitamin I (Ibuprofen), her constant leg pain brought serious limping and discouraging progress.

Road Runner on the ATRoadRunner and Will stopped in Rangely, Maine, on June 14 to buy some new shoes for Sandra. The new shoes were a big help but RoadRunner was still moving at half speed and it became evident that the couple was not able to make it to Katahdin before their deadline. Their last journal entry was written from Stratton, Maine. RoadRunner pens these sad words describing their decision to end their attempted thru-hike:

When Will woke up I had to break the news. You can imagine I was weeping as I did so. To be within 190 miles of finishing and then to have to abruptly end your hike is agonizing.   We tried to think of ways that he could continue and finish. We were out of spare days. The chipmunks cheeks were empty so we couldn’t just lay low and see if the knee would get better. If he went forward and I couldn’t hike, that left me hanging out at Shaws for somewhere for like 9 days which he was not willing to do…. He was a bit shell shocked by my announcement, and then a bit down. But he rallied and took care of getting our flights home and researching getting us to the airport. ”

Team Tyler are great veteran hikers with a ton of determination and grit. Maybe another season will permit a return trip to the east and a completion of the 200 miles left in Maine.

Photo on Saddleback Mountain: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=1040124

Photo in woods: http://www.alexperkinsshoots.com/the-appalachian-trail-high-in-the-smokies/

Categories: Adversity, Appalachian Trail, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Pacific Crest Trail, RoadRunner and Will, Saddleback Mountain, Thru-Hike, Trail Name | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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