Beaker at Baxter State Park

8/9/17 Destination: Rainbow Stream Lean-to;  Today:21.7 miles; Miles to Katahdin: 30.1

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherShortly after falling asleep last night, Beaker was awakened by the bright light of a full moon shining in his tent. He got up, walked to the shore of Lower Jo-Mary Lake in order to see the moon rising over the pond. Getting closer to the pond, he saw Odin, Big Style, and Teabag still sitting by the fire. They started reminiscing about the trail. They all had our journals, so we started picking random days and everyone would read their entries. Beaker thoroughly enjoyed their time together and  hearing the perspectives of the others.

Wednesday, the 9th, was another good day on the trail. Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15. I didn’t even fight it this morning. I immediately applied DEET to keep the swarming mosquitoes away. The 100-Mile Wilderness brings this ominous image of a remote, desolate section of trail, but the closer Beaker and his group of thru-hikers get to Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin, the more crowded the trail becomes with NOBOs, SOBOs, section hikers, day hikers, and various hiking groups.

Beaker Beach Party

The Beach Party with some of the Fellowship

The group hiked for several miles in the morning hours along Nahmakanta Lake. The shoreline has several beautiful sandy beaches. The ponds have been my favorite part of hiking in Maine. Beaker joined Wild Thing, Feathers, and Scout on the beach for lunch. The water was so inviting that, after checking for leaches, some of the hikers decided to take a  short dip. It was wonderful to rinse the accumulated dirt, sweat, bug spray, and grime off of my body. After swimming, we sat on the beach soaking up the sun.

After the beach party, they started climbing Nesuntabunt Mountain. Nesuntabunt is the last mountain before Baxter State Park. At the summit, the hikers got a good view of the mighty Mount Katahdin.  After logging in over 21 miles today, Beaker was tired and looking forward to a fairly flat 15-mile hike tomorrow – along with a great meal at the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness.  The destination this evening was Rainbow Stream Lean-to. It resembled a tent city with around 30 people camping out around him.

8/10/17 Destination: Abol Bridge Stealth Site, ME; Today: 14.9 miles

Beaker Tent City - Abol

Tent City – Abol Bridge

Beaker was up and out of camp by 6:00 to hike the 14.9 miles into Abol Bridge for lunch. There were a few muddy sections; but, in general, the trail was quite gentle. There was only one small climb to Rainbow Ledges, where he had a beautiful view of Mt Katahdin. I was glad to see that the summit was absolutely clear and cloudless because I knew that 1st Sgt was up there working his way to the summit today. I hope it stayed clear for him.

Beaker made it to the Abol Bridge campground by 11:30, where there was a restaurant and convenience store – fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert. There are two campgrounds at Abol Bridge – both full. Beaker and his group found a stealth site just outside the park that turned out to be perfect. We set up a nice little tent city under the power lines about 0.2 miles from the campground. After getting settled, Wild Thing, 4WD, and Beaker went back to the restaurant for dinner.

Tomorrow, they have a short 10-mile hike through Baxter State Park to Katahdin Stream Campground, where they will apply for thru-hiker permits at the Ranger station to hike up Mt Katahdin on Saturday. They will then catch a shuttle to Wilderness Edge Campground in Millinocket and prepare for the summit on Saturday.

8/11/17 Destination Wilderness Essie Campground;  Today: 9.9 miles

Beaker. BaxterToday’s hike was only 9.9 miles of relatively flat, smooth trail to the Ranger station at Katahdin Stream Campground. Beaker was up and on his way by 6:20. He arrived at the Ranger station at little after 10:00 and procured his permit to summit Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Soon after checking in, a thunderstorm arrived making Beaker glad that he had not decided to summit today – Katahdin is not the place to be in a thunderstorm!

The rest of the Fellowship arrived shortly thereafter, checked in, and then waited for the shuttle to arrive at 1:00. Soon they were on their way out of Baxter State Park and arrived at Wilderness Edge Campground. They promptly showered and caught a ride into town to eat.

The plan for tomorrow is to meet at 5:00 am. at the campground office for the ride back to Baxter State Park. We are hoping to be on the trail as early as possible. We hope to summit and be on our way back down by early afternoon to beat any potential afternoon thunderstorms. After months of hiking through rain, sleet, snow, wind, and blistering sun, it still doesn’t quite seem real that we will be standing on the summit of Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Abol Bridge, Baxter State Park, Beaker, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beaker In the Midst of the 100 Mile Wilderness

8/7/17 Destination: Logan Brook Lean-to, ME

Miles hiked: 1800.5, Miles to Katahdin: 71.4, Miles Today: 14.6, Miles to complete thru-hike: 389.3

Beaker Katahdin.8.7

A View of Katahdin from the Trail

Beaker was awake and on the trail by 7:15 this morning. After fording the Pleasant River, he started climbing. His plan was to climb over four peaks today, including 3650 ft Whitecap Mt, so he expected the day to be pretty tough.

To Beaker’s great surprise the path presented some of the best trail he’d seen in Maine. There were still roots and rocks; but, there was even more smooth dirt trail. And there were rock steps over many of the steeper portions. And switchbacks! As a result, the climbs over Gulf Hagas, West Peak, and Hay Mountains were actually enjoyable.

Going over Gulf Hagas Mountain, Beaker saw moose scat (lots of it), but, of course, no moose.This was a disappointment but there are still many miles left in Maine. He saw his best view of moose on one of the last days into the 100 Mile Wilderness. There is still hope and time for Beaker to get a glimpse of these amazing animals.

Since the group of hikers were only going 14.6 miles today and the trail turned out to be so hiker-friendly, Beaker took his time and enjoyed the day. Even the climb up Whitecap Mountain turned out to be pretty mellow as the summit led Beaker above treeline and a view of Mount Katahdin in the distance.  I stood there for quite awhile looking at it. Even though it is still 70 trail miles away, it looked big! After hiking since February, it was reassuring to see that the mountain actually existed.Another short 1.4 mile hike brought Beaker to the Logan Brook Lean-to and home for the night.

8/8/17 Destination: Antlers Campsite, ME Miles to Katahdin: 51.8, Miles Today: 19.6

Beaker.Maine WildernessToday’s hike was another easy one:19.6 miles of mostly flat or downhill trail. It rained most of the night and Beaker slept a little later waiting for it to stop, although he was still on the trail by 7:40. The bubble of thru-hikers that Beaker joined through the 100 Mile Wilderness made one small climb over Little Boardman Mountain; but, the rest of the day was mostly flat and still filled with roots and rocks.

The only bad thing today was the mosquitoes. For the first time on the entire thru-hike, Beaker pulled out the DEET. The only thing I hate worse than DEET is getting swarmed by mosquitoes.

Beaker made camp around 4:00 in the afternoon. The skies had cleared during the afternoon and the Antlers Campsite, located on a peninsula on the Lower Jo-Mary Lake, was a Hallmark setting. 4WD built a fire and the Fellowship gathered and cooked dinner together. They have a big day planned tomorrow – 23.4 miles to Rainbow Lake Dam, where they hope to get an exciting view of Mt Katahdin.

8/9/17 The cell phone coverage must be weak or nonexistent today, because Beaker has not posted to his blog today. I am getting excited for him as he approaches the end of his time in Maine. He should be through the 100 Mile Wilderness very soon. It is then a 10 mile hike to the base of Katahdin and a 10 mile round trip to the summit and back.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker into the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine

After a good night’s sleep at Moxie Pond, Beaker has turned his face toward Monson, Maine and the 100 Mile Wilderness, the last major obstacle before the climb up Katahdin Mountain.

8/4/17 Destination: Shaw’s Hostel, Monson, ME Miles today – 17.9

Beaker. River Guide

Rope Guide to Help Ford

Beaker was up early and cranked out the miles – 17.9 miles by 1:15 pm. The route on the Appalachian Trail was fairly flat; but, still dominated by rocks and roots. He had to ford two streams, which resulted in wet feet. He was the second to leave camp and, as usual, he was passed by just about everyone throughout the day. Everyone was stepping it out in order to get into Monson today and maximize the amount of downtime to prepare for the next week. Monson is the last town before Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin. Between Monson and Baxter is the 100 Mile Wilderness. Thur-hikers have to carry food for the next week unless they arrange a food drop off a private logging road.

Beaker  decided to spend the night at Shaw’s Hostel today. It is one of the best known hostels on the trail due to its location. It is the last hostel the NOBOs pass and the first one the SOBOs pass. About 60 hikers joined him. Once he got checked in and showered, he went shopping and bought supplies for the next six days. I hate carrying that much weight; but, there aren’t many alternatives.

Tomorrow, he will head into the 100 Mile Wilderness. Due to its remoteness, he is concerned that his cell phone service will be pretty limited, making his blog posts difficult to publish. The goal is to make it through the wilderness in time to summit on Saturday, August 12. After I summit next Saturday, I will catch a flight home (missing the post-hike partying), see an eclipse, go to a wedding, and head back out August 27 to complete the portion of the Virginia AT that I missed while moving back in April. The adventure isn’t nearly over…

8/5/17  Destination: Long Pond Stream Stealth Site,  Miles today- 14.8;  Miles to Katahdin  100.2

Beaker.Shaw's InnAfter a big breakfast at Shaw’s, a large group of thru-hikers from Shaw’s entered the 100 Mile Wilderness – just the name sounds dangerous and remote, like you’re entering a dark, mystical forest in a Tolkien story. There is an ominous warning sign as you enter the wilderness telling the adventurer to carry a minimum of 10 days of supplies and to not underestimate the difficulty of this section. Beaker discovered that it was the same old rocky, rooty, muddy AT that he’s been hiking all through Maine. Instead of 40 miles between towns, it’s 100 miles.

Beaker hiked under overcast skies with the threat of rain all day. The whole group started out together after being dropped off by the shuttle; but, it began to spread out as the day progressed. Beaker hiked most of the morning with Odin and 4WD, then he hiked mainly by himself during the afternoon. I would catch back up every couple miles at the numerous stream fords. We crossed several streams that were too deep to rock hop. So, we’d all stop, remove our shoes, wade across, and put our shoes back on. I have actually had extensive stream fording experience with my years of hiking around WV. As a result, I would generally pass the group at the stream and they would all pass me again over the next couple of miles.

The group decided to stop about a mile short of the shelter and camp by the Long Pond stream because the water supply was plentiful and easy to obtain. It was a bit of a short day; however, since their  packs are heavier than normal with extra food, no one seemed to mind stopping early. The rain that had been threatening all day finally arrived. So, we all retired to our tents. I am now all snug and dry in my tent listening to the rain.

8/6/17 East Chairback Pond Stealth Site, ME Miles today- 14.8

Beaker. Trail in MaineThe skies opened up shortly after going to bed and it poured most of the night. Beaker was able to  stay dry in his tent. The hikers awoke to overcast skies, which stayed with them most of the day. The sun occasionally peeked out; but, generally, it was overcast and blustery until evening, when the skies finally cleared.

Today’s hike turned out to be pretty tough! It’s as if Maine is reminding the thru-hikers that they aren’t done yet. Beaker climbed up and over six mountains today but none of the peaks were overly tough for the hiking legs developed over the past 2,000 miles. However, the combined up and down of all the summits wore Beaker out.

It was nice to climb back up on the ridge tops, though. That’s where you get the incredible views. It’s amazing to look out and see nothing but wilderness – no roads, no houses, no power lines. And the ponds are incredible! Huge ponds everywhere that do not appear to have been touched by people – no boats, no piers, or any other evidence of humans.

Throughout the 100 Mile Wilderness, Beaker has been hiking with a group of thru-hikers that call themselves the Fellowship.  They are a great bunch of kids. Actually, they aren’t all kids. 4WD is a 50-something Hungarian man now living in FL. Wild Thing is a 45 year old school teacher from Stratford Upon Avon. He teaches 3rd and 4th grade. Misplaced is a 30 year old woman who has been working in a corporate office for a restaurant chain. All the rest are 20-somethings. Giggles and her brother Waldo, Feathers, Odin, and Scout (all guys) are Americans. Big Style and his friend Teabag are both British guys.

Generally, Beaker hikes alone; but, if one of the Fellowship takes a snack break or stops to look at a view he would catch up. They would then hike together for awhile. Today, he had lunch with Odin and Big Style atop Fourth Mountain.

Beaker arrived at East Chairback Pond, where the group decided to camp for the evening, around 5:20 PM. The clouds had cleared, leaving sunny skies and cooler temperatures. He fixed dinner with everyone else.  After dinner, he decided to make a cup of tea to help counter the evening chill.

Odin and Big Style decided that a hot cuppa sounded pretty good too. We took our tea to the rocks on the pond and watched a pair of loons fishing while the sun slowly set over the pond. It was a magical moment – a 53 year old guy sitting there with a 25 year old American kid and a 19 year old British kid, sipping tea. At that moment, we were just three thru hikers enjoying the evening after hiking a tough section of trail. We are all ready to be done with the trail; but, this moment wasn’t lost on any of us. We realized what a special space out of time this was and that we would really miss moments like these when we all returned to our regular lives.

Shaw’s Photo – http://packpedal.com/post/128105520258/hikers

 

 

 

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Monson, ME, Shaw's Hostel, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker across the Kennebec River in Maine

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherMy last post found Beaker, the chemist from West Virginia about to climb over the beautiful Bigelow Mountains. He has been making extremely good time through Maine and hopes to climb Katahdin within the next two weeks.

8/1/17 Destination: East Carry Pond Stealth Site, Miles today: 22.1

Today’s hike of 22.1 miles, indeed, took Beaker over the Bigelows, with the best views he has experienced since the Whites. After climbing and descending several peaks, he reached Avery Peak, named for Myron Avery, who was the driving force behind the construction of the AT. After summiting Avery Peak, the trail became pretty tame – still rocky and rooty; but, no longer as steep.

The afternoon was a pleasant hike under glorious skies on flat, easy trail. Most of the NOBO hikers on this part of the trail were headed for the West Carry Pond Lean-to for the night. Beaker decided to push on another 3.6 miles to a stealth spot on East Carry Pond.

Tomorrow, he hopes to cross the Kennebec River. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has put a ferry in place. The ferry is a canoe operated by a local outfitter. The boat ride is considered part of the trail and actually has a white blaze painted in the bottom of the ferry. Hikers wait in line and cross the river two at a time. The ferry only operates from 9 – 2 every day so hikers need to plan carefully.

East Carry Pond is beautiful in the setting sun. Beaker tested out the water up to his ankles to wash the mud off his legs. He was expecting the water to be cold; but, it was actually quite warm.

8/2/17 Destination:  Sterling Inn, Caratunk, ME  Miles today: 9.4

Beaker Kennibeck River

The Ferry on the Kennebec River

Beaker got up and on the trail early this morning to be sure that he had time to make the ferry. It turns out the trail was quite easy this morning and he made it to the Kennebec River by 10:30. When he arrived, there were about five people waiting to cross. Beaker crossed the river with fellow thru-hiker, Yogi. They waited on the north bank until Feathers, Wild Thing, Grapenut, and Bearslayer all gathered on the other side. Then, they walked to the Caratunk B&B, where they all bought milkshakes. After the shakes, Beaker called the Sterling Inn and the shuttle came and picked them up. The Sterling Inn provided a very pleasant and restful spot for the rest of the day. The group went for pizza and spent the evening watching movies.

8/3/17  Destination: Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to, ME  18.8 miles today

Beaker heading up Moxie Bald

The View from Moxie Bald

Today was a pretty easy day on the trail. Beaker logged in 18.8 miles. The majority of the hike was flat. Climbs over Pleasant Pond Mountain and Moxie Bald were on the agenda but, compared to what Beaker had been ascending, the summits were pretty tame. The sun poked out from behind the clouds for a while making the day’s journey a very pleasant one.

After an “up and over” of Moxie Bald. A number of the NOBO hikers camped along Moxie Pond. Beaker likes to camp along the ponds and enjoy the atmosphere of the water and the sounds of the water at night. He set up his tent under the trees next to the shoreline. There are about a dozen tents crammed onto any available flat spot. The NOBO group sat on flat rocks by the pond and ate dinner together reminiscing about the trail adventure. Beaker retired to his tent and enjoyed listening to coyotes in the distance and the loons on the pond.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Beaker, Kennebec River, Maine, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Beaker – Slack Packing and Trail Blessing in Maine

7/26/17 Destination; Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME     14.9 miles today

It was a clear but cold night making it very hard for Beaker to get out of his warm tent this morning. Another thing that slowed me down this morning was my tired body. Yesterday’s hike left me a bit stiff and sore. I took a pretty good fall onto my left hip, leaving it feeling bruised today. …. all of us NOBOs are getting weary. Not just tired, which you can recover from after a day’s rest, but weary.  Beaker’s friend Antman, who is 25-30 years his younger, has decided to leave the trail for a while to rest up and try to gain some weight. He’s down to 133 lbs and just not feeling enthusiastic about the trail.

Today’s 15-mile hike was actually quite nice. The cloudless skies called Beaker to break out his sunglasses. He climbed up and over Old Speck Mountain, dropped down to Grafton Notch, climbed again to the summit of the West Peak of Baldpate Mountain, and finally another steep climb up the exposed East Baldpate Summit.

A 1,300 ft elevation descent over six miles to East B Hill Rd brought Beaker to a point of rest while he waited for a shuttle from Pine Ellis Hostel to pick him up. The arrangement was for a 5:45 meet time. Finally, at 6:40, a minivan arrived. The driver apologized for being so late. The hostel had sent her to the wrong road crossing. Beaker arrived at Pine Ellis Hostel, quickly showered, threw his clothes into the wash, and headed to the General Store/Diner to grab some dinner before they closed.

“Although this isn’t the nicest hostel I’ve visited, I’ve decided to do an 11 mile slack pack tomorrow and spend another night. I will still get another 11 miles in; but, I won’t be carrying the weight of my full pack and I’ll only spend about five or six hours hiking.”

7/27/17 Destination: Slack Pack back to Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME Miles today 10.1

Beaker awoke to a steady rain at the hostel and seriously thought about just taking a full zero day and staying in bed. He decided to breakfast at the highly recommended Red Hen restaurant. While he was enjoying his meal, the rain stopped. So, he returned to the hostel, loaded up a daypack with a few essentials, and caught the 9:00 shuttle to the trailhead. This section of the AT was actually pretty tame. There was only one really steep climb, Moody Mountain, near the end of the hike. Beaker hiked most of the day with Wild Thing, a primary school teacher from the U.K. About a mile before the pick up point, darkening skies made good on their threats and started gushing with a steady rain. Fortunately, the slack packers arrived at the pick up point at the same time as the shuttle. They were quickly back at the refuge of Pine Ellis Hostel.

Beaker showered and got his wet clothes into the laundry. Around 5:30 several hikers from the hostel headed to the Red Hen for a Mexican Buffet, as did every hiker in a twenty mile radius, including Sitting Bull and Hoops! They had come off the trail at the same road crossing that Beaker had yesterday. So, they are 10 miles behind him, but they made plans to try to meet up in Rangely, ME, on Saturday.

7/28/17 Destination:Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, ME 17.4 miles today

The shuttle dropped Beaker off at the AT trailhead 8:15. He started with a steep climb to the top of Old Blue Mountain, complete with vertical climbs, rebar rungs in the rock faces, and log ladders. Once reaching the top of Old Blue Mt, the trail terrain settled down a bit and the weather was perfect – full sun, light breezes, and temps in the 70s. The only real issue is that the trail is very rooty. The tree roots can be very slick and it’s easy to trip over them.

Late in the afternoon, about 13 miles into the hike, Beaker saw a handwritten sign announcing trail magic ahead. As he arrived the guy at the grill says, “Hey, Rusty! It’s about time you get here! We’ve been expecting you all afternoon.” Beaker was caught off-guard to be addressed by his real name since everyone uses trail names on the AT.

It turns out that Snowman and his wife Teddie drive 140 miles round trip weekly from Lewiston, ME, to do trail magic at this spot. It also turns out that they read my blog on TrailJournals. These guys really know how to put on trail magic – hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, blueberries, bananas, potato chips, and various snack cakes. Wow!

Beaker (Rusty) had another four miles to his destination so, he stuffed himself and then headed down the path. Shortly after heading out, he passed a SOBO wearing a UT hat and commented on it. The SOBO hiker stopped and said, “Wait! I’m supposed to give a message to a NOBO from Knoxville hiking in a kilt. 1st Sgt says to hurry and catch up.” In reality, the two friends are about 55 miles from one another.

Beaker arrived at Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to. The evening sun on the pond was tranquil and the tunes of the loons lifted his spirits. All in all, this ranks as one of the best days I’ve had on the trail.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Baldpate Mountains, Beaker, Maine, Slackpack, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Into Maine

7/23/17 Destination White Mt Hostel, Gorham, NH     8.4 miles today

911Another pretty day: a little overcast in the early morning but, it soon cleared into full sunshine. Beaker was packed and on the Appalachian Trail little after 7:00 am. He had a nero (near-zero) day planned – an 8-mile hike into the White Mountain Lodge and Hostel. The nero-day included a climb Mt Moriah, the last summit in the White Mountains National Forest.

About a mile into the hike, Beaker came upon Sitting Bull and Hoop’s stealth camp site. He stopped to visit for a few minutes and found out that they were scheduled to stay at the same hostel tonight.  

Arriving at the hostel Beaker received new trail runners that his wife, Marguerite, had ordered from REI and had shipped to the hostel. His last pair lasted a grand total of three weeks… three weeks! I told you the Whites were tough! They were blown out at the sides and ends of the toes and big chunks were missing from the soles. The remainder of the nero-day involved a resupply, a needed rest for the legs, and watching the weather for tomorrow – heavy rain in the forecast.  

7/24/17 Destination: Carlo Col Shelter, ME    16.9 miles today

Overcast skies, but no rain in the morning. Beaker decided to head out rather than take a zero day so he was walking 7:30. Sitting Bull and Hoops were still eating breakfast when he left; he passed Ramsey Bolton’s stealth camp about a mile into the hike – Ramsey was still asleep when Beaker passed.

Around 8:30, it started to sprinkle. Before long, it settled into a steady rain that lasted the rest of the day. Beaker was quickly soaked to the skin. Anytime he stopped for more than a few minutes he would start to get chilled. The trail is out of the Whites; but not out of the mountains. Today’s hike proved to be pretty tough… up, down, mud, rocks, rain…. I managed to take several spills today. Nothing serious. Just enough to get me wet and muddy.

Beaker. NH.ME lineThe highlight of the day Beaker crossed the Maine-New Hampshire border! He reached Carlo Col Shelter just after 6:00 pm, a long, slow day on the trail. The shelter was packed.  All five wooden tent pads were occupied by what appears to be a French Canadian youth group.  Beaker set up his tent on a sloping piece of ground near the shelter. The temperature is in the low 40s, the wind is rattling the tent, and the rain is pelting down. It feels more like March than July. At least I am safe, warm, and dry in my cozy tent. I can’t wait to put on those wet hiking clothes in the morning…

7/25/17 Destination: Speck Pond Shelter, ME   9.5 miles today

For some reason, I thought that once we finished the White Mountains it would be a cruise to Mt Katahdin. Wrong! I hiked 9.5 miles today and it was a full day.

Beaker awoke to rain but by the time he hit the trail, the rain had tailed off and the clouds actually began to thin. By afternoon, he was hiking in full sunshine. The  trail was still a muddy, the rocks were still wet and slick, and Beaker lost count of how many times I went down. Most of the falls were slow and fairly controlled. I had one pretty bad fall on my left hip which left it pretty bruised and tender, though.

Mahoosuc Nothch

A Small Taste of Mahoosuc Notch

The climbs continued to be steep, with sections where rebar steps were embedded in the vertical rock face. Beaker stopped for lunch at the Full Goose Shelter. After lunch is when the real fun began – the Mahoosuc Notch and the Mahoosuc Arm. The Mahoosuc Notch is a mile long narrow gorge with steep, high boulders and rocks of assorted sizes and shapes creating a natural obstacle course on steroids. You have to scramble over, under, and around these boulders as you pick your way through the notch. Upon completing the Mahoosuc Notch, Beaker was immediately faced another obstacle – the Mahoosuc Arm.   It is a climb gaining over 1500 feet of elevation over 0.9 miles. There were many sections that were almost straight up. At the top of Mahoosuc Arm, it was a short hike to Speck Pond Shelter.

 

Mahoosuc Notch Photo found at georgiatomaine2012.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/710-mahoosuc-notch-trail/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Moriah, New Hampshire, The Whites, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Over Mount Washington

7/21/17 Destination: The Barn Hostel, Gorham, NH   15.0 miles today

Beaker in fog at Mt Washington

Climbing Mt. Washington in the fog

The thru hikers were up and out of the dining room by 6:30 AM when the paying guests were awakened by the croo at he Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Beaker waited until breakfast was completed and then ate the leftovers. He purposely did not get started hiking until 9:30 in hopes that the mist would burn off the summit of Mt. Washington. Unsuccessful, he climbed the 1.5 miles to the summit in a heavy fog. When he reached the summit, he was assaulted by many tourists arriving in cars, buses, and the cog railroad. He didn’t hang around long at the summit. “Of course, as soon as I left the summit, the fog dissipated and left the summit in full sun.”   

Beaker arrived at the Madison Spring Hut around 2:00 PM and had soup and baked goods for lunch again. Then he climbed to the summit of Mt. Madison – another incredibly steep climb up a boulder field. Finally, after the summit of Mt. Madison, he began to descend – a drop of 3000 ft over the next seven miles. Eventually, he reached Pinkham Notch a little after 7:00 PM , totally spent. He called and booked a bunk in the Barn Hostel in Gorham. There, he was amazed to reconnect with Antman (hadn’t seen him since Franklin, NC), Ramsey Bolton, Hummingbird (hadn’t seen him since Partnership Shelter in Southern Virginia); and got a text from Sitting Bull and Hoops who were just a few hours behind him and were planning to hike to Pinkham Notch yet that evening. Unfortunately, he’s pretty much given up on catching 1st Sgt before Katahdin.

7/22/17 Destination: Imp Campsite, NH   13.4 miles today

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Carter Notch Hut from Wildcat Peak A

Beaker was back on the trail at 8 am,  with only a 13.4-mile hike planned to the Imp Campsite; but, it was going to be a tough 13 miles! He had to cross the four Wildcat peaks and Carter Mountain range and it involved a lot of climbing. A LOT of climbing. The mountains were so steep that Beaker collapsed his hiking poles and put them in his pack so that he had his hands free for climbing. Today’s path didn’t go above treeline. The weather was somewhat cloudy; but, no rain. The trail descended off the last Wildcat peak down to the Carter Notch Hut 1200 ft below and then climbed 1500 ft straight back up. Beaker was able to take a break at the hut and have his last lunch of soup and baked goods before leaving the Whites. He struggled up and over Carter Dome, down through Zeta Pass and back up and over South, Middle, and North Carter Mountains.

Beaker in Kilt Above Tree line

Beaker above tree line in his kilt

Then came the descent off North Carter. It was the steepest descent Beaker experienced yet on the trail. There were vertical sections where he had to sit down and slide – not so easy, especially since he hikes in a kilt! “It’s the first time I’ve felt skittish  hiking. I’m glad I wasn’t doing it in the rain.”

He eventually made it to Imp Campsite – pretty full of hikers. He heard from Sitting Bull and  Hoops who stealth camped on the approach trail to the shelter. He will pass them on his way out of camp in the morning.

Carter Notch Photo from http://www.peakbagger-paul.com/carters2/carters2.htm
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mount Katahdin, Mount Madison, Mount Washington, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Hiking the Whites

Beaker the chemist from West Virginia continues his NOBO hike of the Appalachian Trail.

7/18/17 – Destination: Galehead Hut 14.1 miles today

Beaker, Above Tree LineBeaker woke up this morning at The Notch Hostel in North Woodstock, New Hampshire with 373 miles of trail before reaching Mount Katahdin. It was a beautiful day on the trail. Sitting Bull and Hoops had to wait for packages at the post office, so Beaker left on the 7:45 AM shuttle to the trailhead. It took him two hours to climb the 2.3 miles to Franconia Ridge. As he neared the top of the ridge, the trees began to thin out. He finally broke out of the tree line for the first time to a spectacular vista. “The ridge stretched out in front of me, with the AT running along the spine. It was rugged and beautiful. The White Mountains are the toughest hiking we’ve done on the trail; but, the views are spectacular.”

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Galehead Hut

Beaker had hopes of staying in the Huts along the trail in the White Mountains. The huts are manned by “croos” of college age kids. They also allow a couple of thru hikers to “work for stay” every night. In exchange for cabin chores, thru hikers get to eat leftover food and are allowed to sleep on the floor. There is a bit of an art to getting chosen for work for stay. If you arrive too early in the day, they send you on your way. If you arrive too late, they’ve already filled the spots. Beaker arrived too late at the Galehead Hut. The head of the croo did tell him about a nice stealth spot nearby. Beaker joined six others in their tents.  

7/19/17 Destination: Crawford Notch Campground, NH  14.6 today

Another beautiful day. Beaker was up and hiking by 7:30. His hike began with a near vertical climb to the summit of South Twin Mountain but he was rewarded with one of the most incredible views in the Whites. “In all directions, all I could see was row upon row of mountains. Mount Washington…was especially prominent on the horizon.

Around noon, Beaker arrived at Zealand Falls Hut and stopped in for a bowl of soup and some baked goods. The rest of the afternoon was spent on a painful descent each step pounding on his sore knees into Crawford Notch. Beaker realized that he was extremely tired, even though he had only hiked 14.6 miles. Mileage drastically slows down in the Whites.

He arrived with Jailbird, another graybeard hiker that Beaker has been hiking around with the past couple of days. They found out that the whole area was part of a state park and camping was forbidden. They were able to hitch a ride to a nearby campground. Discovering the camp had single room cabins, they chose actual beds, electricity, and a roof.  

7/20/17 Destination: Lakes of the Clouds Hut, NH     11.1 miles today

Beaker.Lakes of the Clouds

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Jailbird and Beaker awoke at 5:00 and were ready to leave by 6 am.  The problem was that they were 3.3 miles from the trailhead and on a country road. The owner of the campground came out and said he’d run them up to the trailhead. They were on the trail by 7:00 and started climbing immediately. It was a typical White Mountain climb – long and steep, with several portions of hand over hand climbing. At least, the weather was beautiful and the views were incredible.

Beaker reached the Mitzpah Spring Hut around 11 am and bought lunch. The next goal was the summit of Mt Pierce. The trees dropped away just before the summit and exposed the stark beauty of the alpine environment.  Beaker arrived at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut at 2 pm. It is located about 1.5 miles and 1200 ft below the summit of Mt. Washington. But it is another 7 miles to Madison Hut and there was nowhere to camp in between. Beaker decided to stay and inquired about work for stay; The woman at the desk said that he could pay $10 and sleep on the floor of the dining room. So, that’s what he did.

Photo Galehead: http://adventuretravel.about.com/b/2013/04/07/amc-huts-125th-anniversary-30-percent-off-hut-to-hut-hike-trips.htm
Other Photos from Beaker’s blog: http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/entry/572461

 

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Galehead Hut, Lakes of the Clouds Hut, Mount Washington, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Into New Hampshire

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Dartmouth College

Beaker’s first day in New Hampshire (July 13) brought monsoon-like rain in the morning. He delayed his start until the rains stopped mid-morning. He then stopped at Dan and Whit’s General Store in Norwalk for a resupply and a deli sandwich for second breakfast. Crossing the Connecticut River, Beaker officially entered Hanover, New Hampshire. He enjoyed the college ivy-league town for awhile (Dartmouth College) by getting a free donut at the bakery and a slice of pizza from a hiker-friendly pizza shop. About 3:00, Beaker left Hanover and headed toward the woods of the Appalachian Trail. He still managed to hike a total of 11 miles before camping at a stealth site on Mink Brook.  

Sitting Bull and HoopsJuly 14 was a blustery, chilly day with lots of clouds but not much sunshine.”The trail was still mucky and muddy from all the rain we’ve been having and the trees were dripping water. All in all, another yucky day of hiking. It was also a pretty tough day of hiking. There was a lot of up and down….All the overlooks I passed were blank white screens – not a thing to see at any of them. The Smokies all over again.” Beaker’s diligence in hiking, however, produced 20.1 miles and he ended up in his tent close to the Hexacuba Shelter. Shortly after getting his transient home set up for the night, Sitting Bull and Hoops showed up at camp. This couple had been hiking with Beaker for several days in July but had gotten behind Beaker’s pace. They had cranked out a big-mileage day to catch him in the hopes of hiking through the Whites together. Beaker was elated.

July 15 started with a discouraging rain. “The day looked like every other day we’ve had lately – gray, overcast, misty, humid, wet, and drippy. I’ve actually given up on wearing my glasses when I hike because it is either raining or so humid that they immediately fog up… Don’t even talk to me about the views! Every time I’d come to a rock outcropping on top of a mountain, I’d see this great expanse of white clouds and know that there was a spectacular view hiding in there….The heavy rain left the trail a soggy, slippery mess. The mud was slippery. The rocks were slippery. The roots were slippery. And the logs were slippery. As a result, I took a couple of tumbles today.”  One resulted in a twisted knee and another caused a broken hiking pole. The trio ended the day at the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel.  Tomorrow the hostel staff will drive Sitting Bull, Hoops and Beaker’s non-essential hiking supplies to Notch Hostel in North Woodstock allowing them to hike over Mount Moosilauke with just the minimums for the day. The 10-mile hike over Moosilauke will take most of the day because of the steep ascents and descents. Total miles today – 14.8. Welcome to the Whites – the miles are tough and the terrain is challenging.

July 16 turned out to be a day filled with sunshine! Beaker, Hoops and Sitting Bull were all excited to have good weather as they headed up their first big mountain in the Whites. Slack-packing involves hiking while carrying only the things the hiker needs for that day. They loaded tents, sleeping bags, and extra food into a bag that the hostel transported to the next hostel. Beaker and friends carried a lunch, plenty of water, a first aid kit, and extra clothes, thus reducing the weight from around 30 lbs to about 10 lbs.

MoosilaukeThe climb up Mt. Moosilauke involved climbing 3793 ft in elevation over 5.5 miles. They experienced the summit in beautiful, clear weather. Lots of pictures were snapped and they all enjoyed a lunch on top of Moosilauke. After lunch, the descent began on the other side. It was much steeper than the ascent with several near vertical sections. Beaker’s knees were screaming before the trio were halfway down the mountain. They made it to the base of Moosilauke just in time to catch the shuttle van back to the Notch Hostel.

The plan for July 17 was to slack-pack again from Kinsman Notch, over Wolf Mountain and Kinsman Mountain, and down into Franconian Notch, and then to be picked up by a shuttle in order to stay another night at Notch Hostel. The day broke with more sunshine. 

Beaker was climbing up a slick, tilted rock about eight feet high. At the top, he slid down the rock, wedging his left hiking pole horizontally between a rock and a tree. He had his hand through the wrist strap on the pole. So, he ended up suspended in a prone position on the rock with his wrist trapped in the strap and his feet about a foot off the ground – stuck. Fortunately, Hoops rushed and pushed the hiking pole loose and allowed Beaker to Hailslide back down the rock face to the ground. After checking that all body parts were still functioning correctly, they all enjoyed a good laugh.

Beaker, Sitting Bull and Hoops reached the pickup point at 5:20 PM, just as the first big drops of rain began splattering around them. The shuttle driver, having seen the weather forecast, had arrived early. Just as they dove into the van, the skies opened up with a huge storm, complete with sheets of rain, thunder, lightning, and dime-sized hail.

Tomorrow, Beaker hopes to head up the Franconia Ridge.

 

 

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Dartmouth College, Franconia Notch, Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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