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Staring hypothermia in the eye

13 hikers holed up in Goose Pond shelter
13 hikers holed up in Goose Pond shelter

My mileage today is embarrassing, but I know I did the right thing. I have a few side goals to this hike–to do it stronger, better, and faster than in 2008. Also, to not cry.

I got near hypothermic on Goose Eye peak and came into Full Goose shelter kind of disoriented. I headed north, but after 30 min, thought I had gone the wrong direction. That’s when I said: “Snorkel, head back. If you accidentally went South, then you can find the sign that will lead north. If you went North, and are this out of it, you need to stay at the shelter and get your mind back in the right place.”

So, I ended my day at 11 am and hung out with Tom and Tea Cozy. I know I did the right thing. This hike is about learning from my other hikes, and I’m glad I didn’t push on. I was safe and I didn’t cry.

Jenn Phar Davis’s team spotted!

Lake of the Clouds view
Lake of the Clouds view

Walked up Mt. Washington and met Hickory there—luckily, the visitor center was unlocked at 6:40 am and I could use the bathroom. As Hickory put it, “It’s a long way to the next hut.” We had the summit to ourselves—what a contrast to my hike in 2008 when I visited Washington on July 4th.

 

Washington to Madison ridgewalk
Washington to Madison ridgewalk

 

Walked to Madison Hut with Hickory, enjoying another beautiful day with almost no one on trail.

Mt Adams (or is it Madison?) ridgewalk
Mt Adams (or is it Madison?) ridgewalk

Got to Pinkham Notch and missed Odyssa (who holds the supported female record and is trying to beat the men’s supported record) by minutes. She was at the Notch the same time as me…we must’ve been in different rooms. I chatted with her husband, friend Melissa, and Warren Doyle, and they gave me a Pepsi (score!)

Warren keeps track of all the records and confirmed the women’s unsupported record is 87 days. Sweet! I’m really going to do this—I’m amazed!

Snorkel with Jenn Pharr Davis’s crew
Snorkel with Jenn Pharr Davis’s crew

Also, they told me the sad news that Natureboy (was going for the male unsupported record) is off trail. Apparently, he got attacked. I’m a bit heartbroken—I had been meaning to speed up by a day so that we could finish together on July 3rd. At least, I was looking forward to seeing him pass me in the 100 Mile Wilderness. Either way, the attack has me rethinking about updating frequently…even Oydssa’s crew is keeping the updates a little less than realtime. I don’t know who would attack Natureboy or why…it’s terrifying. Today was one of those experiences life gives you to learn a lesson. Carter Hut is historically the least thru-hiker friendly hut. I had planned my day around not staying at Carter. But I got lost in the Wildcats and it started raining and I looked at my watch and knew: “Life is trying to teach me something.” I rehearsed what I was going to say to the croo–I didn’t think they’d let me work for stay that night and I’d end up wasting 5 hours the next morning to do morning work for stay. It turned out, there were no guests, we had some mutual friends, and they hooked me up with all sorts of goodies. I may have been scrubbing mold off walls that night, but it was like a party. At 1 am, the AMC radio went off and woke us all up. They said some thru-hikers were missing and didn’t show up at the Dungeon at Lake of the Clouds. One of the hikers left Pinkham at 3:30—the only hiker who could make that distance that late in the day is Odyssa. I seriously hope she’s all right. She’s an inspiration, a hero where they are so few women role models. I am so proud of what she is trying to do…I hope the storm didn’t get in her way,

First Southbounders spotted!

Another great weather day, and I’m making way crazy miles in the Whites! I certainly didn’t think this was possible.

Met my first Southbounders—Team Blackcat! Said I’m the first solo woman they’ve seen. Sweet!

Today is Naked Hiking Day. I had every intention of hiking a bit of today shirtless (too modest for actual nakedness), but never got around to it. Was too busy hiking to be bothered by that. Didn’t even see anyone naked.

Super friendly croo at Galehead hooked me up with some baked goods, free of charge.

Was worried I couldn’t make the 6 miles from Mitzpah hut to Lake of the Clouds in 3 hours before it got dark. Ended up making it there by 7 and the croo was super nice to us. Met Yet and Hickory, very nice other hikers.

So lucky to watch the sunset at Lake of the Clouds on the longest day of the year.

Conquering my fear of the Whites

Great weather in the Whites! I feared Kinsman—from 2008, the scariest and hardest mountain on the whole AT. It ended up being casual, bug free, and beautiful.

Lafayette was really great. So lucky for such beautiful weather and uncrowded Whites.

Had wanted to press to Galehead Hut (the friendlist hut to thru-hikers in the Whites), but had a fantastic time with the caretaker, Kale, at Garfield. Scored some bagels and hummus and potatoes and sausages from section hikers. Amazing!

The best ice cream in the world. And more grass.

Trail identity is a funny thing. Every year I come out and hike, I start the trail feeling like myself, and then become a hiker. This time, by the half-way point at Pine Furnace State park, I started thinking of my life pre-hiking like an actor who has memorized the life of someone else, but hasn’t actually lived it. I feel like when asked questions about who I am and where I am from, I can answer them, but that the life I describe is not mine. As much as I try to keep up with the news and learn things while I’m out here, my brain has gone to power my legs. I’ve become a pair of legs with a stomach on top.

It was hot today and buggy, but I got ice cream at Cloudland Farm. For those in the Vermont/NH area looking for fantastic ice cream, check out Rock Bottom farms organic wintermint ice cream—the best ice cream in the world (except maybe the maple or cinnamon flavored)! I’ve seriously spent 3 years looking forward to once again eating this ice cream at this beautiful farm. How satisfying it was to crack open that pint and have a go at it.

There was much walking through grass fields today…Bill Bryson clearly never hiked much north of Gatlinburg, otherwise he wouldn’t have called his book “Walk in the Woods,” but “Walk in the Fields of Grass Snorkel is Allergic To.”

Much anticipated and feared hitch hiking

Vermont view
Vermont view

Fun day over Mt. Killington. I had so much fun, it was hard to imagine any other way of living. One of my friends wrote on my facebook wall “I love your life,” and I totally felt the same way—I can’t imagine wanting anyone else’s life. I danced up the mountain, ran up the side-trail to the top of Killington (very buggy) and ran down to the road.

I realized that I could grab my package at the Killington Post Office (the much awaited quilt!) today instead of tomorrow, but would have to hitch from Sherburne Pass instead of walk in from VT 100. I worried about it for a while, but when I got to the road, got picked up by a middle-aged lady in a nice car. I got my package, resupplied, and got a ride to the Long Trail Inn for a Vermont Half-and-Half, only to get a bus ride right to the trail.

 

Met Long Trail hikers Tuna Tom and Lady Killer, but they departed at Maine Junction. The life of a fast AT hiker can get so lonely!

 

Fun with rocks and roots

The rocks and roots of VT are actually pretty fun. With music on (thanks Lady Gaga), I feel like I’m dancing…my feet moving quickly between the obstacles along the trail. That being said, I really hope no one sees me doing it…I use my arms and wiggle my hips waaaay too much while hiking like this to look normal

So stoked to skip Manchester Center. It’s the first town I had been planning to hitch into, but carried enough food out of Williamstown to be fine.

Another cool, misty, mostly bug-less day. I had been planning to go into Greenwall Shelter, but hit it around 7, so decided to push on. Yay big miles!

Finally met “Girl with 4 Dogs,” who has been ahead of me for a while. Met Sharkfin and Wilson and Cricket at the shelter (section hikers) and we had a grand time finding the shelter porcupine at night.

Surprising amount of fun in Vermont

Beaver art
Beaver art

Perhaps the most fun day of hiking ever. I’ve made up the miles I lost coming out of Williamstown late.

It was a cool day, misty but not buggy. I even got a view from the tower on top of Stratton Mtn!

The Spruce Peak Shelter was fantastic–fully enclosed with a sliding door and there was plenty of room.

I haven’t seen another thru-hiker in all VT…all section-hikers or Long Trail hikers. I feel so alone.

Meeting famous hiker Billy Goat

Billy Goat and Snorkel
Billy Goat and Snorkel

Left town super late (11:30), but had a pleasant day of hiking in new shoes. I picked up my bouncebox in Cheshire, MA the day before, so I also got to hike with a new pack I pulled out of it.

I have to admit I was a little intimidated about VT. All I remember about it from 2008 was rocks, roots, bugs, and rain. But it is turning out to be quite pleasant. Sure enough, the rocks were nasty as soon as I crossed the border and gnarlier into Bennington.

Also, I saw Billy Goat hiking for a week southbound. Of course, he didn’t recognize me, but was quite friendly, and we chatted for a while. Love the trail community…