May 13, 2017

Up at 4:30 for waking up, packing my pack, making coffee, eating breakfast, and stretching before my 6am pick up for ride to the trail.

John, my shuttle driver, warned me about moose before I got onto the trail. He described the moose droppings as almost golfball size and lots of them in a pile. As for defense, if moose is agitated, John says find a tree and met the moose have the trail. I would have not done otherwise. It surprised me because I didn’t expect moose sightings until NH and ME.

Amazes me still the quick recovery time when long distance hiking. I’ve waken and hiked upwards of 15 miles and as many as 22 miles since Mid March, after I regained my trail legs. Each day, after about 15 hours of rest without hiking, my body and mind is prepared to do it again and again. I’m still wow’d by this fact.

Purist and slack packing are in conflict. “Purists” as I’ve heard them called, won’t hike without their full packs, thinking it is the proper way to hike the AT. I think it’s interesting since these purists will not carry a full load of food to keep weight off their backs, if they can resupply sooner, yet think that taking weight off for other things is not proper for the AT. Though slack packing helps get mikes in more quickly, it also poses a risk that if something happened that prevented me from getting back to my pack, I am limited in clothes, food and bedding. For this reason I carry my emergency blanket, if a night on the mountain was necessitated by an injury or weather. This morning, despite having consecutively hiked 16, 18, 22, and 17 miles in past for days, My legs feel great and my plantar fasciitis symptoms are lessoned.

Description of difficulty of upcoming terrain and steepness of elevation gains by a short section hiker vs long distance hiker is fascinating. Each time that I’ve talked with local hikers, who are out for a day or two or three, their description of the difficulties and risks are significantly different than my experience, once I’ve hiked these specific mountains. It took me a while, but I do know realize that it’s my hiker legs, breathing and mentality that is the difference. The judge of difficulty for a long distance hiker is best received from another long distance hiker. After a few weeks and especially after months of hiking, I can hike up and over any terrain with great strenuous effort but with less awe of the difficulty. Before this AT trek, I only hiked for up to 5 days at a time, now understanding the difference.

Cold windy and wet at the top of Mt Stratton motivates me to move along. The chill from my sweaty shirt is best relieved by hiking, especially with my warm jacket in my full pack in Manchester.

I learned that Catamount is another name for cougar here, though previously the only other name I used was mountain lion.

Playing shuffled music of classical genre on my Ipod as I walk in paradise in VT. It was full orchestra sounds in the stunning beauty of VT mountains. Wow wow wow!!!

After about 10 minutes of hitchhiking, I get a 5 mile ride from the trail to Manchester Center VT, where I’ll take a zero hike day. Chris, my benefactor, drops me off at Mountain Goat, where I pick up my food resupply sent by Sandy, get fitted for orthotics, replace my leaking 3 liter platypus, and get sunglasses to replace my lost ones. After finding my home til Monday, I shower, eat dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant, then begin the big derp crash of sleep that is setting in as the sun is setting.

As I sit in my room, I realize, while crying a bit, that while I cry on the trail sometimes, just for moments, from the the complete beauty of my experiences, I get off the trail for a rest day, then discover at the most unpredictable moment that the crying has become one regular way that I express heartfelt joy, with no matter from where the joy comes.

I then, after dinner, joyfully shaved off my beard. My long hair stays, at least til after my trek is completed. Every time I think about my hair, I think thst one of my life theme songs is from CSN, with the love ne “Almost cut my hair, happened just the other day…”. I typically don’t get on a scale. I know when I’ve gained weight by the tightness of my clothes. I also know when I’ve lost weight, especially in the waist, when I keep increasing the cinching of my belt. However, a scale was in the bathroom, so, before I showered, I stepped onto the scale. I need to intake mire calories. I know weigh 168 lbs. i think my waist is 32" or less.

After reading from my latest book ‘The Sun Also Rise’ by Ernst Hemingway, I watch a couple episodes of a series new to me..Network with Jeff Daniels. I relate to many of the attitudes expressed in that show.

Dang, I can’t stay awake much after darkness.