Mud, sweat and gear.
Well well well, it has arrived in all it’s windy gusty glory.
It’s not a thunderstorm, at least not now. I’m in my tent listening to the downpour, as I have throughout the night. The rain and wind were great sleep aids, but now I lay waiting and hoping for a bit of a respite so I can get my bear bag down to eat something, find a tree for my bladder and then pack to hike to the next shelter, 6 miles away. Though I planned to go 12 miles today, this storm will shorten my day, hoping for less violent rain and wind. It’s coming down much too hard now to want to deal with it. However, in about an hour, I will get into my rain gear and at least get my food down and take care of my bodily needs, no matter the rain. I’ll also begin to pack my backpack, which I keep in my tent for just the weather I’m experiencing. It was my first experience in years dealing with packing in heavy rain. After donning my rain jacket and pants in the tent then putting on my slightly damp liner plus wool socks, I untied and got down my bear bag. I made the decision to forgo cooking oatmeal and coffee, I grabbed two Cliff bars and put them into my pocket for eating after I got down from the mountain. Despite having my pack cover on, once I took it out of my tent, it got quite wet, when I had to take the cover off to strap my tent to the bottom of my bag.
Taking a tent down, all stakes and ties, rain fly and ground cover was a muddy and wet mess.
However, I folded it and attached it to my pack. With the pouring rain and winds, my pack was soaked in the short time I had removed my pack cover. As I picked up my pack to my right knee, before rolling it over my back to slip my arm thrusts the second shoulder strap, I could definitely feel the heavier weight from the soaked pack and the wet tent. I drank some water and quickly started hiking.
I was definitely feeling burdened physically and mentally. This was the worst I’d felt since I began.
I questioned the reason why I was here doing this, being wet, cold and carrying a pack that was 5–10 lbs heavier with the wet tent and pack. Also, as usual, the start of my hike each morning is a burden as my legs, back and mind are still waking up. It’s taken me up to a mile or more, before I feel like I’m adapting and about 2–4 miles before I regain my rhythm. This rhythmic walking is what helps me go up and down mountains for miles and hours. Once I got going down the mountain, the rain slowed then stopped. I ate a cliff bar by a fast moving stream, bloated from the heavy rain, and drank the rest of the water in my Smart water bottle, with Sawyer water filter attached. Despite the diminished rain, the clouds were dark and the wind cold, so I kept on my rain gear until I found a good place to stop and eat lunch and could no longer stand having on the rain gear. While the rain gear worked to protect me from getting more wet, the hike was making me sweat and the rain gear was trapping the sweat, so I was quite uncomfortably wet. As I sat for lunch, I took off the rain gear and once again ate my newest taste treat of a flour tortilla filled with honey peanut butter and a single slice of spam.
After all this and about 15 minutes, I was rejuvenated and hiked on for the entire 12 miles to Rock Gap Shelter.
I was hiking through the most beautiful forests and over small mountains in a good rhythm. Since I hike at a pace of 2–2.5 miles per hour, depending on the vertical climb and quantity of mountains in a given day, I know how long I’ll need to hike to my destination that day. Once at Rock Gap, I saw 5 hikers I knew, two of which I played leap frog with during the day, Tenderfoot (another Tenderfoot with the same trail name) and Lazsalad. RonJon was there, along with two others whose names I can’t recall. As I arrived to settle in, Tenderfoot, Lazsalad and RonJon had decided to hike to the road crossing .1 miles away and go into Franklin.
They’d arranged a shuttle to arrive at 4:20. It was 3:40 when I arrived.
I decided to join them and arranged for a room for the night at Haven’s Budget Inn for $40. I’ll stay here tonight then go to the Gooder Grove hostel on Monday, where I have a bounce box of food for my hike to NOC, about 35 miles north. Due to my experience with the rain, I’m considering switching to a waterproof pack. Tenderfoot is an employee for Hyperlite Mountain Gear and the rain was less of an added weight impact on his girlfriend, Lazsalad, and him. I’ve only hiked 106 miles and I’m still learning to be more efficient and effective, to give myself the best chance to succeed.
One of the mottos on the AT is “No rain, no pain, no Maine.”
I’m now in the 100 mile club, after boulder climbing up Albert Mountain to the fire lookout, which technically and physically graces the trail. It was wet, slippery and a fall could have caused serious injuries. Having Boulder and rock climbed a little, I did the 3 points technique, which means only having one of my four limbs ungrounded and taking the next foot or hand hold upwards. It was by far the hardest climb yet, even if only 400+ feet of almost completely vertical rock. I was told by Lazsalad, who lives in Maine that it’s similar to what I’ll face in the White Mountains. It’s more reason to continue to tweak my equipment for optimal weight and comfort. Peace, Love & Understanding.