Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 144- Take Me To Civilization!

So last night I got up 4 times to pee but thankfully I was able to go to bed early, and sleep somewhat later. I heard dogs run by my tent and then the owner call two names for about two minutes. Next I heard Lynn say "Ashlee" you up? I had been up for the past half hour but in and out of sleep just enjoying laying there and not moving. I answered, "yeah kinda." I drank my tea from the night before, packed up, and made breakfast. I was moseying for sure and was not looking forward to a 15 mile day. Then it dawned on me, hey there's a road in 1.7 miles, what if we hitch in and slack those miles? Lynn agreed. We looked at the map since she said there was no road until 6 miles, seems I thought we were further than we were. But wait! The guy with the dogs; he had come 2 miles Lynn said so there had to be a road nearby. We decided to walk until we saw a side trail and take it, it must lead to a road. Not even 2 minutes later we were at a gravel road; do we go left down the road, right up the road, or straight to the AT? The most logical way was left, down. We walked on the gravel road for awhile until we saw 4 Dartmouth students walking towards us dressed quite interestingly. They had their hair died all sorts of colors and wore crazy colored clothing. Seems they were bringing water and cookies up to support the other Dartmouth outing hikers. We talked with them breifly and they said that there is a main road down a ways so we continued on. We came to another fork where we could go left over a bridge or straight down; I thought straight, but Lynn saw a street sign the other way so we went that way. As we crossed the bridge we saw a Subaru driving towards us with a Lab hanging out the window. We stopped to ask about the main road and she said we were heading the wrong way that back there we wanted the other road. After a little bit of yogiing, we landed ourselves a ride! We threw our packs in the back, Lynn sat beside Brandy in the back (who was off to make puppies) and I sat up front with Roe. Thankfully we had this ride because it would have been quite the walk to a paved road. The whole ride to the hostel was about 20 minutes so I am so grateful we were able to get a ride from her. We talked of hunting, cooking, animals, landownership, and so on. She reminded me a lot of Bonnie which I loved. She sounded a lot like her, and had similar mannerisms. We pulled up to the hostel, thanked Roe and wished Brandy good luck and settled in (kinda.) James, and the No Parents No Bedtime crew were all here and a couple section hiking. All were hiking out today so we kinda just hung around for a bit until everyone knew their game plan. A few went into town and Lynn went with them to get some re-supply and hit up the deli. I stayed to relax and talk with the section couple. They are from Colorado and have hiked the West Coast state high peaks and are working on the East Coast. The husband sectioned last year from Springer to Harpers and is going the rest in smaller sections. They are more of rock climbers than hikers they said. We talked a little of the John Murr trail since I am interested in that. Once the shuttle got back everyone went on their way and Lynn and I were the only ones left. I asked where I could set up my tent and Lynn grabbed a bunk upstairs. I am so happy to have a flat, leaf cushion, spot to dry my tent out after last night. There is no cell reception here but there is wifi which is good. The showers and toilet are outside which is a little off putting but at least it has plumbing and not an outhouse. Deffidently not one of the nicer hostels I have stayed at, but it's better than being wet and miserable in the middle of the woods. I hung my socks, compression socks, and gators to dry out and then cut my nails and toe nails. Lynn got me a ham and turkey grinder from the deli with a Coke and small bag of chips so I ate half of that and a Kind bar. It was already 1:00, and after waiting around for hikers to come so the shuttle for us to slack will be cheaper, we finally got out for some hiking. Like I've said before, when hiking in groups it's about the whole; so I didn't feel well, we hitched into town. Lynn wanted to go back to slack the 10 miles we missed, I would go too. If it were just me I would have skipped them since I wasn't feeling 100% still, but it wasn't. I walked through the woods with Lynn and was thankful she had waited for me last night at the brook. The hike was nothing special, and I mean nothing. It was a pretty easy hike, but it was all just woods. Once we got back to the hostel, we hung out for a bit and then later we went to the only restaurant in town for open mic. It was your typical quaint mom and pop place in New Hampshire but as we walked in I saw a familiar face; Tumbles! I had just texted him earlier that they better slow down since I miss them, and here he was. The other two were ahead and he was with some hikers I didn't know. Dare Ya, Triple P, Puzzle, and I headed up to the bar to two open seats. The place was small and packed. We ordered and the guys stood, after Tumbles and another hiker failed at their pizza challenge; they left so we moved to their table. Lynn and I shared a pizza with chicken, broccoli, bacon, and alfredo; it was okay nothing special. It was getting late, so we were shuttled back to the house since we would be slacking Moosilauke tomorrow!

Day 143- Crappy Feeling On The Trail, No Fun

I woke up feeling a little off this morning, no appetite and cramps in my stomach. Lynn took off pretty early and said she wanted to get water and wash up in the stream a little. We had planned to meet at Bill Ackerly's so that was only a couple miles away. I didn't feel like eating so I packed my sludge for later, it is quite uncharacteristic of me to not want to eat so this was daunting. Puzzle and I left together but that didn't last long before I knew it he was gone, and that was ok. I took my time coming down and the awkward feeling still persisted. I got to the road and saw Puzzle and Lynn sitting there so we walked together to Bill's. It was a short little walk to a cute house with Tibetian prayer flags hanging from the porch. We were greeted with a firm long handshake from an 80 year old man, asked to sign the log book, and then handed an ice cream. I debated having the ice cream since I was feeling off, but I ate all but the inside vanilla. Around back was Cornrow Steve, Pinecone, Big Gulp, and his girlfriend; I haven't seen them since Pennsylvania! We hung out on the back deck for awhile and Atlas, Ladybug, and Bullseye showed up. After painting Bill's nails, we set up for a game of croquet. This was a first for me, and I gotta say; I didn't do so well! I will blame it on the not feeling so well and standing out in the hot sun but it's hard to tell. It was almost 10:30 and we had to get going if we wanted to make any progress today. We said our goodbyes and headed back to the trail. I was still feeling crappy and I was hoping for some improvement by now. We had planned another stealth view spot tonight on top of a mountain which meant a big day ahead of us. It was warmer today, and climbing up Smarts Mountain was a real challenge for these stomach cramps I was having. I took it slow and tried to keep my mind off of it, breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth. I saw Lynn and Puzzle stopped at a view for lunch and I knew I wanted to stop, just didn't want to eat lunch. It is very unlike me to not be eating constantly so that was odd. I went to go sit in the shade of the woods but they said they saved me a spot in the shade. I sat down and the smell of Puzzle's tuna was disgusting. Lynn told me I should eat something, which I knew; but I had no appetite and couldn't think of anything if want. She told me she packed out a Pepsi, that maybe the carbonation would help; I questioned a soda since I was thinking I was dehydrated from the day before but decided to give it a try. I slowly sipped on it and then Puzzle carried on. Lynn sat with me for about an hour after that, we talked a lot and she gave me two small ginger cookies that I was able to eat along with the can of soda. We left and I once again took my time, trying to forget about this clenching feeling in my stomach. Climbing Smarts was a bitch; it was steep, I wasn't feeling up to par, and there were actually metal rebar in the rock to walk up like steps. I sat before that to text with my mom and eat a nut bar. Once I got to the top I found Chip leaving the shelter area, he said that the others were there so I went over to join. They had been there for awhile and some had gotten water, Lynn told me to eat some Ramen but I only had enough water for drinking and wasn't about to walk .2 down the hill to water. Seems Puzzle had given her some water so she gave me 2 cups to make Ramen. I still wasn't excited to eat, but I thought Ramen didn't sound horrible and my body really needs some fuel. We sat there talking while I ate and then realized there was no way we were going to make it to the original stealth mountain campsite. I wasn't improving; I just wanted to get in my tent and fall asleep, and daylight was getting closer and closer to the early sunsets of fall and winter. We decided to stealth at the mountain before which also had a view. We would have to carry water from the brook about 2 miles to the top, not very enticing right now. Did I mention that my pack rain cover broke? And the fact that when I was home I brought it back to REI, but they didn't have any in stock so they were shipping it 2-day? Also, how I looked at the weather and it looked sunny and beautiful all week? Well, tonight there was 30% thunderstorm chance and by golly it poured. Here I am, descending (my least favorite) with horrible stomach cramps and the stamina of a turtle. If I had water I would have set up for camp for the night about 100 times by now, but I knew I had to at least make it to the brook to camp so I could drink fluids. Then it down poured. For a minute or two my stomach cramps were not the focus which was nice; but the fact that I was soaked, my pack was getting waterlogged and heavier, my shoes were soaked, and I was miserable. That walk down to the brook seemed to last forever, the rain subsided, and I saw the bridge but no one by it. I was going to camp alone and I was fine with that since I just wanted to go to sleep. I looked around, went to cross the bridge and saw Lynn sitting on the other side. She said she figured I would want to camp here since I was feeling so crappy so she told me where our best bet for camping spots would be. We set up, I went down to get water, made Gatorade and Peppermint tea and crawled in my tent. She asked what was for dinner and I told her Gatorade and tea. I sipped on the Gatorade, meditated, and sipped a little tea but couldn't keep my eyes open. I covered my tea and laid down for the night. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Day 142- It's Illegal

My weekend off was nice, but it is now time to get back to the homeland. Papa drove me up to Hanover, New Hampshire this morning and luckily I was able to sleep about an hour in the car. Getting up at 5:30 really sucks. I crossed the bridge and from Vermont I entered New Hampshire, Lynn called to see if we could pick up her and Puzzle so we headed to the house they were at. After grabbing them, the coffee drinkers needed their fix so we stopped at Dunkin Donuts in town. I waited outside since I don't need the caffeine high, and after everyone was all settled Papa drove our packs to the trailhead so we could walk the town part of the trail with no pack. We arrived in no time and he was surprised to see us already. We hiked by a soccer field, up into the woods and had a pretty flat first half of the day. We have been seeing a lot of Southbounders recently and one in particular was someone I haven't seen since the second night on the trail. I knew she had flip flopped, and was working her way down near us very soon, as in today. I saw Puzzle talking with someone up the trail; female, gray mohawk, it's Birdie! Lynn and I gave her a big hug and caught up, asking all about the Whites and Maine. It was so good to see her, Lynn saw her back in Damascus but it's been since Georgia for me! After she headed on, we sat for lunch. It was at the top of the hill before the woods and there was a nice view, so we sat in the shade under a tree. We knew we had some climbs ahead of us later in the day, which I rather have first thing but oh well. We had to carry water since we would be stealthing tonight, and I haven't carried 3L since I can remember; and for good reason. That first climb was brutal with the water weight. At least there was a view at the South peak, because the next one; the North peak didn't have one. A long downhill, and then out last uphill for the day since we will be camping at the top. I was taking my time coming down as usual and I got word from some Southbounders that there were hotdog trail magic waiting at the bottom. I tried not to rush, but I was ready to be off this mountain. I crossed the street and there I saw Triple P, Puzzle, Ladybug, and Bullseye; oh and trail magic! I sat down, got a hotdog, orange soda, and a cheese Danish. We had around 2 miles to go up to camp so after resting for a few minutes and thanking our trail angels we left. Usually I am in the back of the pack; but occasionally, on days like today where the last leg is uphill, I become runber up. Energy came from nowhere and suddenly I was passing everyone except Bullseye who was up ahead. I pushed hard to get up there and get to camp. Bullseye sat to wait for Ladybug, so I took the lead. I got to a view, too small to be the "ledges." I got to another, and same thing. I got to where the trail followed downhill, and another path continued on. I left my pack at the junction and left to explore. I found the ledges, but it would be kind of hard to camp on, especially 5 of us. I walked some more through some tall grass and found a couple other spots, but still not quite big, or flat enough. I heard a bunch of voices so I walked further down the path, and emerged at a large opening with a ski lift. There were about 15 college students sitting around a circle, I scoped out the area quick and then asked what ski mountain this was. Go figure, I asked a question that I didn't really pay attention for the answer. Long story short, I think it is a ski mountain for Dartmouth. I headed back up to the trail and heard Triple P calling for me, I had left my trekking poles there so she would know I didn't go on. I told her to follow the path my poles were on, and asked her to bring them with her. Once everyone showed up, I told them our options. We all agreed the ledges wouldn't really work so we walked one by one to the hidden ski lift area. Once we got there Triple P asked where they would prefer us so we didn't interfere with their outing. A pompous young fellow quickly said "you can't stay here, it's privately owned by the college and it is illegal to camp here." Oh but wait, you guys are camping here? A few of us chuckled at "illegal" and chimed in how we were thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, there are many things we have done that are probably frowned upon, but you know what? No one cares. Just the other day I camped on the gondola platform at Killington ski resort and this little punk is trying to tell us we can't camp here? Triple P said she didn't feel comfortable going back and fourth about it and camping there so we left. I was fuming about the situation but that is the downfall of being with a group, it's not up to just one person. We retreated back towards the AT and had to work with what we had. I didn't want to camp on the ledges alone, everyone else wanted to set up in the woods by the trail so me being me I set up on a small, uneven dirt lookout area-I was getting my view campsite. We set up and then all joined at the ledges for dinner and a fire. There was a steep drop off, a fire pit, and a nice view. We all sat around the fire eating dinner and talking about the ridiculousness. The stars were spectacular, I think this is actually one of the first times during this hike I've seen them like this. There was not a light to be seen in the distance, but the Milkyway was as clear as ever. Perfect end to the night.