The wind picked up in the early morning hours of August 5th. The door to the bunkroom kept creaking open and then slamming shut, keeping us awake. I got up and to attend to it. Stepping outside, I stepped into the middle of a cloud and couldn’t see but a few feet ahead. The wind was blowing so strong that I had difficulty standing upright. I went back inside and found some rope and tied the door shut and climbed back into my bag. I was staying at Lake of the Clouds, an Appalachian Mountain Club hut on the slope of
The wind was still howling at daybreak, but it wasn’t nearly as strong and I could stand upright without feeling that I’d be blown off the mountain and into
Although I had found the
I woke up at 6 AM on August 3, listening to the rain beat on the shelter and thinking, after my evening conversation with Michelle. This morning, I knew it was going to be hard to get into the flow, but that I just might be in the river today. I stayed in my bag and wrote in my journal, catching up on my thoughts. After nearly a thousand miles under my feet this summer, I realize more than ever how my thinking impacts my hiking. When I have “good thoughts,” I am freer and enjoy the hiking. But when I let bad thoughts invade my mind, thinking of things I’d like to redo or even of revenge, and then I find myself struggling. I’ve been reading Thomas Merton’s Contemplative Prayer.
Realizing that I was going to have to hike in the rain, I pack up. I was hoping to see Michelle again, but she’s not around this morning. I hike four miles in the rain and stop at Zealand Hut, going inside to warm up and get out of the rain. One of the workers asked if I’d like some pancakes. She told me she wasn’t allowed to give them away, but I could have all I could eat for 25 cent. It sounded like a good deal and then she comes out of the kitchen with a platter with at least 25 whole wheat and strawberry pancakes and a container of syrup. I eat my full, enjoying the hot coffee, before setting out.
I leave Ethan Pond at 7:30 AM. I take it easy, enjoying the day of hiking without rain. At the trailhead beside the railroad tracks in Crawford Notch, I’m surprised to find a logbook from Martha (Larry of Larry and Mo, who I’d met in
I arrive at
The mailman finally arrives on
I pack up my extra food and
During the night, I wake up with painful spasms in my knees. My body has taken a beating during the descent down the Osgood Trail. In my bag, I try to stretch my legs out then pull my knees up to my chest, which gives me a little relief. Soon, I’m back asleep. I’m moving slower the next morning, but get on the trail in time to arrive at Pinkham Notch at 10:45 AM, a hike of a little over five miles. There are showers and I enjoy a hot one and decide to wait around for lunch, $4 for an all-you-can-eat buffet. While waiting, I meet the trail coordinator for the Appalachian Mountain Club and we talk for a few minutes about the trail and my experiences. I’m so full after lunch that I can’t get back into the grove of hiking. I climb back into the mountains, up to the lake below Carter Notch, where I stop to fix dinner. It’s 6:30 PM. I’m not sure where I’ll camp tonight as it is nearly seven miles to the next designated campsite. I move on and decide that I’ll bivouac below the summit of Carter Dome. I find a place a few hundred feet from the trail in a grove of firs, their needles making a soft bed. I lay out my bivy sack and leave the tarp next to me in case the 30% chance of showers materializes. It’s just a little after 8 PM and already almost dark. The summer is fading fast. I lay down for a fretful night of sleep. I know that in the White Mountains you are suppose to camp in designated campsites and this isn't one of them! I pray there are no rangers taking a night hike, but it’s unlikely they’ll find me this far from the trail even if they are out.
Several times during the evening I wake up. The first dream I remember comes at 3:30 AM. I am living with a child in a house with my mother and grandmother and they kick us out because of something the kid has done. I wake up worried as where we are to go. Then I realize that I don’t have a kid and haven’t lived at home in ten years and have never lived with just my mom and grandmother. I assume it’s my conscience playing on the idea that I’m spending the night in a no-camping zone. My second dream takes place back at school. Jim, a friend of mine (the one that I spent time with in
I’m up early the next morning and am on top of Carter Dome by 7:50 AM. It’s hazy and to the east, fog covers the valleys, leaving the mountains sticking up like islands. I can trace the
Do you think you have different levels of dreaming when you're out like this? I bet it would affect your sleep and thus your dreaming in some way. Sounds like a great adventure.ReplyDelete
Every chapter of your diary brings new characters and new interesting situations. The pictures are very nice (amazing landscapes, and the one of the train with black and white smoke, very funny!).ReplyDelete
Charles, twice on this trip I was camping in no-camping zones and both times I had weird dreams...ReplyDelete
Leni, it is nice to revisit some of these memories, I can't believe it's been 23 years.
As always, good, good reading.ReplyDelete
BTW, I loathe descents. I'm sure my current knee bru-ha-ha is related to all that hard pounding downhill.
I agree with Sherman, I would much rather plod uphill than get beat up going down.ReplyDelete
Another nice chapter to this epic story!
Your hikes are amazing. I never tire of reading about them and do feel a bit jealousReplyDelete
This is a rich tapestry of people and places. I enjoyed Michelle's words too!ReplyDelete
Randall, i have problems with my knees today which probably has something to do with the miles of hiking with an extra 50 pounds on the back.ReplyDelete
Ed, thanks and i agree with both of you on the downhill grades, steep downhill is tough on the body and way more people fall going down
pia, thanks--i still have more to write :)
Michael, thanks, glad you enjoyed it.
Geez, no wonder Michelle took pity on you but kudos on wearing a belt with your hiking attire. By the way, much like Big A, you look better without all that hair. ;-)ReplyDelete
Debbie....I think she is on my 'Women of Sage' timeline...
Yet another well written adventure. You have to love the tricks of the mind when we are away from home.ReplyDelete
Since I seldom walk, and if I did I'[d be hard pressed to go 5 minutes longer than I had to - I admire you for all the hiking you do. That trip has to be a highlight of your life.ReplyDelete
Have never hiked there. I love the "feel" of how old it is, you know what I mean?ReplyDelete
Murf, I had to wear a belt, by this point I was as skinny as i'd ever... without a belt, no pants. As for Debbie, I'm not sure, we only dated about a month before the hike, was going to get back together after the summer, but I was surprised to find that by then she was engaged.ReplyDelete
Kontan, yes, the mind can be funny... the mind game coming off the rocky ridge is a classic
Kenju, hiking the AT is one of two events at this time in my life that really shaped me (the other was living in Virginia City, NV for a year)
Pearl, how old the mountains are (they are both old and new, old geologically, yet new in their present shape)? Or how old it is in that it's now been over 22 years since the hike? Hum...
Is that you in the first pic?ReplyDelete
Karen, yeah! Months of hiking makes one skinny and, as Murf pointed out, I had more hair then.ReplyDelete