Monson to Millinocket

Day 187- 9.24.15

Fuego: We hiked 14.3 miles today (2074.7-2089).   We woke up early in the hostel and ate some yogurt and Life cereal for breakfast. There were many goodies left behind in the hiker box, but I couldn’t bear adding more weight to my pack. I’m just always hungry and seeing extra/free food gets any hiker excited. I also had a cup of coffee, because I felt like a zombie waking up. I think I got a little too excited with the hiker friends last night. Everyone else that was awake looked rough too. Guess everyone needed one last hurrah before starting the 100-mile wilderness.


We started on the trail at 8:40. Seeing the 100-mile wilderness warning sign got me excited! We have never gone 100 miles without hitting a town (or anything else!) this whole trip. There wasn’t too much of an elevation change on the hike today. We have been starting out with long sleeved shirts and then shedding as we warmed up. Every time we stopped we had to put our warm clothes back on though. We talked to Rocket Man (not the one we met down south) and his wife Stockings for a while on our break. They live in Morrison, Colorado and gave us a few pointers on where to live and get jobs. He is currently finishing the last section of his section hike! Rocket Man thought Fancy Pants was Hobbit. Both being short, brown haired females. They each had a purple t-shirt and the same running shorts. Hobbit actually has some real fancy pants too, which probably threw him off as well.


The wilderness is so beautiful! The air is so clean and everything you see is gorgeous! We forded 2 rivers today. We keep looking at the ponds hoping to see a moose. Fancy Pants still hasn’t seen one yet.


We camped just after fording the river so we wouldn’t have to deal with that in the morning. We found a hidden spot right by the river just out of sight of the trail. We’ve been around a lot of people for the past week and needed some quiet time as we near the end of the trail. At night you could hear nothing but the quiet wilderness and the river. It doesn’t get anymore relaxing and peaceful than that. I wish everyone could experience this sound while sleeping.

Day 188- 9.25.15

Fuego: We hiked 15.7 miles today (2089-2104.7).   We heard other hikers fording Long Pond Stream this morning. It sure sounded cold! You could hear a lot of high notes coming from them in the distance, haha! Once we got hiking, we came along the Barren Ledges and Barren Mountain. There were many great views here although we got super cold the second we stopped moving. For some reason, we got a huge kick out of the mountain names here. Between Third Mountain and Fourth Mountain, there is a Three and a Half. It’s like they named the mountains, but then later realized they missed one!



Grouse in the tree



Our last 100 mile marking

We were going to camp at Chairback Pond, but someone wrote on the sign that it was further off trail than specified and it was muddy. We camped along Henderson Brook, just before the West Branch Pleasant River (ford). The guide specified that you cannot camp along the north side. Guthook’s guide gave the reason that there is a 2 mile long area of indigenous pines. Sputnik and Fair Enough came to our campsite right when it started getting dark and we welcomed them to camp beside us. We made dinner together and talked for awhile before heading to bed. I remember before they came to the campsite that I was too lazy to put up a bear line and I just wanted to deal with taking the risk. While eating dinner, I remembered Sputnik and Fair Enough had a recent bear incident in the Whites in New Hampshire. The bear came to their tent and pulled away Fair Enough’s pack and shredded it! They lost all their food and had to go back into the town of Lincoln to resupply. This was one of the worst places to lose your food and having to back track into town. Just thinking about it stressed me out knowing their situation and location. With that said, I ended up hanging our bear bags at night. It was a pain, but I felt better.

Day 189- 9.26.15

Fuego: We hiked 16.7 miles today (2104.7-2121.4). We started the hike in Crocs, because we knew we had to ford a river first thing in the morning. Walking across this river in the morning was definitely a replacement for my coffee- it was &%^#@*$ COLD!!!! After we got our shoes and socks on, it took almost an hour to get the feeling in our toes again! Passing through the indigenous pines were amazing! These pines were over 100 feet tall and all wider than my arm span. Reminded me of the trees out west for a moment.


We had a snack with Rocket Man, Stockings, Peg Leg, Happy Baby, Bear and Chuckles. The next 4 miles (+4 mountains) looked like our last challenging terrain before Katahdin. We were surprised how quickly we hiked it. We were on a roll for sure. Today was also our first amazing view of Katahdin from the distance! It is so big and everything around it is so small! It was just hard to believe that we were seeing our ending trophy right in front of us after all this time we have spent in the woods. The view from the top of White Cap Mountain was so surreal. How the hell have we gotten so far to this mountain??? I’ve driven from Virginia to Maine before, but the thought of the long drive compared to walking on foot doesn’t seem possible, especially when considering walking up and down mountains the entire journey. dscn3227dscn3230


Katahdin in the distance

We camped at East Branch Lean-to. On the way there, we saw 4 moose!! A big bull in the pond (probably 200ft away from us), two cows and a calf pretty damn close to us. It’s unbelievable how big these animals are once you actually see them in front of you. It can be a little scary being close because they don’t see very well and if you scare them, you have a good chance of them charging you. I could tell the mother saw us, but she obviously didn’t seem concerned with us so I wasn’t too nervous. I wonder how they get through the woods due to how gigantic their antlers are and how big they are. They literally destroy the trees if they feel they need to squeeze through tight areas.


At the shelter, I decided I wanted to make a big, warm fire for everyone. A big fire wins everybody’s heart and it always brings a happy group together. We had Happy Baby, Peg Leg, Bear, Chuckles, Sputnik, Fair Enough, and Bobby Hill all around the fire. We were mostly talking about our journey’s end and how much we were going to miss the trail. The hype of the night’s conversation was talking about Magicians Halfway Wilderness party tomorrow. We had a lot of great conversations that night by the fire and had an awesome night.

Day 190 – 9.27.15

We hiked 5.1 miles today (2121.4 – 2126.5). The most exciting part of this day is that it was bucket day! We also made it halfway through the 100 mile wilderness. Getting these buckets was kind of exciting like a town day, except we were still on the trail out in the middle of nowhere. The Magician was at the drop area and was super excited to show us the campsite he chose for the middle of the 100 mile wilderness party. As of last night, we were ready to hike on after a few hours of hanging out, but got sucked in immediately. It was before noon and no one was even there yet! There was a long, skinny beach along Crawford Pond with a flat, wooded area surrounding it. I got started collecting and sawing wood as the other hikers started showing up. Magician packed out three 30 packs of beer and two handles of liquor. The final group was Magician, Stache, Mismatch, Beerman, Happy Baby, Bear, Chuckles, Bobby Hill, Peg Leg, and Chords. Hobbit and her two stopped by for awhile, as well as Chesapeake, Horse, Sputnik, and Fair Enough. We were all excited for the Super Moon lunar eclipse, but we ended up falling asleep around 8:00 (because hiker midnight and drinking beer by the pond).


Day 191 – 9.28.15

We hiked 24.5 miles today (2126.5 – 2151.0). We were happier than ever not being hungover this morning. We definitely could see a few others hurting. We were very thankful for the Magician putting all his time and money into this. Everyone had a great time!


We had such a great hiking day today! The trail was flat and we had some amazing views. We stopped for water at Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to and one of the trail maintainers, Mr. Don gave us a brand new Sawyer squeeze water filter! He noticed our old filter was pushing out water only by the drop, so he handed us a new one. After seeing how much water comes out of a normal operating filter, we couldn’t believe how long we managed to deal with the crappy filter. It was a great moment receiving that gift. It literally made our day (and the rest of the hike!) that much better and couldn’t have been more thankful.


We had lunch at Antlers campsite with an absolutely beautiful lake view. We had a view of Katahdin at Pemadumcook Lake. Katahdin is getting so big! After seeing a weather report, we decided to aim for a shelter to avoid setting up in the rain. We arrived to Wadlegh Stream Lean-to just as it was getting dark. We ran into Parks and Mooch at the beach and got water there. We left to head to the shelter and it was getting dark quick as we arrived. I had to get my head lamp out on the last mile, because I could barely see the trail. Even though it was only 7pm when we arrived to the shelter, someone was already asleep in there! I was guessing this guy had a rough hike and probably wasn’t feeling well. Hikers do go to bed early, but this was the first time I’d seen someone asleep in a shelter this early. With that matter, we ended up eating dinner and did our noisy chores at a respectful distance. To tell the truth, I don’t think we would have disturbed him if we sat right next to him. He snored so loud that we ended up making a few extra drinks and I actually had to wear earplugs. Sometimes I slammed my fist on the wood floor to startle him awake a little so his snoring would change. His snoring was kind of scary to where I thought he was going to die in his sleep. He definitely had sleep apnea.

Day 192 – 9.29.15

We hiked 19.6 miles today (2151.0 – 2170.6). It was a pretty cloudy, dreary day and it wasn’t the best hiking day for us. We would have done a shorter mile day, but the threat of rain sped us up to get to a shelter so we could avoid packing up in the rain. It seems like Fancy Pants and I are both on edge, being so close to the end and back to Virginia. Fancy Pants was rushing me and I got moody. There was light rain off and on throughout the hike, which really doesn’t help with Fancy Pants. She literally didn’t want to hike. We met up with Parks at lunch and he and Mooch were stopping for the day. We wanted to do the same, but pressed on. The rest of the hike appeared easy on paper, but there were a ton of roots to watch out for and a bunch of small hills. Terrible for when you are having a bad day hiking already. We missed some Katahdin views because of the clouds.


We were so happy to be at the shelter when we got there. Only 3 miles to the road and a chance for a zero day tomorrow, but we had such a bad hiking day and we were so hungry that we decided to stay at Hurd Brook Shelter. Smoky (a flip flopper) was already there. We started dinner and were surprised at the number of hikers there! If we came any later, we would’ve had to set our tent up in the rain. There were 7 hikers in the shelter and at least 5 other tents! It started raining around 6:30 and rained hard over night.



This potted salamander is like 8″ long!

Day 193 – 9.30.15

We hiked 3.5 rainy miles (2170.6 – 2174.1). We were so excited to get to Abol Bridge today! I called up the AT Lodge in town to get some information. We were planning to press on towards Katahdin, but the weather looked so awful and threatening that I wanted to take a nero into town instead. I had to walk a quarter mile at least down the trail to get service. Thankfully once I got ahold of someone I learned that hitching was nearly impossible to town so I scheduled a shuttle for everyone who stayed at the shelter. Fancy Pants and I decided to hike in our Crocs so that our shoes would be dry for tomorrow’s hike. We arrived to the Abol Bridge store and the shuttle came by and picked up 9 of us to go to Millinocket. Fancy, Me, Happy Baby, Peggy, Bear, Chuckles, Mismatch, Bobby Hill, and Last Chance all squeezed in the van. The driver was upset at first, because he had a bigger van and wasn’t aware of how many hikers there was. I did actually tell him there was a big group over the phone, but I knew the cell service probably had something to do with the confusion. He got over it once he saw our “cramming hikers into the car” skills.

We were so happy to get to a warm, dry place! Everyone also seemed sad/mad that we got the last private room. We showered up, did some laundry, showered, and hung out. We watched Armageddon (again) and picked up a few things at the grocery store. After the movie, I went and hung out with Bear, Happy Baby, Bobby Hill, Peggy, Mismatch, and Chuckles for a little bit. Fancy Pants worked on the blog a little with some wine. She also talked to her mom and FaceTimed her sister. It’s always nice to have some alone time away from the group. The rain and wind was so intense! All day and night you could hear the rain and wind kicking. I couldn’t imagine the hikers who were out there in that mess. It would’ve been so miserable if Fancy and I decided to stay out there.


It was crazy to know that this would be our last town and hostel we would be staying at before completing the Appalachian Trail. It made me sad to think that we were only a few days from completing this trip. I definitely didn’t want it to end. It seemed like we’ve been on the trail forever, but at this moment that notion now felt like time flew by!





The Last State- Part 2 (Rangeley to Monson)

First off, sorry we dropped off the planet! We’re working on the final posts and will have them on here ASAP!

Day 179 – 9.16.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.5 miles today (1968.8-1982.3). We started the day off know that our friend Harley was injured in this section and had to get off trail, so we tried to be extra careful. After a 2500’ climb to the top of Saddleback Mountain, we had a beautiful view of Rangeley and of the lakes. We hiked 3 miles of trail above treeline as we summited The Horn and Saddleback Jr. By the time we reached Poplar Ridge, we were pooped! I’m guessing the hours of hiking in the sun wiped us out. We crossed Oberton Stream and climbed up to the top of the waterfall and decided to stop there for the night. We found a grassy spot a few minutes walk down an old logging road and set up camp there. Tattoo camped nearby. We made Velveeta mac n’ cheese for dinner and went to bed (The Velveeta mac is more of a ‘luxury’ camp dinner to us because the sauce is already hydrated, making it heavier than regular mac n’ cheese).


Day 180 – 9.17.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 16.5 miles today (1982.3-1998.8). Happy 4th anniversary to us 🙂

Our hike today had pretty similar terrain to yesterday’s hike, minus going above treeline. It is so nice to actually hike a decent number of miles in a day again! We had lunch next to the Carabasett River, which we thankfully did not have to ford (someone put boards across the more treacherous parts, so we didn’t have to get wet).   After lunch, we climbed South Crocker and North Crocker Mountains. Parts of the climb were really steep and we had to stop a lot.   We had a snack at the last spring before the next road crossing, filled up water to our max capacity, then headed down the trail to find a campsite. After a few not-flat-enough spots, we found a winner. We had anticipated being in town for our anniversary, so we didn’t have anything special to eat or drink. We had a dehydrated dessert in the food bag (mocha mousse pie) that we prepared and sprinkled some Cracklin’ Oat Bran on it. And of course had our Ice 101/ hot cocoa drinks. Here’s to another anniversary spent in the woods!


Day 181 – 9.18.15

Fuego: We hiked 2.2 miles today (1998.8 – 2001.0) and passed the 2,000-mile mark! We are officially 2,000 milers! This is so surreal to us. We seriously can’t believe we are so close to the end of this journey.


We got to ME27 and stuck our thumbs out to get to Stratton for a resupply. A few cars passed and then came this big, white work truck. First thing I said was, “Well that truck isn’t going to pick us up.” Surprisingly enough, it pulled into the trailhead parking lot beside us and it was filled with hikers. Fancy Pants looked at me and laughed for my misjudgment. We walked over to the truck and there was Plus1, who I haven’t seen since the White Mountains. He and a few others were starting their slack pack through the Bigelows. The owner of the truck was a retired Coast Guard Ship Captain and Chief Warrant Officer named Tom Dickey. He had an adorable older black lab named Max that always rode along with him. He asked if we needed a ride to town and we hopped into his truck. As we rode down the highway, Tom started asking us questions like our real names, where we are from, and what our occupations were. Once he got the idea we were normal people, he then asked, “So are you guys hungry, because I can make you a nice breakfast?” That was a moment my eyes lit up and was too dumbfounded to respond. Fancy Pants had a pause too and replied, “Umm. . .yeah!!” He also mentioned that we could shower and take his car to the store to resupply. He warned us that most hikers end up staying at his house once they get there. He said people even have a hard time leaving, because of his hospitality. He didn’t say why exactly, but we were about to find out soon enough for ourselves.

As we rode down the neighborhood, Tom pulled into a field to point at the mountain on where we came from and where our next destination is. He also pointed to a very faint mountain way off in the distance to where it looked like a faint shadow. It turns out that mountain was Mount Katahdin! That was a big moment for me. I remember hiking months ago mentioning to Fancy Pants what that feeling would be like when you realize you can see Mount Katahdin. I really didn’t expect to see it until the last 50 miles or so, but thanks to Tom’s guidance I was able to see it over 100 miles away.

We walked into Tom’s cabin and had breakfast. We ate waffles, sausage, eggs, cereal, and God knows what. I felt so spoiled and was happy as could be. I also had water, milk, coffee, and orange juice. After we cleaned up and showered, we were relaxing on his upper deck porch. The weather was perfect! It was 70 degrees with a nice breeze and no humidity. Tom made us some blueberry pomegranate gin and tonics while we were relaxing. I never had a mix drink taste this good for this moment! Later into the evening Tom left to pick up the slack packers. We were left in charge to take care of the house and fix dinner for when they come back. Tom didn’t get back until because Plus1 got lost during his hike. I could tell Tom was annoyed. We didn’t have dinner until 8:30-8:45, but it turned out fine. Plus1 told us the moment we got in the truck with Tom in the morning that we were definitely not getting back on the trail, haha!



Day 182 – 9.19.15

Fancy Pants: We slackpacked 19.5 miles today (2001.0-2020.5). We were excited to hike all of the Bigelow’s in one day today. There is a great view of the entire range from Tom’s street, and from there, it looked like we would have a tough day ahead of us. Our first climb brought us to Horns Pond Campsite. There is a shelter there that was built in 1936! A newer shelter has been constructed at the campsite, so the old one is for day use now. Pre-lunch, we averaged 2mph (there was a lot of climbing involved!). Since it’s a Saturday, there was a ton of people on the trail today! We had lunch just short of Avery Peak (wanted to be out of the wind) at a box spring. A super cute Australian Shepherd came up to us while we were eating and licked each of us on the mouth! Her owner said she may be Australian, but she definitely kisses French!

Like we expected, the trail today was difficult, and we were grateful to be slackpacking. The trail between Avery Peak and Little Bigelow was relatively unexciting, and we were flying down the trail on the descent. It was nice to have some easy trail! Tom met us at Long Falls Dam Road with a cooler filled with Gatorade, sandwiches, grapes and yogurt. He is seriously so nice! Max was with him and he lay across us on the bench seat on the ride back. We showered and Tom started dinner. He had Fuego cook the steaks and we all drank blueberry pomegranate gin and tonics.



Day 183 – 9.20.15


Fancy Pants: We hiked 17.5 miles today (2020.5-2038). Tom made us a huge, delicious breakfast and then drove us back to the trail. We definitely wanted to stay longer with Tom, but we needed to keep moving north. When the trail looks easy on paper, there is usually a lot of rock and roots on the trail, but we were surprised that it was actually pretty easy. After we hiked 7 miles and stopped for lunch, we realized we had a shot at making it to the ferry across the Kennebec River before 4pm when it stops for the day. Fuego and I decided to hike fast in the hope that we make it there in time. There were beautiful pond views today and it was pretty windy. Finally feeling that Maine weather we’d been expecting.

Fuego hiked ahead, hoping to signal the ferry guide. He was paddling back to our side of the river just I walked up a few minutes shy of 4 o’clock. The Kennebec River is a very fast-moving river and is much wider than I expected. Although relatively shallow (maybe waist-high at its deepest where it intersects with the AT), quite a few people have been seriously injured or have died trying to ford it due to the high volume of water that flows. Since the inception of the AT, the canoe ferry has been the officially sanction method of crossing the river.

It was 4:01 when we made it across- last ferry of the day! We tried hitching a ride to Northern Outdoors, but ended up walking almost 2 miles on the side of the road before someone picked us up. She informed us that our destination was about a quarter mile up the road, but drove us there anyways. We needed to pick up a mail drop, but arguably more importantly, Northern Outdoors also happens to house Kennebec River Brewery J We ran into Magician and Balto, both of whom we hadn’t seen in a few hundred miles. We got some beers at the bar and watched football. We left around 6:30 so we could get back to the trail and set up before it got dark. We walked half of the way and got a ride for the last mile or so. The guys who picked us up gave us nutty bars and cheez-its. We camped near the parking area with Chords and Balto.


Day 184 – 9.21.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.7 miles today (2038-2052.7). We woke up to the sound of coyotes, but they were pretty far away. The hike today was mostly flat and we only ran into 3 other hikers all day. We felt like we should have hiked to the next shelter, but we would have had to summit Moxie Bald and neither of us felt like climbing (even though it was only 3:30). Magician had planned to hike on, but ended up staying with us. To entertain ourselves, we decided to make a fire. The fire pit at the shelter was probably the worst I had seen- the rock and ash pile was about three feet high! We started the dirty task of disassembling the fire pit and digging out the old ash using a rock, an old sardine can and a really long nail. Of course we didn’t think to get a before picture, but you can believe me when I say it was bad. Our fire was hue and really warm. Side note: hiker midnight is getting earlier and earlier on the trail. It’s mostly dark at 7!


Day 185 – 9.22.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 17.7 miles today (2052.7-2070.4).   Today marks 6 months since we were dropped off at Amicalola Falls State Park. We have done so much living in the past 6 months that it feels like a lifetime ago that we were just starting this journey.

We were on trail by 8 and man was it cold! Fuego was wearing his puffy and I was wearing a hat, gloves and my thermals. Climbing Moxie Bald was not as bad as we had expected, although we both agreed that we were glad we didn’t climb it last night. At the summit, we had cell service, so we booked a room in Monson so we could get everything ready for the 100 mile wilderness. Views from the top were beautiful! After the descent from the summit, the trail was flatter than we’d seen in awhile. We forded some rivers while hiking the flat trail that involved taking our shoes off. The nice thing about using Crocs as camp shoes is that we don’t have to walk barefoot while fording rivers (or just get our shoes wet!). Some river crossings have a rope across them where you can hang on and not lose your balance as easily.



Day 186 – 9.23.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 4.3 miles today (2070.4-2074.7).   I think we were all pretty excited to get to town (we were all on trail by 8). I didn’t sleep well last night. I’m definitely stressed out about the end of our AT journey and getting back to Virginia. We hiked and talked with Magician today on our way to Monson. He has rehabilitated quite a few birds, including an owl and some crows.

We got to the road crossing, called Longshore Inn for a ride, and arrived around 9:30 and had to wait for our room. Beerman was checking out as we arrived. It was nice to see him again! I took a shower while waiting and found myself a loaner outfit while we did laundry. We set out all of the food we had, including from our last trail mail drop, along with some hiker box scores (thanks again Jessica and Preston for being our organizational and shipping team!). Guthook stopped by for a visit and took us out to lunch at the pub downstairs. Delicious food! I highly recommend stopping by if you’re ever in this neck of the woods (really close to Moosehead Lake, so totally plausible). After lunch, Guthook drove us to Greenville to resupply. Or last resupply on the trail L We took a pit stop to check out Moosehead Lake and also learned about the almost 1,000 mile long canoe trail along the northern part of the country.


When we got back to the inn, organized our trail food and put half into a drop bucket. There are a few people in Monson and a few people in Millinocket that you can pay to deliver a 5 gallon bucket full of whatever you want to a secret spot on the side of a dirt road in somewhere in the middle of the 100 mile wilderness. Once we found out that this was an option, we debated about it for awhile. Ultimately, we decided to get a bucket. Greg and BC both said they wished they’d been able to take their time in the 100 Mile Wilderness. We don’t want to be rushed since we have so little time left until we finish. And honestly, I’d really rather not carry 10 pounds of food! To us, $25 was well worth it.

We watched the sunset from the dock and hung out with everyone else at the inn. Mushroom Man has a crazy coastal-Maine accent, but man, does he know his mushrooms!


The Last State- Part 1 (NH/ME Border to Rangeley, ME)

Day 173- 9.10.15

We hiked 14.5 miles today (1897.8-1912.3). We crossed the 1900 mile mark today! It is so crazy to be here! The terrain today was pretty tough. We had been warned that the terrain would not magically become easier to hike just because we’ve left The Whites, and that has been true so far. The last mountain that we climbed in New Hampshire was called Mount Success, which I think is pretty fitting for where we are right now. And then we crossed the state line into MAINE! We took a break at the state line sign and really couldn’t figure out what to do or say.   Short of a parade, there really isn’t anything you can do to convey the feeling you have when you’ve walked to the 14th and final state that the AT goes through.

We saw two huge rabbits on the trail today. There was also a lot of raised trail (glorified wooden boards that make a walkway so you don’t sink knee-deep into substrate) and some wooden ladders, which helped make the hike a little easier and safer today.

We arrived to the campsite and were spent. So tired. The threat of rain and a few sprinkles of rain surely didn’t help. We opted to stay in the shelter because of the forecasted rain for tonight. We camped with Squirrel, Sweaty Yeti, TK, Jerry, Clown Car, Craw Daddy, Freedom Fry, Cooter and The Family. One of the younger girls in the family sprained her ankle. Hoping she heals quickly and that they can work out a way to get off trail before heading into Mahoosic Notch!


Day 174- 9.11.15

We hiked 5.1 miles today (1912.3-1917.4). It was raining when we woke up, so we staying in the shelter waiting until it stopped. We were on the trail by 10, nervous and excited to see what Mahousic Notch was all about. We had a small climb followed by a steep descent. When you get there, you know. Between two mountains is a steep, narrow canyon full of huge boulders. We put our poles away and started climbing over, under and between huge boulders. Everything was wet, slippery and muddy.  There were a lot of parts where I was scared. Like clinging to the edge of a slanted rock while trying to get across it without falling into a hole. There were tons of places to fall into or slide into. Some open places were only a few feet deep. Others were 20+ feet down. After taking almost 2.5 hours to hike 1.1 miles of trail, we made it out of the notch and had some much needed lunch.

After lunch, we started the climb up Mahoosic Arm. Another huge climb up a single slab of rock lacking footholds. I am usually against adding to the erosion problem, however, I did here. Without some dirt and trees to hold onto, I’m not sure how we were supposed to climb up this mountain!  We were so excited to see Speck Pond and decided to take a break at the shelter where we ran into East and Mezla. Clown Car and Craw Daddy decided to stay at the shelter, so Fuego wanted to too. We would have to go another four miles until we reached a water source. Judging by the past four miles, they could be four brutal miles and we may have ended up hiking in the dark.


Day 175- 9.12.15

We hiked 14.9 miles today (1917.4-1932.3).  Even though we were asleep by 8:30 last night, we still slept in until 6:30. We were definitely tired. The descent to Grafton Notch was pleasantly uneventful and we were happy to hike at a decent pace! We had lunch at Bald Pate Lean-to and then climbed Bald Pate. I’m so glad we climbed Bald Pate on a dry day. The views from the summit are absolutely stunning, but the giant granite slabs we climbed would have been scary and dangerous if wet.  On the hike down, we ran into Spider hiking SOBO. Not sure what his overall hiking plan is, but it was good to see him out on the trail.

On our snack break at Frye Notch, we realized that we could get into Andover, ME for all you can eat pizza at the only restaurant in town. We hiked fast and made it to the road crossing at 5:30- plenty of time for pizza. And then we waited. And waited. Over a 30 minute period, only two cars drove by, but were heading in the opposite direction. As a third car drove by in the opposite direction, we had our thumbs out anyway, realizing we were in the middle of nowhere and hoping they were used to hikers needing to get to town. He turned around and we jumped in the truck. After talking to him for a few minutes, we learned that he owns a hostel and someone behind us had called ahead for a ride.   With little convincing needed, we rode into town with Bear, had dinner and did resupply in town and stayed at his house. They have a bunk room, but also have campers parked outside that are available to stay in. Since Clown Car was the one with an actual reservation, we got second dibs on accommodations, staying in a truck bed camper (sans truck). Much better option than getting rained on by staying in the tent J



Day 176- 9.13.15

We slackpacked 10.1 miles today (1932.3-1942.4). We woke up early to let Bear and Honey know we wanted to stay the night again and slackpack today. We weren’t planning to have breakfast in the hostel, but after seeing and smelling everything Honey made, we changed our minds. After breakfast, Hopper drove Craw Daddy and us to the trailhead for the slackpack. Turns our, Hopper was the hiking partner of Bismark (the guy who was arrested at Trail Days back in May for embezzling $8+million from Pepsi). Another couple hiking said they saw a moose within the first few minutes of the hike. I thought I saw a moose, too, through the trees. As I walked forward to get a better view, Fuego saw the moose, but I missed it! It was a big bull moose.

The rain held out most of the day, but we were essentially hiking in a cloud with big gusts of wind. We definitely didn’t see any of the views today. We kept joking that it felt like we were going through a car wash when the trail was overgrown with plants that were all wet. We stopped for lunch at the Hall Mountain Lean-to and ate the rest of the pancakes and waffles- so delicious! I should also add that the waffles were in the shapes of barns, cows and chickens. At the top of Moody Mountain, we called for our ride back to the hostel. Some flip floppers were already in the truck. Fuego and I opted for work for stay and stacked firewood for a hour and some change. I wish we had a before and after picture of the woodpile! We each had a beer with Bear after we finished stacking wood.

After showers, we decided to have dinner at the hostel. Honey made a huge family-style spaghetti dinner for everyone, complete with a homemade brownie with ice cream for dessert.

Bear and Honey are so cute! They’re in their early 80s and opened the hostel (The Cabin) when they retired 20something years ago. They said they actually lose money on the hikers, but stay afloat by having a few rental properties in the area.

Day 177- 9.14.15

We hiked 12.3 miles today (1942.4-1954.7). I didn’t want to leave The Cabin, but I also didn’t want to pay $32 to slackpack the next 13 miles either. We started the day climbing Old Blue Mountain in a cloud, expecting rain in the afternoon, but it ended up raining lightly throughout the day. Bear told us to pick blueberries at the top of Bemiss Mountain and we got half a sandwich bag full!   Definitely glad we decided to stop for a break at the top. (Side note: Bemiss Mountain reminded me of work all day because one of the last projects I worked on was at Bemiss Field).



It began to rain harder as we approached our first prospective campsite, so we decided to call it a day and set up camp. We laid out the Tyvek ground sheet and quickly laid the tent over it (if the ground sheet is wet, water will eventually seep through the tent floor and then WE will be wet). After we put the poles through, we started staking the tent out. The pole on my side snapped right in the middle! Since there is shock cord through the pole segments, we assumed I didn’t get the poles connected all the way. As we took the tent down, we realized the end of one pole snapped off inside the other pole! I’ll just go ahead and admit we weren’t carrying a tent pole splint like we should have been. We duct taped the poles together, although because segment that broke was right in the middle of the pole (the most stress being put on this particular spot), the duct tape bent and we had a nice arc at the foot of the tent and an A-frame at the head of the tent. Since it was raining really hard, we staked it out anyways and climbed inside. After almost an hour of getting rained on, we opted to eat a bunch of snacks in lieu of cooking dinner.



Ice 101 hot chocolate

Day 178 – 9.15.15

We hiked 14.1 miles today (1954.7-1968.8). We decided to try and get to Rangeley today to buy a splint and resupply. We were worried that we may not find the splint due to limited supply in this town. It was a beautiful sunny day with a calm breeze. Couldn’t really ask for a better day. Right after the campsite, we were supposed to ford the stream. We were lazy and decided to ford the stream with our shoes since they were wet anyways. We walked by many ponds today, but no sign of moose. We took our socks and shoes off each break, which helped dry everything out. We kept a decent pace most of the day, which we mostly thanked the weather for. The weather kept us in a very good mood.

Once we got to the road, the school superintendent picked us up and drove us into town. Thankfully we got our splint for the tent and Fancy Pants called Tarp Tent. They are mailing us two new tent pole segments for free! Love the gear companies that are known for taking care of thru hikers. We walked down the street and passed Sarge’s Pub and noticed that they had $1.50 drafts and bottles for happy hour. We looked at each other and knew we couldn’t pass this opportunity, plus a thru hiker always feels they deserve a beer (Hiker Trash!). So we got a beer and split some nachos. Another hiker that couldn’t finish his nachos asked if wanted them. I was in shock to hear this from him and looked right at him and said, “Of course we will eat your nachos!” (Hiker Trash!). Crazy to see the shift that occurs on us while on the trail to being so much less wasteful than before. Case in point: Fancy Pants had one Ziploc bag for a few hundred miles before it died. We resupplied at IGA and ate an entire 1.5-quart container of Graham Slam ice cream before getting a ride with “The Original Barbara Bush.” The first lady married into the name, while this one was born into it!



New Hampshire, Part 2- Mount Washington to Gorham

Day 166- 9.3.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 10.6 miles today (1865.1-1875.7). The 5 “relatively flat” miles we hiked to the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center were not actually flat and we were drenched with sweat when we arrived. It was nice to get water that didn’t need to be filtered though. We bought a few snacks and then headed back out to hike the Wildcat Mountain peaks. Just as we’d heard, it was brutal. We were so thirsty, but had to ration water until we reached the next hut. I was hiking at less than 1 mph.   Beerman was slackpacking and passed me at the perfect time- I think he saved me from having a meltdown. You can’t have a meltdown with witnesses! When we reached the gondola (Wildcat Peak B is also a ski slope), we hoped that the guys working had some water, but they didn’t. They are really missing out of a side job by not selling water to hikers!


Thankfully, after the second peak, the hike was not nearly as difficult as the initial climb. We ate the Snickers we picked up at Pinkham Notch and headed towards Carter Notch Hut. Since we arrived to the Hut at 4, we had to wait awhile before they said we could do WFS, just in case some hikers came a bit later. While we were waiting, Greg came by! He stopped heading north somewhere in Virginia and decided to start SOBO. BC is only a day or two behind him! For our WFS, we refolded and organized the shirts for sale at the hut and did the dishes after dinner.


Today, we also realized that our original plan to meet up with Landon in Maine wasn’t going to work out. There’s a 31-mile stretch of trail with zero road crossings coming up, and we realized we wouldn’t be able to make it through that entire stretch by Sunday afternoon. That would have us averaging more than 18 miles per day on terrain as difficult as the terrain we are currently hiking.

Day 167- 9.4.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 7.2 miles today (1875.7-1882.9). We woke up early to pack and get out of the dining room before breakfast. It was nice to have running water for a change J. We said bye to Greg and headed up Carter Dome. Once we got to the top, we sat with Fox and took in the view. We met a group of hikers at Zeta Pass who shared their snacks with us. And then ran into two women who had just completed their 48th and final 4,000 footer in New Hampshire and they shared snacks with us as well. We then met the Town Selectman (like a mayor in NH) for Gorham, NH named Camo who gave us each a Snickers bar. Fox joked that he needed to hike with us more often! Fox is on a time constraint to reach Katahdin and we’re slowing down to meet up with Landon in Gorham, so we stopped at the Imp Campsite and did WFS.


Day 168- 9.5.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 8 miles today (1882.9-1890.9). It was nice to try to sleep in and pack up leisurely today.   We ran into Katherine on Mount Moriah and hung out together to take in the views. Camo had said these would be our last great views on the AT for a while, so we took our time. Once we got to the route 2-road crossing, we stopped at the hostel to pick up our packages and charge our phones. We tried “The Tonight Dough” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and I think it is my new favorite- better than Half Baked. We ate lunch at Mr. Pizza with Katherine (peppers and onions count as one pizza topping here!), and then hitched a ride back to the trail. The person who stopped to pick us up is the sister of Moosehead (Tyler) who was working at Carter Notch Hut- small world. We camped at a site across the river from the trail that we had spotted earlier.


Day 169- 9.6.15

Fancy Pants: Zero day in Gorham, NH. We hitched into town around 11am, but assumed that we would be waiting around for a while to get into the room. Because Landon called ahead and asked for an early check-in, we got right into the room. We were so excited to finally take showers- our last showers were in Norwich, VT. Not long after Fuego came back from the Laundromat, Landon and Matt arrived! As we were leaving town to drive up the Mount Washington auto road, we spotted BC and Buttercup walking on the sidewalk and pulled over to say hi.

The auto road was expensive, but really cool. It’s 8 miles long and comes with a CD that has some historical information and facts to listen on the drive up. It was really cool to see the White Mountains from a different perspective. We’ve see all of the views from the AT, but there was definitely a lot of different areas we could see from the pull-off areas along the auto road. We met back up with BC and Buttercup and they took some much-needed showers at our hotel room. We watched Step Brothers on TV and then fell asleep.



Day 170- 9.7.15

Fancy Pants: Zero day in Rangeley, Maine. We woke up and were on our way by 9:45. The drive from Gorham to Rangeley was gorgeous. Lots of mountain views, driving along a river and the first signs of fall everywhere. We drove through town before stopping at our cabin and it is so cute! Our cabin was right along the lake at Town and Lake Motel (and their hiker rate is awesome!). The second we got there, we all decided to stay an extra night. The cabin was a two-room house with a nice living room and a really big porch overlooking the lake. There was also a seaplane business a few doors down, so we got to see a few sea planes take off on and land on the lake.


We took the kayaks out in the afternoon. Landon ended up flipping his kayak over in the middle of the lake and we had to turn his kayak over, get the water out and try to steady it so he could get back in. It was pretty windy and I know he was cold. We made Mexican food for dinner, and then made a fire in the fire pit by the lake.




Capsized Landon



Cabins along the lake


Day 171- 9.8.15

Fancy Pants: Zero day in Rangeley, Maine. We woke up early to see the sunrise, but it was pretty cloudy, so we all went back to sleep. We made cornbread pancakes and eggs for breakfast. At the recommendation of a few others, we went to Smalls Falls. The guys all jumped off the cliff into the water. I debated it for a while, but decided not to. Some guy there psyched me out about hitting the rocks on my way down (and I am too close to the end of my hike to get an injury and go home).  After we got back, we did a lot more lounging around than we had yesterday. A great way to spend a zero day.



Day 172- 9.9.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 6.9 miles today (1890.9- 1897.8). If you round up, we hiked our first 007 (two zeroes followed by a 7 mile day). We woke up early so we wouldn’t be getting back on the trail too late. It was nice to think, “I wish we could go back to Maine!” and know we’d be back in Maine tomorrow.  We had lunch at Subway, and then Matt and Landon dropped us off at the trailhead. We road walked ¾ of a mile, then turned back into the woods. It is entirely too hot for September in New Hampshire! We ran into Sputnik and Fair Enough hiking southbound. Sputnik said she was having a terrible hiking day and turned around to head back into town. They’re renting a car to meet up with her family that is on vacation right now in Cape Cod.

The climb up was pretty rough, but there was a nice view and breeze at the top. We arrived to the campsite and set up as it got cold. It also rained a little over night. We also found out today that our friend who started the trail 10 days before us, Harley (aka Cray Nip), was injured just outside of Rangeley, Maine and got off trail. Hoping he can get back on the trail to finish this year.

Hiker Trash!

Appalachian Trails (an online community for hikers) defines hiker trash as “A term describing long-distance hikers whose absence from “civilization” has led them to abandon certain social norms and expectations and to become disheveled in appearance. Although it sounds like an insult, true hiker trash take it as a compliment.”

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We began collecting hiker trash stories from our fellow hikers pretty early on in our hike after reading an article on Appalachian Trails.  Feel free to comment here or message me to add more hiker trash moments to this list 🙂

Links to articles with hiker trash moments submitted to the website:



And without further ado, here’s the list (don’t worry friends, we’re not naming any names!)

You might be hiker trash if…

  • you buy a bag of donuts for tomorrow’s breakfast and eat them all before bed
  • you are going out for dinner as a party of 4, but it balloons to 12 by the time you walk down the street
  • you sleep 3 on a king-sized bed in the hotel room
  • your server drops the free chips on the floor and you have to hold back from eating them
  • you mix vodka with the jack that’s already in your flask just because someone is giving away vodka
  • you eat an avocado with Cheetos
  • you crash in a house under renovation and do a little grunt work to pay your way
  • you play wiffle ball with a beer in one hand in the front yard of said house
  • you slap the bag
  • you throw up in a porta potty
  • you pour dry mashed potato flakes (or oatmeal or instant breakfast) in your mouth and wash it down with water
  • you wash your clothes in a creek
  • you wash your clothes in the shower
  • you wash your clothes in the sink in the bathroom at Pizza Hut
  • you don’t wash your clothes at all
  • you drink a box of wine and then blow the bag back up to use it as a pillow
  • you can smell a day hiker

A few more stories, sent by a fellow 2015 hiker:

  • You tie a rain jacket around your waist and back your bare ass against the wall in the laundromat while washing your only set of clothes.
  • Someone drops a dried banana slice in the dirt and eight people lunge to eat it.
  • You have the magical power of cramming 8 hikers and their packs into a Ford Escape to get a ride to a free breakfast.
  • Twelve of you take the afternoon off to swim in a lake in your underwear, and you bribe some locals to drive you to town to buy PBR and hot dogs for your “beach party.”
  • You’ll hike double the miles you planned on rumor of free food ahead.

New Hampshire, Part 1- Hanover to Mt Washington

Day 157- 8.25.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.2 miles today (1744.8-1758.0). We ate eggs and toast with Betsy while waiting for the rain to stop. After the rain let up, we walked down the road, and as we crossed the Connecticut River, we also crossed into New Hampshire! 12 states down, 2 more to go! We had been given some pointers on places to go in Hanover. We stopped by Lou’s for free crullers, and then went to Ramunto’s for free slices of pizza. Delish! I also got new shoes in the mail, so that was pretty exciting. Our goal was to walk through town as quickly as possible, spending the least amount of money possible.   Not an easy task when the trail follows the main street through town!

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We got back into the woods around 2, and it was considerably more humid than we anticipated. And the climb was also more difficult than it looked on paper. Fuego was convinced that someone (me) put rocks in his pack. My pack felt pretty heavy too, even though I just mailed a few things home. We got to Moose Mountain Shelter just as it started getting dark. We ate the burritos we packed out from town and set up in the shelter with East and Mezla.

Day 158- 8.26.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 12.4 miles today (1758.0-1770.4). We had our first wide-open view of New Hampshire- beautiful! It was also amazing to us how quiet and serene it was out here. We stopped on Dorchester Street to visit Bill Ackerly, “The Icecream Man.” He invites hikers to his house for ice cream and croquet. The climb up Smarts Mountain was tough. There were parts with rebar stuck into the rock like a ladder so you could climb up without dying. We decided to camp at the top in hopes of catching a sunrise in the morning. We opted to stay inside the cabin at the top because there wasn’t anywhere flat to pitch the tent. We hung out with East, Mezla, Katherine, Spacetime and three guys from Israel who were on a 10-day hike in New Hampshire.

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Day 159- 8.27.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 16.2 miles today (1770.4-1786.6). We woke up at 5:40 for a chance to see the sunrise from the tower on top of the mountain. It was cloudy, but we went anyways. There were some glimpses of sunrise as the clouds rolled by, but not the wide-open sunrise view we’d hoped for. At lunch, it started to sprinkle and because it was pretty chilly, I was prepared to camp right there by the river! Since we’re usually pretty sweaty, we get cold pretty quickly when we stop to take a break.

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We planned to camp near the river by the road, but another group was already set up there, so we got water and kept walking until we found a flat spot. My back is still feeling okay, even after carrying an extra 2L of water (~4lbs) to our campsite.

Day 160- 8.28.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 13.1 miles today (1786.6-1799.7). Excited for our first big climb in New Hampshire today! We ran into The Mooners today as we started our ascent. I was actually surprised at how easily I climbed the mountain. The forest around the trail was so mossy! We also ran into Chief Pretty Foot! We hadn’t seen him since we hiked in southern Virginia. He had to get off trail for an injury, so he flip-flopped and is hiking south back to Shenandoah.

The view from the summit of Mount Moosilauke was amazing! This was our first time being above treeline in New Hampshire. Seeing the huge mountains we have yet to climb in the White Mountains was unreal. Seeing so far in all directions really solidified that we want to move out west after we finish the trail. There’s so much more exploring we want to do! The summit was also the windiest we’ve experienced so far. At some point in the past, other hikers constructed rock wall windbreaks for visitors to rest without getting blown over.

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Most of the climb down was pretty easy trail until we reached the last mile. The last mile was the steepest mile of trail we’ve encountered thus far on the trail. Parts of the trail were so steep that they cut out pieces of rock and added wooden blocks as stairs.   I was scared I might fall off the trail and fall into the waterfall (an actual possibility since the trail was slippery and uncomfortably close to the waterfall!). We ran into 1999 thru-hiker Stitches giving trail magic at Kinsman Notch. She also drove Waves and us into town. We had dinner at Gypsy’s, stopped at the grocery store and bought a beanie for me. By the time we were finished in town, it was already dark. We miraculously hitched a ride in the dark and stealth camped a few tenths of a mile south on the trail.

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Day 161- 8.29.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.4 miles today (1799.7-1814.1). Not too long into our hike, we crossed the 1800 mile mark! Less than 300 miles until we summit Katahdin! We stopped for lunch at the Eliza Brook Shelter, and then started the insane climb up South Kinsman. It didn’t look that steep on paper, but holy moly was it steep! There were times that Fuego has to pull me up a rock and times where I climbed up on my hands and knees. By the time we got to the top, we were sweaty and dirty. Some day hikers gave us swigs of Buffalo Trace when we reached the summit.

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We passed our first AMC hut today, the Lonesome Lake Hut. We walked by at dinnertime, so we didn’t get to go inside to check it out. The reflection of the mountains on the lake was absolutely beautiful, like out of a magazine. By this time though, I was done hiking for the day. My feet hurt, my knees hurt and my back was giving me trouble. We kept our eyes open for a stealth spot outside of the forest protection area around the hut, but before Franconia Notch. As the trail paralleled Cascade Brook, we spotted a flat area on the other side of the brook and set up just as the sun went down.

Day 162- 8.30.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 11.5 miles today (1814.1-1825.6). We woke up at 6 to get to the road by 7:45 to get a ride into town. We had to walk a 1-mile bike path before getting to the road. I-93 parallels Route 3 and in hindsight, we should have realized it was early Sunday morning and there wasn’t going to be much traffic. We walked down route 3 for 2 miles before getting a ride the rest of the way into town. I was proud of us for getting back to the trail by noon. Unfortunately, we picked up a 4-day resupply and then started a 2800 foot climb at the hottest part of the day. We were really slow. Waves caught up to us and we hiked together.

I’m not sure exactly how I had been living under such a big rock on the trail, but I somehow didn’t know exactly how awesome Franconia Ridge would be! We had 360 degree views of the White Mountains that were just breathtaking! It was hard to keep walking forward, since we were stopping to take photos and to take in the views. Looking back at the ridge from Mount Lincoln, the trail resembled the Great Wall of China from above. It is hard to do the ridge justice describing it on paper and by showing photos. You don’t really get to feel how wide-open it is up there, along with the strong gusts of wind. We hung out at the top of Mount Lafayette, but had to peel ourselves from the ridge to be able to get to our intended campsite while we still had daylight.

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Going back below tree line was intense. The wide-open views were replaced with bright green moss covering almost everything and sound of the wind was replaced with pure silence.

We camped at a stealth spot adjacent to Garfield Pond with Plus One, Waves, Parks, Sputnik and Fair Enough. Fuego made a fire and we all ate dinner together. Sputnik and Fair Enough had their entire food bag (5 day resupply) eaten the night before by a bear while they were camped near Franconia Notch. They had their food bag inside Fair Enough’s pack under the vestibule of their tent. The bear pulled the backpack out from under the vestibule and dragged it into the woods to eat the food. They had to go back into town to resupply, buy a new food bag and Sputnik sewed Fair Enough’s pack back together with dental floss. Definitely a good reminder to stop being lazy and hang our food bag every night!

Day 163- 8.31.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 10.3 miles today (1825.6-1835.9). We slept in and were on the trail by 9:20, starting our hike by summitting Mount Garfield. We stopped by Galehead Hut for water, lunchtime and to have a peek inside. We ate bean soup, all you can eat pork and all you can eat pancakes for $5! After lunch, we had an 1100-foot climb in 0.8 miles to summit South Twin Mountain. The rest of the hike today was pretty easy. There were a lot of rocks and a lot of small hills to climb, but nothing major. We were in a hurry to get to Zealand Falls Hut between 4 and 5 pm in hopes of getting to do work-for-stay. I feel like WFS at a hut will help us get the full experience of hiking in the White Mountains. We arrived to the hut at 4:30 and we were the lucky 2 thru-hikers today 🙂


Galehead Hut

Galehead Hut

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We sat by the falls for a while and soaked our feet in the cold mountain water. After dinnertime at the hut, we got to eat all of the leftovers. The work we did for WFS was to do a question and answer session with the hut guests. Everyone seemed pretty excited to talk to us. We talked to one guest at the hut who was in the process of completing something called, “The Grid.” In New Hampshire, there are 48 mountains that are at or above 4,000 feet and a lot of hikers try to summit each of the 48 peaks. To do The Grid, you summit each of the peaks in each month of the year! That’s 576 4000-foot summits!

Day 164- 9.1.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.3 miles today (1835.9-1850.2). We woke up just before 6 in order to get out of the dining room where we slept so “the croo” could prepare breakfast for the hut guests (“the croo” being what workers at the huts are called). Afterwards, we got to eat the leftovers, swept out the bunk rooms and then hit the trail. The next 5 miles to Ethan pond were the easiest 5 miles of the AT in the Whites. We ran into Stitches again at Crawford Notch giving trail magic. After eating a lot of food and hanging out with Stitches, we climbed up to Webster Cliffs. The climb was pretty rough on us. It was during the hottest part of the day and we were drenched with sweat, although the views from Mount Webster and Mount Jackson more than made up for the difficult climb. We asked for WFS at the Mitzpah Hut, but were declined, so we went to the adjacent Nauman Campsite. Fuego did WFS and I set up our campsite and made dinner, since we were racing to get everything done before it got dark.

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Zealand Falls Hut

Zealand Falls Hut


Stitches, '99

Stitches, ’99

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Day 165- 9.2.15

Fancy Pants: We hiked 14.9 miles today (1850.2-1865.1). Today was pretty exciting because we were finally going to summit Mount Washington! I feel like we’d been talking about and waiting for this moment forever! Fuego and I maintained our “Hardo” status and stayed on the Appalachian Trail, and skipped summitting Mt. Eisenhower and Mt. Monroe. The AT follows the “bad weather” route around each summit, although you have the option to follow a different trail that leads over each summit. We arrived to the Lake of the Clouds Hut and were surprised at how big it is. They have bunks for 95 guests! They didn’t have any food for purchase ready yet, but one of the croo gave us each big pieces of “burnt” coffee cake. Burnt by guest standards, but delicious by thru-hiker standards!

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Dining room in Lake of the Clouds Hut

Dining room in Lake of the Clouds Hut

It took us 50 minutes to climb from the hut to the summit of Mount Washington (more if you factor in the time we had to spend standing in line to take a photo with the summit sign). There were a lot of people who either drove their cars or rode the train to the summit. hiked with Seabiscuit from the summit to the Madison Spring Hut. Hiking with him definitely helped us keep a much quicker pace. WE asked for WFS at the hut, but got turned down, even though we were within the recommended time window for getting WFS. The croo member we talked to said we still had plenty of time to reach the next campsite 3 miles away, but a SOBO coming through would have to hike an additional 7 miles past the hut to reach a place to camp. Reluctantly, we hiked on.


Lake of the Clouds Hut

Lake of the Clouds Hut

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Mt Madison with Madison Springs Hut at it's base

Mt Madison with Madison Springs Hut at it’s base


Climbing down from Mt Madison- we weren't lying when we said it is literally a giant pile of rocks!

Climbing down from Mt Madison- we weren’t lying when we said it is literally a giant pile of rocks!


I’m actually glad we had to keep hiking because the descent down from Mt Madison was really tough! It was essentially a giant pile of rocks with giant rock cairns marking the way down. It was really rough on our feet and knees. Even after the trail went below treeline, the trail remained rocky and very steep. We raced the sunset down to the Osgood Campsite and Parks offered to share his tent platform with us. We set up as the sun disappeared and ate in the dark.

Vermont Part 2- Rutland to Norwich

Day 150- 8.18.15
Fancy Pants: We took a zero day today.  My back felt a lot better than it did yesterday, but I decided to go to urgent care just to be sure (and at the insistence of our hiking buddies!). They asked a lot of questions and took an X-Ray. Nothing was broken, and they prescribed me a steroid and a muscle relaxer. The nurse also warned me that I would feel great after taking the steroid, but that I should still take it easy.
After picking up my prescriptions, we went to the Yellow Deli & Hostel to check it out. This was my first interaction with what I would consider to be a cult. It went pretty much how I expected it to. Everyone was really nice, but I got major creeper vibes from one person. He kept repeating himself, saying that we need to visit their organic farm and see their children running around barefoot. Or other variations of ‘come see our children.”  I’ve heard from others that the Twelve Tribes is a sexist group. They don’t hold women is as high of a regard as they hold men as far as division of labor and the fact that the women don’t really speak (unless they work in the deli downstairs).
After we left, we caught the bus to Killington to Mountain Meadows Lodge where we planned to stay while my back healed. The lodge is beautiful!  It it set on a lake and has a wide open yard with lots of apple trees and a barn with some goats and a miniature horse. Everyone went out on the kayaks and canoes and I stayed near shore and floated around on a life jacket. We also got in the hot tub, which felt great.
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Day 151- 8.19.15
Fancy Pants: We slackpacked 17.4 miles today. We took the bus back to Rutland and got a ride back to the trailhead where we got off when I fell. We started our hike going really slow, just in case I needed to turn around and go back to the lodge. I was actually surprised at how good I felt considering how terrible I felt right after I fell!  We kept our relatively slow pace as we climbed Mt. Killington. Fuego, Lamb Chop and Kush took the side trail to the summit and I laid down on a tent platform with my legs and feet in the air. Lamb Chop and Kush took the gondola down to the bottom of the mountain (Killington is a ski resort) and Fuego and I walked the 7 miles down to the next road crossing. In hindsight, I shouldn’t have pushed myself, but I really felt fine at the time! If I had been in pain, I definitely would have stopped. We passed the 1700 mile mark just before we got to VT rt 4! We got a ride back to the lodge and I was definitely tired. We washed off in the lake and lounged around for awhile before going to bed.

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Day 152- 8.20.15
Fancy Pants: We took a zero day today.  I woke up really stiff. I should have listened to the nurse and taken it easy for a few days! On the trail, you hear about hikers like myself all the time. Hikers that don’t want to admit that they are injured and want to keep moving forward. Not going to sugarcoat it- it sucks!  It was also a beautiful day for hiking, which doesn’t help. I sat in the hammock, worked on the blog, read some of my book, did 1.5 puzzles, ate a lot of snacks and moved our stuff to the woodshed. (For the same price as tenting in the yard, you could stay in the woodshed that has lights AND electrical outlets. Pretty posh for trail accommodations). Guests for the wedding at the lodge this coming weekend have started arriving, so we are trying to stay out of the way. Since I still shouldn’t be hiking, our plan is to go back to Rutland tomorrow and do work-for-stay at the Yellow Deli and resist getting sucked into the cult. We would definitely prefer to stay here, but they don’t allow other guests to stay at the lodge when they are hosting a wedding, which makes sense. Bill, the owner, allowed Fuego and Kush to do work-for-stay here, which helped us keep the cost down a little bit.
Day 153- 8.21.15
Fancy Pants: We took another zero day today. I woke up pretty stiff again. Definitely not the immediate recovery I was hoping for. We had stayed in the woodshed so we wouldn’t have to pack up wet gear this morning. We checked into the hostel and also ran into Janezilla and Mushu. At the recommendation of some people on Facebook, I decided to get a massage to see if that helps at all. I’m not sure it really fixed anything, but it felt great. I got in touch with Plans Too Much and he is willing to help me slackpack to Woodstock tomorrow. We plan to stay in the shelter 10 miles north of Rutland and have Fuego carry all of the absolute necessities in his pack and have me carry nothing. It’s the best we could come up with to still make some forward progress.
The weird guy at the hostel is still mentioning the children!  Creepy!!  We went to the Hop N’ Moose Brewery down the sterrt with some other hikers from the hostel. Ferps thru-hiked in 2013 and stayed at the Yellow Deli Hostel for over a week because he had a scratched cornea. Ouch!  Ferps paid for our beer and pizza at the brewery. He is seriously such a great guy!

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Day 154- 8.22.15
Fancy Pants: We hiked 10 miles today (1700.9-1710.9). Well, Fuego hiked and I slackpacked. We ate breakfast at the deli then caught the bus back to the trail. It was a pretty easy trail and we had a nice breeze today. As we were passing Thundering Falls, some hikers gave us some Twizzlers- definitely the highlight of the day! We climbed 1200 feet, hiked a few small hills, then got to the shelter before 4pm. Everyone was confused as to why Fuego had a huge pack and I had a small day pack. I also felt like a huge jerk for not really carrying anything.  We were glad the shelter was a decent one and set our stuff up inside. We camped with some SOBOs. One of them is also from Manassas and also went to the same high school and I did, although he graduated in 2010- small world!
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Day 155- 8.23.15
Fancy Pants: Fuego hiked and I slackpacked 13.3 miles today (1710.9-1724.2). I was the first one awake in the shelter this morning at 7:15, which is pretty late for a shelter. The morning was pretty uneventful, which was alright with us. On our lunch break, we stopped at The Lookout. We climbed the ladder to a platform on top of the cabin, which gave us our first view of the White Mountains.  There was a solar charger that was left out in the sun and accidentally left behind by a hiker. Since the NOBO and SOBO hiker bubbles are both here right now, we weren’t sure if hiking north with the charger would take it further from its owner, so we left it at the cabin. PSA to always label your gear (including which direction you’re hiking) just in case someone finds it and is nice enough to bring it to you.
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As we hiked down toward VT 12, we had to detour for some blackberries. My legs were all scraped up from walking so far into the field, but it was worth it!  When we got to the road, we reached the house where Plans Too Much dropped my backpack off (with Dan Quinn).  Dan has a barn that he allows hikers to stay in and immediately invited us to go swimming, along with TI and No Name.
Dan also allowed us to exchange some house cleaning/chores for a slackpack to Norwich tomorrow.  After we cleaned up in the house, Dan pulled out his veggie drawer from the fridge and told us we could use anything in the drawer to cook dinner.  We were so excited to have fresh veggies, tons of spices and a real kitchen to cook in.  Everyone hung out on the porch, eating dinner and talking.  Janezilla, Mushu, Luna, Freestyle, Orion, TI and No Name all stayed at Dan’s house with us.

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Day 156- 8.24.15

Fancy Pants: We slackpacked 20.6 miles today (1724.2-1744.8). Dan made us pancakes for breakfast and then we set out on the trail.  The beginning of the trail had a lot of small hills to climb and I was really glad we weren’t carrying our packs!  My back wasn’t feeling very good at first and I was secretly worried that we were too ambitious with the mileage. Once the trail flattened out a bit, I felt better.  I was surprised by the number of open fields we went through today.  The fields were filled with lots of colorful flowers and plants- goldenrod, bergemont, looseleaf, milkweed, and lots of blackberries 🙂

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For lunch, we stopped at Randy and Linda’s- trail angels known for giving out sodas to thru-hikers.  Randy also brought out pieces of cake for everyone.  We also swam in the White River- the first river you could actually swim in and not touch the ground.  Clear, deep water.  The rest of the hike was pretty uneventful.  We got to Elm Street in Norwich, VT and walked to Betsy’s house.  We showered, did laundry and ordered a pizza.  Janezilla, Mushu, Luna, Momo, Nomo, East, Mezla, and Spacetime stayed there with us.

Betsy is responsible for creating a list of neighbors in Norwich and Hanover who will take hikers into their homes for the night.  Her reason for doing so is that when her 19 year old son hiked the AT in 2007 and he got a really bad infection on his foot.  A family out hiking in the Smokies brought him in to town to go to the doctor.  They invited him into their home while he recuperated for the week.  After he was back out on the trail, Betsy asked how she could repay them for their generosity and they told her to pay it forward.  And here she is 8 years later, taking hikers into her home every night during the season (9 hikers and 1 dog the night we were there!), washing our clothes, giving us something to wear while the clothes are being cleaned and letting us use real pillows when we slept on the air mats downstairs.  What a lady!