I woke up at 6:30am to the sound of a light rain hitting my tent. Not again, I thought. I rolled over and went back to sleep. I woke up at 7:00 and decided to start packing up. I wasn’t a happy camper. I ate snacks in my tent waiting for the rain to subside. At 7:30, I left to use the privy – it was cold and damp, but at least it wasn’t raining.
I made my way back down to the campsite and took down my tent. Greyhound and I were ready to go at 8:15. We began a steep ascent of Mount Success – the trail was actually a stream in places.
We neared the summit at 9:00am – the rain had stopped and we enjoyed some excellent hiking weather.
Greyhound and I followed a family of grouse down the trail.
And at 11:20am, we crossed into Maine – the last state on the AT. We stopped and reflected a bit. This last leg of the trail had been rough – and I’m talking about before I met Greyhound. While I’ve had moments where I was hiking strong, I really haven’t regained the same Virginia speed that I apparently lost in northern Pennsylvania.
It’s been tough. I certainly didn’t intend to outpace Savage – or potentially get outpaced by Black Santa. It’s just the way it happens – it’s hike your own hike.
I do know that I’m thankful to have met Greyhound. She’s become an ally, a partner and a close friend.
And if Black Santa needs to finish ahead of me, he already knows I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now, making the decisions I’m making, without his months-long support, guidance and true friendship. Black Santa – you son of a bitch. I love you brother.
And here we were, about to enter the last state on the AT. We were 281.8 miles away from Katahdin. We felt great – we felt truly motivated. We were ready to finish this thing.
We took a quick lunch on Mount Carlo and headed for Goose Eye Mountain. We faced some steep climbs with more rebar rungs sunk into rock. But the weather was beautiful.
And we were awarded with views the entire way.
Then we hit the Mahoosuc Notch. It was 6:00pm and we had hiked ten miles on the day. Not bad considering the terrain. The Mahoosuc Notch is famous – it’s widely considered “the most difficult mile on the AT”. The trail runs over, under and around house-sized boulders jumbled about in a very narrow, but very steep, valley. It was fun at first, there was still ice from winter (It’s July 24th) hidden under some of the boulders.
We were forced to climb through small caves – and it wasn’t out of choice or just to have extra fun. We were required to squeeze through small opening to navigate the Mahoosuc.
We finally navigated the entirety of the notch at 7:45pm – it took us nearly two hours to cover a mile. At first it was fun, but after a while it became infuriating.
I just wanted to find a place to camp. (Notice my tone – I’m starting to get really whiny here – just ask Greyhound) Unfortunately, the Bull Branch campsite is over-full.
We press on and cross the stream up trail from camp. There was a bit of a ledge – just large enough for two people to sleep and not be on the AT. I had had enough.
I was having this embarrassing problem with the skin on my back. After a long day of hiking, at some point, the sweat on my shirt would have this reaction with my back – I’d break out in a million tiny red dots that itched like you wouldn’t believe. I’d have to throw my pack down at times and rub my back against a tree. I couldn’t figure it out.
But this time, the burning was bad. I threw my pack down, ripped my shirt off, and started bathing right in the middle of the creek. I was cussing and half-crying – it was awful. I scrubbed my back and put on a clean shirt – it somewhat helped. I then apologized to Greyhound for throwing a temper tantrum.
But it seems as if my crappy mood had struck a nerve – she joined right in. She was just as miserable right now. The trail was difficult, we were on semi-aggressive timeline. The weather. Beef jerky and tuna packets. Her busted Brooks trail runners. It all came out.
We sat on the edge of the creek and made dinner. Maybe it was good we voiced the resentments we’d been building up towards the AT, the hike, everything. It felt cathartic.
I didn’t clean my pot. I didn’t pack up my food. I just fell asleep on the ledge next to the creek.