Thursday, September 25, 2014

Advice to Future ATers

Upcoming Presentations:
*Oct 29th: AT Presentation at Mazamas Mountaineering Center (43rd/Stark), 7pm, free
*Nov 1st: AT Presentation at the Oregon Trails Club Annual Weekend Backpacking Seminar at Nesika Lodge in the Columbia Gorge (registration required)
*Nov 12th: AT Presentation at  REI Portland (limited registration, will be posted soon) 6:30pm

I know that planning a thru hike can be overwhelming no matter how experienced you are. I had those same questions everyone has about the AT (how do you deal with the rain? which towns require a resupply box? should I use a down sleeping bag?...). I'll do my best to sum it all up in an organized and concise way for you and I hope you all find it helpful! This would have been GOLD for me before a hike and would have saved me a ton of time, so I hope it helps!

STOP! Become an ATC Member
If you are planning a section or thru hike on the Appalachian Trail and you aren't an Appalachian Trail Conservancy Member, sign up NOW! It is shocking to me how many people hike the trail and aren't members or don't at least give a donation. There are no fees required to hike the AT yet it takes the effort of countless volunteers and staff to maintain the trail. It is only $40 and you get the perks of a subscription to AT Journeys and discounts on all ATC purchases. If you divide that $40 by the 2,185.3 miles of trail you'll be walking, that's less than 2 cents/mi. I know there are those cheapos out there trying to do this on a minimal budget, but for the sake of trail karma, just do it! If you don't, the trail gods will be watching and the storm clouds and mice will follow you the whole trail...

A.T. Guide
It seems that 90% of hikers on the AT use the AT Guide and solely that (without maps) to hike the trail. I know it's shocking that people don't carry maps, but the trail is so well marked that it isn't needed and if you go off, the blazes are a different color and you quickly realize it and turn around.I am in no way telling you to enter the woods without maps, but I am telling you that's what most hikers do. I would never go without some kind of map and I used an app which I'll recommend below for GPS backup. Some like the pocket profiles for an overview, but they are in no way needed to hike and the detailed elevation charts are on each page. It's a great guide and also includes all the town info you would need. It can be purchased Nobo or Sobo and with the option of having it bound as a book or loose leaf if you plan to ship the pages in sections. Only $15 and a steal for all that it gives you! I scanned it and had it on my phone as a backup and ended up using the scanned version instead and had the paper ones as backup. There is even an option to buy a pdf version that I heard has links that go directly to the website or phone number when you touch it. A portion of the purchase does go to the ATC. There are data books and companion guides created and sold by volunteers of the ATC, but I rarely saw one in use and only heard about how they were not as helpful as the AT Guide. It is unfortunate as I know many would like for 100% of the funds to go back to the ATC, so there is that option if you are one of those people.

Guthook's AT Hiker App
Um...Guthook's AT Hiker App is AWESOME!!! It isn't necessary to have this app to successfully hike the trail, but it certainly makes it a lot more enjoyable. I used this app just as much, if not more than the AT Guide. The two of them combined give you all the info you could possibly want. At the touch of a button, you can see your location on a topo map or elevation chart. There is a plethora of information as he has marked shelters, unofficial campsites, towns, water sources, viewpoints, road crossings, photos, and pretty much anything you can think of. This would not be in place of maps or a guide as it doesn't have all the same sites and sources in the guide, but it is a great supplement and sometimes has more info not listed in the guide. I know it seems pricey, but just buy one section and you'll be hooked! I loved seeing exactly where I was on a climb and the locations of the unofficial campsites which aren't mentioned anywhere else. No service is required as it works off your phone's GPS. He also has the app available for many other trails including the PCT and CDT. If you still aren't sure, here is the link to video demos of the app in action

Rain Gear
Training in the rain gear.
Perhaps one of the biggest worries for people headed out on the AT is what to do about all that rain. I didn't feel like it rained too much on my hike and after I counted it out, it was more than I thought and there were 24 days with significant rain or a downpour. Everyone has their own strategy, but know that it may morph as you hike. It is cold rain to start the first month or so. Then it changes to rain in heat and humidity so high that it's a relief. Depending on how late you end, the cold rain could return at the end of your hike. It's a matter of personal preference and comfort levels, so test out strategies at home when you can. I am the type that gets cold chills and has difficulty warming once I'm wet, so I chose to be as protected as possible. I LOVED the umbrella and was the envy of many on trail in the rain. It was amazing and I found a link that showed me how to connect it to my pack so I could use my umbrella hands free. Remember that I am small, so I was easily covered fully and able to duck under branches, but I know bigger and taller hikers that also loved their umbrella. I would tell everyone to take an umbrella on trail and at least try it out. You can always send it home. I used the GoLite Chrome Dome which sells out regularly so put in a request to get one early before it's too late! Some rains were blustery and horizontal and the umbrella still helped and kept my core dry. Other times I'd be in a full downpour and almost all of me would stay dry. Just love it! 

I also carried a light rain jacket, OR Helium, rain pants. and blue latex gloves to go over my gloves. The rain pants may have been overkill, but for me they were worth carrying for the few times I used them, mainly early in the hike. Some did use ponchos, just a rain jacket, or nothing at all. Just know you will get wet with all these options so it's how comfortable you are with being wet and how much protection do you want. In addition, I used a trash compactor bag as an inner liner in my pack and it kept everything completely dry. Yes, the pack was wet, but it dried quickly and will usually get wet anyway with a pack cover.

What Tent Should I Bring?
The thing about the AT is that it is not a remote trail with no shelter. It will have inclement weather, but your shelter can vary greatly person to person depending on your comfort level and pocketbook. It does get quite humid and hot at times, so an option of mesh and draft is nice. I used a cuben fiber tent from ZPacks called the Soloplex and I highly recommend it, but it is really expensive and understandably not necessary. There are shelters that many use, but don't count on them and be prepared to use a tent in the rain if a shelter is full. My advice is to go as light as you can and still afford it. There are a whole range of tents so don't fret. If you get a tent that is not free standing, I suggest cuben fiber over sil-nylon if you can afford it just because the sil-nylon sags and will be a pain to have to tighten it repeatedly through the night in rain. If you choose sil-nylon, the Tarptent, Light Heart Gear, and Six Moon Designs tents are great options. It won't be the end of the world, but just a pain from time to time. As for the free standing tents, with poles...if you don't mind the weight of carrying it, go right ahead. Just remember that it also absorbs a ton of water, will be even heavier after rain, and takes a ton of time to dry out too. A good option here would be the Big Agnes Fly Creek. These aren't all the options, just the more popular ones. Basically, you get what you pay for.

Down or Synthetic?
It is quite humid and wet out there sometimes, but if you keep your things dry, down is not a problem at all. It is much lighter, so I prefer it. I get cold easily and used my 10 degree down bag (which is probably 20 degree after the CDT) and down jacket the whole way and was fine...but I definitely could have gotten away with ~30 degree bag and it was used more as a blanket or not at all much of the trail. The down jacket was a pillow most of the trip, but the few times I used it, I was happy to have carried it. Again, I get cold easily. My point here is, if you want to use down, it will be fine.

Ticks are abundant along the Appalachian Trail and many hikers get Lyme Disease which can become serious quite quickly. I had my clothes professionally treated with permethrin and it seemed to work for both ticks and mosquitoes. I had one tick that actually bit me and it was a day I wore non-treated socks. People around me without treated clothing had ticks all over them at times. I used Insect Shield LLC, a company in North Carolina that sells and treats clothing with permethrin. Their repellency is invisible, odorless, EPA registered, and lasts for 70 launderings. Here is the link to the form if you're interested in having your clothing treated. They were wonderful to work with! The section where I experienced the full height of the ticks was the second half of Virginia, but it can occur anywhere anytime.

Peanut Eater's AT Planner
A great thing about the AT that makes it appealing to many hikers is that there is very little planning required. As far as I can remember, there aren't any places where I'd say you MUST send a resupply box. Now there may be a couple where you will walk out with 20 of the same overpriced bar and a jar of peanut butter, but you won't starve. One complaint I have about the AT Guide is that you do have to thumb through it to find towns and there isn't a list of them in an index with the mileages. I do, however, have a planner from fellow hiker, Peanut Eater, who made this spreadsheet I used and enjoyed on the AT and the CDT. You will need to specify it to your planned pace and your year's mileages/towns, but it's great! It is also a reality check to see the dates and mileages required to hike it in 5-6 months.
Peanut Eater's AT here to download.
I've made a master copy that can be shared. Just click on this link and it will bring it up in Google Drive. You don't need a login. You can then save your own copy and rename it so that you can make your own doc and edit it as you please adding/removing towns. I think most towns are listed on the master, but I'm sure some might be missing. If you prefer excel, just download it under the "file" tab when it comes up. I found it to be helpful to keep it in my Google Drive as it automatically synced with my resupply person, anyone I shared it with, and the embedded chart I had on my blog. For planners, it's a piece of GOLD. THANK YOU to Peanut Eater for sharing it!

Trail Town Thoughts
The trail as it goes through Hot Springs, NC
There is one thing the AT definitely isn't lacking and that's Trail Towns. I stressed about this going into the hike and tried to plan out each town stop. With the abundance of towns and unpredictable events like weather and injuries, it is very difficult to make a plan ahead of time, so be willing to be flexible and leave room for changes. A friend of mine made me a listing of their trail town experiences and thoughts and I've done the same for those interested in my thoughts. Bear in mind, I tend to hike larger mileage gaps between towns than most and when I get to town I tend to avoid the hostels or places where a lot of hikers would be. I look for a quiet place that is fairly affordable, has a continental breakfast, laundry and most importantly, has good wifi! It's all a matter of personal preference, but here is my two cents of the AT towns I visited. I found it helpful to carry a copy of this on my phone and used my friend's suggestions as I hiked as it's all Greek months ahead of time when you aren't even there yet. Click here to see my AT Trail Town Thoughts.


Approach Trail or Not?
The arch at the start of the Approach Trail
Oh man, people stress way too much about this one! You have two options. One is to start at the Springer Mtn parking where you will hike uphill and south on the AT for a mile to summit Springer and then back down again to hike north to Katahdin. The other option is to start at Amicalola Falls State Park and hike 9mi on the approach trail. I hiked the Approach Trail and my journal entry about it is here. I chose to do it for a couple reasons. One is that I didn't want to hike south to get to Springer. I liked the anticipation and feeling of walking up the Approach. Second, I will only be there once, so why not see the falls and hike those infamous 604 steps up to the top? My two cents, the hike up the steps to the top of the falls was about a mile and totally enjoyable. The rest of it going to Springer was somewhat boring. I'm glad I did it and still wouldn't feel right about hiking south on a trail to begin it and turn around. For that same reason, I chose to hike north off Katahdin at the end doing the Knife Edge Trail rather than back down the AT the way I came up. When will I be able to do it again and why not see something new? If an extra 9mi has you in a tizzy you might want to think again about hiking 2,185mi. If you choose to start at Springer, at least drop by Amicalola Falls State Park to officially sign the register, see what number northbounder you are, and weigh your pack. 

The Whites & Maine
Typcial rocky, rooty, Maine trail...
Screw hooks for wooden tent platforms.
Starting around mile 1790 and going on through Maine, the trail is MUCH SLOWER going and your mileage will drop significantly by about 1/4-1/3. I was doing mid to upper 20s before I hit the Whites and it dropped to upper teens and low 20s the last few weeks of the trail. It's due to a combination of things...It's the end of the trail and your body is tired. There are tons more rocks, roots, and steep ups and downs which make for very slow going. Finally, there is much more scenery and lakes and you'll want to just stop more often to take it in and enjoy it. Maine is even slower, so don't think you're in the clear after New Hampshire. From about mile 1790-1866, you are in the Whites and required to sleep at designated campsites or really nice huts where you can pay a lot or work for stay. I won't go into detail as it is explained in the AT Guide, but I found it easy to camp and avoid the huts as I don't like mass group bunking. I was still able to stop in the huts along the way and was offered free food as a thru at each hut, so that is possible, but it will depend on how many hikers are also around you. If you choose to tent, there will be many times when wooden tent pads are required to pitch on. This is difficult to do with a non free standing tent that needs to be staked out, so I recommend getting little  There is also a stealth camping list for the Whites that I have linked here that many find helpful too. Enjoy it! It's the best part of the whole trail and you've worked hard to get there!

Katahdin casts an early morning shadow.
I just loved my Katahdin experience! Camping at the Birches allowed for a relaxed ascent as it is the final option to camp and just 5mi before the top of Katahdin. Bear in mind that it is still a full day of hiking as it is a slow 5mi and you'll need time to celebrate and then return down one way or another. I really recommend starting out before the sun rises as it completely added to the experience and hiking up as the sun rose and the mountain cast a shadow over us was pretty incredible. I chose to take the Knife Edge Trail off Katahdin for multiple reasons. Mainly, I knew it would be a unique experience and I wanted to experience something new rather than returning southbound on the AT, which I would find to be anti-climactic. You'll hear a lot of hype about how dangerous it is and how scary "the Chimney" is, but if you've hiked the AT, it isn't anything you haven't already done. Many choose to hike up Katahdin with a day pack and worry about having to take their whole pack up over Knife Edge Trail...again, it's nothing you haven't already experienced and it is a narrow rocky ridge, but not anything you wouldn't be able to do with a pack on if you have already done the rest of the AT.


Other Random Tips/Suggestions...
*It's called the green tunnel for a good reason. Much of the hike will be in the woods with few views once the trees leaf out. The mental drain will really happen as the heat and humidity sets in north of West Virginia. Be ready for it and have strategies for entertaining your mind and passing the time. I used music, audiobooks, hiking with fun people, and phone calls to make it more enjoyable.

*It will be tempting to stop in towns and socialize early on, but keep a good pace as it only gets pricier and more rugged up north. New Hampshire and Maine are the reward, but they won't feel that way if you are too tired, too late in the season, and/or too broke to enjoy it. Just remember that down south.

*Don't limit yourself to camping at shelters. You have a whole forest out there and there are tons of unofficial campsites. Change it up and make it an adventure.

*They call Pennsylvania "Rocksylvania" and that is deceiving as it's actually north of PA where it gets really rocky. The rocks don't start until well into the state (north of  Port Clinton, PA, mile 1214) and when they do come it's in spurts, so your mileage won't go down too much.

*Your knees will HURT! I've never felt hiking in my knees and if you have knee issues, you may want to rethink this one. It is the downhill more than the uphill that takes many off the trail. Especially the last 400mi of're gonna feel it!

*Dampness+Rain+Humidity= Lots of chafing! From day one til the end I'd have flare ups of chafing like I've never experienced before. Just be sure to always carry something. I used body glide, but many others needed stronger things. Just carry something small all the time as it can come out of nowhere and it is quite painful.

*Verizon is, by far, the best reception on trail. I had reception each day (often most of the day), except for maybe a few days. 

I think that's it...I hope you found this informative and helpful. Let me know if I've left any major common questions lingering and I'll do my best to answer them...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

AT, by the Numbers...

Gotta love the stats! One of my favorite posts to do...and one of the most time consuming to write. Totally worth it! Enjoy...
Georgia to Maine
Miles: 2,185.3mi
April 17th-August 5th
Start #: 1,195
Finish #: 135
Days to hike the trail: 111 days
Zero days(no hiking): 6 days
Average daily mileage(including zeros): 19.7mi/day
Average daily mileage(excluding zeros): 20.8mi/day
AT High Point:6,655ft (Clingman's Dome in Smokies, N Carolina)
AT Low Point: 120ft (Bear Den at Trailside Zoo, New York)

State Mileages (from ATC site)
Georgia: 76.4mi
North Carolina: 95.5mi
Tennessee: 287.9mi
Virginia: 550.3mi
West Virginia: 4mi
Maryland: 40.9mi
Pennsylvania: 229.6mi
New Jersey: 72.2mi
New York: 88.4mi
Connecticut: 51.6mi
Massachusetts: 90.2mi
Vermont: 149.8mi
New Hampshire: 160.9mi
Maine: 281.4mi 

Trail Town Stats
Trail Towns: 24 
Nights spent in a hotel/inn: 15
Nights spent in a hostel: 2
Nights hosted by a trail angel/friend: 8
Nights at a town campsite: 1
Resupply boxes sent to myself: 14
Times I sent my laptop to myself: 4
Hitches (from strangers): 7 
Rides (prearranged or friends): 28
Cars Rented: 1
Times I ate Subway!: 21 Subs:)

Random Trail Stuff: 
Nights I slept in my tent: 84
Nights camped solo: 25  
Most miles hiked in one day: 30.4mi
Least miles hiked in one day: 2.9mi 
Days I hiked 30-35mi: 3 days
Days I hiked 25-30mi: 32 days
Days I hiked 20-25mi: 32 days
Days I hiked 15-20mi: 26 days
Days I hiked 10-15mi: 12 days
Days I hiked less than 10mi: 11 days
Days with significant precipitation or heavy rain: 23 days
Bear Sightings: 4 (3 in Shenandoah area, 1 in NY)
Moose Sightings: 0, BOO! 
Days I threw up: 1 (much improved!)
Audiobooks listened to: 10 
Nights in a shelter: 1 (final night at The Birches in Baxter)
Hikers I spent multiple days hiking with: 3...Ferris, Kallins, Jett Cat
Most consecutive miles/days spent with another hiker: Jett Cat, 373mi/21 days
Falls resulting in significant scrapes/blood/bruises: 3 (in a two day period in PA!) 
Most miles/days between zeros: 522.6mi/24 days Delaware Water Gap, PA-Franconia Notch, NH
Longest gap between resupplies: 134mi/6 days, Daleville-Waynesboro, VA

Weighing the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Pack.

Gear Stats
Base Pack Weight: 12lbs 13.2oz
Total Cost of Gear(not on sale): ~$4,060
Pairs of Shoes: 5
Pairs of Socks: 10
Pole tips replaced: 1
Gear lost or left behind and then found: 1, my fav beanie on the first day!
Gear I lost on the trail: 1 chapstick, water bottle, sunscreen bottle, sunglasses, MP3 player, 3 pee rags(ha!)
# of Headphones lost: NONE! (two hikes in a row, yeah!)

Monday, September 15, 2014

An Overdue Update

Hello everyone! I first want to apologize for the lengthy gap between updates. This is well overdue and lots has happened in the last month, so I wanted to update everyone before I get too far behind. I'm in a time crunch so this will be as direct as I can make it. All is GREAT and I really couldn't ask for a better life right now. 
What have you been up to?
After I finished the Long Trail, I spent a fun two weeks in Chicago with my twin sister and her family, which includes my 1 and 3yr old nephews. I have officially been home in Portland for just two weeks and I immediately dove right into working as a substitute teacher and nanny with many days a week being 13hr days. I find that diving right into work and projects is how I adjust best to being off trail and I've definitely done that. I seem to have over committed in all aspects of life, but hey, that's better than not having enough to do I guess. I have a lot to do just to settle in after being gone so long and I have agreed to some independent articles that I need to write and presentations (see dates above) I need to put together. I have the thank you cards I like to send out to those of you who were so supportive to me and I hope to get them filled out and sent soon. My fall shows kick into full swing starting next week (so excited!) so it's really going to be difficult to focus and get things done. I swear it's like self imposed homework! Eventually, I will get my gear review and AT stats done, but it may be November, sorry! 
During the little time I have open, I've been trying to see friends and I've had some great celebratory triple crown meals! I was even fortunate enough to get a personally made triple crown! Thanks to my friend Craig for that one! I did get to go to PCT Days in Cascade Locks and it was a fun reunion of hikers and people from the hiking community. Squatch even flew out west to MC the longest raffle in history!

What About Squatch's Documentary?
Squatch is still out east hiking and filming. His goal is to have the documentary done (which should include me, Jett Cat, and the Kallins) sometime in March. It will have a one time premiere showing in a Portland theater that will be fun to go to and it will be available, like his other films, to order on DVD or download. I will keep everyone updated for when it comes out! Here is the link to his website where you can see his other films too.

The Kallins Finished!
All In, Cartwheel, Mama Bear, Robin Hood...The Kallins!
Those of you who missed it, the Kallins (who I adore and overlapped with in Shenandoah) finished the trail on Sept 1st. I just love their finish photo and had to share it! We got to Skype recently and I miss them greatly. Such an awesome family and I recommend reading their journal during the off season if you missed it. They are only the 16th family to complete the AT with young children. The Portland, Maine news even did a report on them and I was mentioned in it too. Click here to see that. So cool! 

When is the Triple Crowning?
There is an official Triple Crown ceremony where this year's class of triple crowners (completed by Sept 1st) will receive their plaques. It takes place the last weekend in September each year at the Gathering, which is a weekend event hosted by ALDHA West (American Long Distance Hiking Association West). This year, the Gathering will take place in Stampede Pass, WA and it is open to the public with a weekend full of events and guest speakers. Registration is open until September 19th for anyone interested in attending. Due to work commitments, I will only be there Saturday night for the Triple Crown Dinner. Just two weeks away! My next post will be after that weekend so I'll share that with everyone.

What about New Zealand??
I have gotten a lot of inquiries about the possible Te Araroa hike in New Zealand that was mentioned in the AT Closing Thoughts with Jett Cat. Unfortunately, it isn't in the cards for this year as Jett Cat needs to be smart and save for upcoming grad school (stupid responsibility!) that starts in the fall. Don't worry, that hike is still in my future and there may still be future adventures with Jett Cat as we keep in touch as she will be in California and not far away. I've had many of you ask why we don't just do a "fund my hike" type of crowd sourcing and I can tell you that I know it would work to raise the money, but it just isn't my way of doing things. I like earning my hikes and so does Jett Cat. We are each fortunate to have had the adventures we've already had in life and more well earned trips will come in time.

So, What IS Next Then??? 
Seriously people, do you think that with all that's going on that I've even had time to dream up a new hike and start planning it?...well, of course I have! I am quite excited about my ideas for this coming Spring/Summer, but I will leave everyone in suspense and I plan to formally announce my intentions in November or December once I've finally wrapped up the AT stuff. Don't worry, I'm not done yet and there are many more years of hiking ahead of me. I hope you all stick around for the ride...

One More Thing...
The weather has been too good to resist and I did go backpacking this past weekend. I got to do the Round the Mountain Trail around Mt Adams and it was such a great hike! It is 38mi with about 7mi of route finding along an unmaintained side of the mountain on an Indian Reservation. It even overlapped the PCT for 9mi and I was in HEAVEN! I got to break in my brand new Gossamer Gear Mariposa Pack which has been improved and updated and just been released this past month. So sweet! Here it is in action and below is the full slideshow of the trip. Those of you on a mobile device may need to view the slideshow on a desktop. Thank you to fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador, Allgood, for organizing such an awesome trip!
The new Gossamer Gear Mariposa pack in action with Mt Rainier in the background.
Slideshow: Round the Mountain Trail, Mt Adams

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Vermont's Long Trail Slideshow

As a closing summary to Vermont's Long Trail, here is the photo slideshow of the 273mi trail from Massachusetts to Canada. I did the first ~100mi that overlapped the AT in early July. Then I returned immediately after completing the AT in early August to complete the final 173mi of the Long Trail.

Vermont's Long Trail Slideshow(273mi)

Friday, August 15, 2014


Buchanan Mtn(258.3)-CANADA(272.8)
Aug 15th
14.5mi+1.3mi Journey's End Tr=15.8mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.

I took lots of photos and typed in detail for the final day, so I hope you enjoy this final entry! I had a good night of sleep for my final night and awoke to an odd crinkling noise. I was a bit disoriented and then realized the sound was RAIN! Not acceptable for a final day! It was just a slight mist as if I was in a cloud and it was pretty cold out in the upper 40s, so I lounged in the tent hoping it would stop...and it did, whew. I packed up and wore my rain pants, long sleeves, and rain jacket. The rain had stopped, but I knew I had lots of cold wet brush to go through and I was right. I warmed up, but the temps stayed cool for the day and it cleared a bit as I headed up the last major climb of Jay Peak. There is a lodge there that usually sells food, but it was closed. The clouds were still coming in and out, so the view was a bit obstructed.

The hiking today was much smoother with more trail that I could relax on and less of the jarring slick up and downhill on mossy rocks and roots. It was a good way to end the hike. There was still brush and mud to contend with, but it wasn't bad.

I've been holding back on commenting about this because I didn't want to jinx anything, but I am shocked at how well my body has responded to the hiking this summer. I actually feel like I could physically keep hiking...mentally, I am ready to take a break for awhile. I am most shocked by my weak ankles (known in previous journals as bad and fat ankles) and that they survived. They rolled from time to time each day, but nothing major and I feel really fortunate to have survived without a major issue. I was extra careful today as I was paranoid that I'd do something stupid on the last day. I was just careful in my footing not wanting to fall on the last day. I kid you not, just ten minutes from the border, I came to a slick log in a muddy spot, told myself to take my time and my first step slipped right off the log sucking my leg almost to my knee...I had to laugh at myself and take a photo. One last farewell kiss from the Long Trail!

I saw many southbounders today who started in the morning and they had seen other northbounders well ahead of me that were also finishing today. I found it funny as I have seen practically no one all week! I didn't run into anyone at the border so I was creative and found ways to prop up the camera for some delayed shots at the end and at the monument. Pretty proud of what I got...

I loved the sky today! The clouds, dark blue hues, and distant mountain ranges reminded me of the Cascades and the end of the PCT. It was pretty perfect in my book. At the end of the Long Trail, there is a rocky outcropping and when you climb up on it, this is the view you are hit with. I was stoked!

There is a swath cut through the trees like the other border endings, but it is less defined and you can see it slightly in the distance behind the monument. I saw CANADA carved into the monument and got a great rush. I made the right choice to end the summer here!

I had time and took an hour to sit on the rock and have lunch hoping a hiker might pass by to help with photos. I was happy to be having the last of my trail food for awhile and look forward to regular meals. Speaking of which, I want to thank my step mom, Robin, who did another amazing job of sending out my resupplies and being a home base for all of you that sent care packages. Robin is now a triple crown resupplier! THANK YOU ROBIN!!!

So, no such luck with another hiker coming along, but I was fortunately able to get the camera propped up again for good shots. I can say that this past week and especially being solo today seemed quite fitting to end this summer. I always think these trails have something to teach me if I'm open to receiving the message and I think the LT was hitting me over the head with solitude to realize how fortunate I was to have bonded with others on the AT. It really drove home much of what I learned on the AT about sharing the experience with others and I'm going to do my best to be more open to that in the future...ok Long Trail!? Did you hear that!? I'm calling mercy!

Those of you that have followed all summer will remember Ferris who I overlapped with for a week my first month on trail. He coincidentally finished on Katahdin today so here's his finishing photo which is just great! Way to go Ferris!!!

In order to get to civilization, there is a 1.3mi trail called "Journey's End Trail." How perfect is that!? I had no idea that it was named that until today and I got goosebumps of pride when I saw it written on the sign at the end. Pretty darn great way to end this summer!

I mentioned the other day that I had met hikers Terry and Sherry earlier this summer in July when the AT overlapped with the LT. They offered to shuttle me at the end and host me on my final night. The timing was perfect and they even arrived with pink lemonade and chocolate milk!

On the drive out, I noticed a sign that had two big American and Canadian flags...I couldn't resist so we jumped out of the car and got a shot with the flags before someone came to stop us...

Terry and Sherry were awesome hosts and I got to end the hike with a celebratory homemade steak dinner! It was fun to talk trail as they have done the Long Trail and know it quite well. They even had a great framed poster of the trail and it was cool to see all I had done. THANK YOU Terry and Sherry for sharing this great day with me and making it even more memorable!

So, that's the end of our trip this summer everyone! I hope you enjoyed it and stick around for what may come next. I want to thank everyone for being so interactive and supportive. It really does feel like I'm hiking with all of you on my end, so it's been just as motivating and inspiring for me as it has for all of you. My goal with the blog is to bring everyone along with me as best I can and I hope that I've done that for you. I've been hooked on hiking blogs before and I know there will be some withdrawal, but I'm not done yet. This will be my last daily entry for awhile, but I'll be writing some post trail things on gear and AT/LT advice in the next month or two, so stay tuned...

So What's Next?
I get the question, "What's next?" all the time and my first answer to this is REST and HERMIT TIME! I am not done hiking and there are many options on the list. It was mentioned after the AT that Jett Cat and I are contemplating the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand this winter. It will be some time before we can figure out if finances and timing will align for that, but if it doesn't happen this year, I know I have things I would like to hike this coming spring and summer. Don't worry, I'm not done yet.

As for the immediate future, I'm going to Boston tomorrow and then I will fly to Chicago where my twin sister, Siobhan, is with my two nephews(1yr and almost 3yrs old). My sister has done a ton to make it easier for me while I'm trail and actually does a lot to help with the blog each night by doing final photo edits I can't do from my phone and then posting them to Facebook for everyone. I definitely owe her big time so I will be helping to take care of my nephews for two weeks so she can get a break. I think this may wear me out more than the hiking, ha! Here they are attempting Wired poses with my sister, so we will work on perfecting that!

Plus, just yesterday, little Aidan started walking! I'm the proud aunt so I'm attaching the video as I'm sure he'll grow up to be an awesome hiker someday. For now, I'm just excited he'll be ready to walk with aunt Wired!

I'll return to Portland, OR in September get right back to the life I love there. Substitute teaching and nannying to save up for the next big venture. So hopefully, I'll be back sooner than later. If you haven't subscribed to get my updates by email, the link is in the upper left hand corner of the blog. I also throw things on my Wired Facebook page from time to time that doesn't make the blog. Again, thanks for sharing this journey with me and best wishes to all of you on your future journeys as well!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 13: It's Time

Corliss Camp(235.6)-Buchanan Mtn(258.3)
Aug 14th
22.7mi+.4mi side trail=23.1mi

Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook's Long Trail Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT, CDT, and AT.

It was a good night to sleep in the shelter. It rained pretty hard most of the night and temps dropped significantly. It would have been a rough night in a tent. I took my time getting ready as it was chilly and damp outside. It was barely 50 degrees, but felt colder with the dampness and wind. I left at 6:45am and kept my jacket on most of the morning. There was more brush today too so the jacket helped with all the wet brush, which was sometimes over my head.

Again, I really don't have too much to say about the day as there just isn't much going on here. The fall like weather and extended solitude has me ready to be done. I've had my fill for the summer and am ready to return to the "real world" for awhile. It's time. I know it's time when I find myself thinking of home and off trail life than I the trail. I feel like this was just the right amount of time I needed to reflect on this summer and say goodbye to the trail for awhile. I did see this sign later in the day and get excited!

There is almost no one on trail and a few day hikers from time to time, so I've been alone 90% of the time this last week. I don't think I'd mind it too much if there was more going on, but I think I've had my fill of forested hiking without views. The morning hiking got me to Mt Belvidere for lunch and it wasn't too bad. Gradual trail from time to time, but also some of the slow going slick rock, root, and mud. There were moments partway through the morning that were images I wanted to remember that stood out so here are some.

Mt Belvidere had a viewpoint and lookout tower that was .2 off trail so I technically had no views over the ~23mi of hiking today. I needed a motivator so I took the side trail to the view and had lunch. It was a great view and well worth it! It was really gusty up top so I went up quickly to get some panoramic shots. It was still cold out so I wore all my layers while I ate, but it was worth having lunch there for my own sanity.

The seven miles after lunch were tough for me. A ton of PUDs(Pointless Ups & Downs)! It suuucccked! The terrain was pretty rugged and wet. Each step required a ton of focus and precision. It would go up steeply less than 100ft and then right back down for hours. Lots of close calls and slips, but thankfully I got out alive and nothing major. I felt like I wasn't making any progress and I was surprised to see I had still done 19mi by 4pm. Here's some of the terrain but difficult to show steepness. Just trying to show slickness.

I wanted to try to end at a viewpoint for my last campsite, but all the mountains were forested summits. There was an overlook .2mi after Buchanan Mtn and I aimed for that hoping a spot would be nearby to put the tent. No such luck. The overlook was on top of a rock and barely anything between trees.

It was super brushy and I ended up hiking back .2mi to the summit to an open space.

The trail was wet and muddy today so my feet were soaked for the second day in a row and it wasn't pretty. Of course I had to document it...

So not the ending I would have liked, but it's not raining and nice and cold for good sleeping. After being alone so much and having no view today, I decided to do a fb post on my Wired page so people could say hi. That was fun and lifted my spirits, so thanks to those who commented! I also got to talk on the phone with LoveNote who is a great person to reflect with. I did the best with what I had and it was fun to end with a wired night, ha! 14mi left to CANADA BABY!!! Goodnight everyone...