Gorham to Katahdin, Yeeha!

22 07 2009

Here is a little (ok, maybe a lot) more detail about the stretch between Gorham and the end.

After meeting up with Panama Red and Jolly Rancher at The Cabin, they were going to do a 26 miler slack pack day the next day, to be picked up by another hostel owner, Bob O’Brian at Gull Pond Lodge in Rangeley, ME at a random road. Slack packing is where you have somebody take your full pack for the day, while you do big miles with a day pack. It is a really sweet way to make miles, but it can be expensive because you have to pay for your host’s road mileage there and back. Thankfully, it is cheaper when you split the fare, as I did with Panama and J.R.

We actually slacked the next three days, once again with Bob, then two days with Susan from the Stratton Motel out of Stratton, ME. It was really nice to get some of the more rainy Maine days out of the way while sleeping indoors every night. 180 (Dan) even caught up with me in Stratton, on our second day there, and I saw him the next day as we were going over Saddleback mtn. Saddleback is a beautiful ridge above treeline, where, at the summit, you can see both Mt. Washington and Mt. Katahdin on a clear day. I met Dan on the summit that last day amid the beauty of sun, wind, mountain views and clouds and we made our adieus as he went on to hike on his own and I went on with Panama and J.R. to the finish. It was a beautiful though somewhat sad moment.

After our final slack packing day, it was time to get to Monson, ME, home of Shaw’s hostel. We did it in three days, staying at Pierce Pond and Moxie Bald Brook shelters the two nights. Pierce Pond has a reputation on the AT for being the most beautiful shelter location, and this is not without reason. Amid a beautiful pine floor forest, the shelter sits on the pond’s edge. We got in early and watched the sunset on July 9th, Panama’s birthday and the day the rainy weather in Maine broke. The next morning I went to Harrison’s camp, a camp mostly for anglers and day hikers. But since it’s just on the other side of the pond from the A.T. shelter, he provides an amazing “patriotic” pancakes (apples, blueberries and raspberries) for breakfast. I decided it was worth the detour and was treated to perhaps the most delicious, home made pancakes I’ve ever eaten. (Though, I must admit, on the trail as a whole, I had many a pancake and most were the best I’ve ever eaten … 🙂

We then had a string of 9 days of sunshine, maintaining the weather to our glorious finish!

We got in to Monson on the third day, stayed at Shaw’s hostel (also infamous on the trail) and ate tasty bbq and enjoyed the usual town gamut of laundry, showers, comfy beds and good company.

The most wonderful thing about Shaw’s, however, is their All You Can Eat Breakfast complete with eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes. They ask you what number of everything you’d like, and keep pumping out the dishes until you say no more. Wow. That was amazing. Plus coffee and OJ. mmmmmmm.

That day, however, we began the 100 mile wilderness. A word about this well-taled trail section: the signs warn you to take 10 days (minimum) of food and supplies once you enter, because there are no (paved) roads and it is some of Maine’s thickest/wildest woods. Most Southbounders are happy to get it done in 10 days or even 9 or 8. Same with section and day hikers. We, however, originally planned to do it in 6, since there are some good flat bits on the northern end.  We planned roughly 20 ish mile days for each day.

The first day we did 15, and were happy to meet a recently finished 09 NOBO hiker (Splinter) who had come back to the trail to do magic. He greeted me at Long Pond shelter with a six pack each of PBR and Long trail ale. I was happy to meet him indeed. Panama and J.R. soon joined us and completed the party. That was an excellent finish to our first day in the “Wilderness.”

In the “wilderness” you also can get cell phone reception on any hill or mountain above 2,000 feet.

Next day we did 21 to Carl A. Newhall, and once I arrived (after seeing a moose about 10 feet in front of me on the trail!!!!), I discovered 3 section hiker men and 2 SoBos already in the 6 person shelter. I, as well as Panama and J.R. had all mailed our tents home to shed weight for the final stretch, so perhaps the first few words out of my mouth after greeting them were “I don’t have a tent and there are three guys behind me who don’t either.  Do any of you have tents?” Amazingly (amidst much groaning and whining) the two SoBos got their stuff together and got out of the shelter, heading toward the tentsites nearby. I felt pretty bad, but they were amazingly compliant about it. When my boys arrived, they were tickled pink that I had cleared out the shelter for them and even a little surprised at the SoBoers’ amicability. When I asked them what they would have done if the SoBos hadn’t gotten out, they said “kept walking.” Mind you, this would have been 4 more miles up and over Whitecap mtn. after 8 pm.  I was glad the SoBoers didn’t consider this option!

That night Panama was mischevious. He was talking about pulling some 30 mile days and finishing the wilderness in the next two days instead of 3 or 4. J.R. and I (the more planning-minded of the three) were dismissive at first, but Panama’s amazing gift of gab and convincing abilities were in high form so we finally said that if he got up the next morning at 4:30 to hike 30 miles, we’d do it with him.

Sure enough, 4:30 am dawned gray and still, as we silently packed our things, gobbled some granola bars and headed over Whitecap. I was full of adrenaline, excitement and a sense of rebellion as we hiked our knees sore that day. With 11 miles to go at 3pm at our afternoon snack stop, I was nervous that the next shelter would be full as well and we would arrive too late and not as lucky as the night before. There was a small possibility of hiking a few extra miles and getting a ferry across a lake to White House Landing, an Inn and restaurant about a mile off trail, but in order to achieve that, we would have to make it there before sun down, which I was estimating at 7 or so. Anyway, with all of these worries buzzing around in my brain, I decided to try and hike the rest at 3 mph, so I booked it.

I got in to an excellently empty Potaywadjo Springs Shelter at 6:20pm, followed soon after by the boys at 6:30. We had booked it, and finished a glorious, beautiful day, through some very easy, very flat, (much of which was open, pine floored trail with a gorgeous brook or lake on one side — “wilderness” indeed) trail.

But the craziness wasn’t over. Panama proposed a 33 mile day for the ‘morrow, in order to complete the Wilderness and arrive at Abol Bridge, a campground 15 miles from Mt. Katahdin. J.R. and I didn’t argue as the alarm sounded next morning at 4 am and we were off again, coasting over flat,  muddy trail with many a lake or brook on one side and a few little hills on the way.

One of those hills, Nesuntabunt, went up to 2,000 some feet, so I (naturally) pulled out my cell phone to try and figure out a ride out of Baxter State Park. I called Cousin Jim with five bars of reception, (we had exchanged messages for a few days before, so he knew that I was now thinking of summiting the 18th), and told him I could summit either Friday the 17th or Saturday the 18th, depending on weather. I then had new flexibility since we had made such crazy miles. He told me to let him know when I knew and that they could not only come pick me up out of Baxter state park and take me to their place in Tamworth, but that Cousin Jim would drive me to Middlebury the next day. I was thrilled to have security about returning to civilization.

Then I hiked 24 more miles.

At the 5 mile to go mark after Rainbow ridge (which had a stunningly breathtaking view of Mt. Katahdin, sunny and clear of cloud cover), we stopped briefly at a shelter. Panama and J.R. were already there when I arrived. I crashed on the ground, feet throbbing, knees aching and brain turned to mush from the litany of it all. The boys were in high spirits (thanks to “5 Hour Energy” and “Gu” — they were into taking diet supplements to aid their hiking ability– read: lots of Bvitamins and Taurine ICK!!), but I was dragging. That is, until I ate a snickers bar and took some good old vitamin I (Ibuprofen). Then I was plucky as new and ready to “get ‘er done”!

We emerged from the “Wilderness” and crossed Abol bridge, to see none other than Panama’s Dad and brother-in-law in a van with a huge tub of pasta salad, leftover chicken, a dozen boiled eggs, champagne, and all sorts of goodies. Huzzah! What a finish. We gobbled everything in sight and settled for the night at the Pines campground on the lake’s edge, exhausted and content.

The next beautiful sunny day we did the easy 9 or so miles to Katahdin Springs campground, and rested at the Ranger station there, chatting to the Ranger and somewhat confused about what to do with ourselves since we had a complete half day of nothing to do. We hung around, ate lunch, made a fire and chatted as we waited for Panama’s crew to arrive with promised pizzas and beer for dinner. They soon came (amidst a beginning downpour) and we feasted on three pie-tins of spaghetti, three large pizzas and an 18-pack sitting inside our nice dry and warm shelters. Mmmmm, sooo lovely.

The next day, Friday, Panama, his crew and I planned to summit because we were really ready and because the weather was forecasted to be better than Saturday. J.R. was waiting for his family who would arrive to hike Saturday, so he took a zero in Millinocket (town 20 miles away). The day dawned cool and foggy, but without rain. I ate my last breakfast and packed my day-pack for the day. (The ranger station allows you to leave your full pack and take day packs they have there for the purpose).

I started up the trail at 6:30am, happy to be hiking “Big K”, finishing what has been such an amazing journey. It was surreal and hard to believe, I must admit. Here I was, a mere 5 miles and 4,000 ft away from the completion of a hike that began innocuously enough last August with the Mafia at Franconia Notch, NH. I was full of happy anticipation and eager to move.

What a hike, what a hike. I think I can say without room for much doubt that it was my favorite part of the trail. No mud, hardly any tricky roots, and after the first mile or two, mostly rounded granite rocks and large grain sand. The Katahdin stream and waterfall accompanied me for the first hour, clear, freezing and jolly as it poured off the mountain. I then came to a section where my poles became useless as I grappled up rocks, the occasional rebar aiding my path. I passed two groups of students, as I began to make it above the clouds and the morning sun shone on the white-gray rocks. The trees became fewer and fewer as I passed above treeline and made it onto the “table land”: a flat section on the AT approach trail to Katahdin that runs the ridge until the final incline. What a view! The air was cool and crisp, with a breeze blowing fog across the ridge occasionally, followed by brilliant sunlight and mountain views. My eyes remained ever forward, scanning the steep horizon for a now very familiar sign post amid the blowing fog and blinding sun.

And then, almost once I had resigned myself to wait longer than I’d thought: there it was! A crowd of people stood atop jagged rocks looking out at the view, but only one thing held my gaze: the Katahdin sign, standing so seemingly unaware of it’s much photographed glory. My pace increased unconsciously until my hand finally grazed the well weathered wood, the white painted letters nearly completely rubbed off. I couldn’t believe that here within my grasp was the so-much-sought sign that adorns many a thru-hiker thank you and christmas card, poster and t-shirt.

YES!!!!

I raised my arms in exaltation and joy and stretched to the sky — a silent Huzzah! in my head, and for a brief moment, the world was all light, joy and strength!

Then my mind came back to the mountain itself, and realized that the other people on the mountain had no idea. Ok, maybe they had some idea, because they too had climbed to this glorious peak, but they didn’t know the quarter of the trail. From eavesdropping, I learned they didn’t even know what the A.T. was. It was a group of kids from the city out in the “wild” to do a character building thing. I set myself on a rock perch and just took in the view and tried to absorb the gravity of the moment. My silence and beeming inner joy seemed right, and I was content to have this nearly private celebration in which to bask as I enjoyed the top of The Mountain.

After a bit, I did a little hike out onto The Knife Edge, another approach trail to Mt. K that is an aptly named, glacier-carved stretch of ridge whereon a false step means serious injury and there are steep fall-offs on either side. At a certain point, though, (where the trail went down, and returning would mean more up), I turned back to Mt. K to see if Panama and his family had made it up yet. As I came back, I saw him in his familiar hat and red beard, beige shirt and blue shorts striding up the trail. I let out a victorious whoop and he responded in kind as he came to the sign, kissed it and gave me a smiling high-five.

YAY!!!!

We ate lunch together with his Dad and brother in law and enjoyed the continuing clearing up of the sky as the sun beamed and burned the fog away. After many a photo of creative poses on/around the Katahdin sign, I decided to head back down from whence I’d come. I started at the base at 6:30, summitted at 9:30, left the top at 12 or so and made it to the bottom at 2:50pm.  I picked up my 2,000 miler application at the Ranger’s station, picked up my full pack and relaxed, waiting for Panama and his family — my ride to Millinocket.

I stayed the night at the A.T. Lodge in Millinocket, ate at the fabulous cafe there and witnessed another northbounder who had summitted that day complete the cafe’s Sundae summit challenge. He ate almost 3/4 of a gallon of ice cream sundae complete with snickers bar, pastries, m and ms, and all kinds of whip cream and sauce. Yikes. Another tall skinny guy. Go figure.

The next day I had another tasty meal from the cafe, picked up my laundered clothes, and was picked up by Cousins Russ and Jim, driven to Tamworth where Cousin Jim taught me how to eat a Maine lobster and slept a lovely night before being driven to my friends the Dickersons’ house in Bristol, VT (close to Middlebury) the next day.

A huge thanks to all of those who helped me along the way, a huge congrats and shout out to Panama Red and Jolly Rancher and huge thanks to Cousins Russ and Jim and to the Dickersons for their amazing hospitality and willingness to drive me around.

Greetings and blessings to all of you and thanks for following me on this final bit of the Vermont Mafia’s A.T. Adventure. 😀

– EKG





SUMMIT!

18 07 2009

Hello ALL!!!  I summitted Katahdin today!!!!!!!!! I left from Katahdin Springs campground at  6:30am and topped at 9:30am, 5.2 miles, 5,267 ft later. Then I hung around for a while, hiked a bit of The Knife Edge, and left around 12 noon and came to the bottom at 2:50pm. I got a ride with Panama Red and his dad to Millinocket, where I’m staying at a hostel tonight. Cousin Russ is coming tomorrow to pick me up and then Cousin Jim will drive me to Middlebury Sunday.

More details to come: the rest of Maine, the 100 mile wilderness, crazy mile days, amazing trail magic and finishing the most amazing journey ever.

But for now, I’m chuzzillin and going back to the hostel to relax!!!!

-EKG

’08 SOBO Franconia Notch -> GA

’09 NOBO Franconia Notch -> ME





Maine with some Rain and Pain

4 07 2009

I seem to recall the Vermont Mafia saying they heard the phrase “No Rain, No Pain no Maine” last summer. The trend continues.

Dan and I started out from Gorham after the amazing and wonderful hospitality of Cousin Russ and co. of Beef’s family to discover a cache of trail magic courtesy of Sunbeam (SOBO ’08). I greatly appreciated the little debbies and Dr. Pop!

Since then, however, we’ve had lots of fog, two days of rain and lots of mud, as Dan has gained his trail legs, endured the Mahoosac notch and learned everything about backpacking from how to poop in the woods to how to purify water. He’s been a great sport as my mood has fluctuated, and deserves this amazing hostel in which we now find ourselves.

We’re in East Andover staying at Mr. Earle’s “The Cabin. We met Earle at South Arm road. He was actually waiting for some NOBO’s behind us and was very generous in offering his services. Dan and I were originally going to resupply (holy shmoly skinny boys eat a lot!) at a nearby campground, but after being sorely disappointed at the nearly empty shelves, we hitched back to Earle at the trail and took him up on his offers!

I am now extraordinarily happy we did: I am showered, my saturated shoes are sitting by a wood stove, my mildewy clothes are in the washer, we are minutes away from a delicious homecooked meal including hamburgers and amazingness, and we’re slackpacking to Rangeley tomorrow to make up for lost time. We will sleep indoors tonight on happy happy bunks, and have joined Jolly Rancher and Panama Red, two NOBOs I met at Galehead hut in the whites before I was crazy and did some serious mileage. Jolly Rancher wants to summit the 18th, and I hope to do so only a few days after, so I’m going to try to hike close to him for a while.

Dan earned a trail name! He is now “Pirouette 180” or just 180 for short, because he has mastered the hiking ability to do a 180 degree turn on the trail to get down off of slippery rocks/mud in a most graceful manner.

After our slackpack tomorrow, Dan and I will part ways. It turns out that my miles are the miles of a fiendish finishing Thru-hiker and are a bit ambitious for a first-time backpacker. The specifics are vague as of yet, but after Rangeley, we will part ways: I to make it to Katahdin around the 23, and Dan to either continue hiking or go his own way. We shall see where our lives of adventure take us next!

Happy Fourth of July, my friends, and I love receiving your comments, even if it’s just to say hi!

-EKG





Through the Whites!

30 06 2009

Hello all! It is waaay past hiker bedtime but I am obliged to write an update of my journey of the last 6 days. It has been a week of amazing beauty and carefree joy mixed with high anxiety and stress.

On Tuesday, I flew in to Manchester airport and was greeted by my good friend, Marie from Middlebury. She drove me the 90 miles north to Franconia notch and dropped me off, raring to go. THANK YOU, MARIE!!!! I hiked up 2 miles to Liberty Springs and stayed the night there in my new tent amidst the tree-rain and fog.

Next morning I was off over Mt. Lafayette (still foggy) and headed into Galehead hut by about 2pm. In my initial excitement, I burned up all my energy so I just stayed there that night and rested up chatting with the guests and hut staff. Next day was a different story, as I schemed a plan to hike 21 miles. (This would be a fairly normal day if I weren’t in the White Mountains — people talk about how you’re doing a good pace if you do a mile an hour here.) But the weather was sunny and beautiful, so it seemed things were going my way.

As I discovered later, during my hike I was so dead-set that I managed to zoom right past Beef’s Cousin Russ, who actually happened to be doing a day hike that very same day near Zealand Falls. I was the only person he didn’t talk to that day, just because he was talking to somebody else as I passed, and I was MOVING. Craziness! I hiked down and out of Crawford notch, and then up Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson. I was panic-struck for the very exposed bit between the two mountains, because I started hearing thunder. I don’t know that I’ve ever climbed that fast in my life — seeing as I not only had metal tent poles in my pack, but was also carrying two very attractive-to-lightning hiking poles as I clambered up and down jagged rocks, adrenaline pumping in my ears. Finally back amid the cover of trees, I trudged into Mizpah hut, exhausted and ecstatic that they offered me an empty bunk room all to myself in exchange for some chores.

Friday was wonderful because the sun was shining and I headed up and over Mt. Washington! The second highest peak on the AT, Mt. Washington is renowned for having the worst weather in the world. As cross-training cross-country-skier teams passed me up and down, the breeze blew and the sun shone, I happily hiked to the 6000 some elevation feet to the top. There was a bit more of a thunderstorm scare as I ate lunch at the top, but I headed down without any trouble and made it safely to Madison Hut that night. I loved Madison most of all the huts, because not only did they have two Middkids working there, but we had strawberry-rhubarb crisp and my chore was cleaning and re-organizing their freezer! (This totally played to my EKG-tendencies and strengths 😉

Saturday was crazy — not only because I mixed up Saturday and Sunday thinking I was supposed to meet Dan (when I wasn’t) — but because for the two hours I waited and freaked out at Franconia notch visitor center (which is really quite nice) it rained. Hard. With thunder and lightning. So I wasn’t exactly keen to hike up Wildcat — another notorious and very difficult climb. However, once I’d called mom from the pay phone (no cell service) and gotten myself straightened out, things were looking up. The sun was out and shining and there were still enough hours in the day to hike 5 crazy miles. So I did. I got soaked even so — since there were lots of puddles and tree-branches were heavy with raindrops reaching across the trail.

By the way — Wildcat? FREAKING HARD. The mafia are my heroes for doing that in the pouring rain last year. Holy shmoly. I was basically rock-climbing the whole way. On slick rock. With deadly drop-offs and all alone. Can’t say I cherish the thought of doing that again. I’m glad it’s behind me.

Carter Hut welcomed me with open arms and I slept a nice dry night with a full belly amid friendly SOBOs. Next morning was wet wet wet, foggy foggy foggy for the hike over Carter dome and down, out of the whites to Rt. 2 where I was hoping to meet Cousin Russ.

We met up finally and went to pick up Dan and all made it home safely to Tamworth, where I peeled out of my wet stuff, bathed in the joy of no longer having to hike alone and the new energy and enthusiasm Dan brought. I slept in THE most comfortable bed known to man in COTTON clothes and woke up late to a beautiful, fabulous zero day today.

Now, as I type, Dan is trained in the art of pack packing, we’re resupplied, laundered, showered, extremely well-fed and basking in the warmth and love of Beef’s Cousins Russ, Jim and Aunt Jude (and even Juliet!). Life is looking good as we head into Maine in the next couple of days. Wish us luck and pray for dry weather, the forecast is calling for more rain (mixed with showers for variety) and there are sadly no more huts to shelter us in the days ahead.

Lots of love to you all!

-ekg





A Long-Awaited Post Script

17 06 2009
Training with ABQ friends in the Sandias (altitude training!)

Training with ABQ friends in the Sandias (altitude training!)

Hello friends!  EKG here, blogging from Albuquerque, NM a week before my flight to New Hampshire. I will be utilizing our blog for this little post script of the Journey.

The down low: I joined the Mafia last year in August, at Franconia Notch in New Hampshire. I didn’t begin with them in June because I wanted to  finish up my volunteer year program in New Orleans.

So I hiked 1800 some odd miles in four months, finishing with the Vermont Mafia at Mt. Springer in Georgia on December 15th to all the glory, hiked-in family, photographs, friends and champagne.

. . . yet the moment was bittersweet . . .

I was not a true Thru-Hiker. I hadn’t truly finished the trail. I still had 375 miles left — the hardest part: Maine and New Hampshire. Not only are these states home to the 100 mile wilderness and the White Mountains, but you may recall that it rained for almost 40 days when the Vermont Mafia hiked these miles last Summer. The weather, to say the least, can be unpredictable (can we say Mt. Washington!!!?).

Yet true Thru-Hiker status beckons, and I don’t like to leave things unfinished.  Therefore, praying for dry(er) weather, and in the company of my plucky New Orleans community member, Mr. Dan T., I will FINISH THE TRAIL!!!

. . . and I had better do it on time, because I’ve got to get to a wedding on time in upstate New York! Else the music will be short my violin!

Wish us luck!

EKG





Presenting: AT SOBO ’08 Song

2 06 2009

At long last, I finally got on top of things and copied our beloved AT hiker song. It was collaboratively written. The tune is to that of “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” We made up fun verses for most of the people we know (in fact, there may be some verses out there — FLAMEBO? — that I have forgotten, but it gets to be quite the litany, as I’m sure you can tell.) The animal references are from a game of “Essences” the Mafia played while hiking along somewhere in Vermont or New York, I believe.

Beef and I Jamming in PA

Beef and I Jamming in PA

By the way, I (ekg) WILL in fact be finishing my remaining 370 miles this year! I will hike from Franconia Notch, NH to Katahdin, ME beginning June 24, 2009, which is only about 4 weeks away! Joining me will be Mr. Dan T, my beloved JVC Henriette Delille House roommate from New Orleans.

Here’s the song:

We are all Appalachian Hikers
We live our lives the way we want
We’re goin’ south from Maine to Georgia,
And all the way it’s bon vivant.

CHORUS

We’re goin’ south to hike Mt. Springer!
We’re goin’ there, no more to roam,
The trail is long,
But we’re determined
To make it there
And then go home.

Verses:

There’s the Beef
She’s like a zebra
She’s got the flair and appetite
She comes from all over New England
And her guitar is a delight.

CHORUS

Then there’s Default
She’s like a golden
She’s as loyal as can be
She comes from Houston in Southern Texas
From the mid-town community.

CHORUS

There’s EKG
From Albuquerque
She’s like an owl, or a mountain lion.
She’ll pack your food in pretty patterns
And she will hike Maine in the Spring of ’09.

CHORUS

Then there’s Flamebo
She’s from Chicago
We’ve decided she’s a giraffe
She’s got the height and grace of that mammal
Just make sure you don’t get in her path!

CHORUS

There’s Cardshark
Like a coyote
Always cunning in his own way
He hikes so fast, he might miss Georgia
And end up in old Floriday

CHORUS

Then there’s D-Wreck
Who’s like the black bear
We crossed paths with along the trail
We like to call him the mayor of Manville
Cuz he’s the guru of all things male.

CHORUS

There’s also Mousetrap
Who, like the beaver
Likes to keep his body warm
But the beaver knows that panty-hose
Will not flatter his furry form

CHORUS

Now there’s Bookworm
Who’s from Ohio
Been friends with Mousetrap since they were wee
He likes to journal and gets the last laugh
Whether out-loud or silently

CHORUS

There’s Slot Machine
And Stretch
Who we started with way back in Maine
They hiked 3 1/2 marathons
Just to watch a football game

CHORUS

Then there’s Eilene
Who goes by Rumbles
Though that’s just one of her many names
Always friendly and quite social
But if you cross her, she won’t play games.

CHORUS

There’s also Bearwalker
Also a truck-driver
Grew up in Cali, lives in PA
Art is his passion, so when he’s finished
He’ll paint the AT all in landscapes

CHORUS

Repeat first verse.





Our Hike By The Numbers

27 12 2008

We have been encouraged by others to give a by-the-numbers account of our hike, so without further ado, here it is!

2,176.2 miles

14 states

168 days/5.5 months

35 days of rain in the first 42 days

3 major blizzards (in TN, NC & GA)

43.5 miles & 4 states in longest day

20,000,000 steps (exactly!)

17 pairs of shoes/boots

9 packs

7 sleeping bags

4 pairs down booties

1 backpacker guitar

2 harmonicas

1 recorder

1 shaky egg

2 cameras

2 stoves

1 roll of TP at a time

1 cheap LOVE necklace from Walmart

446 frogs

129 red eft newts

5 black bears

4 moose

2 box turtles

20 snakes

1 porcupine

2 pileated woodpeckers

lots! of deer, mosquitoes, black flies, slugs…

1 loon swooped on by 1 bald eagle

1 evil squirrel and 2 evil mice who chewed our stuff

1300 french fries consumed in one sitting! (that’s 9800 calories and 530 grams of fat)

9 items each off McDonald’s dollar menu in one sitting

1/2 gallon of ice cream each in one sitting

300 snickers bars

100 lbs of GORP (trail mix)

2 grocery carts of food in every town

3 blueberry pies from Beef’s cousins

4 food flops: “Think Thin” bars, mysterious rotten vegetable from CO, habanero cheddar cheese, pickled sausages

2 bee stings (1 near-deadly)

1 bad ankle sprain

3 vomiting incidents

2 frostbitten toes

4 different personality types on the Enneagram

6 books/stories read aloud

1 song composed for the trail (lyrics coming soon)

1 celtic festival attended

1 movie theater visit (Mamma Mia! in Hanover)

20 songs on the VT Mafia Greatest Hits list

16 movies on our post-trail film festival list

59.32 dollars in Flamebo’s combined bank accounts after final reckoning

11 lbs net weight gain

125+ trail angels & mafia connections

12 days apart before our first reunion!

clothesline