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Sunday, September 9, 2012

3-4 Sept. Our Final two days

Monday, 3 September, Day 55 AT v2.0, 0 miles, Wonderful Trail Magic Day and Camp. By PapaWolf - After a great day off, we were breaking down camp, cleaning things up and deciding where to head today. As I was cleaning some dishes I had a very nice conversation with the owner of the campsite…Maureen. Turns out her Grandfather flew in WWII in the Navy and her Dad flew in Vietnam. When she found out we were hiking for the Wounded Warrior project and Help for Hero's, she did not charge us for the campsite. I said that was not necessary, but she insisted…what a wonderful, wonderful lady. I "compromised" by letting her know that the money we would have paid for the site was going to be donated to the charities in her name…what a nice way to start off the morning.  Then…Mango returned from dropping off Rampage and Gumby at the trail (early risers those twoJ), with news of a Cabin that may be available to us…unbelievable. So, along with our campsite Angel Maureen, here is a perfect trail magic story that pretty much encompasses how wonderfully things work on the trail. Two thru Hiker friends, Manula and Tree Trunk, a wonderful couple in their late 50's who actually only live 20 miles from us, were in a coffee shop in Vermont last month when Manula saw a gentleman in his 60's wearing a t-shirt from an obscure hotel on the trail…you probably would not go to this place unless you were on the AT. So Manula said hello and made a comment on the shirt. Well, this gentleman had thru-hiked in 2003 so they got to chatting. He told them he had a cabin in Maine just off the trail, and to call him when they were near. Fast forward a month, and they called. Well, they ended up spending a wonderful night with this Gentleman and his wife. They lived near the coast of Maine, but wanted a place near they trail so had bought this beautiful cabin three years ago and loved talking to, and helping hikers. They were heading back home today but invited Manula and Tree Trunk to spend another night and bring any other Thru-Hikers back with them to enjoy the hospitality of a warm bed and a roof.  Mango sees Manula and Tree Trunk at the trail head and they invite us to join them…so here we sit in this beautiful log cabin. The owners are not even here but how wonderful they open their house to us…all because of a comment made about a t-shirt at a coffee shop two states away…I LOVE the AT!!!
The all-knowing "They", which all of us who have made it this far are now a part of, say that "The trail will provide". Fun words to say and something to hope for, but I have experienced this first hand on more than one occasions. When I was on top of Dragon Tooth on 31 May and received the phone call about the house break-in, I was trying to figure out How, being 3 miles up a mountain with two dogs and no shower for a week, was I going to hitch hike the 30+ miles to Roanoke, Virginia, rent a car, and get back to NY the next day. Just a few minutes later, as I was weighing my options, my friends "The Incredible's" come around the corner. I tell them I need to leave the trail, and Elasta Girl immediately calls her Uncle, who lives an hour away, and without a moment's hesitation, hops in his truck and comes and picks me up and drives me to the airport where I get my rental car and am on my way…this is on a Thursday afternoon...what are the chances he's available. Today is another one of those days. We arrived at the Cabin and Crocadilly started working on a job application, Turns out it was due today, not in a few days so that was lucky. More importantly, she was able to Skype her Mum and check in on her Grandfather who has not been doing very well as of late. Well, the ability to actually talk with Mum convinced us that we needed to get back to the UK sooner rather than later. We did not want to head into the wilds of Maine, have no cell phone coverage for numerous days, and miss any important calls.  This cabin allowed us to make that Skype call, and was a perfect place to make the decision to come off the trail. This morning we were heading for a stealth campsite somewhere on a gravel road, but the Trail knew we had more important things to attend to so provided us this cabin…"The Trail will provide".                  

Tuesday, 4 September, Day's 131 and 56 - Our Families Hunt Lake Camp, NY. The final day of our Appalachian Trail Adventure… By Crocadilly - So our journey has had to come to an end. After walking over 500 miles I am so sad to be coming off the trail but unfortunately my grandpa is very sick and we feel we need to go back to the UK and to be with family. The past couple of months have been an amazing journey and I feel so proud in all that I have accomplished both mentally and physically. I have seen the best of humanity on my travels, have met so many amazing people and have found wonderful new friends and have many many happy and amazing memories that I will take with me. I believe there is a reason for everything that has happened this year whatever it may be. Maybe we will never fully know what that reason is or maybe in the following months it will all become clear.  As Papa Wolf said the trail provides. I wish all of our friends on the trail love and luck as they finish the AT and I am with them all in spirit. Here's to the completion of journeys and the start of new journeys whatever they may be. XxX
By Papa Wolf - After the decision was made last night, we decided we needed to have a little feast to celebrate the end of a wonder adventure. As we were in this cabin, there was an excellent grill, so I headed to the local store and picked up some beer, salad stuff and lots of rib eyes for everyone. J  We had a terrific dinner and evening with Tree trunk, Manula, their support vehicle driver Debbie, Mango, Rampage, and Gumby. It's appropriate that Gumby was there as I set up my tent on 19 March, Day 1, right next to hers, so we have been on this journey "together" all summer. Although my Appalachian Trail Thru Hike tuned into a VERY long section Hike, I have had the most unbelievable summer and will cherish this experience for ever. I was on the trail for just over 4 months and managed to hike approx. 1250 miles. Mojo and Skye hiked approx. 1200 miles. Crocadilly was on the trail for nearly two months and hiked over 500 miles. Tailbone was on the trail for well over a month and, despite being in charge of the support vehicle, managed to hike approx. 130 miles. We have met the most wonderful friends, and a couple of "crazies", who have MADE this trip for me…The Wolf Pack, Rampage, Mango, Pops, Apollo, Ole Smoke, Socks, Yukon, Squach, Boomer, Otto, and many others who helped make this just the best summer. I will always be a little disappointed that I will not be able to call myself a "Thru-Hiker", but that is a small, small insignificant fraction of how great this journey has been. Who knows, someday we may go back and finish the miles we missed and "complete" the trail. Backpacking and Hiking are now in our blood although I must say I still prefer outdoor sports where machines take you uphill and gravity helps you downhill so ski trips will always have priority. J I leave with a happy heart and am content, and proud (if you allow me this small vice), of what we have accomplished this summer. Besides the personal accomplishment, to date we have raised just over $3500 for the Wounded Warrior Project and 450 pounds for Help for Heroes..those are the important numbers. We cannot thank everyone enough who have supported us through this trip and have donated to these charities. The trail has given me more than I could have imagined or hoped and I will always cherish this experience…We truly have had just the best Appalachian Trail Adventure!    

                 Papa Wolf, Crocadilly, TailBone, Mango, Rampage and 30 Pack

31 Aug - 2 Sept

Friday, 31 August, Day 52 AT v2.0, 9.6 miles, Dream Lake at 2600 feet in NH. By Crocadilly -currently camped out in a thunder storm on the banks of Dream Lake. After a leisurely morning of coffee and puttering about the campsite we finally had to leave.  This was our last morning at Dolly Copp and for some reason I am going to really miss it! We won't see Tailbone or Mango or the boys for three days now as the nearest road to meet up is 31 miles away. 31 miles to my next shower and I haven't had one since 8 days ago! Yuk!!! I feel tired smelly and horrible but know we have to keep going! I am enjoying the trail no end but it is sometimes easy to forget how taxing it is.  We are almost in Maine after all and now have less than three hundred miles to go!  We were going to hike with Riff Ralf but he had to resupply and we felt we should get going being the slower of our fellow hikers! The next three days are going to be hard and we will be crossing the state line but we will also be hiking through the supposedly hardest mile on the trail. So we got going for the first time before most of our compatriots! Old smoke and Log hadn't left town by the time we left and we guess they are behind us unless they stayed in town and we assume everyone else is in front. Today the pace felt slow again and there were some uphills but nothing like what we have climbed before and there were proper paths albeit they were riddled in some parts with rocks and roots! We summited two smaller peaks but I don't think either of us had the inclination to stop and admire the views so much. Today walking felt a bit like a chore - a means to an end to get to Maine. There was nothing new or exciting to report and it was cloudy and rained pretty much for the whole afternoon. We passed some stunning lakes at the top of the two hills we climbed - the paths are better marked now and I am not so worried about getting lost! We bumped into Goman, a lovely older guy who is known as "grumpy old man" but has a real twinkle in his eye and plays on the grumpiness!  He was doing good. Together with bad penny another German it was comforting to know we weren't out on the trail alone. We had planned to get to a shelter 12 miles in but as long as we did ten we were okay. I got wet again as I slipped on a tree trunk across a swathe of mud and ended up to my knee in a muddy smelly mess! At least I will smell worse now hahaha! We have three days to do 31 miles…Tough miles at that! We were on track to do our 12 miles when got caught at the top of this hill where Dream Lake is as the skies suddenly darkened and the thunder and rain rolled in. We pitched the tent in record time and climbed in just as the heavens opened. That was two hours ago - it's been quite the storm but we are all snuggled and warm wading through our supplies of snacks and hoping to cook shortly! We managed to put the tent up with a great ruddy rock in the middle but apart from that all is well! Hope it stops raining by the morning. It was only 30% chance of rain this afternoon...but as Scott says in hiker math that means 100%! he hasn't been wrong yet!

Our quickly constructed camo site
Trying to stay dry
Saturday, 1 September, Day 53 AT v2.0, 8 miles, Grafton Notch Campground. By PapaWolf - We made it through the night relatively dry. We could not be bothered to cook in the rain last night so we started the morning with some delicious "breakfast rice" as we dried out the tent and our kit. The weather was on our side so we had a great morning. We started hiking around 9:30 and found some rock faces and hills that where wet and a bit more difficult than I was hoping for. J We did pass the 1900 mile  point on the trail which someone marked which was cool.  For me that meant I had covered 1300 miles of the trail and 600 miles for Crocadilly. We have yellowblazed a bit so we have walked 50 to 80 miles less than that, but still a neat mile marker to reach.  We made it over Mt. Success and discover there was a short side trail that would get us to a road where we could be picked up by Tailbone. The road option would get us off the wet rocks (Crocadilly fell 5 times, but NO, this is not the reason we decided to take the side trail, she wanted to keep going), we could dry out our stuff, catch up with Rampage and Gumby, and I could rest my feet which were really giving me a bit of a problem. So not a difficult decision so off we went down the side trail. What we did not realize was that poor Tailbone had to drive approx 14 miles down a gravel road to pick us up…oops. J Fortunately, Gumby kept here company and Crocadilly and I passed the time talking to some fairly colorful locals who were very much enjoying their Labor Day Saturday. We got picked up and headed to the Sunday River Brewing Company where we met Rampage and Mango and had an excellent dinner and some lovely bevies. We got to the camp site after dark, set up our tent and headed to bed.
     Sunrice on the mountain...drying out our stuff. :)
The 1900 Mile marker.

Sunday, 2 September, Day 54 AT v2.0, 0 miles, Grafton Notch Campground. By PapaWolf - We awoke this morning at 6am and were debating how far we were going to walk today. We were out of the tent making coffee when, with a forecast of "10% chance of rain", it started raining. So we jumped back in the tent, with our coffee, and sat there for an hour waiting for it to clear. When it did clear, I had decided to take the day off and Croacadilly had decided she would as well so she could work on some job applications which were due in a few days. Gumby and Rampage were planning on going but we could all tell they were pretty exhausted after their 21 mile day and hard 3 days of hiking. Well…we kept making coffee and soon we were all taking zeros. J We headed into a town and got lunch and resupplied. We went back to the campsite and had an excellent zero day playing horseshoes and enjoying some beverages followed by a campsite "taco night" which was excellent!
Waiting for the rain to stop.
Horseshoes and Beer...pretty good zero day


Thursday, September 6, 2012

28-30 Aug - The Wildcats

Tuesday, 28 August, Day 49 AT v2.0, -a well deserved 0 miles, Dolly Copp Camp Grounds, Gorham NH. By Crocadilly - The bobcat story.... After a leisurely morning and recalling of the adventures we had all had the two days previously and a lengthy discussion if what to do next we decided to do a zero day. We were all spent from the fifteen mile hike before and the weather wasn't looking brilliant for today. Furthermore we were about to climb some very treacherous mountains and nobody relished the thought of doing them in the wet! So a down day it was! You may be wondering how we all got split up yesterday as there was so many of us staying at the lake of the clouds hut. We all hike at different rates and Scott and I got a later start having to stay back and do work for stay. We also hike a fair bit slower than everybody else too. Today was a fairly quiet day - the campsite is lovely and reminds me of the ones I used to holiday in when I was a child with my parents. Brought back lots of warm and happy memories camping as a family! We did some laundry (no shower though!!) and I had an amble round a thrift and antique shop which was next door! We had the obligatory burger king where we bumped into old smoke, Sox another german and a bunch of other hikers. We are camping with gumby, tailbone, rampage and mango and riff ralf. Our camp spot is right on the bank of a river and a lovely grassy area with a fire pit and BBQ and toilets not too far away and water so a perfect spot to hide ourselves away and enjoy the peace and quiet! We have been told by some other guests who have been coming here 16 years that this is the best spot in the campsite!! In the evening we had some beers and cooked at the campsite. So a very chilled day and yes it did rain so glad we had the day off! Seeing as this is a shorter post I can relay a story from last night. There is a chap on the trail who is putting together a documentary and so travelling up and down the trail. He came to visit us July 4th weekend so no doubt we will be in there somewhere! His name is Squatch and he was sat at an adjacent table in MR Pizza last night. He told us of this tale - he interviewed the guy whose story this is and if you can imagine on the documentary there will be this guy chatting to Squatch and the footage that he shot playing in the background on his this guy is a hiker and runs a hostel. He is also very much into skulls and will pick up road kill as well as hunt to add to his skull and hide collection. On this one occasion that this story centres around he stumbled across a 35lb bobcat which had clearly just been run over was very much dead but was clean and would make a great addition to his skull collection. So he heaved the poor animal into his truck - one of those massive American trucks! And went on his way. He was pleased with his new addition and snuck a quick look in his rear view mirror to admire his prize. Only his prize was very pissed off and now stalking back and forth across the back of his truck. And apparently making an unearthly noise that would frighten the dead. So not so much dead as previously stunned or unconscious and now very much the opposite and very angry. I am not sure what one does in a situation where you have an angry 35lb predatory animal pacing back and forth in the back of your vehicle. As most people would, I imagine,  this guy stopped quite quickly and got out before filming the ensuing scenes of him trying to get the angry supermoggy out of the rear door without getting mauled in the process. I don't suppose a can of whiskers would have subdued this kitty! Well as you can imagine this tale had us all in stitches! I didn't think I would have the energy to laugh after our epic day but catching up with everyone again gets the blood moving! And this story was the tonic I needed hahaha! I had to share it! The fact that Squatch interviewed the man I believe both he and the feline went their separate ways amicably!!
Wednesday, 29 August, Papa Wolf's Day 125, Crocadilly's day 50!! :) 8.5 miles, Zeta Pass Stealth Camp. By Crocadilly - I cannot believe how far we have come! I am so immensely proud of our achievements. After a wonderful day of rest it is time to get back on the trail again. Papa wolf and I have decided to break up the next stretch to the next road over two days having done 15 miles in one day in this terrain (even the book says from this point on the most you will beable to do is 10-12 miles!) 21 miles is not feasible for either of us especially as we will be going over the Wildcats! Rampage and Gumby being the utter nutters that they are got up at 6am this morning and planned to do the whole 21 miles in one day, as Tall Oaf apparently had too. They are slack packing and some of our friends before us have done it and say it is feasible. I gracefully declined attacking this part of the trail in so little time with a loud Crocadilly snort!! Papa wolf and I got going at a far more reasonable time (10am) after a leisurely coffee with Riff Ralf and the ladies. Old Smoke and many of the others are hiking this stretch over the same time period so it will be fun to hike as a group and bump into lots of friends. Thirty pack and Apollo still have not reappeared after being sucked into the vortex that is Hanover! I thoroughly enjoyed todays hike - it was technically very challenging and we were glad we did not bring the boys. Although we did see one golden on the trail and Yorkshire terrier - not sure they did exactly the same paths as us though! It was a windy day but fortunately no rain - it was cooler with autumn in the air and fluffy clouds again. The Whites are incredibly challenging - we actually climbed up some proper cliff faces that make up the Wild Cats. Being so small Papa wolf was very worried that a gust of wind might whip me off the cliff and carry me away. This was the first time I have climbed terrain like this with a heavy pack and it was incredibly hard but so much fun! I love proper climbing although do not think I will take it up as a new hobby any time soon. Again we had breath taking views. We kept catching up with Old Smoke, Log and an older couple called Manula and Tree Trunk who weirdly live only 20 or so miles from us in NY! Lovely couple! We got to the top of Wild Cat ski area and had a break just as Riff Ralf was leaving. It had been so windy the gondola taking visitors up to the mountain had been shut all morning and we arrived at the top just as it had been reopened and spat out a load of people! We got talking to a couple who were interested in the trail so had a slightly longer lunch break than intended! The terrain after the Wild Cats got a bit easier and we were back down into trees and softer paths for a bit. We caught up with Old Smoke and the gang having another break at the top of another mountain and sat down for a bit. They were planning on camping a little bit further on. So we all got going again and we ended up behind being slower! We came across them a little while later where they were setting up camp in the trees - an awesome spot but not enough room for us so we decided to carry on. We summited our last mountain of the day - Carter Dome just before the sun was setting and took some great photos. The views again were outstanding and I felt on top of the world. We briefly contemplated camping here but knowing the winds were going to get stronger we decided to go down into the valley below called Zeta pass. It was quite a rocky difficult descent and I was glad we were doing it tonight and not faced with it first thing tomorrow morning! We passed a north bounder coming south - I now wished we had asked him what he was doing going south as at this point he thought he was going north! The inability of the AMC to correctly and helpfully post information and blazes meant he had taken a blue blaze in a different direction got down into the pass and realizing his mistake had tried to reroute himself onto the AT - which he had…only in the wrong direction - he was not happy the next day when we saw him again! Fortunately we narrowly avoided this mistake! We got back down into the trees and the pass and started to look for a suitable place to camp where we stumbled upon Sox who was sitting by a very welcoming fire. We joined her and had a lovely evening chatting and getting warm by the fire. We had a quick dinner and because it was so cold (I was in all my winter gear for the evening) we snuggled down into the tent.
 one of the ledges we had to walk...hyes it was that skinny and the trees hide the long drop. Bit crazy really.
 The photo does not do the angle justice, or show what awaits you if you slide down of the edge. :)
 A beautiful mountain lake
 Still packing heavy...he never learns.
 On top of Carter Dome...we love this photo. :)
 another view...just 1.4 to Zeta Pass

Thursday, 30 August, Day 51 AT v2.0, 12.6 miles, Dolly Copp Camp Grounds, Gorham NH. By Crocadilly - Sox was long gone by the time we got up. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of being alone and chatting and having coffee. Old Smoke, Log, Manula and Tree Trunk all passed us as we were enjoying our morning coffee and a fire and Riff Ralf wasn’t too far behind. We packed up camp and shortly after everyone had passed us were on our way. I much prefer getting up and going early - I feel better doing more miles first thing. Today marks us finishing the Whites. Again parts of it were quite tricky. I was really enjoying it but Papa Wolf was having a somewhat less enjoyable hiking day. I got into a great rhythm and was back to hiking fast after feeling so weak following being ill. We caught up with everyone else having breaks along the way. I like this style of hiking a lot! One break was taken basking in the sun on rocks on top of a Mount Mariah - I felt like a lizard soaking up the sun and closed my eyes. I could have spent hours up here napping but we had to get moving! I managed to catch up and keep up with all the others although I did fall once! It felt great! Eventually the path took us down into the trail that would lead us to the road and town where we staying. We actually made it down quicker than expected and a lovely couple of ladies who we had seen several times in the previous couple of days gave us a lift to Mr Pizza with Riff Ralf…the same awesome place we all ate after the descent from Mt Washington…you can never have too much of a good thing. J  When we got there we were excited to see Perch and Otto and then Apollo and Thirty Pack - it was so good to see them! We found out that Rampage and Gumby had successfully completed their monster 21 mile day the day before and were super tired but had managed to continue onwards today! It was so great to catch up with everyone and I had a great hug with Apollo - he is the hug meister! Finally had a fabulous dinner which satiated my appetite - Steak and fried chicken, salad and mashed potatoes. Beer and ice cream. Having not showered for about ten days we all smelt really bad and this was the first time that I felt really self conscious about my stench.  I now know what people smelt like in the middle ages... The answer is like dead animals, farms and something rotting and mouldy!!! Our server really did not want to get any where near us and didn’t clear our plates and was overheard saying to others about how bad we smelt. (How embarrassing!!) Tailbone and Mango joined us for dinner after their own fabulous walk and we all eventually went back to the campsite and set up our tents again.
 A neat walk way laid out by the trail clubs to cover wet area...very fun
 Crocadilly the gorgeous hiker chick. :)
Yet another great view.

26 -27 August - Mt Washington!! :)

Sunday, 26 August, Day 47 AT v2.0, 11.9 miles, Lake of the Clouds Hut, in the shadow of Mt Washington NH. :)  By Crocadilly - Our stealth campsite worked really well and other than some bizarre animal noises in the middle of the night we all had a great night's sleep!! I was anxious to get back hiking again. It has been a week. I am feeling healthy again but I know I have lost 8lbs, a lot of strength and a lot of muscle. My shorts were so tight around my thighs and now they just hang limply from my stick like legs! I knew i would struggle stamina wise especially as we are now entering the more physically challenging part of the hike! Sad to have missed so much but happy to be out here and doing this again and with so many of our friends! Today marks the beginning of our ascent to Mt Washington which is 6288 feet and is one of the higher peaks we will be climbing. We are both super excited by this prospect. Today we will hike to just below the peak and finish off the climb tomorrow morning. The first part of the day marked our usual walking through trees and along paths scattered with roots and rocks. Before long though we were met by a sign welcoming us to the Alpine Zone. How fantastic and exciting to be hiking in a different type of terrain and different habitats. And it was very different with scrubby vegetation including diapensis and bilberrys and very low pine shrubs. It was very rocky and open and gorgeous with lichens and mosses lining the rocks. The views were spectacular. We looked down on to the road we had travelled on the day before and across to the mountains and hills we were yet to climb and the terrain we had already covered. You know you are high up when you look down to the valley below and see a light aircraft flying what appeared to be several hundred feet below us! The weather could not have been more perfect for our ascent to the lofty climbs of Washington with brilliant blue skies and soft fluffy white clouds. It was also fun because we were hiking in a big bubble and occasionally you would pop out on a vista to find Rampage or Tall Oaf or Gumby sitting looking out! I cannot even begin to describe how beautiful it is up here. The rocks sparkle with the minerals they contain and you can see for miles. There were big boulders we had to walk across and the terrain at times was quite difficult but in a pleasing way especially after being in bed for so long! I am in such a happy place and loving every step I take. In this part of the trail there are numerous huts where you can stay and grab a bite to eat - The Appalachian Mountain Club who oversee the NH area are quite strict on camping and you have to stay in one of the huts ($95 per person) or camp in designated areas which can be quite hard to find depending on your walking schedule!!) The huts are fabulous and remind me of the places we would eat when skiing in Europe - cozy and warm and smelling of good food! We reached the Mizpah hut, the first we came across for lunch to find Rampage, Gumby and several of the others already there. You can eat as much soup for $3 which we did - Rampage inhaled 5 bowls and Scott four. I managed two and a brownie!! By all accounts we ate them out of the remaining soup available!! We were soon on our way again - it is hard to get going again after a good lunch like that! But the mountains beckoned. Before the sun started to set, approx .5 miles from our hut, Gumby caught up with us again and we walked the last half a mile to  the Lake of the Clouds hut where we had all planned to stay for the evening. It suddenly popped out at us after wondering where it was!! It was a lovely big hut and already many of our friends were already there waiting together with a lot of guests! There were wonderful smells of food and a big group of people listening to one of the workers talking! We sat down got some snacks and watched the most beautiful sun set. We managed to get work for stay which meant we did not have to pay the $95 per person to stay in a bunk bed or the $10 to stay and sleep downstairs in the basement which was also known as the dungeon...And apparently was horrible! Papa wolf and I would be working the next morning with Gumby whilst Rampage and a few of the others had secured work for the evening. After the sun set we all went inside - it was a very festive atmosphere and the other guests who were mainly day and weekend hikers were very convival chatting with us about our adventures. I think we all felt a little bit embarrassed about how much we possibly smelt!! There were loads of us thru - hikers - Rampage, Gumby, Riff Ralf, Tall Oaf, GoMan, and a couple of others we had not met before. It was a great fun evening and even though we had left over food it was delicious! Soup and pasta shells and big slabs of cake and lots of peas! We all ate loads! We all set up our sleeping bags in the dining room - Papa wolf and I made a small camp at the back under one of the great big wooden tables surrounded by windows...what a fabulow bedroom view!! An excellent excellent day - my favourite so far!
 Crocadilly and PapaWolf
 PapaWolf, Rampage and Tall Oaf
 The ttrail above tree line...very very cool...and hard. :)
 Crocadilly standing far too close to a perilous drop...anything for the photo op :)
 Our "bedroom" for the night
Waiting for the sunset outside of the hut. an EXCELLENT way to end the day!

Well worth the hike...

Monday, 27 August, Day 48 AT v2.0, -14.9 miles, Dolly Copp Camp Grounds, Gorham NH. By Crocadilly - Wow today was a hard day! Taxing both mentally and physically but totally worth the hard work! We had a great nights sleep at the hut hunkered down underneath one of the great big wooden tables. I woke up just before six to the smell of brewing coffee and watched the sunrise out of the window. People were beginning to stir and so we got up and cleared our stuff! You have to love work for stay - we had left over breakfast - omelette, eggs, bacon, a gallon of coffee and cake. Whilst two of our fellow hikers helped remake the bunks And clear the bedrooms Scott and I handled the compost! Which I have had plenty of practice in! We swept floors too and then we were ready to face our ascent to Mt Washington! I loved the hut it reminded me of the mountain huts on ski trips in the Alps but I certainly would not pay the going rate of $95 to stay there. The day was stunning - blue skies and warm with a lovely brisk breeze. I cannot even begin to describe the vistas up here other than they are stunning - above the tree line you have panoramic views of the valley below and the forests lining the hillsides and all around are majestic peaks and rolling hills in the distance. We passed two glacial lakes just past the hut. I felt on top of the world. The air felt cool fresh and clean and fragrant and I sucked in lungful's of it!  Papa wolf and I for a lot of the day were alone and it was so peaceful and quiet and serene especially up here. The only sounds were the wind, the occasional mountain bird and the clic clac of crickets like miniature castanets and our own footsteps. The path up to Washington's peak is quite rugged and tough - a jumble of small and large boulders that form part of the boulder fields left during the end of the last glaciation. The silica in the rocks (i need to read up on the geological history of them and their mineral make up) sparkles in the sun making everything just that much more beautiful.  The fields are flanked and interspersed with alpine vegetation - scrubby and short plants including bilberry, blueberry, diapensis and an assortment of hardy grasses. Beautiful lichens grow on the rocks in creams greens reds and yellows and make the most gorgeous swirling and circular patterns. The 1.6 mile climb up to the summit was steady and fairly hard going having to step from rock to rock to rock. But we got there in good time and were met by tailbone, mango and the dogs who had brought the car up here! Sir Lanchelot was sporting a rather splendid new bumper sticker saying I climbed mt Washington! Love the fact hikers don't get one! We only stayed briefly as we still had a long long way to go. From Washington we headed towards Madison peak - it was still fairly rough going and my knees were killing me but the views were so breathtaking whilst we were walking I didn't care. We reached our next pit stop at the seven-ish mile mark - another hut on this peak. With the weather set to deteriorate and the winds getting up it was very tempting to call it a day since we had another 8 miles to go and heavy terrain to cover and I was hurting. But with the weather looking even worse for the next day we decided to hedge our bets and get off the mountain. By now it was nearly 3pm - the going is alot slower out Here and we were slack packing so pushed into a corner as far as stopping was concerned…either stay at the hut or make it the 8 miles to the car. We had no tent so stopping was not an option. We had to get to the road we were to be picked up from. We decided after much deliberation to take the Madison gulf trail down - a mile shorter than the AT and we hoped it would be easier going on my knees! It ended up running into the AT and putting us at the same spot! So off we went. It was a hard hard climb down the mountain. Impressive and scary all at the same time. The route essentially follows a stream from source at the tip all the way down the mountain side pretty much on top of it until it turns into a river in the valley below. We scrambled hand over foot over large boulders listening to the stream trickling underneath. At times the stream bed was the trail. Sometimes I didn't want to look down and was afraid one false move and my poles or pack would send me forward! Papa wolf at one point said "your mum would kill me if she could see what you were doing right now"!!  At which I replied "Yep, but my Dad would love it and be very proud of me…probably wished he was here with us". J  It was fun and hard but I wondered if it was worth diverting from the trail! It was awesome though! However when we got over the worst of the terrain and on the realization that it had taken us over three hours to go two miles and I was exhausted it was getting late and the clouds and rain were threatening I cried ...alot.  And wondered what the hell I was thinking trying to go 15 miles over this terrain especially as I had been so sick. To make matters worse our navigation app wasn't working properly or at least I hoped it wasn't as it was telling us we still had a million miles to go and the trails are marked terribly! The AMC pull in thousands of dollars alone from people staying at the shelter, they have an monopoly on the area in NH and seem to almost extort money from visitors and thru hikers enjoying the NATIONAL PARK and yet they seem unable to appropriately mark the trails unlike all the other states. There are numerous tales of our friends who went the wrong side down mountains and took other wrong trails in the last couple of days. We spent most of the time wondering if we had got back on the AT and how far we were from the road. Dusk was setting and the rain was coming in to add to my misery of slowness and body aching - we both were feeling it so decided the sensible option was to take the road leading from the mountain. It was only Two miles before the road we were supposed to meet tailbone on but we figured no sense hiking over slippery, wet rock in the dark and tired. We managed somehow to get hold of her to tell her this. Just as we hit a sign saying you are now entering the gulf wilderness and I began to panic thinking there is no bloody road this magical black Tarmac appeared in the dimming light ! I was so happy even though it was hammering down with rain! We had to walk the meandering twisting two mile road down to where our ride was waiting. I have never been so pleased to see anyone in my life! I had to duck under the closed gate to get to the car and couldn't get up again lol! Riff ralf our german friend was in the car and by all accounts had had a hard day too! We were greeted with the welcome news that everyone was waiting at the local pizza place for us with beers and food hurrah! When we got there I got a lovely warm hug from mango! Rampage and Gumby were there too and had really struggled with the distance and terrain too. I was so pleased to know it wasn't just me that was hurting and down - everyone had gone through the same emotions by all accounts. It was a tough day but the enjoyment of looking back with a sense of satisfaction over what you have all achieved and the feeling of camaraderie is amazing and soon makes you forget the pain you just went through! We devoured a massive pizza - 380 square inches to be precise and jugs of beer. I was in heaven and walking like I had been riding a horse for a week! We were all doing the hiker shuffle! Then it was back to the Dolly Copp campsite where our tent had already been put up. I barely remembering falling into the tent I was so tired where I proceeded to have the best nights sleep yet on the trail!! The past two days will forever be among my favourites on the trail. X

 Lake of the Cluds Hut...very well named

One last photo of the hut as me head up to Mt Washington

The Summit!! Last time Papa Wolf was here was when his Dad and him had a great weekend climbing and skiing Mt washinton when he was about 11. It was an emotional and WONDERFUL return. :)

Heading down

The sign for the Madison Gulf Trail...when we got down.
PapaWolf, Crocadilly, Tailbone, Riff Ralph, Rampage, Mango and Gumpy (taking photo)  

25 Aug. Day Hike, Falls, Trail Magic

Saturday, 25 Aug, Day 46 AT v2.0, 5 miles, Crawford Notch Stealth Camp, US 302 near Bartlett, NH. By Papa Wolf - Yesterday we yellow blazed to our next rendezvous point where we will meet Rampage.  We were aware that the rules are more stringent in NH as far as stealth camping goes, so we wanted to make sure we were well off the trail, but near the road. So Crocadilly and I went searching for our new temporary home and found a closed blue blazed trail. We walked a few hundred yards down that trail and found a very suitable tent site for us. The NH law states that you must be 200 feet from the trail, but we figured that as this trail was officially closed, we were sufficiently away from the "open" AT….the ole "better to beg forgivness than ask permission". J  As it turned out, nobody really came down the trail, let alone a ranger so it was great. As we drove yesterday, We all decided we would hike today, southbound, and see if we ran into anybody. We had no agenda so it was a very pleasant walk…albeit uphill most of the way.  It did start to rain a bit so we turned around at about the 2.5 mile mark and headed back. The rain stopped near the bottom and we decided to take a side trail to a beautiful falls which was great. Mango, Tailbone and Crocadilliy decided to hang out abit as I walked back to get a nap. J I popped out of the trail to find three lovely ladies doing trail magic. I told them that I had become more of a section hiker as of late and did not deserve the food, but they insisted and said they had not seen anyone else…so I had an excellent sandwich and hung out with them. A bit later "my" three ladies came out of the woods and enjoyed the magic, followed shortly by Rampage, Riff Ralph (ze german), and Tarzan and Jane. We ended up spending a few hours with them and devoured ALL of their food. Their husbands were doing a very long day hike so we managed to save them one a few sandwhichs and soda's…but we ate everything else…oops. The ladies were great and it was an excellent afternoon. We then took everyone back to our stealth tent site for dinner and a great night sleep.

                                                                       Ripley Falls

                                         The lovely Mango and there awesome dog Sammy

                                             Tailbone looking cool and wonderful as ever

                                                            A nap spunded like a good idea. :)

21-24 August "The Leper Colony"

Tues/Wed, 21-22 August, Day 42-43 AT v2.0, 0 miles, Super 8, White River Junction VT. By Crocadilly - the lost years (okay days but it felt like years).  Well not much to report from the torture  cell that is room 48 at the super 8 - think it should be renamed room 101!! ;) Actually It isnt a torture cell really - it is quite a nice room and I have to commend the wonderful people at this place and it is a good place to be - I haven't really seen or spoken to anybody other than observing the multitudes of staff (never seen so many cleaners at a motel) that waft past the window. From what I can see and hear from my deathbed they all seem super friendly and very industrious. (yes I have far to much time on my hands and I am now a certified curtain twitcher!!). I have put the do not disturb sign on the door more for the health and safety of others whom I don't want to contaminate rather than being disturbed myself! - think I should maybe biohazard tape a 100m radius too around our room... Thoughts my blog friends?!!! - I fear the smell of decaying life (mine!!!) may make them call the police!! It's all good and of course i am jesting... I am just bloody sick of being sick! This is the worst zero day ever - I am now into day one hundred and sixty five it feels like and am still unable to eat or really walk far without feeling like I summitted Everest and to make matters worse I have now passed on the pox to Tailbone. I hope she makes a quick recovery! I sure am not and I am not sure why this bug has felled me so badly - everyone else is better faster - fortunately Mango was well enough to go back to the trail after our second night so I am hanging out with papa wolf and tailbone. So not much really to report other than I am thoroughly annoyed at my body for not seeing this thing off (when I had a similar bug back in June I got rid of it in 48 hrs) and am angry that I am still in the Hanover area five days later without still really seeing any of the town or having a square meal!!!! I can also report that day time tv is rubbish and the channels are still showing the same reruns of the same shows two years after I first arrived! I have to admit I did love the fact that on our first  day in the room mango tailbone and i spent the whole afternoon watching diners drive ins and dives and other good fodder on the food network! Ah my steely stomach can still handle watching copious amounts of food whilst feeling like pants!!! We will be leaving the super 8 tomorrow regardless!!!
Thursday, 23 August, Day 44 AT v2.0, 8.5 miles (Papa Wolf), Chets Hostel, North Woodstock, NH. By Crocadilly - wow so that's what sunshine feels like on your skin!!!  I finally left the room and made it to the FREE continental breakfast. You know you have been sick along time when the lady at the front desk says its good to see you up and about and obviously you are feeling better! I didn't know this but at breakfast the past couple of mornings they have kind of nodded and winked at Scott and asked if we will be staying another day or not (in the nicest possible way!!) - they were all genuinely pleased to see me up and about which was lovely - I bet they are having some kind of gambling game going on as I speak as to who gets dibs NOT to clean out our germ infested room!! I did switch out all our bedsheets for them! ;) if  i was them i would throw in some bleach and just shut the door for several days!! So we have finally left the super 8 :) . A question my dad asked me a while back was how many calories we have to eat a day. The answer is a lot!  So we burn between 5000 to 6000 calories a day - that's a lot to keep on top of. I have lost 8lbs being sick which is immense and so couldn't even contemplate hiking today. It wasn't a technical climb up Moosilauke but a 4 mile straight up hill and 4 or so miles down a rather treacherous sounding path. Walking across to the deli across the road last night almost caused me to pass out in the queue so figured ingesting a few more calories would be better. I have some to make up. I was getting excited that my hiking trousers were getting tight around my thighs where muscles were forming and my stomach look well toned and my calf muscles were coming in - now my shorts just hang off me, I lost my colour so I have some work to do again ... Bummer!!!!  So papa wolf took the boys and hiked - I could have cried missing moosilauke but it would be silly and embarrassing being carted back down by the emergency services! So tailbone and I drove to a fabulous hiker hostel in Lincoln NH and caught up with Weezy and Old Smoke and Miss Janet and hung out!  It's rampages birthday today so we met him and the lovely mango for dinner at a lovely Greek restaurant where I packed in several more calories and we gave Rampage a quality birthday card made out of a paper napkin! We then went to a fabulous old bar which forms part of a gorgeous inn and restaurant with a dream cottage garden out the front. We went there with old smoke and tall oaf and I sank a large bowl of wine ( medicinal purposes only figured i would kill off any remaining bugs in my stomach - actually I feel super good now!!) and we moseyed back to the hiker hostel. Ooh bought some post cards finally to send back home too! The hiker hostel is awesome and is actually a former hikers home - he is an interesting character in himself - tales for another day. I am with papa wolf and the boys in the tent in his backyard - there are lots of other hikers here - some in the bunk room and some camping! So glad for a great day - I hope to be hiking tomorrow :)
The sign pointing to the top

Looking at the top of Mt Moosilauke and the first "above tree line" trail

The Sumit of Mt Moosilauke
Steep descent, but beautiful, as it followed this waterfall to the bottom
Friday, 24 August, Day 45 AT v2.0, I miles, Crawford Notch Stealth Camp, US 302 near Bartlett, NH. By Papa Wolf - Mt Moosilauke was excellent yesterday. Weird hiking by myself with just the boys, but it was great to be back out and there was no way Crocadilly or Tailbone should have hiked so I had a great day. I did finally have to break out the new pair of boots. I wore my originals as long as I cod but we had some serious structural damage so I was basically hiking In flip flops with laces. :) they treated me well and made it 1200 miles, so no complaints...they have been retired with full honors. My new boots were really great. I did not get a good chance to break them in so yesterday was it. They felt great but my feet were a bit tender this morning. The plan was to hit the trail but I was nursing my, enjoying the morning and the day got away from us. So we went with Mango to the next meeting point to await Rampage and the gang.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, 20 August

Monday, 20th August, Day 41, 10.2 miles, Super 8 Motel, White River Junction VT. The feverish ramblings of Crocadilly - At about 0330 am this morning having been woken up for about the fifth time with a horrendous temperature, bizarre dreams and excruciating stomach cramps I decided that I would not be going anywhere fast. So I am still at the Super 8 and super frustrated. Papa Wolf surprised me by coming back to visit for the evening which is just what the doctor ordered. I do feel like we should paint a cross on the door like they did during the plague and shout "bring out your dead!". I am hoping to be better enough to hike tomorrow but it is quite a climb up Mt Moosilauke which I have been looking forward to…seeing as I had to sit down in the shower because showering was such an effort I am thinking I may be missing out yet again - disappointing but I might as well get 100% better as the trail is just going to get tougher. Mt Moosilauke is the first of the big mountains you hit coming into the whites - I was considering it a gateway to the next stage of our hike. Oh well….
By Papa Wolf - Up at 5:45 to catch the sunrise on top of the firetower. Had breakfast and a cup of coffee and was still on the trail at 0730…that has to be a record for me. Today's hike was awesome. A gentle four mile down on a great trail is about the perfect way to start the day. After that warm up we had two sporty and rocky ups and downs. On top of the mountains we were able to look back and see the fire tower were we stayed last night. It’s a nice sense of achievement to see what you have walked the last few hours. We discovered, while on top of the mountains and had phone service, that Mango and Crocadilly were not getting out of bed anytime soon. Rampage asked if maybe Mango and Tailbone could come pick up their beautiful dog, Sammy, as the rocks and climbs will be getting much more difficult and treacherous for the dogs. So…although I am loving these last few days, I took the opportunity to come back to take care of my poor wifey. I know she wants to hike these mountains so I did not want to do too many miles without her so this was a good opportunity to stop and wait for her. This is a good example of how having this support vehicle is excellent and well worth it.   
Looking back at the FireTower on top of the mountain.

Zoomed in...FireTower on left