Friday, August 29, 2008


Aug 27, 2008
Millinocket, ME
Appalachian Trail Lodge
Others Here: Recurve, Conan, whitefish, Singer and Landsurfer, others I don't know

After a good meal at the cafe, we said goodbye to Sojo. His wife had come up to meet him and they are heading to Bangor. Once again, word fail me. I'll see him again; we promissed to run a marathon together some time in the future. Before leaving, they gave me a thoughtful gift of the book "Last Child in the Woods". Perhaps some help for future direction.

Well the white blazes are gone. I no longer have a 2x6 white painted blaze telling me where to put my next step. I feel a bit lost. What, you say I should trust God? I'll get there, and I know he will lead, but those white blazes seemed easier. (Well most of the time ... sometimes they were non-existant).

Aug 28, 2008
Manchester, NH
La Quinta
Just me here

I rented a car and drove to Manchester in order to catch a plane home tomorrow. On the bus ride to Bangor I had to say good bye to Conan, and then to Recurve at the Bangor airport. We all went through so much together and then one by one we parted company. Everyone goes on now to their normal lives, at least for me, with feelings of sadness, relief, excitement, and some anxiousness of the unknown.

Aug 27, 2008

Mile 2176.2
Baxter Peak, Katahdin (5267)
Other thru hikers who summited today: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Whitefish, Allgood, Me to Maine, Foot Machine (2nd thru hike, 1st in 1984), Singer and Landsurfer (father and son doing a flip flop - half way done)

How can I possibly describe all the emotions and feelings of that day, especially since I am writing this 2 days later from the airport. What a difference this is. I've been in a whirlwind ever since we left Baxter State Park. The people all look strange, dress strange, wear strange boxes in their ears and talk incessantly to themselves. No one makes eye contact, they don't greet me when I walk by and they smell too perfumey. Seriously, it feels wierd and uncomfortable. But back to Katahdin.

I didn't sleep much the night before from excitement and none after 3:00am. At 4:30 I could finally get up and could hardly contain myself until the 4 of us began walking toward the ranger station at around 5:30. Most people slackpack or empty their own packs, but I wanted to carry all my gear up the mountain. My pack is already very light and I wanted to carry a full pack the whole way. Though I did drop off a few miscellaneous items like bug spray, the camera charger, and the pocket mail device, I carried all my essential gear up the mountain.

Filled with excitement and adreneline, I practically ran the first 2 miles before the hand over hand rock climbs. If Katahdin isn't the toughest climb on the trail, it is certainly in the top. I can't think of a more difficult one off hand. When I reached the exposed climbs, the wind was blowing a gale. I had a few scary moments as I climbed up and over the rock face with what seemed 40-50 mph gusts. Scary but exhilerating. (I wish I was there right now.) On the tablelands, the wind was strong enough to actually blow you over and I was pushed off the trail a couple times. Conan and I reached the summit at 8:30, just 2.5 hours after we began. How do you describe the feelings after reaching your goal 2176.2 miles later through rain, snow, sleet, cold, heat (though according to some day walkers, I had no idea how hot it was), humidity, insects, mud, rain, hail, more rain, something like 410,000 ft of elevation gain, stream fordings, more rain, constant hunger, so so ma!
ny wonderful experiences, meeting myriad great and intersting people, a few nut cases, and on and on. As might be imagined, as all the others arrived (Whitefish was already there), there was much emotion. Others went through more hardship than me and deserve greater accolades. Sojo and Recurve endured the most difficult kind of trial; being away from their wives and family. They lost more weight than they could afford, Sojo endured the kidney stone experience which certainly left him weaker, Recurve endured blistered and raw feet most of the trip along with a painful hip and bruised rib later on.

Anyway as all the others arrived, we began to celebrate together. As I mentioned before, I am honored that I could share the experience with Sojo, Cona, and Recurve. Words are simply failing me as I try to describe the experience that we all shared together on the mountain, so I will stop trying. I thank God for the opportunity. The weather couldn't have been more perfect on the summit; sunny and cool with not a cloud in the sky. The wind even died down after we reached the top. Allgood played his mandolin a while. What a picture perfect thru hiker experience. As I expected, it was hard to leave and I had to go by to touch that fabled sign one more time. One more picture next to the last white blaze and we're off. The climb down went more quickly than expected and, thankfully, there was no wind.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Aug 27, 2008

It's hard to believe it...I'm done ... more later

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Aug 26, 2008

Mile 2171.0
The Birches (1090)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Singer, Landsurfer, Allgood, Hobo Dave, Whitefish, 2 section hikers

I just don't know what to write. It hasn't quite sunken in yet that tomorrow is the last day. I'm planning to get up at 4:30 in the morning to try and be the second one on the mountain. Conan will get there before me.

Oh, when I registered with the ranger, I was number 146.

Someone called Mr. Pink who thru hiked in 2005 just brought in trail magic and even though it's after 8:30, I had to go out for a few minutes anyway. If it was any other night I would stay up for the chicken they are roasting over the fire. Right now there's a bunch sitting around the campfire and Allgood is playing the mandolin that he carried 2171.0 miles. What a life.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Aug 25, 2008

Mile 2149.9
Rainbow Spring Campsite (1120)
Others Here: Recurve, Sojo, Conan

It's hard to believe but we are only 2 days away from Katahdin. Right now we are 26.3 miles away. Basically marathon distance - amazing! We'll be heading to the summit the day after tomorrow.

It has really made my hike over the past several weeks to be hiking with Recurve, Sojo, and Conan. They are great people and I will be honored to reach the summit with them.

Aug 24, 2008

Mile 2130.3
Whitehouse Landing (520)
bunk house
Others Here: Recurve, Sojo, Conan, Catfish (different one from earlier), 4 guys from Ireland, Father and son, lady from KS

A great hiking day today. Easy terrain and 22 miles by 3:00pm. I couldn't pass up this place even though I have wanted to spend more tent time in the wilderness. But how can you walk by a place where you have to walk 1 mile off the trail, blow an air horn, and wait for a boat to take you to the other side of the lake. This has been such a great experience. Oh, I almost forgot, they also serve a 1 lb burger here; we all followed it up with a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

After dinner Conan and I took a canoe, Recurve and Sojo took the other canoe and we paddled across the lake to the other side. From the middle, we were able to look back and see Katahdin. After nearly 5 months of hiking in all types of weather and extremely demanding trail terrain and conditions, it nearly takes your breath away to finally see the goal.

Out in the canoes we were also able to see a great sunset from the middle of the lake. What a wonderful way to spend one of my last evenings on the trail. As much as part of me would like, I know it can't last forever.

Refer-A-Friend to PocketMail today and a receive $50 in service or $25 in CASH!

Aug 23, 2008

Mile 2108.4
East Branch Lean-to (1240)
Others Here: Conan, Recurve, Sojo

Today was another good day and the second in a row that I have had dry feet. Before yesterday, the last time I had dry feet was in Manchester Center, VT.

The weather has been absolutely beautiful for the past several days and we are all hoping for a continuation of the same until we summit. Even though, me included, we all vowed to go slowly through this section, we are now hoping to summit a day sooner. If we do 20's for the next 3 days, we can be at the base of the mountain and ready to summit the next morning on the 27th. This will also give us an extra day in case we need to delay for better weather.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Aug 22, 2008

Mile 2090.4
East Chairback Pond (1680)
Others Here: Conan, Sojo, Recurve

This was a short day mileage-wise but I am quite tired. It seemed like the first 9 took forever and then the last 4 were back to normal speed. Around lunch time, I reached a rock ledge overlooking West Chairback Pond and took a 30 minute nap under the sunny clear blue sky. Believe it or not that rock was pretty comfortable. The ants just kept crawling over me and bugging me.

When I arrived at the trailhead to this pond, no one else was here. It turned out Conan had hiked passed it 1.2 miles before turning around. Anyway, after hiking 0.2 down to the pond and back, I had an even better nap here while waiting for Sojo and Recurve; 45 minutes right in the middle of the trail. When they first saw me from a distance, they didn't recognise me. I guess they thought it was some other vagrant.

I'm not sure why this section zapped all of us. There have been more difficult, but I was worn out. Sojo and Recurve both said that the trail whipped them today. Conan did an extra 2.4 miles but didn't seem as beat.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Aug 21, 2008

Mile 2076.8
Long Pond Stream Lean-to (930)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve

It's hard to believe that I'm actually in the hundred mile wilderness. Not only that, but there are only 99.4 miles to Katahdin. It looks like we will summit in 7 days. Wow! I'm definitely torn between wanting to get done and not wanting it to end so soon.

Today was another beautiful day. We didn't get out of town until 10:00am but only went 15 miles and it was nice to have a more casual day. It is so difficult to get an early start from town.

Even though it was an awesome sunny day, I still hve wet feet. Stream fordings have become a regular occurance in Maine. There were 4 yesterday and 2 or 3 today. So far the water has been below my waist and I don't expect any higher since the rains have stopped. The hikers several days ahead of us had a difficult time with the streams. In some cases, they were apparantly unpassable. I know from the Kennebec ferry that that river was running more than 3 times higher. Regularly 4000 cubic feet/min; up to 14000 cubic ft/min. The ferry was closed for several days and people had to get shuttled around on a bridge by Harrison's camp.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Aug 20, 2008

Mile 2061.7
Monson, ME (1240)
Shaws Boarding House
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Captn Jack Sparrow, a bunch others

I am writing this after the fact because there just wasn't time that night. There were more important things to do like taking advantage of the 2 cheesburgers for the price of one, buying a Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, and taking a shower.

The hike here was a memorable one. We began it by climbing Moxie Bald. The weather was a little cold and windy at the top but it was wonderful. Awe inspiring views and best of all from the north side of the mountain we could see Katahdin in the distance. It was just visible in the haze; like something out of a dream.

The last 10 miles or so were very flat and we made it to the road by 4:30. It took Conan and I over 30 minutes to get a ride but a farmer eventually picked us up and even had us ride in the cab. I guess he is used to the odors in the barnyard. Can you believe it, we hadn't been in the hostel 10 minutes when Sojo and Recurve walk up with chocolate milk, snacks, and B & J from the general store. It was a record for the hitching master, Recurve, of only 2 minutes for a ride.

We all went from the hostel, before taking a shower, to The Lakeshore House which is a laundrymat, pub, and boarding house. What a neat place. The lady that runs it sets the atmosphere with her spunky, cheerful personality. We all ordered the special of the day; buy 1, get 1 free, cheesburger and fries. There were 8 plates on the table in front of us - quite a site.
We stayed at Shaws boarding house which is an institution on the trail. When you think of Monson, Shaws comes to mind. Keith Shaw passed away a few years ago, but a couple bought the place from his son and has done a great job. For breakfast, we had the famous ayce breakfast where you tell them 1, 2, 3, or 4. Sojo and I had a 3 which was 3 of everything; eggs, sausage, bacon, toast, and pancakes. Conan had a 3 followed by a 2, and Recurve had double 2's.

Monson itself is a small town with only a post office, a general store, the boarding houses, a convienence store, a few craft shops, and homes. It appears to be suffering because many of the buildings were boarded up.

While in Monson, we first began hearing about nobo thru hikers who quit in 100 mile wilderness. I can't imagine quiting so close to the goal after walking nearly 2100 miles. That should give an idea of the amount of rain over the past month. I hear some of the stream fordings were chest high and people simple couldn't make it across. Up to this point there has been rain, mud, and bogs nonstop so I guess some folks just reached their limit. I never went above my knee in a bog, but I heard of waist deep spillls.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Aug 19, 2008

Mile 2039.7
Bald Mnt Brook Lean-to (1280)
Others Here: Conan, Recurve, Sojo, Greenwood, Shiloh, Red Cloud (sobo)

A short day again today because we couldn't get a shuttle back to the trail until after 9am. Once back, in Caratunk, we still had to do a quick post office stop so didn't get started until 10. Now in order to get to Monson by tomorrow we will have to do 22 tomorrow. It shouldn't be too bad. We have a climb up Moxie Bald, where I hope for clear skies and good views, and then relatively easy from there to Monson.

Once again, I'm torn about finishing. I want to get done and move on but I also don't want the hike to end because I love it out here; rain or shine. Even in weather like the hail storm the other day, I was having a great time. At the same time, it will be great to finish on the 28th (the current plan) because it gives me time to make Jim's wedding.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Aug 18, 2008

Mile 2025.0
Caratunk, ME
Northern Outdoors
stayed in a Logdominium
Others Here: Sojo, Recurve, Conan

Right now I am sitting on the south side of the Kennebec river waiting for the ferry which runs between 9 and 11am and 2 and 4pm. We got here at 12:15 so we're just waiting around now that we had lunch. It's a great time to dry out the shoes since it's a clear sunny day. That's 13.7 miles in under 6 hours; a nice change from the past couple weeks. The terrain has finally eased up a bit since the Whites. From Glencliff through Mahoosuc Notch we probable only averaged 10-12 miles a day.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Aug 17, 2008

Mile 2011.0
West Carry Pond Lean-to (1340)
Others Here: Conan, Recurve, Sojo, Crush, Alaska, Shepherd

I am listening to loons in the pond right now; I love their calls. It looks like today will break our rain record. There was no rain today and we have had at least some rain every day since Manchester Center, VT. We still had wet feet, though, and I expect that will continue for a while due to the high strems and trail conditions. I am so thankful for the clear blue skies today. Some of us were in pretty low spirits last night but the gorgeous day and the fact that we passed the 2000 mile mark did wonders for morale.

Woe is me, I lost my favorite bandana today. I carried it all the way from Springer and though I'm not certain, I think it is the one from my last thru hike. I was climbing up the rocky West Bigelow peak with the wind gusting 50 or more mph and my bandana blew right off my pack. I watched helplessly as it fluttered out away from the mountain and hundreds if not thousands of feet above the trees below. Sigh....

It was wonderful beyond words on the summits of West Bigelow and Avery Peak. The view was incredible, the sky was mostly clear, and the wind was blowing like a gale.

It really has been a great day. It makes it all the better to share it with good friends. Sojo, Conan, and Recurve have made the last few weeks a pleasure inspite of all the rain and it was great to cross the 2000 mark with them.

Oh, I took a nice spill today. I was doing the descent from Little Bigelow and turned my ankle just as I was getting ready to step down about 2 feet or so. I lost my balance and went head first off the ledge. I landed on a 2 foot diameter rock with my chest. I must have caught part of my weight with my right hand because the wrist hurt afterwards. I wasn't hurt at all beyond the 5 minute ache following. It could have been quite bad and I'm thankful for the "safe" landing.

Aug 16, 2008

Mile 1993.5
Horns Pond Lean-tos (3160)
In Shelter
Others Here: Sojo, Recurve, Conan, Crush, Greenwood, 4 weekend hikers in other lean-to

Beautiful clear day
stopped for lunch watching a chipmunk frolick in the sun. Toward the end of lunch, with the sun shining, heard thunder.
20 minutes after starting up again, a thunderstorm rolled in. It was a torrential downpour and soon the hail started. It hailed for at least 10 minutes and it stung. Once during the storm, the lightning was so close, I threw down my poles and pack and took up the lightning crouch position for a few minutes. Walked most of the way to the shelter in the rain and all the way in rushing streams on the trail. They were literally ice cold because they were filled with hail. People wouldn't believe it, I wish I had taken a video. Several times in the pouring rain, I was not sure where the trail went and instead of looking for white blazes I looked for a rushing stream and that was it. I took several pictures of the hail and the rushing trail. We were going to go on another 3 miles but everyone was cold and wet. Once you put on dry clothes it's hard to set out again. Believe it or not, I had a great time in the rain and hail and am glad it happened. It was an invigorati!
ng experience, it forced us to stop, and the pond here is beautiful.

Aug 15, 2008

Mile 1981.1
Crocker Cirque Campsite (2670)
Others Here: Conan, Sojo, Recurve, Stubble, a sobo

Another wonderful sunny day. Once again it didn't rain until I was in my tent. It is just so nice to walk in the sunshine. We only did about 14 miles today but it was nice to get to camp before 5 and have time to relax for a change. We had debated going on 7 more miles to Stratton but decided it really didn't do that much for us and it was better to have an easier and early day.

I'm not sure when the following occured, a few days ago, but I wanted to record it for posterity. I've reached a new low on the hobo scale. Conan found some molasses nut bread hanging from one of the shelters. I've never had hard tack, but it must be something like that bread. I could have broken a tooth on it. It wasn't even good, but I couldn't stop myself from eating a piece. Oh, and while I am recalling hobo related events, that picture of Conan cooking baked beans in the can over a fire ... he found those beans at a shelter earlier that day.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Aug 14, 2008

Mile 1966.9
Poplar Ridge Lean-to (2955)
Others Here: Recurve, Conan, Sojo
In Shelter

There wasn't any rain other than a few minutes of light sprinkling. What a pleasure! There were such awesome views from saddleback that it was hard to keep moving. At one point, from Saddleback Junior, I believe, there was a beam of light shining through the clouds and a rainbow within the same view.

Today was a late start because we arrived so late last night. We sort of slept in, 6:30 or 7:00, and then had to do laundry. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the 4 of us eating lunch on the grass next to the laundry-mat while we dried our shoes and tents under the vents for the dryers. Talk about your vagrants...

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Aug 13, 2008

Mile 1956.2
Rangeley, ME (1600)
Town and Lake Motel
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve

Wow, what a great day it has been. I've seen the sun and blue skies all day and it didn't rain until we were in the hotel.

I walked in water and mud all day to get here but that didn't matter because the sun was shining. At one of our breaks, someone pointed out that I have thru hiked both wet years, 2003 and now. Since my trail name is Boat, they decided it was my fault so I said I was changing my name to Gorgeous. That was a mistake, they've been calling me Gorgeous now to get a reaction; I'd hate to see what happens if I change my name to Jonah.

We were all sort of racing to get here when Sojo and I went past Little Swift River Pond. Someone called out from the pond about a moose and we went back. Frankers (a sobo) was in a canoe fly fishing and paddled back to the shore as we were taking pictures of the cow 100 yards away. He suggested that we take out the canoe to get a closer look. I was trying to turn down the offer in a rush to get to town but Sojo talked some sense into me. He wanted me to paddle since my name is Boat and we went out just a few yards from her. She just stood their eating as we took pictures; Sojo got some really good ones that I will get copies of. It was so peaceful sitting out in the middle of the pond, I could have stayed there all day. I almost wish I was there right now.

I think I mentioned in a previous entry that there have been a few rain free days since Vermont but the others tell me it has rained every day ... just wanted to make the correction.

Due to our moose adventure (which was well worth it) and waiting 30 minutes for a hitch, we didn't get into town until around 7pm. Sojo and I still had to do our resupply shopping and then walked nearly a mile from the grocery to the motel. After showers, we went in search of a meal but everything was closed because it was after 9. Sojo had walked into a place to ask and they said they were closed but would make us a hamburger anyway. They had been closed for nearly an hour; such nice people. We then stayed up much too late watching the olympics.

One more thing I forgot to mention. We ran into the foot lady today. Remember the lady who soaked her nasty feet in the spring? She was walking south with her husband. What a shock that was. She says once this trail is complete she will have done the PCT, CDT, and AT but we don't believe her. She admitted to aqua blazing around The Shenendoah and she is infamous for yellow blazing.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Aug 12, 2008

Mile 1938.5
Beamis Mountain Lean-to (2790)
Others Here: Conan, Sojo, Recurve, 2 section hikers, 3 sobos

slow going due to wet slippery rocks, bog bridges and muddy trails
rained last hour soaked and cold
glad to be in dry sleeping bag

nearly a full moon, beautiful, blue skies. wish I wasn't too cold and wet to sit out and enjoy

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Aug 11, 2008

Mile 1921.5
Surplus Pond (2050)
Others Here: Sojo, Recurve, Conan

It was a short day today but well worth it. This morning included a climb over Bald Pate mountain where Recurve took a picture of me appropriate for the mountain. The climb up wasn't bad though it was up steep, wet rock slabs (some of which were at a 50-60 degree incline) and trail more like a waterfall than anything else. It is much easier climbing than going down. The tough part of the day was going down similar streams, I mean trail, on the other side.

When we arrived at the road to Andover, the first thing I saw was a group of boys drinking sodas. Next I spotted the glorious coolers, and finally I saw those responsible. Two of the best friends anyone could have, John and Ginny. They had come up for a mini vacation and took a day out to meet me on the trail. I can't express how blessed I really am to have such friends. It was a joy to see them. They drove us all into town for resupply, gave us an extra generous treat in town, and took us back out to the trailhead.

While in town, we saw Karl Meltzer's father in the support RV. Karl is attempting to run the AT southbound in less than 47 days ( I can't imagine doing over 40 miles per day on this trail and especially in this wet weather. I have't had dry feet since before Vermont and it has rained every day since except for a few. Anyway, back at the trail, we waited 30 minutes or so and were able to meat Karl and the man who is running through Maine with him. As you might expect, Karl was a very intense person and didn't stay around to chat. It was inspiring and exciting to meet him. Especially so for Sojo since he is an ultra runner himself.

That was great but the highlight of my day was seeing John and Ginny. I am so appreciative for the visit and all they did for us. Even though, hiker trash that we are, we stunk up their rental car. There's only one thing that bothers me. Just when I was weaning myself from Mountain Dews, they practically waved 24 oz bottles of the stuff under my nose. I'm afraid I have had a relapse and carried half a bottle with me after drinking 1 and 1/2 at the trail head. But I'm done now ... no more ... on the other hand, one more bottle in the next town wouldn't be so bad. That proves I don't have a problem ... I'll stop at one, or maybe two.

Aug 10, 2008

Mile 1911.7
Bald Pate Lean-to (2645)
Others Here: Recurve, Conan, Sojo, 3 weekend hikers

Today was another beautiful day. Perfect for going through Mahoosuc notch. I had a fun time going over, under, and through all the boulders in the notch and we all got some good pictures of each other. It took us 2.5 hours to make it the one mile through. As expected, Mahoosuc Arm was a steep, difficult and sometimes slippery climb but it was sunny at the top.

We didn't avoid the rain, though, there was an afternoon thunder shower including hail that got us a few miles before the shelter.

Most of the tentsites were muddy but I was able to make due on a trail to the stream. It rained again once in the tent but thats fine with me. I would take more days like today.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Aug 9, 2008

Mile 1899.7
Full Goose Shelter (3030)
Others Here: Danger Snake, Time Cop, Sojo, Recurve, Conan

beautiful sunny day. no rain except when in shelter for lunch break.
so nice to see blue skies again
rain since Vermont, wet feet since VT. Even today because trail still saturated
entered Maine today, woohoo! Very exciting.
First day in ME didn't let us down. Sun and spectacular views.
took a couple spills off the slick bog bridges. new shoes are new no longer.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Aug 8, 2008

Mile 1885.2
Trident Col Tentsite (2020)
Others Here: Recurve, Sojo, Conan, Danger Snake, Timecop

We had a late start today after resupplying, going to the post office, and the outfitter this morning. It was 2:30 before we hit the trail today and only made it about 7 miles. Thankfully, though it was misty there was no rain until after we arrived and then only light rain as I was cooking my dinner.

It was great to see the twins again. I hoped to run into them again and it looks like we will be hiking the same miles at least for a couple days.

Everyone, including me, is excited about entering Maine tomorrow. The last mountain in NH before the Maine border is called Mount Success. How appropriate is that?

P.S. I found a dead slug that has been rolled up in my tent for two days. It was squished just where I put my hand to open the vestibule.

Tell your friend about PocketMail and let the savings start rolling in!

Aug 7, 2008

Mile 1878.3
Gorham, NH (760)
White Birches Hostel
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Tennessee, Day Hiker, 2 Sobos and their 2 friends, a guy from Wisconsin

When I woke up this morning, there was a slug on the table where I had been sleeping. I must have brought it with me from the night before. I'm not sure what this says about me but Sojo attracts foxes and I seem to attract slugs.

I was so glad to get out of that Hut that a pouring rain would have been welcome. It took me most of the day to get to the point where I could put the bad experience from last night behind me. I want to focus on what is coming up as well as the overwhelmingly positive past experiences of the hike.

Hallelujah, there was no rain for a change. Actually it turned out to be a nice day; overcast with a few breaks in the clouds.

On the way down there were a few stream crossings that I imagine were somewhat treacherous yesterday. The last few miles of the day were a gentle grade on a dirt trail; no more boulder scrambling up or down wet slippery rocks. It was nice to be able to walk fast again.

When I got to the road, I was so relieved to get out of Whites and AMC hut territory that I felt like singing ... but I spared Conan.

The people at hostel treated us not only like human beings but with kindness and cordiality. It was so refreshing. After my last sevreral hut experiences, it seemed strange at first. Like, "wait, you shouldn't be nice to me, I'm a smelly, dirty thru hiker."

I will be picking up new shoes tomorrow. My others have about 600 miles on them and though they could probably make it 300 more to Katahdin, I don't want to take the chance of having joint problems or tendinitis like before. Thanks to JK for tracking down some new Montrrail Hardrocks on the Internet.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Aug 6, 2008

Mile 1863.1
Carter Notch Hut (3290)
Others Here:Sojo, Recurve, Conan, Brian (doing a YoYo)

Woke up to rain this morning and walked in it all day. It was especially hard after an early lunch at the Pinkham Notch visitor center. It was literally like fording a stream all day. At times the water on the trail was calf level.

Conan and I got to the gondola on Wildcat and were looking for a place out of the cold wind and rain to wait for Sojo and Recurve. Thankfully some eight Sobos had found an undisclosed location out of the rain and let us in. We waited there a few minutes and then the others joined us for a few more. This turned out to be a mistake because when we went back out into the rain, we were all freezing. My teeth were chattering for 5 or more minutes before I warmed up from hiking.

We had been warned to stay away from Carter Hut and the unfriendly hut master but the weather and lack of time forced us to stop there for the night. After tonight and my experience at Lakes, I have changed my opinion about the AMC. I agree with the concept of their system but not the way they work it out in real life. I think some 3 sided shelters near the huts would be a good solution. Anyway, Conan talked to one of the croo, Alex, who was quite friendly and said it shouldn't be a problem for us to stay but he wasn't in charge. So when Recurve and Sojo came in, we sent them to talk to the hut master, Emily, thinking she would respect their age. She told them we could either pay $84 a piece or move on. Remember it was pouring rain outside and already after 5pm in the White Mountains. We knew from the 8 sobos earlier that they had allowed 12 hikers to stay the night before for $8. That is except for the Nobo she she sent back out into the rain at 9pm. Anyway, Recur!
ve finally got here to let us stay for $10.

If Lakes treated us like second class people, we were treated like dogs here. Brian came in later and we suggested that he just lay low so she wouldn't kick him out. The five of us waited in a 5x8 entryway whith our packs and all the guests wet shoes until about 9pm. There was an old (unused) wood stove there, so we rotated places in our little box so everyone could have a turn sitting. The croo and guests mostly ignored us as they went in and out. Though a couple of the guest spoke to us and one lady mentioned early on that she hoped they would let us stay. Well, it makes for a good story and probably builds character or something.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

Aug 5, 2008

Mile 1852.4
North of Osgood Tent Site
Stealth camping
Others Here: Recurve, Sojo, Conan

There were only 2 tent platforms open and since my tent is not free standing the others used them. I found a spot about 5 minutes north on the AT.

This has been a good day. It looked bad this morning because we were socked in at Lakes of the Clouds. We got to the summit of Mount Washington at around 8:00 and couldn't see more than about 40 yds. So we waited until 10am hoping the clouds would burn off.

We started to get peaks through the clouds after about an hour and eventually had some decent views off and on. It was interesting watching the clouds and mist dance around, over, and between the mountains. It really was a great day for the Presidential range. Based on the forcast, we were here on the best day possible for a while.

I think the best part of the day was when we saw a fox pounce and catch a bird. He gobbled it up and then wiped his mouth on the grass. He was making circuits around the brush piles looking for prey. In the process, he walked right by us and when Recurve made a mouse noise the fox stopped less than 10 feet away and checked us out. We walked on only to discover 1/2 mile later that he was following us. He apparantly smelled the lunch meat in Sojo's pack because he was focusing on Sojo. Unfortunately someone has been feeding this fella because he got even closer to us when we stopped for a snack. He almost got away with a snack bag that some other hikers had on the ground. We left him with the other hikers but when I turned around 10 minutes later, there he was following us again. That was the last time I saw him, but who knows, he may be waiting for Sojo to go to sleep.

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Aug 4, 2008

Mile 1843.8
Lakes of the Clouds Hut (????)
payed $10 to sleep on floor in dinning room
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Night Terror, Cat, Barefoot Sage, RJ, Boots

Had a cold wet hike up here today. It was an opposite kind of day from when I did this section last time. Today, we were in the clouds all day and couldn't see more than 20-30 yds ahead. The trail was a river again so I didn't bother trying to keep dry feet; you just walk in it. I also slipped and ended up flat on the ground a couple times. The first time it reminded me of a fish flopping in the bottom of a boat (not very graceful). Once I got above treeline, the wind and rain were more intense so I had to put on my rain jacket to stay warm. I don't mean to sound like a sissy. It was still a fun hike just from the standpoint of battling the elements. Also there is something almost other worldly about walking up to the side of a mountain where the mist hides everything. It could be a sheer drop or a gradual slope. I would still call it a fun and enjoyable day though cold and windy.

Most of us didn't want to do work for stay so we could get an early start in the morning. The weather forcast calls for partly sunny with the summit in and out of the clouds. Every other day is thunderstorms so this is our one chance for a good day in the presidentials and is the reason we did such a short day yesterday.

This hut has such a different atmosphere from Zealand. I have never felt more like a second class person than right now. We are delegated to a side hallway and basically ignored by the croo. It seems like we are an unavoidable nuisance. They can't kick us out because there is no place else to go (people have died up here even during summer) so they have to put up with us. At Zealand and Galehead they went out of their way to help and they seemed to like us. It even seemed like they had a private competion to see who could be nicest to the thru hikers. Here there is such a huge contrast between the guests and thru hikers. Most of the guests ignore us but a couple have come over and given us leftover snacks, though they didn't talk to us - just gave snacks like you might give a bum a dollar.

Well I still stand by my comments about the AMC from the other day and will choose to remember the positive experiences at the other huts. And after all, they do let us stay here; it's a warm, dry place out of the rain, we didn't die of exposure and we get to go over the presidential range tomorrow.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Aug 2, 2008

Mile 1823.5
Zealand Falls Hut (2695)
work for stay
Others Here: Sojo, Recurve, Conan, Night Terror & Cat, all the paying customers

Got a late start today at around 7:45. Sojo is infinitely better today and seems like his old self again. I don't know how he made it yesterday, he seemed like a zombie.

We stopped after just 3 miles at Galehead Hut in the hopes of getting leftovers and were not disappointed. They gave us leftover cold eggs & oatmeal, spiced bread, and cake. Thru hikers are the garbage disposers of the hut system. It's a nice arraingement. It was so comfortable there on the porch that I could have fallen asleep in the sun. We stayed for a couple hours.

After dragging ourselves off the porch, there were some nice views from South Twin but not like yesterday. On the way down, the rains began and I got soaked and cold. The plan was to go on past Zealand Hut to Ethan Pond, but that all changed when we arrived. It's almost embarassing to do such short days, but worth it. This is the place to take it slow. Both due to difficulty and the beautiful terrain.

The hut croo here is very friendly. They officially only alow 2 work for stays but because of the rain they allowed all 6 of us to stay. We waited outside in the cold rain under partial cover of the porch while they paying customers had their meal. A young boy kept coming out to play in the rain and report on what they were eating. He was our connection to the good life. It's usually the children who will comfort the strays.

After what seemed hours, they let us in and the leftovers were delicious. Turkey, mashed potatoes, peas, and gravy. After polishing off all the leftovers, we washed the dishes while Recurve and Cat gave a presentation on what it is like to be a thru hiker.

I have to mention again how kind and generous the croo is here as well as the last hut. Many thru hikers have a beef against the AMC because of the extravagant prices ($90ish) for staying at the huts as well as charging $8 for shelters in the Whites. I now have the opposite view. This place would be overrun and trashed if not for the AMC. They provide a place for those willing to pay big money and this funds the costly maintenance to keep this place open to so many others. The shelters provide a place for the rest of us who can't afford the huts and frankly would rather have a more wilderness experience. As far a making accomodations for thru hikers, where else can you get free all you can eat leftovers for breakfast or lunch. The work for stay option allowed us to get out of the rain and get an excellent meal that others paid for. I think the AMC is doing a great job and the hut system is wonderful.

Next morning out on the porch again during breakfast.
Nick (the little boy): where did you sleep?
Cat: in there
Nick (in disbelief): on the floor?
Cat: we have little air mattresses we carry. It isn't that bad.
Nick: I was cold, I woke up 3 times.
Nick: why do you have to stay out here.
Cat: we like it outside. It's crowded in there.
Nick: my mom saw a mouse in the bathroom.

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Aug 1, 2008

Mile 1813.8
Garfield Ridge Campsite (3560)
In Shelter
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve

Just to prove that I don't have a soda drinking problem, I need to point out that I only carried 2 Mountain Dews out of town when I had the option of carrying 3.

Wow, what a day! There was some concern that it would storm today but we had perfect weather while on the ridge. Even now it is cloudy but dry. Franconia ridge was all I could have hoped for. It is always awe inspiring to walk above tree line and this was no exception. we had beautiful weather and magnificent views. This kind of day makes all the "bad" days worth while. I had that same feeling of anticipation as we approched the open ridgeline that I was feeling before Moosilauke. It is simply impossible for me to put into words how wonderful the hiking was today. At one point you could see a rainbow in the clouds just below us.

It was a very difficult day for Sojo. He was deeling with a kidney stone and the pain came on just a couple hours into the hike today. I don't know how he managed today. He looked to be in tremendous pain but somehow not only hiked the miles but enjoyed the views. He had some high power pain killer because of an episode before the trail and is sleeping now. I just pray that he can pass this and not have to deal with the pain much longer. I'm prepared to zero or whatever. Going on without him is not an option for any of us.

Wlking through this day with the other three made it all the better for me and everyone watched out for Sojo.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

July 31, 2008

Mile 1803.6
Lincoln, NH (1450)
Chet's Place
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Barefoot Sage, Lil Bit, Night Terror, Cat, about 20 others

This was possibly the hardest day so far up and then back down the Kinsmans. The ascent was basically a rock scramble that often went straight up. It was the descent that wore me out however. The rocks were slick and the grade was often 50 or 60%. You had to focus on every step to avoid ending up on your behind, or worse, breaking something. It was both physically & mentally exhausting and by the end of the day I was wasted. Just 12 miles or so took us all day (7am - 4pm). Now that I've whined sufficiently, I have to say that it was a fun day none the less. I enjoy rock scrambles as wel as a physical challenge. We were very fortunate with the weather. The day began with rain but it stopped soon and didn't begin again until we were almost done. We got inside the Flume visitor center befor the deluge began.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

July 30, 2008

Mile 1790.5
Gordon Pond (2850)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve

I am so glad we waited to do Moosilauke this morning. It was an absolutely wonderful day and the views from the summit were fantastic. I had a great time this morning with Sojo, Conan, Recurve, and Barefoot Sage. After the summit, we made our way to Beaver Brook Shelter where all but Barefoot had lunch. What a place to have lunch especially compared with my former life. The 4 of us then made our way down the very steep descent to Kinsman Notch. There is a brook that cascades and falls all the way down next to the trail. I must have taken 30 pictures. Just beautiful. It took us quite a while to make it down to the notch because we were enjoying the falls so much. Barefoot left a note that she decided to go into a hostel and slack pack the next 16 miles tomorrow. We should see her at the same hostel tomorrow.

Climbing up the other side of the notch wasn't so bad but when we reached the trail to Gordon Pond it was 5:30 and we realized there wasn't enough time to make it to the next shelter. So based on my recommendation we took the side trail to the pond. After 20 minutes of walking on a swampy, boggy, unmaintained trail, we still hadn't found it and decided we had made a wrong turn somewhere. At this point, I was concerned the bear ropes might come out for a lynching. It was actually a fun adventure.

After turning around, we found the pond and some great tent sites. The pond is beautiful and oh so peaceful. And best of all, I didn't get lynched. Everyone agrees that this is an ideal camp site. We've all mentioned that this has been one of the best days on the trail. I've had a sense of excitement most of the day. I think it's because we are entering the Whites and real wilderness. The others mentioned similar feelings. Something like what we all felt when starting out in the beginning. Wow, and what a day for starting the Whites; I couldn't have asked for better.

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July 29, 2008

Mile 1777.7
Glencliff, NH (1140)
Hukers Welcome Hostel
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Barefoot Sage, DeJoe (sobo), Quick Toez
Caretakers: Phat Chap, Bear Paw

I am a disapointment as a thru hiker. I had half a grinder, 3/4 tube of pringles, a pumpkin whoopie pie (700 calories), a pint of cookie dough ice cream, and most of a 20 oz Mountain Dew. Now I feel sick to my stomach. Such an embarrassment; I should be ashamed to call myself a thru hiker. Conan and Sojo have pointed out my lack of food consumption fortitude on more than one occasion. Anyone have a Tums?

This morning before leaving camp we heard what sounded like a child or woman scream followed by an owl saying "who cooks or you". We learned later from someone that it was probably the sound a rabbit makes when getting grabbed the owl.

We were planning to go over Moosilauke today and do something like 15 miles today but after we got to the hostel everyone changed heir minds. It seemed like a much smarter move to stop short here today and rest before entering the whites, which will be difficult hiking. Also if we wait till the morning we will have a much better chance for clear skies while on Moosilauke.

I picked up my winter gear today (thanks Larry) and as a result went through my pack again in an attempt to lighten the load.

Sleeping bag: stuck with summer bag and silk liner because the winter is about 10 oz heavier. With the liner and warmer clothes I should be fine. Joint pain cream: no. 4oz toothpaste tube: squeeze some into a travel size and leave the big one behind. Extra camp towel (really just one of those dish cloths that come 3 per pack): no. Fingernail clipers: ok I'll keep them. Ace bandage: after much inner debate, yes. 20 oz Mountain Dew: absolutely, Yes! But I can kick the habit if I want to, it's not a real problem.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

July 28, 2008

Mile 1770.3
Ore Hill Shelter (1800)
Others Here: Conan, Sojo

Lots of climbs today but they came with a reward. We had several very nice vistas today. I'm pretty worn out for some reason and the last hour through the mosquito swamp didn't help. I felt like there should have been orange juice and cookies at the shelter after all the blood I gave.

Refer-A-Friend to PocketMail today and a receive $50 in service or $25 in CASH!

July 27, 2008

Mile 1751.0
Trapper John Shelter (1345)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Lil Cubit, Barefoot Sage, 3 others

I thought my lodging last night was hobo-ish but two others hikers out did us on the hobo scale. Their names have been omitted to protect the ... homeless. It was after dark and they were looking for us but couldn't find us in the trees just beyond the Dartmouth soccer fields. When it started to rain, they went under the bleachers for cover. Once there, I suppose they realized the bleachers provided good shelter. They slept right there behind some trash cans they lined up to obscure their little refuge from official eyes.

Nice hike today with a couple view points. There wasn't any rain (it rained all last night) but we walked in mud and boggy trails all day.

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July 26, 2008

Mile 1734.3
Hanover, NH (425)
Just within treeline on outskirts of town
Others Here: Conan

It's great to be in New Hampshire. We were all planning to go a little further today but the town vortex sucked us in. Sojo hasn't even made it out yet and I'm not sure where he is. There is no affordable lodging in Hanover and it is Family weekend at Dartmoth so we are camping just outside of town. This might be the closest to homeless person behavior yet. We will go back in the morning to resupply and hopefully not get sucked completely in. I do, however, need to find a way to get some new shoes shipped to Gorham. I plan to call Montrail directly but need to find their number.

We got up at 5am this morning in order to get to town before the PO closed and the morning mist was beautiful. Looking down into the valleys, it surounded the mountains like a white sea. When we got down into the mist, the sunrays through the mist and trees were breathtaking. I've decided to make a habit of getting on the trail by 6am.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

July 25, 2008

Mile 1719.7
Thistle Hill Shelter (1640)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Tophat, 4 or 5 Sobos

Today was an absolutely beautiful hiking day. Following the torential downpour from yesterday made it seem all the better. You couldn't ask for a better day. Crystal clear blue skies, several vistas throughout the day, wildflowers (including John's favorite bergamot), pine forests, white birch, sugar maple, an old road lined on both sides by stone walls and old big maples, trail magic sodas twice, a place that sold ice cream 0.2 miles off the trail, and walking with a good friend again. This has been one of my best hiking days on the trail.

We meant to go about 24 or 25 to make it easier to make the post office tomorrow but all those wonderful distractions during the day changed those plans. We just had to take our time and enjoy the day we were given.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

July 24, 2008

Mile 1698.2
Stony Brook Shelter (1380)
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Recurve, Tennessee, Tophat, a lady

Hello, my name is Jim and I am a soda-aholic. It became clear to me a week or so ago as I was drinking my second Coke in Dalton before I had even finished the first. Today I, the guy that is counts the ounces in his pack weight, carried a 20 oz Mountain Dew out of town ... and this wasn't the first time. I admit, I have a problem but I can stop when I want to, I promise.

This morning, Grits, Sojo, and Conan were joking that I had better not do anymore work for stay because I might get sucked in. They said they could see me living there in 5 years and being the one who shows the hikers around. So they shuttled me off to breakfast at a diner instead.

We left at noon and all I had for lunch was a pint of Ben & Jerry's and about 4 cups of matte. I hiked to the shelter on matte fumes because I forgot to take out my snacks for the day.

It was pouring as we got on the trail today after noon and it didn't stop for a few hours. Must have been the remnants of hurricane Dolly. The trail was literally a stream for much of the hike today. After I realized there was no keeping the feet dry, it was actually quite fun. There was one stream that had to be forded and there was no use taking off the sopping shoes, so we all just walked on through. It looks like we will have to do the same first thing tomorrow morning as well.

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July 23, 2008

Mile 1690.1
Rutland, VT
Home Again Cafe
Others Here: Sojo, Conan, Grits, Papa Bear and the preacher boys (3 sons), Ducky, Gabe, Daddy-o and Peacock, Shadowcast, Tangent, Filadelphia Greenburg, Fire, Wing-it, Tophat, and a bunch more - 25 in all

The rain brought everyone in from miles around today. There were 3 road crossings separated by about 30 miles that could get you to Rutland and I think people came from all of them.

It really was great to see Sojo again. He was more surprised than me, I think, because you just don't know where the people are who are behind. I'm so glad that he and Conan waited up for me and it will be great to hike together again. After 2 months or more it was a shame to be separated so I'm looking forward to the companionship again.

This hostel is run by the Twelve Tribes. Watching the interactions among the members and between them and the hikers, they have gained my respect. I don't know a whole lot about them but there is something about them that draws me to them. People that know me well will probably not be surprised at this. But don't worry, I will be hiking on tomorrow.

We did work for stay and scrubbed bread racks in the bakery for a couple hours. During and after they fed us delicious bread and cookies. For the evening meal we had homemade pizza and a great salad. The also had Yerba Matte which I could easily become addicted to. I lost count of the number of cups.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

July 22, 2008

Mile 1676.8
Swansong Shelter (The Secret Shelter)
Others Here: None

This day has been brought to you by the numbers 20 and 1; and by the letters W and O. 20 ... 20 red ephs mwa ha ha ha. Which makes me the Winner yet again. I left that little 4 year old boy in the dust, Ha! I also saw what appeared to be a very young owl. It flew to a perch not far from me and screwed it's head around watching me walk by.

Today was a relaxing day and at about mile 15 I took a swim in Clarendon Gorge. All was going well as I relaxed in the perfect seat as the water flowed over and around me. My sister, Kathy, should especially pay attention to what happened next. I looked down and saw a bunch of wriggling wormy things all over my leg and on closer inspection they were all over me. I don't think they were leaches, maybe mosquito larva but I'm not certain. Whatever they were, I didn't like them all over me so I jumped back in the fast current and did my best to get them off. It took about 20 minutes but I think I got rid of all of them.

Walked to the next shelter and there was a note from Sojo saying that his wife told him I was only 1 day back. He said he would get to the hostel run by 12 Tribes in Rutland and take a zero so I could catch up. When I got to this shelter, there was a note stating that he had spent the night here. He must have done a short day. That's great, that means his zero will be tomorrow when I get to Rutland.

This shelter is on private land and is really a nice place. The workmanship on the shelter is amazing. All the supporting structure, which is probably timber from the property, is fit together and fastened with pegs. The privy is a round outhouse with a skylight and screen window. All of this done by a couple who live close to the trail and have thru hiked the PCT and AT.

Have a spare PocketMail laying around, sell it back to us and help those in need.

July 21, 2008

Mile 1656.3
Stealth Camping (1690)
Others Here: None

I'm trying to stick to my plan for shorter days. Today was about 18 and I felt just a little guilty for stopping early - crazyness. It won't take long to get over that. I took in the forest as I walked today and just enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells.

The hostel I stayed in for the past 2 nights was really nice. It was a 3 bedroom house converted to a hostel. Very clean and tidy. Jeff, the owner, advertises as a free hostel but mentioned to Conan that he would accept donations. Almost everyone took him up on the free part but I didn't feel right walking away. Not only did I stay 2 nights but I had 2 sodas and a pint of Ben & Jerry's. When I handed him the "donation" I felt almost like I was insulting him and he gave me the impression that it was not necessary. I'm amazed at the generosity of people along the trail. Jeff just seems to want to provide this service because he likes people, hiking, and hikers. He section hiked the AT and is in the process of sectioning the PCT.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.

Monday, July 21, 2008

July 20, 2008

Mile 1638.4
Manchester Center, VT (1800)
Green Mountain House - hostel
Others Here: Grits, Bearfoot, 2 sobo section hikers from Germany

Well, I decided to take my third zero here today (3rd zero of the trip that is). I'm trying to deal with the feelings of guilt for not hiking; strange. I also said goodbye to Conan. It has been a pleasure hiking with him and I was sorry to see him go but we have different goals right now. He is trying to speed up and I need to slow down. In fact the past couple weeks have taken a toll on my hamstrings and my body needs the rest. My right hamstring has been tight and painful at the day's end for a while. I'm hoping that this day off followed by a nore casual pace will do the trick. Also, I don't like the feeling of pressure to do miles. I can't see the forest for the miles on those days. It should still be possible to make the wedding but I don't want to hurt myself in the process, or worse get injured and have to stop short. I'll just take it a day at a time, enjoy the hike, and if I make it, I make it.

Heard from Mrs Sojo via email today. Sojo is only about a day and a half ahead. It would be great to see him again and hike together but I don't know if it will happen. Hopefully I've learned my lesson about overdoing the miles but if he takes a zero or two, then maybe I can catch him. We'll see; I wouldn't want to hold him back.

Allow us to help those in need, sell back your spare PocketMail and make some extra pocket money.