Wednesday, May 09, 2012



Weather: Cloudy, cool, mist just shy of drizzle
Wildlife: Heard, not seen -- Barred owl, lots of wood thrushes, pileated woodpecker
From James Fry Shelter to Alec Kennedy Shelter -- 8.5 trail miles + .6mile round trip to a campground with a store + .4mile round trip wrong direction looking for store = 9.5

The Supermoon last night wasn't that big anymore by the time it cleared the mountain ridtges and trees. Orange, though, very pretty for about 20 minutes till it got cloudy.

I was nice and warm in my hammock, with a closed-cell foam pad under me and my 20* down sleeping bag – not too hot even though probably in the 50*s.

I've been wondering when I was going to hit the infamous PA rocks. There have been stretches where you have to watch your footing, but it's been pretty easy with only moderate grades. Well, halfway through today, a long climb of steep switchbacks, topped by this incredible boulder jumble, the kind where there are white blazes showing the direction of the trail, but leaving you wondering how in blazes to get from one to the next.

I thought I must have made really good time since yesterday and reached Mahoosuc Notch already (google it if you're not familiar with it.) There was one place where there was no way I  could hoist myself up – the rock was as high as my shoulders, with no grab places or footholds.

I saw a little tunnel under the rocks that went around, and decided to take that. Couldn't fit through with my pack on. I took it off and pushed it halfway, crawled past it on my stomach and then reached back and pulled it the rest of the way.

 Retrieved items that had fallen out of outside pockets and looked to see where to get back up where I was supposed to be. Another rock, taller than I am, was the only way. There were rock knobs to grab onto but I didn't want to try it with my pack on pulling me backwards, so I hove it up to the top, along with my hiking poles, almost fell over backwards climbing even w/o it, but finally scaled the thing and put my pack back on. I noticed a little cave that would be a good shelter if I broke a leg and had to wait till someone came along, probably tomorrow, since hikers are few and far between this time of year.

Finally I got through the maze and over the obstacle course and realized.... that was REALLY COOL!!! I'm 60 years old and hiking alone and I made it!!

I was tired, though. It had taken me about 45 minutes to go maybe a quarter of a mile. I'd walked extra looking for that store. I'd stopped several times to adjust clothing to the weather, tape some blisters, get water. It made for a long day and I was tired and my feet hurt and I still had 4 miles to go to the shelter. ~Sigh~ I don't have my Trail Legs or my stamina yet.

Walked on and on, starting to limp a little. Have I missed the shelter? Probably not. Usually when I start wondering that I'm within a mile of it. Sure enough, halfway up the next hill was the path to the shelter. The shelter itself was the sweetest sight I've seen in a long time.

Four people there!! Two women (Coach and Tagg-Along), 2 men (Houdini and Bull Moose.) Coach had started 10 days ago in Harpers Ferry, headed for Maine. Houdini is thru-hiking but is technically in Virginia. He got a ride up to PA to hike a couple days with Bull Moose, then is going back to resume his thru-hike in VA. I told them I'm with my husband, but he doesn't want to hike, so I'm hiking and he's driving the camper. Coach tried to hang her pack on a peg in the shelter and was obviously struggling. I gave her a hand and, wow, that thing was heavy. I mentioned that and she said, sort of seething, “Unlike you, I don't have someone helping me out. I have to carry everything I need.” She went to bed at 5:30. She had fallen on the rock pile and scraped her whole shinbone from knee to foot and was hurting. Tagg-Along turned in early as well, in her tent. Bull Moose warned us that he snores. I'm glad I have earplugs.


Angie said...

I'm so happy you're out there and green with envy at the same time!!

Great job getting through those rocks. I've often wondered if I'll make it through there. Some day I'll try. I'll probably be 60 by then. You give me hope!

Good hiking!!

Anonymous said...

ellie....ur 60??!! no way! (lol i thot we were closer in age)
also, don't wonder about those pa rocks too much they are probably just around the corner, and then u'll be wondering if they will ever stop coming! lol :-) i wish u all the best and will be reading ur journal. just take it easy these first few weeks, u'll get ur hiking legs soon :-)
Jessie's Girl (with u in spirit)

Anonymous said...

Poor coach, hope she's not always this grouchy. :( Did you tell her that you hiked the first half all on your own, with all your gear? (you were probably too gracious)

I'm so proud of your boulder summitting all by yourself! Determination, grit, brains and strength.