Newfound Gap to Pecks Corner Shelter. 10.2 miles.
Absolutely glorious day of hiking, very uphill but the gradient was perfect, we were treated to some spectacular views, cool temperatures, clear skies, perfect. The highlight of the day was a small detour to an outcrop of rocks called Charlies Bunion, a lookout point that gave us views for miles and rocks to play on.
The rest of the afternoon saw us hiking along the mountain ridge with serious drop offs on both sides, every few steps would take your beath away from either the drop or the beauty.
Pecks Corner Shelter to Cosby Knob Shelter. 12.6 miles.
Nature flocks to me!! So today I ate lunch with a bear! After another great morning of hiking we stopped at a shelter for lunch only to find a bear hanging out. There were a few hikers around beating their trekking poles to keep him away but he kept coming back, circling around, I felt bad eating my salmon in front of him. I have to say, naturally I was afraid of him, but I was also in awe that I’m able to share the woods with these guys. To top off an already great lunch stop, I also got to dance with a butterfly.
The trail is not always what I expect but it is always interesting and surprising.
We definitely decided to sleep with our trekking poles in our tent with us tonight just in case Mr bear comes back!
Cosby Knob Shelter to Davenport Gap. 8 miles.
Only a short day today, but the majority of the miles were downhill, I know I seem to complain a lot about uphill, but let me just tell you a quick bit about downhill. Now, I actively like going downhill, what I don’t like is downhill where the trail is full of little rocks, like gravel but big, moving chunks of chipped off mountain rocks. It makes your feet feel like they are being grated, not the nice pedi-egg dead skin remover, I mean an angry Italian grating slices off your soles like parmesan cheese. None of that mattered when we got to the Gap to see our very own trail angels in the form of my best friends parents, who are driving north and offered to take Willow with them. They rescued us for the night and took us out for the best tasting burgers and the fanciest hotel we have stayed in, white sheets and a flat screen TV, we were like pigs in shit.
Max Patch to Deer Park Mountain Shelter. 17 miles.
The Boyd family kindly dropped me off at the top of the mountain today but without my hiking partner. Today was my first day as a lone wolf. Max Patch is a huge bald on the top of a mountain, everything was green and lush from overnight rain, but cloud came in quickly and I got very disorientated, I could barely see my hand in front of my face, luckily I was saved by a couple of hikers and together we found the trail through the fog.
I quickly blazed ahead of them and busted out 5.2 miles before lunch over very favourable terrain.
It meant I only had 3 miles to do in the afternoon so subsequently I arrived at the place I had planned to camp at 2:30pm, WAY to early for me to stop and without my hiking partner to reign me in I decided to push on to the next shelter 8 miles away. Some might say it was reckless, especially since it was raining and there may or may not have been thunder and lightning, but it was too late to take back the decision, so I carried on. In reality it meant that I was hiking until gone 7pm and did my first big mileage day of 17miles. When I got to the shelter I was greeted by familiar faces and congratulations on such grand mileage, as well as my favourite trail dog Vinny, who’s paw prints I had been tracking all day convinced I would run into a bear around each corner. I’m glad I did it, it was a real body and mind test but I will not be in a rush to do it again. Camping tonight on my own was weird, my tiny tent felt like a 6 person tent when just the night before it felt like a half person tent. Surprisingly I wasn’t scared, lonely maybe, but I must remind myself this is my hike.
Deer Park Mountain Shelter to Hot Springs. 3.2 miles.
After my epic day yesterday I only had a few miles to hike into town today, which was great as it was my birthday and all I could think about was bed, shower, food! I treated myself to a few luxuries including a boutique motel with a fancy 4 poster bed (bad news was the barbarians didn’t have a TV in the room, thank God for Netflix) and a full size bottle of shampoo and conditioner, happy birthday to me!
I didn’t mind spending my birthday on my own, today and every other day has given me such appreciation for my family and friends. I have said before that I am hiking to give myself the very best chance to be a better person, recently I have found myself saying I’m hiking north, not that I’m hiking to Maine, I will hike until the trail is done with me, that may be in 5 days, 5 weeks or 5 months, my goal is not to just finish the trail, but to transform myself with each step. Enough with the deep and meaningful for today, here’s a picture of my birthday meal, which would not be complete without some fried cheese. Happy days everyone!!