Started walking today at 7 AM. I was first to the top of Nesuntabunt in 75 minutes. As I approached the top, I passed the Jocomotive, who had been on point, and had been storming up ahead of me. He had stopped to catch his breath and eat a Snickers bar, and told me that he was fine.
The walk up Nesuntabunt is a true steep, rocky trail going up though a primal forest! Here, I was able to get my first phone call out to home where I asked Marcia to get a radar map up on her computer. She told me that a rain front was approaching us from less than 50 miles away.
Marcia also said that our 57 year old veterinarian, Jim Laurita, died from a fall and possible heart attack in the elephant pen, and that the two elephants that lived at his place in Hope, Rosie and Opal, are going back to Oklahoma. It is so sad. Each of us has such a short time on the planet. It’s a blessing and a curse that none of us knows the eventual end date on our tombstones.
After 25 minutes waiting on top, I started to get concerned about Jocomotive and G-Man. After 40 minutes had passed, I was uncomfortably cold due to my sweat-soaked shirt. I headed back down to check them, and was relieved to see them both heading up. I learned that Joco bonked. G-Man stayed with Joco until he was ready to walk again. The G-Man himself was pretty spent as he make it to the top of this 1,600′ mountain. Nesuntabunt is not that high in elevation, but a dramatic change in the land of relatively flat walking in this part of The Hundred.
After another short break on top, we all reoriented to the North again. When we finally all started heading down the other side of Nesuntabunt, it was 9:50 AM. It had taken us almost three hours to make just two miles. I had hoped that we could make the Rainbow Stream lean-to before we got wet.
The rain came a mile later as we reached Crescent Pond. We all stopped and put on rain jackets. Joe and I pulled out pack covers. I had also lined my pack with a trash compactor plastic liner, so I had a double wall of protection for my meager set of dry clothes and sleeping bag. Chris didn’t have either a rain cover, or a liner for his pack, but he did bring along a poncho, so I showed him how to wear it in a way that partially protected his pack.
Progressive misery advanced as the rain increased in intensity and the water seeped into my clothing, and ran down my bare legs into my boots, chilling my feet. I was experimenting on this trip with rain gear options. Instead of packing my trusty Patagonia Specter rain jacket, I substituted a brand new 2014 Houdini, which boasted a fresh water-repellant coating. In just one hour I became saturated and increasingly chilled. The rain became stronger, so I decided to forgo snacks, lunch, and even drinking water in order to keep pushing to reach the dry interior of the Rainbow Stream Shelter, where we experienced a bona fide deliverance.
While I was hiking in discomfort, I recalled the sage advice of my friend-for-life, David Hanc, who once told me, “You don’t have to like something to have the right attitude about it”.
I was impressed with the grit of both the Jocomotive and G-Man, who were learning to just keep walking in steady cold rain. I get chilled easily in rain this time of year, and unless I have bars or quick food packed in a jacket pocket to eat while I’m walking, I don’t eat. I press on.
Rainbow Stream lean-to is a pretty dark place. Even thought the rain let up later in the afternoon, there was no way anything was going to dry out for tomorrow AM.
Our wet clothes picture frame
Joe and I were able to dress in to dry warm clothes. I cooked up hot drinks, and then spent most of the rest of the day comfortable in my sleeping bag, reading, listening to Podcasts and audiobooks, writing, and socializing.
Before we ate an early dinner, a totally drenched Brit in an aeronautical engineering program, with his lady, a pre-med student squished their way into the shelter. They were from San Francisco. They had flown to Bangor, where they were picked up by a guide who brought them to Monson to walk The Hundred. They had a set date to come out where the guide was going to pick them up at Abol Bridge drive them back to Bangor for their flight back. The young lady looked fine, but the Brit’s feet were shot, and he was limping around badly. I politely quizzed him about his experience with this sort of thing, and he told me that he was an experienced backpacker who had backpacked the John Muir Trail, and along with other walks in California. They were honest in how difficult The Hundred was for them. Their first day of 10 miles , with each carrying 10 days worth of food, had them endure 12 hours of suffering, walking into darkness-a day that saw the fellow’s feet get torn up and blistered, a situation that only worsened as the days went on.
This group spent a comfortable night in the shelter. G-Man set up his little tent on a nice rise beside the rushing waters of Rainbow Stream. One day to go!
Jocomotive walks across Rainbow Stream