Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to to Potaywadjo Spring Lean-to 11.2 miles
I was awake last night at precisely 3 hour intervals, the exact time it took the Exped air mat I borrowed from Marcia to leak sufficient air to mate my sorry shoulders down to the wooden floor of the lean-to. My own leaking mattress, the Insulated Air Core, never made it back from the Big Agnes mother ship in time to elevate me above the wood plank floor into the realm of cloudland sleep.
We had a full shelter last night, including 2 dogs that slept inside.
Dogs in shelters? That’s a huge can of worms. One was a huge, wet, grimy sheepdog that spent the night stretched out right next to Gouda, his owner. I was really pleased that that particular dog wasn’t pressed against me all night. Even worse, in the morning, one of the women that was in for the night discovered that some form of fresh excrement was stuck to the side on her pack in the morning after the dog people moved on. This experience would sure count as a ” No” vote from some hikers.
It rained hard in the night, with the sound of the water from the falls and rushing stream only adding to the full Trail experience of the afterlife of water copiously falling from the sky. It stopped raining as the day was breaking, but started back for good just as I was heading out. I heard that it was supposed to stop sometime late morning and hoped the weather experts were right. They weren’t.
Today was a repeat of the cold soaking rain day I experienced in 2007 when I hiked the exact same stretch of AT northbound. Except that this time, I planned to be prepared for any rain. I left my usual pair of Inov8 low cut open mesh trail runners at home, thinking it would be dumb to be wet all of the time. Instead, I chose my leather/supposedly waterproof Merrill Phaser Peaks, which are now waterlogged, and they stayed that way for the whole trip.
I walked out of the shelter wearing both my rain pants, and rain jacket. I even had my tall gaiters under the rain pants, thinking an additional layer of waterproof material would be yet one further line of defense against wet feet. I even draped the lower edge of the pants down below the tops of my boots.
I decided I’d try not to walk so fast that I’d generate uncomfortable sweat under my rain gear. It took one half hour for my forehead to sweat, and no matter how much I tried to amble peaceably along. At the one hour mark, I felt wetness on my legs and back. At the one and one half hour point, I was wet all over. At the two hour mark, I detected wetness in my forefeet. At the two and one half hour mark I cringed at the all too familiar sensation of squishing water inside my boots. It would only get wetter and wetter down there.
I hiked alone all day, trying to avoid any involvement in horizontal water events of my own making. The footpath was ridiculously treacherous, the split tree planks over swamps were wet, and every step was through some degree of lubrication enhanced slimy leaves.
When I finally reached the lean-to a half dozen NOBOS were eating lunch, shivering in their sleeping bags, or just staring off into the dark forest. They are just 48 miles fro the end of their thru-hikes. It was 12:30, so I had covered the 11.2 miles in 4.5 hours, including two brief food/water stops.
Now I am the only one in this shelter. The rest of the hikers need to make more miles, one guy needs to do 30 today in order to meet his parents when they pick him up in 2 days. Little did they know that the final 5.7 miles of Trail would be closed for three days due to ice and snow up top of Katahdin, but that is another story. So, how would it feel to push for a 30 through here to wait for 3 days?
I heated up a warm lunch after I changed into my dry set of sleep/camp clothes. The rain is finally winding down, but now there is a blow starting, with a cold front moving in tonight.
I’m dry in this shelter, with a major tasty collection of victuals for supper, a good book, and a warm sleeping bag pulled around me.
Naps, Bandit, and Pull-up are spending the night as well.
Just when you least expect it, the Trail can smack you down. Naps’ brother had been hiking along side her all the way from Springer, Mtn. in Georgia. Two days ago, near Gulf Hagas, he slipped and fell on his back. He rapidly became incapacitated due to back pain, which rendered him unable to even lift his pack, let alone wear it. His thru-hike is history. He was scraped off the path by a ridge runner, who just happened to be in the area, and who was willing to help him limp out and wait for his sister in Millinocket.
Ah, supper.. Fritos and salsa, couple of swigs of Stolychnaya Vanil vodka. Then home-made dehydrated chili with more Fritos crushed into it. Dessert was hot iced tea with half of a home made pumpkin Whoopie Pie from the Brown Bag restaurant.