On our second day, walking 11 miles, all three of this Boston clan received their trail names. It was a specific request that they all made of me coming into this adventure. I could not guarantee that it would happen, but said that it was possible. I’m not that impressed with all the Rainbows, Blue Skys, Striders, and Mountain Men that populate the trail year ofter year. The AT tradition is to have another hiker give you a name based on some incident or personality characteristic that offers to others a glimpse of your own uniqueness.
Dino was the easiest for me to scope out. He worked for a major natural gas company in Massachusetts. Dino was also a “go at it “ type of guy, so the name of Gaspedal bubbled right up into my consciousness, and he felt that might work. I had warned Dino that hikers can end up with names that are pretty weird, like what happened to Assface and Balls. He took to Gaspedal right away.
Rok Rabbit’s identity was part of a magical event. As Jake as I were carefully picking our steps across a stream that was the Mud Pond outlet, avoiding a slip on the slick stones, he shouted out, “ Look, check out the rabbit coming along with us!”
I turned to my right and witnessed something I had never seen in my life- a brown snowshoe hare slowly hopping its way across the 15 foot wide stream, picking shallow spots, hopping up on a couple of rocks, splashing along, and making it happen. Jake then pulled out a green rabbit’s foot from his pocket, and showed it to me, and told me that the rabbit was a special animal to him. Bingo- trail name #1.
I was impressed with Nick’s keen eye for small life forms. He spotted a nymph casing floating in the water on the edge of Antler Camp point, was excellent at spotting tiny little toads, often stopped while walking to poke around in the greenery to examine tiny beings, and appeared particularly attuned to the details along the trail. I learned that Nick was an entomology buff, and had a good collection of insects in his own room at home. I suggested Bugdawg and he went for it. Yes !
We were all experiencing sticky clothing in the unrelenting heat and humidity. Gaspedal was concerned about possible chafing in his shorts, so I asked him, “ You wearing underwear?”
He answered, “Of course”. So I suggested that he go without them and see how that worked out. Later in the afternoon, he said, “ I just tried going commando, and I like it. Mucho better.”
It was so hot that we took three swim breaks today: Antler Camps, Sand Beach, and when we stopped for the night at the Nahmakanta Stream campsite.
Gaspedal cut his foot on some rocks at Antler Camp , so I was able to try out the New Skin that my friend Joe recommended. It worked! I painted a bit over the cut, which dried in 2 minutes. Then I placed a small piece of duct tape over it and everything held up after we checked the wound at the end of the hike. The layer of New-Skin was still on there after the tape was peeled off and the cut had already healed up.
We stopped to drink and fill out water bottles at the Potaywdjo spring near that same-named shelter.
This spring is the largest on the whole Appalachian Trail, where ice cold crystal clear water comes up to the surface through white sand.
One of the issues in the hiking community right now is overuse, due to the increasing number of hikers that are taking to the Appalachian Trail. Nowhere is that more evident in the outhouse that was set up here at the far edge of the Nahmakanta Stream campsite. Let’s be clear- there’s no way I would want to be the volunteer who is responsible for maintaining this segment of the AT. I’ve been in hundreds of privies in my day, and the one here was not only strewn with unused and a “bit used” toilet paper, it reeked to a place that was definitely not high heaven. It was nauseating. I was the only one that ended up using it, and that was because I forced myself to breathe through my mouth, and I was very efficient at getting in and out of there.
Today, we had one uphill segment to lumber up- Potaywadjo Ridge, a mile long climb of some 400 feet in elevation gain.
I was impressed at the strong, steady walking of the crew, who all made it up without a whine and just one brief stand-up rest stop.
The walking today was punctuated by numerous sections where the trail is traversed on puncheons, split-log timbers with one face smoothed, used for avoiding walking in deep mud.
They are slippery when wet.
We met two couples who were parked on the Jo-Mary Road just before Nahmakanta Lake. I asked them if they were willing to take our trash and they said yes. The policy on the AT is to Leave No Trace. Sometimes it’s hard convincing hikers that this also means you don’t leave working items at the shelters that you don’t want to carry any more, but that you believe other hikers want. For example, rolls of duct tape, jars of food, battery operated lanterns with used batteries, metal water bottles, saws, or full bottles of white gas. Pack it in, pack it out. It makes the work of volunteers easier. They are the ones that have to carry all the great stuff out that no one wants to carry anymore.
We also established a new pattern of cooking and tenting today. Last night, at the wild camping site, we did both in sequence, and ended up being pressed into using our headlamps before we had all of our tasks completed. I was also nervous about the possibility of a spark from our cooking igniting the deep dry bed of pine needles that were all around and under us. So, this afternoon, we cooked at a place that was next to water, and had safer undergrowth, which minimized fire danger. Then we washed the cook pots and utensils and packed up and moved on, hiking for a couple of miles before we settled into this official campsite for the night. There was one other section hiker who also was tenting at the site, Chopsticks.