I was surprised last night by a strong rainstorm. The spot I had chosen to pitch my tent didn’t have the drainage necessary to handle the downpour, so a few things got wet. My departure this morning was delayed because I spread my tent, and a few other items, over the bushes to dry in the morning sun. Today’s route looked like some more hard climbing and I was in no mood to carry the extra water weight of wet gear.
The truth of the matter is that I was in no mood to hike but I knew I must continue moving forward. The final thing in my trilogy of issues that are burdening me down is the fact that I miss my wife very much. I don’t miss being home, but I miss being with her and I wish she was here with me to share this experience and the beauty of the outdoors. In the beginning, I told her that I would be finished with this hike by the end of August and now, as my completion date slips further into September, I feel like I have betrayed her with each additional day. My wife has been heroically taking care of everything at home, but it is time for me to “Git Er Done,” and go home to relieve her of some of that responsibility.
In one of the White Mountain huts, a member of the croo had stuck a small poster on the refrigerator in the kitchen that said the following:
There’s nowhere I’d rather be,
There’s nothing I’d rather be doing,
There’s someone I’d rather be with.
Those words resonated with me. My desire to be reunited with my wife was in direct competition with the fatigue that was slowing me down, and my growing loneliness was mixed in to create a mental challenge that I was determined to overcome. There was never any doubt about going forward to the end, but I had a lot of questions at this point how long it might take. Somehow, I need to work through this so that my sheer joy of hiking could return.
Unfortunately, there was no joy in Mudville this morning. It was after 9:00 am before my gear was dry enough to consider stuffing it into my backpack. The overnight rain failed to percolate through the granite foundation of the trail, creating a three-foot-wide river along the ridgelines. Picking my way down the trail for 2.6-miles from Popular Ridge to the bottom at Orbeton Stream took me two hours and it took another 30 minutes to change shoes, ford the stream, and change shoes again.
Just after crossing Orbeton Stream, I took a side trail a short distance to an unnamed but spectacular waterfall. From this point, I started a climbing 1,700-feet to the summit of Lone Mountain, 3.1-miles away. Along the way, I passed a water formation called Sluice Brook. This stream follows a natural sluiceway that was transporting an impressive volume of water from all the recent rain.
Continuing the climb to the top of Lone Mountain, the trail follows the pretty upper portion of the Sluice Brook for about 400-feet of the climb. The forest though her was very scenic but the trail continued to be a muddy stew of roots and rocks. I reached the summit around 3:30 pm where the trail became relatively flat as it continued along the ridgeline towards Spaulding Mountain Lean-to.
By this point in the game, I’m no longer setting goals (maybe researching possibilities) because I don’t want to be disappointed if I don’t reach those goals. Instead, I’m hiking until I get tired and then I stop at the next available campsite. I was already feeling tired, so I bypassed the 1.7-mile blue-blazed trail to the above treeline summit of Mt Abraham and made a beeline for the shelter. On my way to a place nearby where I set up camp, I passed several hikers I had never seen before at the shelter. With chores completed, I’m turning in early to rest for the big climb in the morning.
Date: August 23, 2017
Starting Location: Popular Ridge Lean-to
Ending Location: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to
AT Miles Today: 8.0
AT Miles To Date: 1,988.1