July 29th 2018
Seth Warner Shelter – Glastenbury mountain (mile 1622.1)
21.9 miles
Total miles: 1643.7


I was so tired last night that I fell asleep twice trying to write about the day. I ended up writing rough notes and bullet points which I probably won’t understand when I look back on them. I did take an Aleve PM and I didn’t wake up once until about 5:30am. We had discussed getting up at 6, but when 6 came around there was no movement and I was finding it impossible to open my eyes so I pushed it until 6:30 and then lead the charge in popping the air mat. 

Packed up quickly and went to use the privy on the way out of the shelter and it was made for giants. My feet were swinging off the floor like a child. Peaches and Jukebox left just ahead of me but I couldn’t catch up with them. Shred and Professor were behind me somewhere. 

The trail is a mental game, one you play mostly with yourself, but when you start hiking with a group that mental game gets a bit tougher. When you’re out in front you are trying to go fast enough so no one catches you. If people catch you then you feel like you’re slow. But when you’re behind someone you’re trying to catch the person in front of you and if you come in last you feel like you’re holding everyone up. I feel like most of my group do these things. I like and enjoy hiking at my own pace. I don’t enjoy feeling like I’m running down the trail. I don’t try to catch up to people, unless I can see them ahead of me, but I do feel like I have people trying to catch me and I do feel shit when I’m the last person. 

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Today I felt like we were in a race and I wasn’t enjoying it. We did the first 7 miles to the shelter and it was quite a rough 7 miles. It was really muddy and there was water just flowing down the trail in places. There was a lot of rock hopping and twisting and leaping involved which is really tiring. I wasn’t keen on getting my feet wet and muddy and having that chafe again. There are lots of areas of the trail which are really wide because people widen it by trying to avoid the mud, which generally just makes the patch of mud bigger. 

The temperature this morning was wonderful. It was cool, not cold enough to need a layer, and the hill 10 minutes into the day made me sweaty, but the air felt so much fresher than it has done. It was a little misty and cloudy but it soon cleared up

I was pretty tired when I reached the shelter and planned to take a little break there, Professor and Shred had caught up to me just before we got there. As soon as we arrived Peaches and Jukebox left. It was a weird vibe. It was like they had somewhere to be before us, even though we were all going to the same place. 

We had a big downhill coming up and a bit more mud and rock hopping before that. We had discussed the merits and downfalls at trying so hard to keep your feet dry. It takes so much energy to jump around and look for the next best spot to put your foot, sometimes it’s better to just plough straight through the middle of it all. I think it’s best to avoid the mud as much as possible because mud slows you down, but water just wade through it. So that’s what I was doing. The trail became a bit of a waterfall at times with water cascading down the trail that we had to trudge up. 

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The trail then descends steeply and down a giant rocky staircase to the road at Woodford Hollow. It was an intense descent and tough on the knees. Shred said he hoped there was trail magic in the parking area at the road crossing. A southbounder passed us and told us there was trail magic in the parking area! At least that would delay the climb back up the other side a bit! 

A nice lady decided to provide some trail magic for hikers on her birthday. She had provided water and crisps and snacks and she took our trash. Perfect. We hung out there for a bit and aired the feet out. Peaches and Jukebox asked if we continued to rock hop or if we just went straight through. They said they continued to rock hop and it obviously hadn’t slowed them down because we didn’t catch them. I told them they were competing in a race that we weren’t participating in. I wasn’t trying to catch them!

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We moved on and I was dreading this 2 mile climb uphill but it turned out to not be that bad. It definitely went by quicker than I thought it would. Half way up was a big rock with a split in the middle that you had to walk through. I nearly went the wrong way after the rock and sometimes the trail is blocked off by a line of sticks but it’s difficult to tell whether it’s a fallen branch or they have been put there on purpose! 

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I went the right way and got to the top where peaches and Jukebox we taking a break. I didn’t feel the need for a break considering we had just rested and eaten at the trail magic so I carried on. They soon caught me and overtook me and I thought for a while about the complexities and compromises that are involved with hiking as a group. I though of all the pluses and negatives about it. I was happy on my own today, enjoying my own pace. 

As I came up a hill I saw Veggie coming southbound. I was so excited to see her. I knew she was on the trail but I didn’t know where she was and I had been thinking this morning about messaging her to find out. I met Veggie on the northbound PCT in 2015 just after the 100 mile mark where she was cooking chocolate chip pancakes and giving out beers. We’ve kept up with each other’s adventures ever since and she has gone on to complete her triple crown. She is a badass. And now 8 years after her first AT hike she is hiking again. Maybe I’ll jus have to wait 8 years for the memories to fade! 

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I was on such a high after seeing her that I definitely walked faster. Jukebox was behind me and she was struggling to keep up. A very rare occurrence. We got up to a point where peaches was taking a nap and I tried to sneak up on her but it didn’t work this time! We took a break and discussed our options. We were trying to get to a shelter which was still 8 miles away and it was already 4:15pm. We had a climb still to do and we would roll in quite late. Or, we could camp at the top of the next mountain as Veggie said there were lots of nice flat tent spots there, and that was only 4 miles away. There is a fire tower on the top and I suggested it might be a good spot for a sunset / sunrise. 

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The other were sold pretty easily. I don’t think anyone was too keen on hiking 8 more miles today. It was getting chilly too, the sweat on my back was making me cold while we sat there. It’s such an unusual feeling. 

We got going again. Just 4 more miles, and most of it was uphill. The mud remained but it was in more manageable patches. We stopped at a spring just before the shelter and about 0.2 from the top of the mountain. The spring was wonderful, we could see where it was coming out of the ground and it was crystal clear and really cold. It was the type of water that doesn’t need filtering but I filter out of habit anyway. The water was so good. 

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At the top we found some tent spots and went up the tower. The views were awesome and the forests had changed just within the last few miles. I’m not sure what kind of tree they are. Some kind of spruce? 

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We set up camp and ate dinner. I had to eat some tuna after carrying it for 5 days without eating it. It was the only thing I had. So I ate it with some crisps to give it some crunch but really plain tuna and plain crisps was not the most exciting meal. I ended up eating 2 packets of tuna because I was hungry and then I had to eat a bit of Twix too. Hopefully I’ll have enough for tomorrow. Dinner tomorrow is going to have to be tuna too. 

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It started to get really chilly. We are near 4000ft which is the highest we have been for a long time. I wish I had my puffy!! I got my sleeping bag out and wrapped it around me. I was warm enough. My toes weren’t warm at all as they were stuffed sockless into wet shoes. Had I been too cold I could have just got into my tent and snuggled into my bag but it was ok. I am considering getting my puffy and my hat back though. 

We climbed the tower again to watch the sunset which was awesome, of a little cold and windy. We entertained ourselves with lots of silly photos and jokes and it was so much fun to laugh a lot. This is the thing that makes hiking in a group great fun and negates the other stuff. Now we are all just here in this same random place in this one particular moment making memories that will last a lifetime. I was glad to get down from the tower and snuggle up in my tent. It’s not quite cold enough yet to have to zip the bag up but I do have my buff on my head rather than using it as a pillow case. 

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Here we are in height order, and age order. How did I end up being the shortest and oldest?!

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Hopping though the mud this morning feels like a whole lifetime ago. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 82

 

 


 

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