August 28th 2018
East Chairback Pond – Crawford Pond (mile 2128)
23 miles
Total miles: 2154.1


Them mosquitoes were awful last night. The high pitched drone as they buzzed around my tent made it hard to go to sleep. When I woke up in the morning they were still buzzing around my tent. We left camp at 6:30 and made the steep trek back up 0.2 miles to the trail. 

It was seriously hot and humid. It felt like someone was blowing hot air on me. We descended a couple of miles to the West Branch Pleasant River which was one we had to ford. Just before we got there it started to rain a bit. It was just a very light shower that didn’t come to anything but it did make the air a lot cooler which was nice. 

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When I got to the river there was a guy there who asked if I was Alex. It was Robert, a guy I met on the PCT in 2015, I think we started on the same day but I never saw him again. It was fun to see him out here. We took our shoes off to do the crossing and it was probably the longest crossing so far but it was only ankle deep the whole way across. The good news was that we were moving twice as fast as we were in the first hour of yesterday and we left camp earlier. 

Next was a 6 mile gentle uphill to the next shelter where we planned to take a break. We all started together but Peaches and Professor soon pulled ahead and Jukebox and I were lagging behind. We were both feeling very lethargic today. I needed water. We were walking along a stream for the most part and cross several little tributaries but I didn’t want to stop and get even further behind. 

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The trail was gentle uphill the the shelter but it didn’t stop me from slipping and tripping all the way there! There were some smooth patches but overall it was pretty rocky and rooty. Finally at the shelter we could get water. We didn’t bother going to the actual shelter which was down a small side trail but we just sat at the junction. I was so thirsty that I filtered and drank a whole bottle straight down. I think I would need to drink another three of them at least to rehydrate properly but that wasn’t going to happen. I also ate a packet of peanut butter that Jukebox had given to me. I was saving them for emergencies and this was an emergency. I needed some fuel to get me up these climbs. 

We had 4 mountains to climb next. We would take in 4 peaks over the next 6 miles and I knew it was going to be tough, but these are the last significant mountains until we get to Katahdin. I opted for the back of the line and all the others were out of sight pretty quickly. 

None of the climbs were longer than a mile or taller than 800ft but they were still steep and they all had a steep rocky descent afterwards. The climb up to the first peak, Gulf Hagas mountain was probably the steepest and took the longest. I kept having to stop for a few moments to catch my breath, and to cool down a bit because it was so hot. The humidity was back at 100%. I kept going and eventually I came to the wooded summit before descending, where I could make up a bit of time, and then the ascent of the next one began.

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This one was my worst. I was so hot and the sweat was just rolling off my face. I could feel myself starting to get a bit of chafe again on the outside of my thighs. The humidity makes me sweat and the salt builds up in my shorts and irritates my skin. 

The way up to West Peak was mostly a giant stone staircase and although not difficult it was exhausting. I also kept thinking I was nearing the top but they were false summits. Again, I kept going and made it to the top and to the wooded summit. Down the other side was more stone staircases and I could make up some more time. 

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The third peak, Hay Mountain was the shortest of all of them and probably the easiest. The forest was really mossy and beautiful. Past the wooded summit and down the mountain a short way before the final ascent to White Cap Mountain. 

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I was worried that the others would have been there for so long and have already eaten lunch and packed up by the time I got there. It was steep and rocky like all the climbs and it started to come out of the trees so I was hot in the sun too but it wasn’t as bad overall as I had been anticipating. I managed it in 2.5 hours roughly, maybe just a bit over that but I was happy with that. The others were already there but Jukebox arrived only a few minutes before I did and the others are just too fast!

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We sat in the shelter of the trees and ate lunch. A meat stick and the rest of my crisps was my lunch and we were able to hang out up there for about half an hour.

We made a quick descent to the next shelter where we could get more water, I’ve made a conscious effort to try and drink more today. Peaches practically ran down the mountain and we struggled to keep up with her so after we had filled up on water I took the lead. The next 4 or so miles were really pretty. It was mostly downhill and flat and we could move fairly fast.

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The trail descended and as we got lower it got hotter and hotter and the mosquitoes and all the other bugs got worse and worse. I was being bitten as I was walking along. We went through an area that was covered in blow downs, which thankfully for us had been cleared away, only a few were left and they could be negotiated by climbing over them easily of ducking low, one of the advantages of being short, but all of that does slow you down a lot. The trail then moved through moss rich forest where there weren’t many low level plants and the forest floor was just covered in moss, then we moved into an area which was full of small Christmas trees which poked as you went by. Then it changed again and it became leafy trees and low level shrubs. For reasons unknown I didn’t document any of it. Didn’t take any pictures of any video. I like being at the front of the group but I do feel pressure to keep moving so I don’t get the time to stop and do a little video. 

We got to the East Branch Pleasant River and we found it was really low so we could get across on the rocks instead of needing to ford it. Peaches decided to take a river bath and wash off. She rinsed our her clothes in the river too in the hope that they would dry in the next 4 or so miles to camp. I appreciated the break and enjoyed the sit down and taking the weight off my feet, although I think I picked up about 10 more bites from sitting there. Professor came down the trail and he said he was moving on because he wanted to get to camp before 6pm

We got moving again and with not too far to camp we were going to get there at a reasonable time. 6:30pm the latest. They seemed happy to let me be in front so I took the lead. We had a couple of uphills. The first one wasn’t too bad, just a little one to prepare us for the bigger one ahead, which wasn’t even that bad but it was getting towards the end of the day and we were getting tired. I definitely slowed down a bit but the will to get to camp kept me going. 

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It was so so hot and so so humid it was quite gross. I would be surprised if Peaches clothes were any drier than after she dunked them in the river. With only 1.5 miles of downhill to go we were on the home stretch and then disaster nearly struck. A stick flew up and got between my legs, my trekking pole also got caught up in the tangle and I tripped and got launched forwards. My trekking pole got wrenched out of my hand and I then tripped on the other one and flew forward again. My hands made contact with the ground but how I managed to not fall face first into the trail I will never know! 

What did hurt was my shoulder where the trekking pole had been torn from my arm and my arm was pulled backwards. I think it came out of place slightly but my shoulder does that anyway. I’ve definitely strained it a bit but no real damage done. 

When we got to the pond we saw professor who had only just got there too. It was 6:03pm. We had made great time. We found a little stealth spot and set up our tents. There was good access to the pond which had a little beach. Jukebox went right in for a wash and I decided to wash my legs and feet which is more than I usually manage. But all the bug bits on me felt so gross it was nice to clean off a bit. 

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I borrowed Professor’s stove and heated my water for my Phad Thai and I was really looking forward to it. Just as I had boiled the water and added it to the pouch the rain came in. We thought it was just going to be a little shower but it got heavier. 

We did so well today. A decent mileage, in camp at 6, and we beat the rain. We all retired to our tents because of the rain and I lay in my tent without having set anything up for a while because I was too tired to do anything. When my food was ready I enjoyed eating that, the curry from last night was better but it was still good. It wasn’t enough though. I needed more food. I had no snacks to eat and nothing for dessert. I had to hide my food bag away otherwise I would be going very hungry for the next couple of days. 

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My chafe doesn’t feel too bad but I’ve had an itchy armpit for the last couple of days and I looked at it in my phone and it’s really red and irritated. It’s so itchy. It is distracting me from all my bug bites though.

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Even though we got to camp early and I’ve been in my tent a while I don’t seem to have done much and I was still filtering water after dark. It’s now 8:50pm. It’s stopped raining. I’m so hungry. I’m too hot. My feet are really throbbing. But I haven’t been finished writing this early for ages and ages. Maybe I’ll get a good amount of sleep tonight…


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 112

 

 


 

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