The Great Moose Tour of 2019

Thank you to everybody for all the notes if encouragement! And thank you to my beautiful sister for putting out the word that I was a little discouraged and could use some inspiration. 💚

So, my awesome sister and brother-in-law and family have been cutting my lawn at home, and they’re teachers, so I’ve been trying to minimize the trouble for them by finishing early in September. And yesterday I texted my sister to let her know I was pushing the end date back, and honestly I was just done with the whole thing and was thinking about coming home. (I came out here to get some information about my hiking speed and style so I can train appropriately for the next adventure, and the questions are answered, so why the hell am I out here doing the stupid dangerous stuff when I’ve already done it? That was how my thinking was going.) And she put the word out, and I got so many messages of support! Thank you! And thank you to Sisu and Coach Doug for their support, too!

Honestly, if I came home at this point I’d hate myself, probably irredeemably. I was thinking it was an issue of rewards (and it partially is; I’m still going to try the podcast thing), but I’ve realized it’s more an issue of why. Like… why the hell am I out here for this crazy, laborious stuff? So I decided that the one thing I haven’t done this trip is see a moose. Why am I hiking on ridiculous vertical slabs of rock and circling around boggy ponds? To see a moose. Yeah, baby. I’m now all about the moose. And podcasts. 😉

So many southbounders. So many. A dozen a day, it seems. Yesterday afternoon I crashed completely from 3 to 6 PM—like, out cold. I was awakened by the gentle sound of a man’s voice: “Hello? Hello?” At first I was confused from sleep. Was he a caretaker, a ridgerunner, a ranger? Had I done something wrong, camped at a fee site, pitched my tent illegally? No to all of that. He was just being polite and letting me know he was hanging his hammock nearby. 👍 He was SOBO Bob, tall and gaunt as hell, who’d already spent a couple of weeks off trail in Caratunk because his initial weight loss was so extreme.

Speaking of Maine, the rumor mill is reporting noro outbreaks in Caratunk and Monson. I’ll have to get more info.

The morning’s hike was like Maine and Vermont had a seasick lovechild. Back and forth between buggy jungle and slick rocky slopes, with some juicy bogwalking thrown in for giggles. I stopped for lunch at 11, just past Gentian Pond. (I’m pretty sure gentian is blue, and that it showed up in an old Crayola box of mine.)

The afternoon was all Mt. Success, with some outrageous vertical rock scrambles and slippery slate slab descents. Eight hours, 11 miles. Not terrible. Aaannnddd… welcome to Maine. Thirteen down. One to go. One.

Tomorrow: 6 miles, then Mahoosuc Notch! Hardest mile on the AT! Last time it took me 3 hours. I think the 6 miles are roughly manageable in 6 or 7 hours, but if I get to the south end of the Notch after 2, I’ll probably stealth there rathet than starting. The plan is to camp after the Notch, and do the Arm (extremely steep, long, slab/rock-climbing ascent) the next morning. Water, though, is a concern. I don’t think there’s a reliable water source until partway up the Arm. I have 2 full liters, and my filter bag is full of disgusting brown sludge and filth. The plan is to filter a liter of sludge in the morning, but not treat in case better water shows up.

Maine. Mahoosuc. Who would’ve thunk?