16.6 miles, 1758.7 overall (Trapper John shelter)
In the morning I wake to an alarm but it isn’t mine. After a few seconds I determine it is coming from near my feet which means it must be P-squared’s. It continues for what must be several minutes until, just before I get up to turn it off myself, he finally turns it off. Still the damage is done and I can’t get back to sleep. With only a few minutes left until my alarm went off it isn’t too big a deal. I get up and start packing.
Upstairs I take advantage of the cell service to download some news, upload some stuff, check the weather, etc while I wait for Betsy to take us in the first car out this morning. When I go out to the garage though to load up my pack the car is already full. Someone has taken my spot in the first car. The Mules are packed in it as they should be but the other two are Princess Doah and P-squared, only one of which is supposed to be there. I consider trying to get my spot back so I can get to town early, but I decide it isn’t worth it. Besides, this gives me a good excuse to go to Lou’s for breakfast with the Lionkillers who are leaving in the second car. I head back inside and poke around a bit more on the phone until Bill is ready to leave.
At Lou’s I get a kick out of seeing Princess Doah and P-squared eating breakfast. It seems they were in a hurry to sit down and eat. I sit with the Lionkillers and get a smaller breakfast than yesterday – only an omelette with home fries and an English muffin and coffee. While we eat I notice that Shannon keeps singing along with the music playing in the diner and I realize she is often singing, sometimes making up words to fit a situation and putting them to a popular tune. I suggest her trail name could be Jukebox and she immediately likes it. I wonder if it will stick. As I finish my breakfast I can see P-squared walking around outside and wonder why he needed to take the first car if he wasn’t leaving town right away.
The Lionkillers plan to stay in town to see a movie and use the library. Chicken Feathers stays with them, hoping to tag along with them in the Whites. Since he is older he is afraid of going through them alone. I’m pretty sure his fears are a bit unfounded since the Whites are one of the most travelled parts of the trail but I don’t bother pointing this out, understanding the importance he seems to place on the comfort of having hiking buddies. I leave the three of them and head out of town to hike another 60 miles or so before getting picked up by Christy in a few days for wedding #2 of 2 for the summer.
On the way out of town I pass by the Dartmouth sports fields. The soccer field is directly next to the trail and has nothing preventing people from using it. It is well-manicured and perfectly shaped to let water run off. I imagine it to feel spongy to walk on and consider trying it but decide not to.
It isn’t far to the first shelter, only a mile or so. When I get there I find a hiker whose name is Saltbomb. He hikes in a kilt and I know his name because the Mules mentioned him last night. Also there are two Sobo’s who are taking their time getting into town today. I’m glad I didn’t hike out last night. The shelter isn’t particularly nice and, although these three hikers seem to be nice enough, it doesn’t appear I would have known anyone here.
I move on, putting my audiobook on early today. The trail is considerably flat and the one thing that breaks the monotony along the way is a pond filled with cattails. Otherwise the hiking is par for the course. I do pass Princess Doah along the way and discover she only plans to go to the next shelter today, making me wonder why she needed to take the early car this morning.
At the second shelter of the day I stop for lunch. I catch up to the Mules there as they are about to head out. While I eat Princess Doah and Saltbomb arrive. Both plan to stay here. Saltbomb heard from the Sobo’s that the next shelter has lots of mosquitoes and he isn’t interested in spending the night being bitten. While I eat we watch the brazen chipmunks running around both in front of and inside the shelter. It seems Saltbomb may be exchanging mosquitoes for another pest.
Shortly after I leave the shelter I pass more Sobo’s. I have seen a lot today and apparently they have seen a lot of Nobo’s as well. As we pass one calls me #11 for the day. I inform him he is #8. The wave of Sobo’s keeps growing as we head north. I contemplate this for a while. It reminds me of wave mechanics and how, with the right waves encountering each other from opposite ends of a piece of rope, the two waves can cancel each other out. I can’t carry the analogy further though because I don’t know what it would mean for waves of hikers to cancel each other out. I do wonder how many I will see per day at the peak and where that peak will occur. I also wonder the same about Nobo’s and would like to know where I am positioned in the northbound wave. I imagine i am somewhere around the peak but it is hard to tell for sure. Hopefully the peak of the sobo wave doesn’t occur while I am passing through the Whites as it could make it hard to obtain the prized work-for-stay positions in the huts.
To get to the third shelter, my destination for the day, I have one last climb left. It isn’t too bad, just over 1000 feet over about 1.5 miles. Other than pouring sweat I feel great on the only real climb of the day. I pass the Mules on the way up as they stop to catch their breath. The climb today gives me some confidence heading into the Whites that I have my climbing legs back. Now I just need to make sure to add the right I’m-going-to-kick-this-mountain’s-butt attitude and I’ll have a potent combination with which to get through the multiple mountains over 4000 feet that I’ll have to climb.
At the shelter I find that it isn’t nearly the mosquito-infested hole that the sobo’s would have had us believe. There are some of the pesky insects flying around but once I zip on my pant legs and pull on my long-sleeve shirt I am sufficiently protected. I set up my tent and then grab water from a stream conveniently located right next to the shelter. I fix an early dinner with the Mules and I’m almost done when Five Pair strolls in. She sets up her tent as well so that we have 4 hikers here all in tents, leaving the shelter empty. This seems to occur more and more often as I move north. I’m in my tent early, hoping to catch up on some of the sleep I missed out on due to the late bedtime last night and early rising this morning. As I go to bed the big question is whether I should hike only the 12 miles I have planned for tomorrow or push a bit further to get closer to my pickup point on the Appalachian Trail.