Journal Entry: June 9, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 11

Climbed four mountains today.  Started with Columbus Mountain, Third Mountain, Fourth Mountain and then Barren Mountain.  Also discovered why I’ve been struggling the past few days.  It’s tough, being female.  To have to unwillingly submit to such an inconvenience every month.  And no wonder why I’ve been craving iron.  All the beef jerky is gone.  The amount of energy I am burning, the dwindling amounts of protein and iron in my diet explains why I almost passed out a few days ago.

I put in a good day today.  The only real difficulty were my feet.  The pain became noticeable  after nine miles or so.  Especially my right foot, the ball and toes.  They alternated between pain and numbness.  The trail was rocky, ridged with ups and downs that at times seemed endless.  Just when I thought, ‘This must be the last one,’ I would see another up ahead to traverse.

It begins with a ‘random’ thought entering my mind.  Why do I need a man to be a mother?  Well, other than for the obvious.  There are many creatures on this planet with only one parent raising the young.  I remembered a study I had read saying that currently forty percent of  human mothers are single moms.  Perhaps women should re-think their desire and expectations of men.  Or perhaps Society and Culture should stop dictating and perpetuating these rigid expectations which people cannot meet.  The resulting disappointment would be unnecessary.  It’d be pointless actually.  Maybe women, no people, should pay more attention to understanding who they are, the cause and effect of their actions, and ponder the dynamics and priorities of this world which we exist in.  Defy any and all expectations.  If it can be imagined, live it, then it will manifest and be so.

Other ‘random’ thoughts.  How interesting that my ex-husband describes himself as ‘widowed’ on his Facebook profile.  Such a tragic expression of anguish for his actions that precipitated my flight from him.  I wonder if he is still alive.  I hope for he is.  And that life is really truly good for him.  I hope for him to have a realization and to stop asking, “Why did you leave me?”  Each time I hear that question, my stomach churns and my heart breaks.  Because he knows.  Yet, he cannot see, his fear of acceptance and by giving in to those insecurities, how it’s destroyed the beauty we once discovered and shared.  Like a small child pulling the legs off, one-by-one, of Daddy Long Leg spiders.

I wonder if I am capable of having children.  There were so many opportunities, years spent trying but to no avail.  I wonder at the twisty-turny path that has brought me here to this very moment in time.  Will I hike the entire Appalachian Trail and still not find what I’m looking for?  Knowledge?  Adventure?  Philosophy?  As the man on the Hunt Trail suggested.  An escape?  A tragic death?  I walk in wonder…

I feel very happy here.  Each morning I awake and life simply begins.  Each day is filled with purpose and discovery on a winding path with an uncertain future around each bend in the trail.  It’s sheer bliss, Heaven really, when I reach a lean-to and no one is there.  I feel relief and glee.  I have the entire moment to myself to do what I want to do and in whatever way I want to.  The first thing I did when I reached the Long Pond Lean-to was to take all my sweaty, dirty clothing off.  I bathed nude in the cold stream trickling nearby then air-dried by a fire built by my own hand.  I spent an hour or more grooming.  Admittedly, one of my favorite activities.  This solitude, in the wilderness, has been one of the most relaxing and enjoyable times in my life that I can recall.

I looked at my maps trying to discern if I will make it into Monson for my first mail drop tomorrow.  The town is listed as two miles off the trail.  The post office probably closes at 4 p.m.  I think I could make it but it would be late and I would have to stay in town.  I’m not keen on that.  The hostel is twelve dollars and the alternative is to hike back to the trail and tent before dark instead.

I’m very very low on food.  I think I have enough to make it to the next lean-to, stay the night and then into town the following day.  My plan is exacting and precise, but, I like it.

Distance: about 11-miles

Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.

photographed by Nichole Hastings

Photo Memory: “View from the Summit of Chairback Mountain” photographed by Nichole Hastings

“The view.  At 2100-feet.  Simply breath-taking.”

photographed by Nichole Hastings

"View from the Summit of Chairback Mountain" photographed by Nichole Hastings

 

Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.

photographed by Nichole Hastings

Journal Entry: June 8, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 10

A nice early start this morning.

All up hill.

The Chairback Mountain is no joke.  Especially when you are carrying fifty pounds and managing a dog.  I had taken a picture of it a ways before on the trail.  Not long afterwards realizing that was where I was headed.  The trail took a ninety degree turn straight at it.

A super steep rise of rocky cliff.  A tumble down that and you’d be sure to break bones and puncture soft flesh.  This thought occurred to me half-way up when I looked down behind me.  The rocks were sharply angular and sat at a nearly vertical rise.

photographed by Nichole Hastings

"View from the Summit of Chairback Mountain" photographed by Nichole Hastings

The view.  At 2100-feet.  Simply breath-taking.

Past Chairback, the trail dips back down about 300-ft and then begins climbing  up Columbus Mountain, 2250-ft.  I made it to the Chairback Gap Lean-to just after noon.  I was writing in the register when it began to rain.  The wind had been gusting all day.  The sun was out but it was cold.  The next lean-to, the Cloud Pond Lean-to is about seven miles away.  I knew I wouldn’t make it there today if I continued on.  Columbus Mountain, Third Mountain, Fourth Mountain and the majority of the incline of Barren Mountain lay ahead.

At the start of the day, I was 89-miles South of Katahdin, Baxter State Park and Wayne, the guy at the gate.  It’s good to periodically look back and say, “Hey, I did that.” and feel satisfaction at the pace and what was accomplished.  I’m slightly behind my self-imposed schedule, an average of eleven miles a day, but a mountain is certainly not a molehill.  And I prefer to not tent in the rain.  Or carry all the extra water weight that would come as a result.

This decision puts me in a rather precarious food position.  It would be good if I can reach Monson in two days.  If I push tomorrow and get down Barren Mountain, there’s a lean-to near the Slugandy Gorge and Falls.  I think.  Pete’s maps are from 1988 and it says, ‘Site of Proposed Lean-to’.

And of course, all this will depend upon nice weather.  It’s been off and on rain all day.  I hoped these winds would push this storm past us, and quickly.  Not only is it windy, it’s cold enough where I can see my breath.  I managed a fire.  It survived the rain showers as they come and went.  The fire pit was in a terrible spot in conjunction to the lean-to.  The wind’s gusts kept the smoke blowing in my face.  There was plenty of burnable dry wood available.  Left overs from lean-to’s construction.  I want to sit by the fire and avail myself of its warmth but breathing seems more important.

Another factor, my feet, they need rest.  No blisters still but the bottoms hurt.  Most nights I wake up in the middle, my feet cramping and legs aching.  Maxwell needs rest too.  He’s visibly lost a lot of weight and at times he’s hobbling along.  As soon as I deposited my pack in the lean-to he went and laid down.  Poor guy.  I upped his food rations from a cup to a cup and a half a day.  He needed it and it makes my pack lighter.  A win-win situation for both of us.  Time to make dinner.  And then early to bed.

 

Distance: about 4.5-miles

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photographed by Nichole Hastings

Photo Memory: “What Lies Ahead” photographed by Nichole Hastings

“I thought to myself, what an interesting sight, then suddenly the trail turned 90-degrees directly at it.  I had a sudden realization that I was going to have to climb that rocky crag ahead.”

photographed by Nichole Hastings

"What Lies Ahead" photographed by Nichole Hastings

 

 

Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.

Journal Entry: June 7, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 9

A  bitterly cold 6:30 a.m.

I knew I needed to get up and get moving.  A hot breakfast was in order to make sure I had plenty of calories to start off the day.  I wanted to finish White Cap, cross the Hay and beyond Gulf Hagas to reach the West Branch Pleasant River and tent there. Trout had described the decline past Gulf Hagas as being ‘gentle’ so I figured the eleven miles would be well worth it and a reasonable goal.

The sun broke through about 8 a.m.

Took my time to keep my heart rate low.  To keep the number of calories being burned to a minimum.  I continuously reminded myself, ‘an economy of movement.’ and any time I started to break a sweat I would stop or slow my pace.

As for the gentle decline…I guess.

With the brain fog of the past two days gone, I did a lot of thinking throughout the day.  The suddenly pleasant weather.  The Zen of movement.  Why I was doing this hike.  My family.  My plans and hopes for the future.

My conclusions…well…I concluded I’m doing this hike to be away from others and Society’s expectations.  Here, I only have my own expectations to live up to day-to-day.

I am only subject to my schedule.  I rise in the morning when I want to.  I eat when I am hungry.  It’s a relief to not be concerned with what others may think of my appearance, my actions and how I am going about it.  I set my goals for the day and make adjustments when I want and need to.  I love that my instincts have been spot on…for me.  No commentary.  No criticism.  No pressure to do or say or be…other than for me.

Taking the break yesterday gave my body much needed rest.  I had enjoyed a 360 degree panoramic view at 3500-ft.  Can a day get better than that?

I thought about how individuals need to learn to be less dependent upon their jobs and living such set routine schedules.  Crazy.  All kinds of people work at all different paces utilizing all different methods.  Continuously trying to ‘standardize’, to ‘regulate’ everything…what a mistake.  Resenting others for working ‘their way’ and in ‘their time frames’…a gross error.  It’s just petty jealousy.  People ought to stop worrying so much about what other people are doing and focus on themselves.

I ponder those living their lives in fear.  Afraid of themselves, others, living.  Constantly defining and limiting themselves.  Fearing if they don’t ‘label’ themselves they and others won’t know who they are.  In fear of being ‘fired’ from their jobs if they don’t comply or meet others’ expectations.  It’s sick.  The way some try and control others in this manner.  And for what?  The bottom line?  More productivity?  More money?    What is money?  So much value on something so worthless.  Simply the means, to a way, to control.  You can’t control what others do, only what you do.

I thought about my family and wondered if they wonder where I am at this very moment.  It’s funny.  Hilarious really.  Being estranged and adopted.  My life is so very full of conundrums.  All because of my life circumstances and ‘poor’ choices.  The silent treatment.  Criticism of my actions and choices.  Suddenly being treated and spoken to as though I was five years old all over again and incapable of making intelligent decisions.  A subtle, yet not so subtle form of passive aggressive control.  An emotional manipulation.

I want love.  I want support.  I want understanding.  I want them to think about the results of their actions and words.  To think about how it is hurting, not helping.

I thought about my hopes.  My plans for the future.  A pleasant day-dream.

A little farm where I can self-sustain sounds nice.  Free-range chickens for eggs, a vegetable and herb garden, canning food for the winter.  Hunting wild game.

Visions of my youth flitted before my eyes.  Played across my memory.  Haying.  Sweating under the blaze of the Autumn sun.  Everyone standing, chatting, around my uncle’s pick-up.  Drinking ice-cold beers after off-loading the bales to the conveyor to the hayloft.  The same loft I had asked my grandfather to put a swing in as a child.

‘Why?’, he’d asked.

My reply, ‘Every hayloft needs a rope swing.’

Most of my friends are married with children, divorced with children or in the process of one of the two.  Very few are single with none.  Like me.  When I had been married I had longed for motherhood.  Sometimes I still feel that twinge.  Whenever I mentioned that thought to my friends with kids, they looked at me like I had grown two crazy heads.  Maybe I feel that twinge because I miss my childhood.  Maybe that’s why I think about having children from time-to-time.  Maybe I tried to submit to expectations.  Everyone else was doing it.  Thank god, that travesty never came to be.  A blessing in disguise.

Tangent upon tangent upon tangent thought.

Just past the Sydney Tent Site I was passed by a girl.  I caught up with her at the Carl A. Newhall Lean-to.  She, Eli and Crawford were there.  They had just finished eating and were prepping to head out soon.  My stop was brief.  I left before the girl did.  Although she caught up with me at the West Branch Pleasant River.  A fifty foot wide stretch of knee-deep round rocky river.

I sat down and stripped off my foot gear, my usual routine, for water crossings.  She stood at the river’s edge silent and still.  It seemed like she was thinking.  Or listening to the rushing water.  Then suddenly she went for it.  She strode forward and crossed removing nothing.

After she reached the far bank, three men appeared, packless.  I stood up, grabbed a stick to help support myself and slung everything over my shoulders, my pants rolled up to mid-thigh and barefoot.  I stepped carefully, slowly made my way over slimy slippery rocks and through the rushing current.  The four of them stood and watched as I laboured and Maxie swam for it.

It seemed an eternity.  Several times my feet slipped and I thought I might topple.  Their presence, their watching, a test of my mindfulness and focus on the task at hand.  I cut them out of my thoughts.

I walked on to shore, past them, to a grassy spot to put my socks, boots and gators back on.  I asked one of the boys, they were all young men, high school or college aged, if there was a place to tent nearby.  They all shrugged and then turned and walked away down another trail.  I guessed that they must have a car nearby.  They didn’t look or move like thru-hikers.

The girl and I walked together following the white blazes.  We came upon a flat gravel area next to the water.  Not an ideal location but it would do.  It was convenient to have water close at hand but the mosquitos and black flies were thirsty and thick.  I decided to tent there for the night.  The girl decided to keep going.

I strung up line to hang wet clothing taking advantage of the breeze.  The girl re-appeared and asked if she could share the spot with me.  I asked her if she had anything she wanted to hang to dry.  She declined.  Other than that there was little conversation between the two of us as we set up camp.  A welcome relief.  She, like I, quickly prepared dinner and then headed to bed soon afterwards.

Distance: about 11.5-miles

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Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.


Photo Memory: “A Point in the Right Direction” photographed by Nichole Hastings

“I concluded I’m doing this hike to be away from others and Society’s expectations.  Here, I only have my own expectations to live up to day-to-day.”

 

A Point in the Right Direction photographed by Nichole Hastings

 

 

Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Journal Entry: June 6, 2010 – The 100 Mile Wilderness

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 8

Woke up late, around 8 a.m.

I thought if the weather remained clear I would traverse White Cap, Hay and Gulf Hagas.  This would have been a fine plan if it had simply remained overcast.  But, not long after setting out it began to sprinkle.

I caught up with the two young high school kids Just Bob and Trout had mentioned seeing.  They were busy rearranging their gear.  We nodded hello to each other as I walked by.  Soon it began to pour, coming down at a steady pace.

The hike was brutal.  Large blowdowns littered the trail.  Maxwell was not happy.  Navigating around the dense branches of the downed trees was hard work and required a lot of coaxing to get him to follow.  I suppose if I was a foot off the ground it would have made more sense to just trot underneath them, taking the path of least resistance.

I pushed myself, hard, to get up the lower half of White Cap.  I refused to let my mind think of anything but the now of my situation.  I still felt disconnected and haggard.  In an unfocused haze.  In spite of that, a dreadful thought, a reality, continuously circled in my mind.  An unwelcome realization while packing and eating this morning.  I was running out of food.  And quickly.  Also, my caloric intake was not nearly close to what it should be.  I had read that ideally you want to be consuming 3000 to 4000 calories a day.  I would be exaggerating if I said I was taking in 1200 a day.

I was soaked, inside and out of my rain gear.  The wind, sweat and rain had me chilled to the bone.  I was exhausted.  I knew Plan A, to stop at the Logan Brook Lean-to would be the smart move.  Immediately upon arrival I hung up everything to ‘dry’ and set up camp.  I pulled all my food out.  Looking at it I realized I had much less left than I thought.  I laid out five plastic ziplock bags and I portioned out everything I had for five days.  Four days worth of hot breakfasts and dinners.  Five days worth of cold lunches and snacks.  The amounts were painfully meager.  Portioning out the trail mix was a joke, about a cup per bag.  I counted the pieces of dried fruit and chocolate pieces I put in each bag to make sure they were evenly distributed.  Two small squares of chocolate per bag and a piece or two more than that of dried fruits.  And fragments of beef jerky in each.

Around 4:30 p.m., Eli and Crawford appeared, drenched.  We all bunked down early with the sound of rain playing us a lullaby on the roof of the lean-to.  One of them, maybe Crawford mentioned a planetary conjunction this evening.  I scribbled away in my journal.

Distance: about 3.9-miles

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Copyright 2011 The Truth Will Set You Free

Content on this site may not be sold or reproduced without permission.