Sunday, July 22, 2007

He's got legs, and knows how to bruise them

These trail runners were made for running, and that's just what they'll do, one of these days these trail runners are going to break my creaking ankles clean off.

Once again, I've hit a computer... this time from a respectable home with a shower that doesn't fall over if you brush against the wall. Huge thanks to the Monsein family of Sugar Hill NH; of the mother daughter pair I may have mentioned to some of you. The mother portion of that gang has a stress fracture and has taken me in. Her daughter continues to hike and gobble up all the trail magic south of here.

I've just come down from the Franconia ridge, which I can see from the back porch here (these here Monsein cats have some neato diggs), after around 360 miles or so of the trail. Just recently I've found a set of trail legs have grown in where my old legs used to be. They may have been cobbled out of the rubber tire that has gone missing from around my gut region. It is truly amazing what these new toys can do! They keep on trudging up hills even when I'm too out of breath to keep going, they can jog at a good 4 mile per hour pace on the few flats and copious down hills. Unfortunately, my right foot is still pretty against the whole idea of walking 2000 miles and keeps trying to escape by breaking off at the ankle. It has attempted this escape maneuver twice this week.. I can tell because my ankle complains of separation anxiety. I'll survive, but don't be surprised if I come back with a peg foot.

I hear it is toasty hot in NYC, but the last several days I've been looking at my breath as is fogs out from my wheezing lungs in the White Mountains. I've luckily avoided hypothermia, but was a bit concerned when going towards and up Mt. Washington, at a 1 mile per hour pace, in the rain, in the clouds, in the 40 mph winds. I had skipped breakfast that morning and ran out of fuel for the furnace about half way up. Luckily I was able to cram about 2000 calories into my Oreo hole on the top of Washington, and complete the day soaked, and shivering about 10 hours into my 7 mile hike that day.

I've been very wet. It's been one of those Charles Shultz weeks (or two?), but with real rain clouds following me and trees that eat pack covers rather than kites. I'm still loving every moment... though mostly in retrospect, rather than as I live them.

I did a work-for-stay at one of the Huts in the White Mountains a few days back, where to get room and board that night I had to tell about the AT trip to a crowd of well fed, warm, day-hiker types. This bard's tale was to be told the night of my Mt. Washington hike. I planned it nervously, but as I started talking and folks prompted with questions, I really brightened up as I revisited all the funny stories and beautiful spots. I think I talked for about an hour and fifteen minutes to the crowd, and around 2 more on an individual basis to a few more interested folks. Memories are right at the top of the list of thing I'm loving about this trip, rivaled by the people and beautiful sights, while the actual walking has moved down to the bottom, just above shivering in the cold rain because everything I own is wet.

I forget where I left you guys last, so here are some of the more interesting parts that I think didn't make the last mail I sent out:

- I crossed my first state line (now my socks have become a federal Superfund case, not just a Maine problem!)

- I have pictures of a gory Moose death in the Mahoosuc Notch. (the notch is claimed to be "the hardest mile" on the trail... envision a glass of ice water, the cubes bunched up at the bottom; be an ant crawling down the nearly vertical inner side of the glass as water pours down it, then climb over and under the cubes of ice for a mile, then climb up the far side of the glass as water pours down it as well.) (hell, the locals can't do it very well either, just see picture of the moose for verification)

- I've turned into an "ounce weenie" to some extent. I dropped my pack weight from around 40 lbs. to around 25 lbs. Now every day is almost like day hiking. I still have more pounds to shave from my packing list... but I've got plenty of time.

- I'm nearly through "all the hard parts" of the trail, according to most north bounders I run into. Apparently, I should start pushing 40 mile days unless I'm a real wuss, or a cadaver, or both. Judging from the smell of my socks... I'm no wuss (hey, I did voluntarily smell them, right), but very possibly cadaverous.

- I can still get a sun burn in an hour. A few days back I got 1 hour of sun, in between sprinkles as I was crossing an open cliff. I proceeded to strip down and pull everything out of my pack to dry. I just had enough time to dry it all before the rain came, and I had to pack quick... but I can still feel the burn on my shoulders (yeah! pack straps rock my world... or is that wreck my world?)

- I met the cleanest, perkiest north bound chick ever (just near the NH ME border). I still have no idea how she kept that lime green, tight, sleeveless tee so clean and wrinkle free. Yes, I made eye contact first, but the cleanliness had to be looked at... promise I wasn't "checking her out" for more than a few minutes.

- I've been congratulated on my beard several times this week. Kind of strange being alone in the woods with a guy praising the fur around my lips...

- I challenge you all to Indian leg wrestling. $5 per match!

- I haven't weighed my self recently, but I do now have this odd pack of flesh where my belly fat used to be contained. I hope that pocket tightens up soon, or 'm going to play with it until it falls off.

Hopefully I can upload some pictures before I head out from the Yellow Bird and Grey Goose homestead. If I ever leave... they are too nice here!

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