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Tintin - Appalachian Trail Journal - 2010

Entry 56 of 58
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Stuart "Tintin" Skinner
City: Weymouth
State: Dorset
Country: England
Begins: Mar 14, 2010
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sat, Jul 17th, 2010
Start: Hanover
End: Hanover
Trip Distance: 1,736.5

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 268
Journal Visits: 10,542
Guestbook Views: 457
Guestbook Entrys: 8

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Appalachian Trail Map

Almost there...

Getting to Hanover is cause for celebration in my books. It's a place I viewed as a landmark town like Damascus and Harpers Ferry. If you've reached Hanover, you've reached New Hampshire and after that remains only Maine. Before us and Maine is a bloody hard section called the White Mountains. They are not big mountains, but there are very few switchbacks so you go straight up them and then straight down them. They are also renown for having the most variable weather in the world so temperatures can plummet very rapidly. Mt Washington holds the record for the highest wind velocity (around 220mph if my memory serves me well) and there have been 124 recorded deaths on it. The Whites are to be taken serious.

They're far from doom and gloom as they are regarded as the nicest section of the trail. The trail will take us above tree line, rewarding us for our efforts with majestic views. I've got all my fingers crossed for good weather; which for me is clear blue skies without the ridiculous heat we've be suffering through. Yesterday was another day where I felt I was walking through a furnace, sapping me of all my energy as per usual. I like to be under water when it's that hot, hanging out with animals that have more sense than to bask under the full gaze of the suns rays.

I'm really looking forward to the challenge of the Whites. Vermont was beautiful, but we didn't really get any views. Don't get me wrong, I've loved hiking the the trail, but there is very little that is spectacular about it. Rarely have I been astounded by anything I've seen. Perhaps it's because I've been spoilt, but I always appreciate a good view when I see one; Max Patch, Charles Bunion (Smokies), Graceland Highlands and McAfee Knob spring to mind. I'm sure there are others, but in my judgement (it's not a fact) it's not a trail you hike to be blown away by. What is spectacular is it's creation, it's length and the amount of volunteer work that goes into it.

So there are lots of reasons why I'm looking forward to the Whites. My back and knees aren't but they can have lots of rest very soon. They've only got to take me 400 miles or so more to the top of Katahdin. We're on course to meet Emily on the 3rd at Monson and then she'll hike the 100 mile wilderness with us. We've had to push our finish date to the 13th as Megladon starts college on the 21st and is driving cross country to get there. The poor lad won't have a moments rest!

I view my life as though I'm the hero in the story of my own making. In this story I'm a knight who is on a quest to conquer Katahdin, but first I must make the epic journey there. When we came out the woods and onto the road, crossing the bridge and therefore the Vermont, New Hampshire border I imagined we'd entered a castle's gates and crowds had lined up either side cheering us on. It really was a great feeling and we were cheered on by several people we met on the way. Meeting strangers who tell you what a great thing you are doing helps me reinforce the fact that I am not just walking day in and day out, as feels like sometimes, but that I am on a great adventure; one that many people can only dream about and it never fails to touch me when I see the look of excitement and joy on strangers faces for what I am doing. It's both heart-warming and humbling.

Kashmir was a ways behind Megladon, but we'd promised to meet him at the border. I decided to get some beer, proper beer this time though I got a Root Beer as well to quench my thirst of course. I bought a twelve pack of Long Trail Ale which I got told at the beginning was the best ale on the trail. The Long trail is the oldest long trail in the US and the first 105.2 miles of it are shared with the AT before it branches off, ending in Canada some 170 miles later. I planned on having a few beers for a change because I felt like celebrating and allowing myself a night off of being disciplined. There are many hikers who are off the trail because they spent their budget on beer and alcohol doesn't really mix well with my meds, so it's a treat when I have a few.

People were laughing when they saw me pack a bunch of beers and a Smirnoff Ice (for Megladon as he can't drink beer) in my backpack. We headed back down to the bridge and saw Kashmir heading down in the opposite direction. We posed for pictures before Kasmir's aunt and uncle picked us up, taking us to the hotel.

It's been great having all these characters share in our journey. Meglamum played the role of nurse, trail mum and avid supported with Willy Wonka continuing his role Chief Recon and Resupply Officer. Wonka loves slackpacking, it's just as much an adventure for him as it is for us. He takes his role very seriously and he'd applaud us when we arrived, before whipping us off to dinner and then putting us up in a hotel. It's great having him along and it was a treat having Meglamum along who'd conjured up a lot of remedies to help me with my back.

Where they left off, Megladon's aunt and uncle, David and Poppy took over. Poppy is perhaps one of the most enthusiastic people I've met. It was obvious that she thoroughly enjoyed being part of the adventure. Poppy would have a list of questions to ask as she wanted to know every intricate detail about our trip and it was a pleasure answering them. Who doesn't enjoy people taking an interest in what you are doing? David was very much the gentlemen and let it be known that he very much liked to take care of us, thinking it great that "you guys are together". I liked them both a lot and they put us up in some proper plush places. We'd arrive to a luxurious palace (in our minds) to find a bunch of treats and cold drinks laid out on a table for us to enjoy.

Poppy got to see first hand the supportive network of the thru-hiker community. We went out for dinner at a restaurant in Manchester Centre where two of the bartenders happened to have thru-hiked back in the nineties. Sunshine matched Poppy for enthusiasm, making us feel very welcome and giving us her personal details so if anything should happen or we needed a place to stay, then all we had to do is call. I have a host of numbers I could call on case of an emergency or anything should happen. There isn't a section of the trail that isn't covered and people mean it when they say to call. It's never come across as a token gesture.

We hiked a whopping two days with full packs before Kasmir's aunt and uncle, Barbara and Jim came to slackpack us for a few days. They think we're good for Kashmir, helping him to stay on schedule so he can finish up his last semester of college. I do feel a little guilty at pushing him along sometimes, but it would be a shame for all of us if we didn't finish together after all this time. Summitting is going to be great, but to summit with good friends would make it that much more special.

Barbara and Jim's hospitality, as with Megladon's family, was most generous. They let it be known that they wanted to take care of us and help us on our journey. It's impossible for me to fully convey my gratitude. The more characters in my story, the better and having these people involved in my adventure has certainly enriched it.

Entry 56 of 58
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Journal Photo

The Real Adventures Of Tintin

- Tintin

Thru hiking to Maine whilst raising awareness of mental health issues.


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