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Voyageur - Appalachian Trail Journal - 2017

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Scott "Voyageur" Piddington
City: Sanbornton
State: New Hampshire
Country: United States
Begins: Apr 30, 2017
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, Jul 28th, 2017
Start: Moose Mountain Shelter-Campsite
End: Goose Pond Road. Lyme, NH. Home!
Daily Distance: 3
Trip Distance: 1,747.9

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 1,536
Journal Visits: 12,251
Guestbook Views: 142
Guestbook Entrys: 9

Appalachian Trail Map

Off Trail Due to Hernia!! Waaaaa!

Voice Journal (later)

Photos 7-19 thru 28

Well, this is a sad day. After more than 1,760 miles, I’ll be getting off the trail today due to a hernia. Booo hisss!!

It sounded like a bit of a sprinkle before dawn on the tent though when I packed it sometime later it was fairly dry. Since the plan was only to hike 6.5 miles Dorchester Road/Grafton Turnpike, I slept in till 6:30am. My camp was in the fog of a cloud but it was thin enough to tell where the sun was rising. By 7:30am the trail was leading me through the ridgetop boreal forest. Just beautiful. In time it crossed the north peak of Moose Mountain. Before too long the sun began to break through the cloud and it dissipated. All was well till the descent began.

The hernia in my left groin hurt with each step down of my left leg of more than a few inches. The bigger the step the scarier the pain. This led to the half step method. That is to step down with the right leg, then bring the left foot down to the same level as the right foot and repeat. This was tedious and slow. It sometimes had me descending kind of sideways. Due to the mud and wet rocks, sometimes there would be a small slip. When that happens every muscle in one's body tenses up and that would lead to a shout of "ouch!!"

The trail would descend about 1300 feet to Goose Pond Road, climb 1000 feet Holts Ledge and then descend another 1000 feet to Dorchester Road where I would hitch into Lyme, NH and find a ride home. At least that had been the plan. At this rate of travel and hurt the plan soon changed to a 3 mile day. There was no way I was going back up 1000 feet just to come back down. Nope, the tiny Goose Pond Road would have to do. The guide book makes no indication as to where it leads but it has to go somewhere.

A good ways down I stopped to sit on a rock. (I very rarely take breaks like this, maybe 4 in the last 89 days.) I reclined back on my pack to relax my abdomen. That felt better. Trying to sit up was a no-go with the pack on. After slipping it off, sitting up was ok. I stacked my hands on the left hernia to keep it flat and stood. After gently putting the pack back on, I placed the stacked hands back on the hernia and held them there firmly. Now I could hike down without discomfort, still avoiding big steps down but the trail was les steep and rocky down here. This was an awkward way to walk but better.

There it was at 9:40am, Goose Pond Road, paved but narrow enough to have no lines. There was a small unpaved pull off across the way with 2 vehicles. After a bit a couple returned from their day hike. We had crossed paths earlier so they were aware of my dilemma. They were from Colorado and visiting a parent in the area but weren’t headed anywhere far enough to help. The other vehicle probably belonged to a runner I had encountered. A couple of vehicles went by in the wrong direction though it was unclear which way was actually the right direction.

A young woman passed by southbound. A bit later another came through. She really wanted to help. She checked here cell phone but there was no signal. She stuck her thumb out as a car headed west while I was hitching east. Remember, it’s not clear which way is best. Perhaps I should have tried for both. Anyway, the girl kept walking as she should. A few minutes later a car heading east came up the hill and stopped. She asked where the girl was.

The driver was a woman about my age with a 2 door sedan. The front and rear passenger side was full of a big upholstered chair. She is from the area and after a bit of discussion we determined that west was best and that she could drop me at the Country Store in Lyme, NH. That is where I would have landed had I managed the whole 6.5 miles to Dorchester Road and hitched east. Wow! This was great.

I folded myself into what was left of the back seat and we had great conversations. It seems her son was an Eagle Scout and likely was at Hidden Valley Scout Camp in 2006, one of the years I was there running the Valley Voyageurs program. Yesterday I had passed Oli’s Trail, His Eagle project. Cool. At 10:20am she dropped me at the Lyme Country Store and I thanked her profusely. 40 minutes from stepping off the trail to arriving at civilization was pretty good.

The Lyme Country Store is a phenomenon! It is packed with everything imaginable and plenty one would never imagine for this little dare I say nowhere town. It is also old and has such a sense of history and community. There was a steady stream of folks in and out, Tourists, summer people and the regular locals. It was amazing. It’s a family affair. When I asked for the pay phone, the older gentleman behind the register (proprietor, I’d say) asked what I needed. Then he just handed me the cordless phone. Wow, that was great.

I wanted to call John G but apparently didn’t write his number on paper. It only lived in an email I could not access, so I called and left a message on June’s voice mail. June and John were to meet me in Kinsman Notch or on Mt. Moosilauke the next day and take me to their place in North Twin. We’ve been friends and hiking partners for decades. Shortly, June called back. Then she called and texted John who was checking out the Cascade Brook Trail, a part of the AT in Franconia Notch that someone had told me was closed. Signal is pretty absent in the notches but in time he got the message and June called back to let me know John would be there in an hour or 2.

All there was left to do was the hang out on the front porch eating ice cream and such while conversing with the folks coming and going. Before too long another hiker hitched in from where I had meant to get today. He was Blink from the UK. He didn’t need a resupply but couldn’t pass up the chance for some ice cream and other goodies on this beautiful and hot summer day. We hung out and talked on the porch for quite a while till John joined us. Then we hung out and talked some more.

After getting the message, John had headed north out of Franconia Notch and back home to get my bounce box and sleeping bag box. Then he found his way to Lyme and after some time on the porch, we took Blink back up to the trail and heading back to my home in Sanbornton. Thank you so much John. Google Maps says that was about a 210 mile day. Surely this was a good way to break in your new Subaru.

It was weird to be home. It always is after a thru-hike. Maybe it was a little more so since this was unplanned. It was about 4:45 on Friday afternoon and just too late to make an appointment with my doc. That will wait till Monday.

Oh well. 1,761.6 mile down and 428.2 to go. 90 days on the trail with maybe 25 to go. I’ll finish the trail next August, for sure.

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AT 2017 Thru-Hike

"The road ahead leads ever on,
down from my door where it began
to where many paths and errand meet."
Bilbo & Frodo - J.R.R. Tolkien
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