August 7, 2017
Total Miles: 1870
I am not sure how to even start this post.
Today was by far the hardest day on the trail for me. Physically, mentally, emotionally.
We woke up from Madison hut around 6 am and put off putting on our wet, frigid clothes until we were ready to head out the door.
The weather outside was unfriendly. Cold, foggy, and strong winds. I did not want to leave. The nervous stomach came back and I gave Planner the same look as the day before.
Its only 8 miles. 2 more miles above ridgeline and then I will be safe and sound in the trees again. I can do it, I can do it. I repeated to myself.
We headed out the door with myself leading, Planner behind me and Shiver and Sasquash following suit. Alex and Woodpile left the hut earlier.
We started the trek and immediately started heading upwards on the slippery, dangerous rocks.
The adrenaline started pumping while my fingers started becoming stiff.
My fingers were quickly freezing as I had no gloves with me. I ended up pulling out a pair of my dry socks and using those as gloves. In the meantime I looked behind me and saw that Shiver and Sasquash were moving slowly and were a good distance down the mountain. I couldn’t stop. I was too cold to wait. So Planner and I trucked on.
The higher we climbed the colder it became and the stronger the winds blew.
I found myself no longer hiking with two legs over the rocks. I was now on all fours crawling over the rocks to stay steady.
I felt like I was in the military and was on a stealth mission. Every movement had to be made with careful precision. If you placed your foot on a slick spot and were unbalanced the wind would knock you on your butt in a second. A twisted ankle or knee could happen in the snap of a finger.
I felt like I was moving at the pace of a snail and my fear increased.
At times I had to just stand in a crouched position until the wind let up for a second and sometimes I had to stop to look up to figure out where in the world the trail went since there was heavy fog and no white blazes only rock cairns.
I was frustrated, cold, and scared.
I was genuinely scared. This was not fun, this was scary and before I knew it I had tears rolling down my cheeks.
I want to be done. I want to be off this ridgeline. Now.
I continued on and over a small hump and looked behind me like I usually did to make sure Planner was behind me as it was hard to hear.This time I did and I saw nothing. I continued to stare into the fog and felt my stomach go inside out. Where is she?
I crawled over behind a rock stack to be safe from the wind and finally I saw her coming up over the rocks.
Whew… I turned to hike on and Planner yelled through the wind “How are you doing???”
I turned around with tears rolling down my face and yelled back “I am quite emotional right now!”
We both gave a little chuckle as she was crying herself.
We were D.O.N.E.
We continously yelled out curse words at the wind thinking it would make the wind stop.
I also found myself letting out lioness roars everytime I made it up a small hill.
The adrenaline was pulsing to the tips of my being.
After a mile and a half the sun tried to break through the fog and it lit up the path ahead for a couple seconds.
Whatever it was made me not only cry harder because I now just wanted to call my parents and grandma.
But it made me realize that I can do this too.
I am doing this and I can finish this ridgeline. I am going to make it.
I. Can. Do. This.
Slowly but surely we reached below the tree line and could of not been happier or more exhausted.
We continued the downhill path to reach into town and multiple people asked us how the climb up Madison was.
People could see our wide eyes and exhausted expressions. We told them nothing but the truth.. It was hard and dangerous.
One gentleman asked and said yeah I heard there was 70 miles an hour winds up there.
Planner and I looked at each other… yep… That sounds right.
We made it to a visitor center and felt almost mad at the people down below enjoying the sun and chatting about.
You guys have NO IDEA what we just went through!! But at the same time we smiled to each other and thought that was an epic experience. Would I want to do it again… No.
But it was quite incredible.
We got a hitch into Gorham, New Hampshire and met the boys at the Dunkin Donuts where I stress ate donuts and bagels.
We found out Alex got lost up on the mountain due to it being incredibly hard to see where to go and ended up hiking back to the hut and then blue blazing down the mountain. Woodpile made it and even declared it was difficult. That is saying alot for him. HA!
We got a hotel for the night because moving on did not look enjoyable and we needed to resupply on food.
The hotel is fantastic and even has a hot tub and pool.
I can’t believe the day we had but I am beyond happy that I made it through.
What a day. What a journey.
We decided that we all wanted to take a zero day today. More than likely our last one as we only have 320 miles left.
How insane is that?
We have spent the day lounging by the pool and watching TV and resupplying.
I was blessed and received a care package from some of my REI co-workers.
It was more than I could of asked for. Thank you my REI supporters!! It helped out a ton and I was even able to share some goodies. Thank you SOOO much you guys!!!
We went to a bookstore slash coffee shop for a drink and Wi-Fi and the first book we saw was this.
Great… Just great…
Walking back to the hotel we ran into Shiver.
Oh thank you lord. I was worried about her and wondering if she had made it over or not.
She told us that she was on the edge of hypothermia as she couldn’t think straight or walk straight. Luckily she was with Sasquash who is a park ranger in Alaska. He was calm, cool, and collected and knew exactly what to do to make sure she would be okay.
I apologized that I had left but by the time I turned around…We were to far gone and I was too cold to stop.
She understood completely.
We all were happy we made it and shared hugs.
This evening will be filled with another hot tub session and more movies.
We have another tough 100 miles and then it will be smooth sailing to the finale.
Here we go, a few more weeks and Maine to look forward to.
I am SO excited for what lays ahead. I feel strong, blessed, and ready to tackle these mountains.
Iz and Oz