Trail Zealot

Colorado hiking, Appalachian Trail thru-hiking, and more...

Day 2: Katahdin Stream Campground to Hurd Brook Lean-to

Appalachian Trail
June 14, 2013
Mileage13.4 (18.6) mi
Elevation gain1388 ft
Elevation loss1775 ft

Today I embarked from KSC and noticed the Sobros were an hour ahead of me. I decided to try to catch up to them by Abol Bridge, about 10 miles away. Today was a cakewalk compared to Katahdin, which we have actually stopped referring to by name out of spite. A few miles in, I found a stream to ford. It was looking rough but I had to try. I got about halfway across and had water up to my waist with nowhere to go, so I decided to try another spot. I told another sobo about my difficulties and we decided to try again. He went first and got swept about 20 feet down the river. Valuing our packs, we followed the blue-blazed high water bypass, avoiding 2 fords and shortening our trip by around 0.1 miles. The purist in me frowned, but I rationalized by saying I want to get to Georgia.

Big Niagara Falls, swollen with snowmelt.
Big Niagara Falls, swollen with snowmelt.

Determined after the side trip, I cruised and caught up with the Sobros, who had been slowed down by taking off their boots for high water. Sam was giving Rob a piggie back to avoid the hassle of removing them. We walked quickly to Abol Bridge, the beginning of the 100-mile wilderness, a stretch of around 100 miles with no paved road crossings. The Sobros resupplied while I enjoyed a Pepsi and petted a cat. We booked off again, and soon I couldn't keep up, dropping back for the remaining 3 miles to the shelter. Lesson learned: don't push yourself too hard.

Commentary: In trying to keep up with the fast-walking Sobros, I failed to listen to my own body. I overdidit more than I indicated in my original journal entry. The walking was flat, but I wasn't accustomed to the exertion yet. I started to feel physically ill, and I sat down next to a spring and rested for a good while. I was pretty worried about this moment of weakness, so naturally I didn't share it in my journal. But the weak moments are often the most interesting.

Looking back at Katahdin from Grassy Pond
Looking back at Katahdin from Grassy Pond

After dinner, we chatted with other sobos in the lean-to and I met Hannah, Mulligan, and Flip. Flip can do a back flip and Mulligan reached the peak of Katahdin on his third attempt. The guys convinced me not to sleep with my food, and they helped me hang it from a branch out of reach of black bears. Feeling good now that I've gotten to relax after a hard day.

Commentary: I didn't yet understand how to adjust my backpack, meaning I awkwardly carried my 40-pound pack with the shoulder straps instead of the hip belt. The entire time I was at camp, I was secretly nauseous from the extreme soreness in my shoulders.

In hindsight, my unwillingness to share my suffering with others, both in real life and in my journal, made it feel unbearable to share anything at all. The split screen between the happy-go-lucky tone I presented, and the real emotions I hid, would prove to catch up to me often. I hiked alone for most of my journey because it felt too hard to manage impressions (among other reasons). If I had been honest with my hiking partners, I might have had an easier time hanging around and enjoying their company.

Interactive map and elevation profile

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