Appalachian Trail Mile 1796.2

Sunday, September 8, 2017 (Day 129)

I woke early. It had not rained, but my things were damp, as expected. I made coffee and packed up. I was uncertain if the Omelette Guy planned to set up in my sleeping place. I sat to the side and waited a bit. I decided to be productive. I pulled out a needle and thread and a patch and stitched up my pack.

At around 9 am, I decided that I had to move.

Not long after crossing the road and reetering the woods, I came to a makeshift shelter with counter space and foldable chairs and a chase lounge, complete with reclined hiker.

“Oh. It’s here, on trail!” I said to the hiker.

“Yeah. I slept here last night. He should be coming soon.”

Minutes later a man came lumbering up the trail, boxes of goods in tow. He was assisted by a southbound hiker who had been waiting for him as well. I asked if he needed further assistance. He said he did not. He pulled out a stove and began to perculate a pot of coffee.  He turned to face us.

“How long have you been doing this”, I asked.

“Since last June.”

“You are infamous on trail!”

Another hiker arrived. The Omelette Guy placed a greased pan on the stove and pulled out eggs and meat and veggies. “The record for most amount of eggs eaten in a sitting was 30” he proclaimed.  “Guy couldn’t move after. Drove him down the road to a hostel and he zeroed the next day.”

We all chuckled in amazement. He went down the row taking orders. The hiker who had slept there ordered six eggs with all the fixin’s. I asked if I might just have some of the onion and bell pepper, no need to fry them up. He quickly provided me with some chopped raw veggies and brought my attention to multiple bunches of bananas on the counter, urging me to help myself. We all sipped hot coffee and ate fresh food and chatted. What great kindness! I departed first. He told me to take a banana or two for the road, and wanted to make sure I signed his log book. I did both, and was on my way.

I was not moving too quickly. I broke momentarily at the top of Mt Mist, ate some wild berries, and continued on my way.

As I was descending to where the trail crosses Route 25, it began raining–hard.

When I came to the road, I decided to head .3 miles east to the Hikers Welcome Hostel to take shelter. There I saw the northbounders that had been at the Omelette Guy’s that morning. They were all sitting around a large table chatting, charging phones, drinking soda, and watching some Borat movie on the ginormous flat screen TV. They were all taking cover from the rain.

The hostel had a very low-key and welcoming vibe. I was told that I could hang out as long as I wished. I drank cup after cup of coffee and charged my headlamp and battery pack.  I found vegan protein powder and noodles and oatmeal in the hiker box.

My plan was to wait out the rain and night hike up Mt Moosilauke.

Moosilauke was one of those mountains that had a reputation on trail. Southbounders often said it was the mountain that will “prepare you for the rest of the Whites”. The climb was long, the descent– dangerously steep and rocky.

I was ready to see what I was dealing with.

At around 7 pm, when I was satisfied with the state of the sky, I departed the hostel to climb the mountain.

Before the climb began I crossed streams and walked along roads and crossed parking lots and an open field. While crossing the field, I glanced up. I beamed, I laughed, so pleased with the clarity of night, the bright shining of stars.

I began the climb. Halfway up I took a break beside a stream and gathered water.

The climb was not terribly challenging, but felt positively endless.

As I neared the summit, the trail smoothed and flattened. The wind whipped and howled and spat tiny bits of moisture. The fog had grown thick. The night sky was no longer clear. It was cold.

I hid from the wind, in between trees, in a small, narrow clearing designed to drain water from the trail. I was .4 from the summit. I slept there for the night.

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