Appalachian Trail Mile 2103.8

I opened my eyes to two beams of light reaching towards me from a distance. Footsteps, and crunching leaves, and conversing voices grew louder as the light beams bounced closer.

Embarrassed of my shameless place of slumber, I quickly rose and pulled myself from my sleeping bag.

“Are you alright?” They asked when they reached me.

“I’m fine, thanks.” I paused, then spoke again. “Where are you guys headed?”

“Abol Bridge.”

“Tonight!?”

“We are trying to finish really fast.” Said one.

“We both have mental problems we are trying to work out on the trail.” Smirked the other.

Abol Bridge was over 80 miles away. I was dumbfounded.

They continued on.

I watched the light of their headlamps disappear, their footsteps and voices fade, before glancing at the time. It was just after 3am.

I imagined my body capturing some of their energy. I imagined following behind them and absorbing it like floating gold glintz of motivation, little wave-lengths of power left in their wake.

Just after 4am, I set off as well.

I stopped for breakfast part way up the side of Barren Mountain.

The views to the top were stunning.

Next, was the Chairback Mountain Range. The 100 Mile Wilderness is not to be underestimated. Beautiful, rugged, and wild, its mountains certainly pose a challenge.

When I came to the Chairback Gap Lean-to, it had begun to sprinkle in quick, short spurts. There were upwards of five hikers huddled in the little shelter. It was just past 4 pm. Many of them were planning on staying, on letting the rain pass. I had to press on.

I reached the top of Chairback Mountain. The clouds sat thick on the horizon.

As I descended, I came to a rockslide. Jumbles of boulders in varying sizes and shapes, heaped in mounds of chaos at a descending angle.

Oh my.

I proceeded with caution, as I hopped and climbed and scooted from stone to boulder to frighteningly unsteady rock. I turned around and back again, checking on south bound blazes to help guide my way. Finally, I made my way to a solid strip of trail.

My legs ached with each step. I came to a clearing across from a spur trail to East Chairback Pond.

I raised my eyes to the sky. I took a moment to sense the heaviness, the moisture in the air. I did not think it would rain again. I unfurled my ground tarp and mat and sleeping bag and fell asleep.

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