Tuesday, September 12, 2017 (Day 133)
I woke at 6:30 am, I set off at 7:42.
The weather was again, beautiful. I was so thankful for my health and ability and happiness and inexhaustible love of climbing mountains. I was so thankful for the weather!
I thought of the technique these mountains require. The quick assessment of moisture and surface slickness, awareness of roots and stones and streams, of weight and stability and flexibility, of boot traction and width, of hand and foot and pole placement, of balance and strength, of lack of hesitation, of love and surrender.
I ate leftover oatmeal and apple juice from the Galehead Hut, and continued on toward Galehead and South Twin Mountain.
Then over Mount Guyot, and the decent toward Zealand Falls Hut.
I crossed paths with many familiar faces along the way. The upcoming hut was on everybody’s mind. It’s interesting how that works. How these huts with full kitchens and tables and chairs and gear and baked goods and bunk beds and toilets become a focus, a place of rest, a checkpoint on such treks. I am not sure how I feel about it. It strips the route of its wildness, yet, I am as eager as anyone else to arrive.
I eat fresh bread and drink coffee and sit at the long wooden table with other hikers. One by one, or two by two, we continue on our way.
I passed the junction to Ethan Pond Shelter, just as it was growing dark. The trees creaked and swayed. I stopped at the side of the trail for dinner and coffee.
I look at the map, at where I am, at where I came from, at how far I have left to go.
Just a few more miles tonight. I can do this.
There is rumor of rain on Thursday. I want to be clear over Mt Washington by then.
My legs are sore, and the pads of my feet ache. Likely from yesterday, yesterday was a challenge.
I rise. I walk.
The trail descends for the next couple of miles, down to US Route 302. It then climbs back up to the Webster Cliffs.
The descent is not difficult, the terrain is smooth and unremarkable, but my body is tired and I do not move quickly.
I pass many tents and cross the Maine Central Railroad. I move through the Ripley Falls Trailhead and parking lot. I gaze upward. Oh, what a night! The stars glimmer and dance in the ethereal swirl of the Milky Way. How fantastic! I had half a mind to lay down right there in the center of the parking lot; to gaze at the twinkling beauty-fires long in to the night. The surrounding earthly plane of gravel and parked vehicles, in addition to the somewhat irresponsible nature of sleeping in the middle of a road, however, had me press on.
How I wish I were on a mountain top!
I crossed the Saco River on a large footbridge, again pausing to take in the night. I adore crossing bridges under darkness.
South of the river I again discovered multiple tents. Darn it. Though I longed to lay beneath the open sky, I did not feel I had the energy to make the climb up to Webster Cliffs. I continued on. The climb began. There were no flat spaces in sight, as the trail weaved through uneven, heavily wooded terrain.
I came to a pile of branches perpendicular to the trail, a sign that the trail beyond was not the correct way. I looked to the right and saw were the AT continued, up and over rocks, following a ridgleine up and in to the distance.
I stepped over the pile of wooden limbs and assessed the levelness of the rough side trail. It was awfully close to the AT, and based on the slight slant I would have to sleep facing the trail, for optimum comfort. Oh, well. I was tired.
I slept there for the night.