Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mt. Hayes

This was absolutely a gorgeous day.  There were no clouds in the sky except for a few white puffy ones and the sun shone all about all day.  With temperatures in the low 70s, I’d say it was just about perfect.

Naturally, we wanted to go hiking.  Gene selected the Centennial Trail (aka AT) which climbed 1800 feet to Mt Hayes.  The trail was pretty steep in areas and there were some rocks ledges, and about a zillion rock steps, but nothing that was extreme.  There were a few nice views of the Androscoggin River as we made our way to the top.  We got up to the open rock ledge and had our lunch.  There were fabulous views of Mt Madison, Adams and Washington.

We saw a few other hikers, all northbound, and all seemed to be thru-hikers.  One young fellow was carrying an American flag on his pack; I assumed in remembrance of those who gave their lives on 9/11.  That was nice.  Wish I’d thought to do that.

There were a few rocks in the trail

We got back to the truck exhausted since we haven’t hiked much in the past week.  By the time we drove the three miles back to the house, these old bones were beginning to stiffen up.  Probably need to hike again tomorrow to work out the soreness.

I put dinner in the crock pot before we left this morning--chicken, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  It smells yummy.  Glad I don’t have to cook tonight.

That’s it for now.  Hope you’ve had a great day.

The Hardest Mile

We were out for another hike today.  Short hike, but a very long drive to get to the trailhead.  I think we made a loop around the entire Mahoosuc Range.

For years we have heard of the infamous “Mahoosuc Notch”.  By most who have hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, it is considered to be the hardest mile.  This mile long section of trail is filled with boulders some say are the size of small cars and are turned in every direction.  A few years ago a moose wandered into the notch and was unable to get out.  They say his bones are still there.  The hiker who is brave enough traverses this section by climbing over, under, and around these huge boulders that have fallen off the side of Mahoosuc Mountain.  Don’t expect to do the standard 30-minute mile through here.  I’m not sure what the average time is, but it can easily take two or three hours.

Gene and I didn’t want to hike through there, but we did want to have a look.  By studying the map, we found a short, relatively easy trail that took us right to this infamous notch.  The Notch Trail (pretty aptly named, don’t you think) started on an old logging road not so far from our campground--as the crow flies.  Of course, our truck couldn’t get there as the crow flies, so we went around.

We went east on US 2 into Maine and then turned north on route 26.  As we passed through Grafton Notch State Park, we stopped for just a minute to view Screw Auger Falls.  It wasn’t a spectacular, high waterfall, but pretty anyway.  We found where the AT crosses route 26 then were on the lookout for our turn.  Success Pond Road is a dirt logging road that runs from Berlin, NH to Grafton Notch, ME a distance of about 22 miles.  We turned on Success Pond Rd, slowed down to about 15 mph and headed back toward New Hampshire.  Finally, after about an hour we found the tiny, single lane, dirt road off the dirt logging road which took us to the trailhead.  Surprising, there were three other cars in the small parking area.

As we started our hike, we thought we had hit the jackpot as far as trails go.  It was wonderful--no rocks, roots, or ruts with a very gentle incline.  This perfect trail didn’t last very long, but never got really bad either.  There were a few rocks and slippery roots and the grade got a little steeper, but all in all it was a very pleasant walk along a small mountain brook.  We got to cross that brook three times, but all crossings were easy--just rock hops.

At the top, our trail ended right at the junction of the Mahoosuc Trail (AT) at the south end of Mahoosuc Notch.  At this elevation today we were in the cloud and everything was wet and a very fine mist was floating in the air.  We wanted to get a good look at the notch so we headed down.  A short drop brought us to an open spot and then it was up again over roots and around trees to the next down.  We didn’t do that down.  It went around a tree and then straight down into the cavern of boulders.  The next white blaze I could see was on the side of a boulder that didn’t look like it could be scaled.  We wanted a look at the notch and we got to.  Then we were out of there.

For our drive back home, we continued west on Success Pond Rd.  This side was much rougher than the first half and we crept along at about 10 mph.  At one point, we came upon a taillight that had fallen off someone’s car.  That was kinda funny until we got home and found one of our mud flaps barely hanging on.

At dinner tonight while reflecting on our hike, we both agreed it was way cool to be in “Mahoosuc Notch”.  But perhaps our favorite thing about the hike was the distinctive “north woods” feel of the forest today.  It was awesome.

Storms are moving into our area over night tonight so tomorrow will be a chore day.  It’s just as well since my laundry basket is overflowing.

That’s it for today.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Back Issues and Rainy Days

Okay, I’m ready for some sunshine now.  It has been rainy and cloudy for so many days now I can’t remember when I saw the sun last.  I really shouldn’t complain because this little piece of New Hampshire has been very dry and can surely use the rain.  However, I want some sunshine.

Saw this along the trail
Yesterday, I stayed inside all day. Gene went over to Wal-Mart for an hour or so just to walk around.  He pulled a muscle in his back a couple days ago and walking helps.  On Wednesday, he did a lap or two around the campground a few times during the day--whenever there was a break in the rain.  He felt better yesterday morning and wanted to go for a longer walk.  Since there’s no mall around here, Wal-Mart was the next best thing.

Today, with the chance of rain down to about 10 percent we planned for a short walk.  Wouldn’t you kno--it was drizzling as we were getting ready to leave, but decided we’d had enough of staying inside and would just walk in the rain.  We drove over to the Rail Trail for our walk since Gene didn’t feel it too wise to try to hike on these steep and rocky trails around here.  We’ll save that for tomorrow.  We enjoyed being out and it only sprinkled for a few minutes after we got started.

This afternoon, we went back to town to the coffee shop.  One of our favorite things to do.  There is a very small bookstore attached, but instead, we found on a table in the coffee shop a picture book of the White Mountains and another of the Appalachian Trail.  We looked at the pictures and sipped our coffee.  It was a very nice afternoon--a great thing to do on a cloudy, rainy day.

It really feels like fall today.  The temperatures were only in the 50s when we got up this morning and, with the cloudy skies all day, only got up to about 65 this afternoon.  We’ve had the fireplace on several times today.

Well, that’s about all there is to tell for today.  Not much happening other than trying to stay dry and longing for sunshine.  Tomorrow, the forecast predicts sunny skies with a zero chance of rain.  I think we’ll be on the trails.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Mouse in the House

We have been seeing over the past couple weeks definite signs of the approaching fall season.  Temperatures have been cooler, especially at night.  It hasn’t been uncommon for us to turn on the fireplace for a few minutes in the early morning to take the chill off.  Daytime temperatures have been a little cooler, as well, particularly this week.

I suppose the sign of fall we notice most is the turning of the leaves.  We’re starting to see some reds and several yellows.  And the late summer wildflowers are beginning to fade.

The wildlife is also more noticeable.  The squirrels and chipmunks are scampering around the campground.  We have even seen two bears within the past week.  One of them was in our campground.  Haven’t seen a bear since Shenandoah.  I guess everybody is out trying to round up grub for the winter to either be stashed in a hidey hole or stashed in their bellies.

Typical at this time of the year, the field mice are looking to get in out of the cold. Who can blame them, really.  However, I wish they’d find some other warm place other than my kitchen.

I opened the bottom kitchen drawer yesterday and found a peanut shell as well as other evidence that a mouse was looking for a winter nesting place.  This was not the first mouse we’ve had.  We had a couple of mice three years ago.  Two can really make a big mess.

Luckily, because of Peanut, we keep all the cabinet doors and drawers tightly closed.  He just loves it when we forget and leave something open.  He can find his way into all kinds of secret places.  The mice we’ve had have all been in the kitchen, apparently coming up through those holes in the floor for incoming and outgoing water.  Because the drawers and doors are always closed, the mice have been contained within that one cabinet.  Of course, it’s not a small space, but at least they haven’t been roaming all over the house.

Yesterday, Gene set two traps, baited with peanut butter.  This morning, we had ourselves a mouse.  Clever little devil got the peanut butter off one trap before meeting his demise at the other.

Gene got rid of the mouse and the traps and I spent the rest of the morning scrubbing and rubbing and washing all the silverware and pots and pans and everything else the mouse had access to.  Gave everything a good coating of Lysol and then put down new shelf liner.  Whew, a very busy morning.   We also tried to plug the hole for incoming water the best we could with steel wool.  The hole for the drain pipe is under a shelf which we can’t get to.

Peanut is not much of a mouser.  I don’t think he even knows when we have one.

So. that’s how I spent my day.  Hope you had more fun than I did.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Odds and Ends

This has been one of those days when we had several little things to get done and then at the end of the day you wonder what you did all day.

We’ve been busy with our little shuttle for the past several days and haven’t had much time for exercise.  Our bodies can really tell it when we sit around too much.  Exercise was way up there at the top of our list for today.  However, when Gene checked the weather forecast, he found a good chance of rain for the morning and clearing for the afternoon.  We changed our plans around shifting the exercise to after lunch.  As it turned out, we didn’t get any rain all day.  Sometimes I wonder why we even bother with the forecast.

Since we moved the exercise to the afternoon, we wanted something quick.  We did another section of the Rail Trail, this time farther west of any section we have already done.  We were away from the river and back in the woods.  It was a very pleasant walk.  With showers, preparing and eating dinner, and cleaning up the mess afterwards, that just about used up all of the afternoon.

We had errands to run this morning.  First, we made a stop by the hiker hostel to drop off a few things for the hiker box.  A hiker box is an interesting feature about the trail.  Along the entire length of the trail in towns where hikers go in to resupply and clean up, hiker boxes can be found at the hostels and hotels and usually the local outfitters.  It’s just a box (cardboard, plastic, wood, whatever) sitting on the floor or porch where hikers can deposit items they don’t want any longer.  We have seen an old pair of boots, but that’s a rare item.  Usually, there are packages of food--ramen noodles, lipton noodles, instant oatmeal.  Occasionally there are items of clothing--gloves, socks, hats.  Sometimes, you can find equipment--flashlights or head lamps, stuff sacks, plastic cups or bowls.

Most of the stuff in the hiker box is slightly used or new.  Food gets in the box because a hiker just gets tired of eating oatmeal (or whatever) every day. He puts the packages of oatmeal he can’t stand to eat (or is too busy or lazy to cook) in the box and buys pop-tarts (or whatever) for breakfast instead.  A lot of food gets in the box because of the way it’s packaged when purchased.  If you want hot chocolate (or herbal tea) and you want enough for 4 days, but it is packaged in a box of 6 or 8, you toss what you don’t want to carry on your back for the next 75 miles in the hiker box.  The same is true for stuff like batteries and tea light.  Gear and clothing may get in the box because the hiker found he doesn’t use some of the things he’s carrying.

What we took to the hiker box today was a half can of alcohol fuel left over from what Cody didn’t need which was what was left over from what Herb didn’t use, and a half bag of dog food that Belle didn’t want to carry.  The hiker box is sorta like a recycling bin.

After that we made a run to the post office, filled up the truck with fuel, and stopped for a muffin.  Back at the old home place, I did a load of laundry.  That just about used up all the morning.

We got a lot done today, but not that you’d really notice.

That’s all for today.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Well, this is a long story that goes way back to early spring.  It is one of those things that just happened without planning and has been a joy to watch it unfold as the months have passed.  This story is about Cody.

Way back last winter, we made plans to come to New England as the support team for Herb and Dwight.  Because we were doing that, we also decided to do a little hiking ourselves to add a few miles to our existing AT miles.  Those plans put us somewhere along the AT for the entire season.  Wow!  Because we were going to be closely associated with the trial for that long, We decided to follow a few of the thru-hikers via their trail journals.

Like many RVers who share their adventures by means of an on-line travel journal or blog, hikers also post trail journals.  Probably the most popular host for the AT hikers is Trail  I searched through the list of hikers for this year and selected about six to follow.  It wasn’t a totally random selection. I wanted more mature hikers rather than those in their 20s, but other than that distinction, I didn’t know anyone of those selected.   Over time, other hikers were added to my list.  One name I got from the owner of an outfitter in Maryville, TN when I was paying for my purchase, but most of the additional hikers are people we’ve met along the trail ourselves.

Cody is from my original selection--one from a list of hundreds hiking the trail this season.  After I had been following Cody for several weeks I learned she is from Tennessee (Cookeville area) and is a member of Tennessee Trails, our own hiking club.  What a coincidence.  You cannot imagine our surprise when Cody was met by one of her good friends in Hot Springs, North Carolina and that friend turned out to be a friend and high school classmate of Gene’s.  Holy Cow!

Needless to say, we have taken a special interest in Cody.  We’ve been avid readers of her trail journal keeping up with her progress on this 2100-mile journey.  While we were hiking in Northern Virginia, I knew Cody was close at hand.  Because the hikers are unable to post to their journals every day, to pinpoint one of them is very difficult.  But every day that I was on the trail, I had my eye out for Cody.

Because we didn’t hike every day and because we took a week off for a trip to Nashville, and another week off visiting with friends, Cody got past us. It wasn’t until Maryland that we finally ran into her.  Gene got the honors.  He met her on the trail in Maryland just north of Harper’s Ferry.  I figured my chances of seeing Cody were pretty slim after that.

Now that we are sitting in Gorham, New Hampshire, most of those hikers I’ve been following have come into the Whites.  All of a sudden I realized we’d still be here when Cody arrived.  Yesterday, my dream came true.  Cody arrived in Gorham and we met her for dinner.  Stick Walker (and his dog, Belle) was also in town and he joined us for dinner, as well.

This morning, we gave Cody, Stick Walker, and Belle a ride back to the trail.  With hugs, best wishes for success, and goodbyes we watched as they crossed US 2 and headed north.

By being so close to the trail and seeing and speaking with so many of the thru-hikers, we have gained a much deeper appreciation for their level of endurance.  It’s not just a physical feat to walk 2100 miles.  It is physically demanding, of course, and if you’re not in shape when you start, you certainly are within a few weeks.  But it is also a very mentally demanding endeavor.  This may very well be the most challenging aspect of the hike.  It is hard enough for me to keep a positive mental attitude when the gray water tank gets full during my shower, or something I need for dinner is not in the local grocery, or the wind is blowing too hard to put the awning out.  I can’t imagine the mental stamina required to keep moving forward day after day, mile after rocky mile in all kinds of weather with your only creature comforts slung on your back.  They face the challenges of the trail and their own personal fears head on and keep on walking.  The thru-hikers are remarkable people.

Good luck, Cody, Stick Walker, and Belle. Just 297.9 miles to go--”all the way to the top”.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Shuttle Truck

Sometimes your plans change in mid-stream.  That’s what happened to us yesterday.

We went out for a little hike; one that we had done before, actually.  Because it was close and easy, we started southbound on the AT just a mile from our campground where the trail crosses US 2.  Right away after we started, we met a thru-hiker coming down.  We spoke and went on our way.  Shortly, we met another hiker.  Again, we spoke and continued on our way.  After about a mile, we met yet another hiker.  This guy was a real talker, so we chatted for several minutes.  On a whim, we decided, while standing there in the middle of the trail, to walk back to the road with him and take him to town.  It was the right thing to do.  He was a nice guy, he needed a ride to town, we had a truck and really nothing else to do.  Certainly, not anything any more important to do.

When we got back to the parking lot, the second hiker we had met was trying to get a hitch.  We grabbed him and all piled into the truck.  Well, actually, they got in the bed with their packs--they were far too dirty to sit in the truck.  We gave them an ice cold cola and they were happy as larks sipping their cokes and letting the wind blow the smell away.

We dropped them off at the laundry mat (that’s where they wanted to go, not where we decided they needed to go) and we turned to go back to the trail.  On the way out of town we saw a young thru-hiker couple trying to hitch a ride back to the trail.  Since that’s where we were going, we picked them up.  As we pulled into the parking lot to let the young couple out, along came Big and Little Foot, a dad and son hiking team.  Yep, they wanted to get to town, too.

All together, we made three trips into town and shuttled a total of 10 hikers one way or the other.  We never did get our hike finished.

This morning, we went back to the trail.  This time, we had no intention of hiking.  We were there just to run our little shuttle.  About a minute after we pulled up, three hikers came out of the woods.  Today, was not as busy, however.  We took two others plus their two dogs into town, but brought no one back to the trail.

We hung around the parking lot for a couple hours.  About noon, a gentleman and his wife pulled up and unloaded coolers and sacks of food, set out lawn chairs and a folding table.  Trail Magic!!  The fellow had hiked the trail last year.  We often find former thru-hikers doing trail magic.  They were the recipients and now they just want to pay it forward.  Anyway, he and his wife had things well under control food-wise and we knew there wouldn’t be any hiker come out of the woods who wouldn’t want to sit down to that spread.

We came home for our own lunch.  About 2 o’clock we got back in the truck--this time to pick up a couple items from the grocery.  On our way by the trail parking lot, we pulled in to see if anyone was ready for a ride.  They were all too busy eating to think about going to town.  On our way back from the grocery, we stopped again and this time were able to collect a couple hikers needing a ride.

That’s how we’ve spent our past two days.  Not very exciting, but all those hikers really appreciated the ride and we were happy to help them out.

Friday, September 3, 2010


After a couple days of staying inside to avoid the heat, we were anxious to get moving this morning.  We wanted the biggest bang for the buck, so decided to try the Presidential Rail Trail again.

We have been seeing cars parked in a small parking lot at the junction of Routes 16 and 2.  We have also seen both bicyclists and walkers on the bridge over the Androscoggin River at this parking lot.  We parked and walked across the bridge.  There are actually two bridges here.  One long span which crosses both the river and the highway.  Below the long span is a short section which has a ramp from the parking lot and then crosses only the river.  It’s a double decker bridge of which I failed to get a picture.

Across the river, we headed north for about a mile.  This section was not nearly as scenic as the section west of town that we had done earlier.  We were right next to the river which is right next to the highway.  After about a half mile, the river curved a bit and we got an area of trees between us and the river.  The trees helped buffer the road noise, but we could still hear the big rigs.  We could also hear the PA announcements being made at the Ford dealership.

After about a mile, we returned to the bridge.  We wanted to see where the trail went after crossing the highway, so we continued our walk by crossing the upper level of the bridge then heading west.  Again we were walking very near the highway, this time US 2.  We passed through the sand and gravel place, crossed the road to the local state park, walked behind a row of houses, and then under US 2 where we came to a trail junction.  Certainly not very scenic.

We saw very few folks on the trail.  This trail system apparently extends a large number of miles with several side trails and loops.  From what we have been able to discover, it gets most of its use in the winter as a snowmobile trail.  I would suspect cross-country skiers, as well.

We worked up a sweat and decided to call it quits.  We were back home in time for lunch.

We are starting to think about our return trip to Tennessee.  We have a couple more weeks here, then it’ll be time to head south.  Which route to take is the million dollar question.  We had originally planned to visit Washington DC in the spring while in Virginia.  Hiking took up all our time and we never got to DC.  We’ve been toying with that idea for a few days.

Friends, Tony and Diana, are from Northern Virginia, so we gave them a call this afternoon to get their advise on campgrounds and the best way to get into the city.  It was fun talking with Tony.  Diana was pretty tied up with the grandchildren when we called.  We got caught up with them and made plans to get together when we’re in Tennessee.

That about sums up our day.  Not much going on.  At least we got a little exercise.

We have no plans as yet for tomorrow.  The cold front failed to get here, so it will be hot again tomorrow.  We’re just gonna go with the flow and see what happens.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Clean Truck and Putting the AT to Rest

This has been a very productive day.  Gene and I both have gotten big items marked off our “to do” list.

Even though the temperatures were in the mid 80s today, Gene spent most of his day outside washing and polishing the truck.  I don’t know how many weeks that chore has been on his list.  He scrubbed and rubbed and the truck is shining like a new penny.

I spent the day with my photos.  I try my best to organize and label my photos everyday after downloading them to the computer.  Some days I have time and some days I don’t.  It certainly doesn’t take very many skipped days for the task to be monumental.  I got all that up to date except for the last week.

My major project was the Appalachian Trail photos.  Since we have completed our hiking on the AT for this year, I wanted to copy the photos to a flash drive and get them off my computer.  Several weeks ago I had downloaded all our previous AT hiking photos (over the past 20 years) to my computer.  Most of those photos had been paper photographs which I had digitized when we were downsizing.  When they were run through the scanner, most were crooked.  All those photos had to be straightened and cropped, labeled and organized.  I’ve been working on that for several days, but really stuck with it today.

After all day at the computer with breaks only to prepare and eat lunch and dinner, I am happy to say the task is done.  All those photos have been backed up to my external hard drive as well as copied to a flash drive, then deleted from my computer. I feel like I have put the Appalachian Trail to bed and tucked it in.

The weather forecast calls for another hot day tomorrow.  I don’t think we can sit around the house another day, so will probably try to at least get in an exercise walk along the greenway early before the temps soar.  After that, who knows what we’ll find to do.

Well, that was our day.  Pretty boring, but boy, do we feel good about what we got done.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to School

All the little children in the state of New Hampshire get to go back to school today marking the end of the vacation season around here.  I suppose the Labor Day weekend officially marks the end of the season across the nation.  It will make a significant difference in campground availability and a decrease in the number of folks visiting the popular vacation destinations.

Hopefully, the arrival of September will also mean a welcome decrease in the extraordinarily hot temperatures of this summer.  Ironically, today’s forecast for us is the highest it’s been since we got here.  Go figure.

Yesterday, we were busy with chores.  Laundry and grocery--my biggest, most time consuming chores--took most of the day.  We usually try to hike every other day, but with the heat and humidity, we’re going to pass on that activity today.  Gene is contemplating washing and waxing the truck.  I want to work on getting my large library of Appalachian Trail photos organized.

We had a laugh out loud moment yesterday.  As you know, we have our “See All of America the Beautiful” map on the driver side door of the truck.  It’s been there so long we don’t even notice it, but other people do.  It’s not uncommon to approach the truck in a parking lot and see a crowd gathered round.

Yesterday, on the way to the grocery, we pulled up to the window at McDonald’s drive thru.  This was the first window--the one where you pay for food you don’t get until the next window.  The young lady taking the money noticed the map and asked, “have you been to all those countries?”   I’m not sure which was harder--trying not to laugh or keeping the look of shock off our faces.  I sorta chalked that one up to age even though she wasn’t that young--maybe early twenties.

We pulled up to the next window to get our “cups coffee”.  This lady was much older--old enough to get senior coffee herself.  She noticed the map, as well.  Her comment, “Wow, you’ve just about seen the whole world.”  Holy cow!  Makes you sorta question the wisdom of a democratic system of one person, one vote.

That’s it for this morning.  I’m gonna try to get back on my regular schedule of posting in the evening.  We’ll see how the day goes.