Thursday, September 13, 2007

Update - Stratton, Maine (Mile 1986.2)

Maine's Boggy Beauty

After drying out in Rangely on Monday, the following two days en-route to Stratton have been the most challenging conditions we've faced on the trip.

Our 9am climb over the Saddleback Mountains on Tuesday (9/11) was above treeline and consisted of several hours of slippery steep rock slabs in howling wind. We hiked through rain-laden clouds that deposited their moisture as they whipped past. In such conditions we struggled to make more than one miler per hour. Although the temperatures were probably in the high 40s, the wind chill numbed our hands and reminded us to keep moving to retain our body heat.

Perham Stream

I did not bother with a photo during that stretch, in the interest of the camera's and our own well-being. All told, we did hike a surprising 15 miles that day and saved our insulating clothing for camp, where we were cozy through the night.

We heard later from our friends Josh and Sara (aka He-Man and She-ra), that by time they arrived at the same summit 4 hours later, the gusts were strong enough to move a 175lb person (maybe 70mph). They retreated to treeline where they huddled in their tent for 18 hours, before heading 6 miles back into Rangely to regroup.

A Quiet Morning Moment

The following morning was difficult mentally to put our toasty feet into cold, wet socks & shoes and then head out into the same blustery and soaking conditions. Fortunately our day was entirely below treeline and we were pleasantly surprised when the sun pierced the clouds by 10am. By the afternoon, the winds were strong and the clouds had broken up allowing views from the Crocker Mountains. With that encouragement we continued on all the way into Stratton by 5pm where we found a comfy hotel room at the White Wolf Inn.

View from Crocker Mountain

It's been almost three weeks since we took a complete day of rest (our "days off" doing trail work didn't count...) and we've been feeling the effects. Lauren's right ankle has been increasingly bothering her with an overuse injury that is probably a shin splint.

Yesterday it took her an above-the-doctor-recommended dose of Advil to make it into town. Today she is completely off of her feet resting in our hotel room. We may take another day off tomorrow for good measure, but will make that call in the morning.

Colors are Beginning

Now that the rain has passed through, our skies are clear blue and the temperatures distinctly crisp. Fall is upon us in the northeast, and the first changing colored leaves are beginning to poke through.

It is difficult to believe that we are now 187.8 miles from the northern terminus of the trail, Katahdin.

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