Carl A. Newhall Lean-to [mile 1097.0; SOBO 78.6]
Well, there it is. As of today, I’ve walked a hair more than half the trail. Yay! To celebrate, I walked some, and ate a delicious PowerBar and camped earlier than I’d intended to. Just another day at the office!
I think a squirrel just divebombed my tent. It sounded like a rat on a trampoline.
Last night was cold! I mean fleece hat and puffy cold, and if my gloves had been handy (no pun intended) I would have worn them, too. And all day today was blissfully chilly and breezy, with no humidity to speak of (and no bugs!). I wore long sleeves for most of the day, and here I am at dinnertime in my puffy under my quilt. It feels like fall, or maybe spring, given the bright sun and the cloudless blue sky. Perfect hiking weather, and I heard it’s supposed to be like this for the next few days. That’ll be a great way to finish the Hundred, if that report’s correct. (I might have to wear long pants tomorrow though. Or maybe not; there’s a big river fording in about five miles).
White Cap wasn’t bad at all: a steep rocky mountain. I do think my definition of ‘hard’ has been permanently altered; also, I think SOBOs may have had it a little easier this time. Going up, we had a few hundred steps in the mountainside. On the other side, they had a steep rocky trail. But it wasn’t Katahdin steep—ie, vertical. The whole area reminded me of Roan Mountain and the Roan highlands—dense pine and deep shadows and silence.
White Cap was above treeline, so no stealthing (but stunning panoramic views of all those lakes and hills). I’m going to assume that’s the rule around here, and plan on doing my stealthing in the gaps when I need to.
After White Cap came two more mountains. Neither was above treeline at the top, but man, were they steep, particulalry coming down. My right ankle is feeling a little strained (that’s the one that got tweaked on Katahdin), and my bad knee is throbbing. Some wise people have pointed out that even though I’m in trail shape, I’m in Virginia trail shape. I haven’t climbed anything big since Mt. Rogers, I don’t think… have I? Anyway, the three today were much steeper than Mt. Rogers. I have to ease my joints in as though I’m starting fresh. It would suck to have come this far and have to quit because of an injury.
Today’s score: Toads 1, snakes 1. It almost feels like a sports thing, doesn’t it? I give the edge to the toads. The snake was a beautiful caramel-colored specimen, but the toad was massive—the biggest I’ve seen yet.
And speaking of massive…. I was just starting up the third mountain, just past a little tenting area called the Sidney Tappan Campsite, when I heard a big rustle and a sound like a horse snorting. There, not ten feet from the trail in the trees and brush, was a moose. Ohmygods, that’s one enormous animal. HUGE. When I say it was ten feet from the trail, I mean its tail was ten feet from the trail and its antlers were twenty. A big, huge, ginormous male, eating salad. It looked at me then calmly went back to gnawing the brush just like a cow. Then it lifted its head and started munching on a tree. Its nose (snout? muzzle?) was as big as my backpack. What incredible animals.
That made my day. 🙂 The best halfway present the trail could have given me.
Then came the last bit of wicked steepness. That’s when I decided my ankle was on the edge of being injured. I might tape it tomorrow. I don’t know; I hate to start taping things a week in. It doesn’t give you anywhere else to go. Plus I’d rather have it build up strength on its own.
I looked at the book, and I guess I’ll be hitting Monson first thing Thursday morning. (I could squeeze in there Wednesday night, but with the drive required for resupply, I’d have to stay there Thursday anyway.) The plan is to try for Shaw’s, get everything done on Thursday, and get back on the trail on Friday morning. If the terrain gets easier in the next couple of days, I’ll try to move it up a day; but I think this is where the fun really starts. I’m not sure I’ll see easier terrain until New Jersey.