Sunday, April 29, 2007

On the AT - West Hartford to Connecticut River, VT/NH line

April 29, 2007 | Miles: 9.3
Start: VT 14, West Hartford
End: Connecticut River, VT/NH border
A “cloudy bright” day on the trail, with scattered showers.
The day managed to be better weather-wise than the soggy drive over would have indicated, which was good! Ryan was ready for mutiny when I woke him up at 6:00am, and a super rainy, muddy day on the trail wouldn’t have made things any better! We parked our car in Hanover, and Steve from Apex Shuttles picked us up to take us to the start in West Hartford. What a nice guy, and even better that we didn’t have to drive two cars over.
The trail was nice and mellow, winding through the open woods of Vermont, and relatively dry. The hillsides were starting to come alive with the spring wildflowers—rue anemone, trout lilies and trillium just starting to bud, yellow violets—and with wildlife as well. We saw several turkeys, a woodpecker, chickadees and nuthatches, my first two salamanders of the season (OK, they're really red efts), as well as a big owl silently gliding by. Very cool. We had lunch at Happy Hill Shelter (what a great name!) and continued our wander through the woods, finally ending with a road walk through Norwich, VT, under I-91 and back to the car. A quick hike too—6 hours of driving for 4 hours of hiking :-) But another good day on the trail… it’s good to be out!

Misty, drizzly, seemed like it wanted to clear.
Brief synopsis: Misty, cloudy day. Mellow hike, couple minor ups and downs. Lots of bird and flower sections, which I’m sure Danielle has chronicled. Overall: a great day.
Few more details: Section hiking is kind of a pain. It’s so much easier to keep heading north…guess I shouldn’t have hurt my back in ’05. But there are plenty of great folks out there who can help with rides. So, only one car today, and one ride.
Other than that, my knee felt pretty good today. It didn’t feel good all week, so I was pretty skeptical. But it held up great. It only seems to hurt walking on flat. Who knows? More stretching and more exercises during the week, so Danielle can continue her quest to kill me.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

On the AT - VT/NH border to Lyme-Dorchester Road, NH

April 22, 2007 | Miles: 8.9
Start: Connecticut River, VT/NH border
End: Three Mile Road
Our first foray on the AT this year. With the snow from the recent Nor’Easter up in the Whites, I figured we might have better luck over near Hanover, where the trail is at lower elevations. And I was right. No real snow to speak of. Of course, we had the whole gamut of trail conditions…You name it... we had it... wet, dry, muddy, mud with ice underneath, icy, snowy patches, swampy, little blowdowns, big blowdowns, even bigger blowdowns and a stretch of total devastation right after Trescott Road, where the blowdowns were continual for approx. 200 yards or more. It was truly amazing how many trees were blocking the trail. What should have taken 3 minutes took 45 instead. But despite that, it was a great day to be out. Bright and sunny, and the temps were in the 70s! It felt like summer instead of mid-April :-) The trail was easy to follow through town, where all the students were out enjoying the sun on the Dartmouth quad, and the trail was pretty mellow all day, going through a wide range of forest. No wildflowers out yet, but some trout lily leaves were poking up through the leaf litter near Three Mile Road. Spring has arrived!

Two things you need to know: 1. Danielle is trying to kill me, and 2. I have an impinged infrapatellar fat pad in my right knee. Second one first: After thinking for a few years that I have a problem with my IT band, I’ve finally confirmed that it is indeed my fat pad that is the issue. It’s just what it sounds like. It’s there to keep the bones from rubbing together. Mine just gets pinched by my knee cap against my femur (I think) from time to time. Short story: It’s a shooting pain on the outside of my right knee. Now the first point: Danielle keep dragging me outside in all weather in all seasons. I really think she’s trying to kill me.
Anyway, today was our first time back on the AT since last year, and we’re hoping to cover a lot of miles this year. This first weekend was a test of my knee. Overall, it held up pretty well today. A little pain towards the end of the day, but not as bad as I’ve felt it in the past. So hopefully my exercises are paying off.
Today was all about blowdowns. The Nor’easter last week did some major damage. The trail maintainers haven’t been out yet so we were dodging, ducking dipping, diving and dodging all over the place, Once section was so bad, it may just be easier to reroute the trail.
All in all, a nice hike to start the season.

April 23, 2007 | Miles: 9.2
Start: Three Mile Road
End: Lyme-Dorchester Road
After a yummy meal at Lui Lui’s in Lebanon and a good sleep at the Econo Lodge in White River Junction, we hit the hip coffee shop in Hanover for a quick breakfast, and headed back to Three Mile Road. Ryan’s knee was not feeling great, and we weren’t quite sure how far we’d get, but we decided to give it a go and headed up to South Moose Mountain. His knee held in there, and we tromped through the mud and water along the trail up to the summit. Nice views from the top. The trail was a bit snowy as we wandered down to Moose Mountain Shelter, where we took a short break for stretching. Nice spot! Saw a few clumps of wood sorrel as we descended from North Moose Mountain, their flowers pushing up through the leaves. Our first spring flowers! Big descent off North Moose, and then another big, long, steep climb up Holts Ledge, which left us winded! And boy was it hot out again! My car was reading in the 80s on the way home. Holts Ledge is a peregrine falcon nesting spot, so we couldn’t get close to the edge. Managed to miss the left-hand turn of the AT off the ledges, and instead took a small tour of the top of the Skiway :-) A steep descent, and back to the car by 3:30.

One thing I failed to mention from yesterday was the mud. In retrospect, that’s not a big deal because it was much worse today. My boots are completely caked with goo. The trail right now is really a mixed bag: dry, mud, more mud, muddy water, clear water, snow, muddy mud, sucking mud and MUD. But, hey, it’s April.
My legs were definitely tired from yesterday, and my knee was grouchy from the beginning. I went back to my trusty knee brace today, and it worked really well. The brace isn’t specifically designed to relive the pain for my condition, but it works pretty well. The best part is that I was able to complete the hike. Today was the hottest day so far this year. Easily into the 80’s. I nearly melted on one of the climbs. I don’t really want to know what thruhikers think of the climb, because they probably don’t even remember it. But, I thought about sitting in the middle of the trail and waiting for the wood nymphs to carry me away.
Despite the blood, sweat and mud, it was a great two days on the trail. Looking forward to more of Danielle’s attempts to kill me in the coming months.