Day Eleven Continued: 8/17/15: US 4 to the Former Tucker Johnson Shelter Area.
I ran across the three lanes of traffic on US 4 and found empty trail magic when I got there. Now, it was one mile to the Maine Junction. Less than 500 miles to Katahdin for my NoBo Thru Hiker friends. Isis and I fought up the trail. My feet were hurting and she was being distracted and defiant as well as tired. I was getting tired also and wanted to go home again. So, I stopped. I fixed my feet as best I could in my muddy shoes and then I kept going in spite of wanting to go home. I kept going up that steep trail to the Maine junction. I would not see any of my NoBo friends that were behind me any more. So, I said a silent good luck to Tumbles and Scout, Rigga, Boston, and Yeti, and 4B as well. I would no longer hear Tumbles laugh and say, "You know what? Today, I think I'll walk". I made the turn down the Long Trail solo. Not another soul around. It was so quiet I could hear my own thoughts. It was very spooky but we opted to stay at Tucker Johnson. The tent site was right on the trail so, I figured someone might walk by. It was full of bugs too so, I ate and we went directly in the tent. It was an early night for sure. Early to bed and early to rise meant more miles and right now there is 11.2 planned.
Day 12: 8/18/15: Former Tucker Johnson Shelter to David Logan Shelter.
As I looked around that night, everything is dirty. I'm dirty and so is the dog. I have hot spots on my feet but not enough to make me hate the day. Today was a hard day. I got going from Tucker Johnson fine but I was sluggish as the day wore on. The humidity is a little unreal for August or maybe not? I'm officially on just the LT and it's so quiet. There is hardly anyone out here now. We managed the trails pretty good over rocks and roots with a few streams for Isis to drink from. I wanted to take it slow today. Isis always has other ideas and is full of energy that she burns so quick. It was 3.6 to second breakfast at Rolston Rest. and in-between there were active logging roads. With people actually logging. I encountered some of the worst mud in this section and it smelled worse than me.
So, we press on and I remain conscious of my feet at this point. We make it to Rolston Rest and I send out a quick message about my pick up while I am thinking of it and have service. My phone is dying but I am hoping to charge it tonight. It was good to hear from mother and I think at this point, I was finally home sick or ready for a shower. Two tough days today and tomorrow and could use encouragement. I sat at the shelter and spied and jar of peanut butter... It was just sitting there and no one was around. So, I find my spoon. It's good and I have 4 big spoonfuls plus Isis gets one too. We get ready for the next 5.5 miles push to telephone gap with more mud but no more logging. We gain some elevation but nothing like Killington. I enjoy the little overlook views but it's hazy today. I'm also discovering that I can't keep taking pictures of the same trail over and over so, the dog is now my subject. And flowers. I pass the time thinking of hiking The Whites in winter. I am also now aware that this is the toughest thing I have ever done in my life. What was I thinking at almost 43, I was thinking that this would be a good way to grow. I was right.
The 5.5 miles seems to take forever with lots of ups and downs. I'm going over a ridge and the drop downs into the gaps are thin trails that put my feet at awkward angles. I struggled here a lot between the heat and the trail. We stop on a rock for lunch and I know I need to break more. I need to remember that I have plenty of time. Continuing on, it's more ups and downs into and out of gaps. It does not seem to follow my map which shows a pretty straight forward curve. I'm taking extra turns it seems and I'm getting more than a little angry as every turn I think I'm there an I am not. I am wondering if I need to re-think my 13 mile day and really I just need to remember to slow down and think as well as rest. Stay the course. Soon, I run into a school group heading to the same shelter. I hope it's quiet is all I can think. The turn for the new Boston trail takes forever and I swear the trail threw in a few other twists too. We finally hit the spur to the shelter and it's a down trail. So, we are there in no time. I take the first site by the water source and set up camp. It was a small site so that would leave the bigger ones for the school group. I get water and it's really good. Almost Garfield spring quality good. The school groups filter in and I talk with Mike T and Jonny Appleseed at the shelter for a while. As I get tired, I crawl into my tent and hope for a quiet night and a better tomorrow.
Day 13: 8/19/15: David Logan Shelter to Brandon Gap
Today was hopefully the last of the long days. I was planning 13 miles over several peaks and it was going to be tough. My feet are already shredded and I have wrapped them in bandages I had intended for the dog. This morning started out great at least. We hit the trail after packing up around 7:30am. The walk to Sunrise shelter for lunch was pretty flat through most of the gaps. It was a decent walk up high with little views here and there. The landscape was still hazy but the breeze was nice and very welcome. Isis and I leap frogged the school group of high school kids. They had stayed a David Logan with us last night and seemed to be handling it well. There were several bridges to cross and some had water where some had dried up. At 11:30am we arrived at Sunrise, making good time today for a rest and for lunch. We were joined by the school kids too and had a chance to talk. Some seemed to be struggling but others were doing quite well. After a nice rest, we set out around noon time. Within no time, we arrived at the road in Brandon Gap. Next came the tough part.
Division Six Completed!