Thursday, July 4, 2019
Start: Moose Lookout Shelter
End: Crider Shelter
Miles: 24.5 (+~1 mile for water, town food, shelter side trail)
Elevation gain: 4357′
So after getting to bed late (11:15pm), I didn’t sleep well due to the heat, and then I was woken up at 4:30am by the mosquitoes. They were everywhere and only got worse. After 15 minutes, I just decided to accept the inevitable and packed up. Between last night and this morning, I used up almost all of my bug spray, so I ended up buying more when I traveled through Washington.
The mosquitoes have made this trip very, very difficult. Even hiking at 3 MPH, I have mosquitoes in my ears, all over my body, and in my face. It makes resting impossible and I push myself very hard, because if resting means more bugs, then it’s not resting. The bug spray helps by maybe 75%, but that still honestly makes it just barely tolerable; I hate bugs and I particularly hate bugs in my ears. The sound drives me crazy. I’ve also pulled 4 ticks off of my legs; and my lower legs have been scratched up by thorns, which has led to my legs being itchy AF.
I started off by hiking at 5:30am, and made it roughly halfway (to the town of Washington) by 9:30am, where I stopped for 45 minutes to drink lots of Gatorade and have second breakfast (bagel & cream cheese, cheddar omelet, toast). It’s so warm today (upper 80s) that it’s been a challenge to keep up with my body’s requirement for water/hydration. I’ve managed to do okay, but not great. Not being able to take many breaks is rough, but I forced myself to stop and filter water.
I went over a handful of upper-2000s mountains today, but honestly couldn’t make myself care about them much. The elevation gain was weird; it was mostly short (under 30 minute) climbs, with mediocre views and the promise of going down and needing to come back up again. And there were horrible bugs at the top of every summit, except Pitcher – that wasn’t too bad and so I ate a snack and hung out there for a while. Also, a lot of today’s “hiking” was walking on dirt or gravel roads; I was glad for it as a slightly-less-buggy alternative to monotonous muddy-forest walking, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. I can walk faster on the road, but it’s also harder on my body.
I arrived at my destination shelter by 3:45pm; I definitely dragged my heels the last few miles, because I was afraid the shelter would be super buggy. Thankfully, there are some flies here and one or two mosquitoes and midges, but it’s a totally manageable amount (for now, anyway). There’s also in intermittent breeze, which is a nice bonus. But it’s also hot as blazes today, so I’m still sweating while just hanging out.
While I did a lot of miles today, they worked out to be about 9 hours of hiking, which is fast. Apparently I just need a mosquito horde to chase me everywhere…. please god no. That is perhaps my idea of hell.
It’s 6:30pm and I’ve had a nice leisurely dinner. I strung out my laundry line and dried my clothes out. I’m excessively blogging because I’m lonely and bored, and don’t have cell service.
It’s hard training for the JMT. I don’t know how hard to push, or for how long. There isn’t equitable hiking in the northeast – there just isn’t. The weather, temperatures, humidity, trail conditions, trail maintenance, and style of elevation gain are all completely different. And as of the last few weeks, I’m so done with backpacking in these buggy conditions. I can do a lot of things, but buggy is a hard no. Here out, I have a few hikes in the White Mountains planned and then it’s just local day hikes, before I head out for the JMT. I struggle with finding a good balance – I want to be in top condition for this but I also don’t want to exhaust myself before I even begin.