Hey folks, Goose here, it's been quite some time since I've had a moment to sit down and relax, but I couldn't wait any longer; I simply had to fill everyone in on the goings on pre and post AT. It's not all that surprising that life has sped up exponentially since finishing the trail, but I hadn't expected the transition to be so seamless. Granted, we didn't allot much space for down time between finishing on the 15th and starting work on the 17th but the change has occured relatively smoothly compared to the coarse nature normally associated with abrupt transitions. I'm convinced the fluidity is mostly due to the condition of our bodies upon completion because physically we were too exhausted to really feel rested so it's like we never stopped. However, it's mostly due to the wonderful jobs we stumbled upon thanks to our unique journey along the way. Regardless of the reasoning behind our smooth transition we are living in the White Mountain National Forest and finally getting a few days off to reflect.
Reflecting on the past 30 days, however, has been a very sobering experience. A month ago today Cap and I were trudging through our future place of employment, The White Mountains, and facing a near impossible goal; covering 380 miles in 2 weeks. We were plagued with fatigue and disease, but comitted to completion. So, without hesitation or regard for self preservation we began our trek across New Hampshire towards southwestern Maine. The White Mountain National Forest is like nothing I've ever experienced in my entire life. I always considered the real mountains of the U.S. to start west of the Mississippi, but that assumption was simply based in lack of knowledge. We soon realized just how rugged and gorgeous mountains on the east coast could be. We faced new challenges daily from hiking until midnight for the first time ever to traversing the entire Presidential Range in one day (a 25 mile+ feat). We were hiking very long hours and covering vast distances, but fighting off the fatigue with a determined and youthful disposition. Little did we know that the next 14 days of our lives would be some of the toughest we would ever experience.
Almost every thru-hiker we talked to said that the one portion of the trail that inevitably slows folks down is southwestern Maine. Being very dedicated, and just a bit stubborn, we strode head first into Maine with a conviction I had never experienced. Well y'all, folks were absolutely right. The northernmost state on the AT had introduced itself as a gentlemen, with a stern subtlety that demanded respect, and we obliged. In fact, our first two hours spent in the state were accompanied by freezing wind and rain pouring from a thunderstorm that had been hounding us all day. As soon as we crossed from New Hampshire into Maine the persuing thunderstorm, as if finally receiving some divine permission, began deluge that forced us to stop 5 miles before our anticipated goal. Had our perspectives not been jaded by intense commitment we would've interpreted that first night as a premonition for days to come. However, we did not; therefor we continued to push ourselves past our limits. The second day in Maine we finally met what is dubbed, "The Hardest Mile On The Trail". Mahoosic Notch is a mile long boulder field which forces you to climb in ice covered crevasses and over ever expansive caverns while constantly watching your step and grip. 2 hours later we finally made it out of the treacherous jungle gym for adults and faced our next challenge. Mahoosic Arm is immediately after the Notch and is a 3200ft climb over 1.7 miles of intense slab crawling. To paint an accurate picture for folks at home we were scrambling from exposed root to exposed root as we made our way up the side of the mountain. Now, we were lucky in the sense that many people had warned us of Mahoosic Notch and Arm so we knew that we were headed for some tough terrain. What we didn't know was that the rest of Maine, that no one mentions, was just as challenging in different ways. So for the next 13 days we would continue facing new, unnamed adversities daily. However, the real challenge wasn't so much in the terrain as it was in our bodies.
Unbeknownced to us we had both been hiking with very serious illnesses for over two weeks and still had two more weeks of intensity to follow. I'll spare y'all the gruesome details but the moral of the story is that I had contracted two different types of Giardia and Cap developed Bells Paulsy along with very severe physical and mental fatigue thanks to Lyme Disease. We were pushing so hard every single day it was almost impossible to determine our actual symptoms. So we did all that we could daily to reduce our aches and pains, but the reality we soon faced was that the hurt wasn't stopping so we bit the bullet and kept moving forward.
As difficult as each day was we were constantly encouraged and inspired by all the people who had helped us get that far. I can't imagine enduring all the struggles of the past month without the help of everyone supporting Packing It Out. Now that things are beginning to settle down, so to speak, we have much more time to continue updating everyone on things to come.
A few noteworthy things coming up for us include: frequent Packing It Out excursions along rugged trails in the White Mountains, interviews with Valleys News in Lebanon, NH about our most recent adventure, and continued cooperation with Granite Gear and all of our supporters to facilitate future endeavors for PIO. Please stay posted as we update our blog and social media outlets on a more frequent basis and thanks again for your continued support of PackingItOut.