I can feel my legs coming in.
My speed this morning was helped by the rolling flat terrain. At morning break I came to a stream and met a bunch of new hikers. More sobos! They seem like a fun bunch and I flip flopped with them most of the morning.
The build up to the day are the Bigalow Mountains. One of the peaks is named Bigelow Avery for the man who had the idea for the Appalachian Trail. It’s rumored to be a very difficult range.
And it is!
The approach up Little Bigelow was deceiving.
I had stopped for lunch and a cool down at the lean-to on Little Bigalow, and the trail had been gentle and well-graded. At the time, I had been thinking of going to a campsite between the highest peaks, but I was also keeping my eye on the weather. Heavy rain and thunderstorms were due to start this afternoon. Climbing a steep difficult mountain over 4,000′ in the rain at the end a 15-mile day might not be a good idea. (It never is)
From the shelter I go up, but the trail is short and easy (relatively speaking! I’m comparing to Katadhin here…) to the top of Little Bigelow. So short and easy that I let my guard down and shifted mindsets. Too soon. #^$ got real.
I had already decided to stop at the bottom of Little Bigelow where there were some campsites 0.3 off the trail. I had turned on the computer to check the weather and it was coming in sooner than expected. Ok, quick check of the elevation profile (down) and I went into end-of-day-chill mode.
Just a nice meander through the trees to camp, right?
Welcome to full body hiking. It was an acrobatic descent, and I suddenly realized that I was EXHAUSTED.
Steeps so steep you had to throw the poles aside and lower yourself down. Steps so high that you weren’t sure how short hikers managed. And all of this would be extra terrible in the rain. Yikes!
I kept picking away at the boulder problems ahead of me and at one point switched to my chacos because my left little toe was screaming at me (the only one with a blister….kind of proud about that).
I wasn’t there yet, but the rain wasn’t either.
“Step by step. That’s all you can do. One step at a time. Don’t get lazy.”
I repeated my mantras to myself again and again and the legs got more and more stumbly.
Finally the campsite sign. 0.3 off trail. Uggg! The trail in was like a secret handshake: complicated. It involved caves and more moves than I had left.
I peeked around, there weren’t a ton of options. I chose a wooden tent platform thinking that if it did rain alot that I wouldn’t be stuck in a puddle. I set the tent up before it really started coming down and made my nest.
The only thing that sucked though was when it did start raining, the water splashed off the platform and into my tent. Still wet…but not soaking.
Then my back did a little twinge and I got real worried about it. Just what I need! But I can’t focus on that yet. It was 10 miles to town where I could dry out and probably take a zero day (my back!), but it was over the most demanding climb to date since the big K, and it was going to be wet and rainy.