AT 2022 – Day 20: 16.9 miles (223.4 total)

The days are flying by. This sabbatical is like sand running through my hands, please don’t go too fast!!

I woke after a partial night’s sleep in the tent I had haphazardly thrown up in the trail in the middle of the night. I’m tired, but not ridiculously so.

I leave the shelter right after Gormet, we have a lofty day ahead of us with lots of climbing. Today we would cross the Saddlebacks! This has one of the largest alpine zones in Maine, the biggest ski resort, and we’d be walking on granite slabs and above treeline for almost three miles. Wowee!

But first we had to go down, way down, to go up, and then up some more. Gormet and I pass each other at breaks, and curse the bouldering over snacks. More full-body hiking, and more than a few grumbles from nobo hikers. This stuff is overwhelming.

The climb up Popular Ridge was stout, and I was stepping carefully in my chacos when some day hikers passed and commented on me wearing my sandals in such a demanding section. “It forces me to slow down and be intentional with every step,” I explained. “It really works for me.” They nodded in understanding and we kept on.

I wore my sandals though the climb up Little Saddleback too. This is where I had to regularly use my hands to “hike.” One poor nobo had a big gash on his face. We really are very close to danger out here. On one of my falls today I stabbed the sharp end of my trekking pole in my thigh…luckily it was a soft stab and I didn’t bleed…but I did have a few new scrapes on my legs that turned red. Ooofta.

Then the top! Wow, oh wait, there was one more down and up before the top, but still, it was amazing!

I’m so glad I got here on a good weather day. I spent the afternoon walking with a grin. Alpine zones are such a treat: small little plants carpet the ground, tiny little pine trees sprout through cracks in the rocks…and the rock: thick and rolling slabs of the sparkly stuff – sticky enough that you can walk on some steep angles without sliding. And the views 😍

On top of the biggest Saddleback I ran into some other sobos. Our group had caught up to the group that left the Roadhouse the day before us.

We all hobbled down the last two miles to a shelter together. Those two miles had been stretched into four by the demands of the day.

Then camp. I pitched my tent, so excited for dinner and a full night’s sleep.

Sweet dreams are made of these.

Today’s stats:

11 hours, 17 miles, 5722′ ascent, 4695 desent

6 thoughts on “AT 2022 – Day 20: 16.9 miles (223.4 total)

  1. You rocked it! And on beautiful rock, too. Way to go! Also, that was a good response to the Chaco doubters. 🙂 Love the photo of you at the summit in your PRAS dress. Stylin’!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Purchasing the corridor through Saddleback mountain was quite a conservation story and a tribute to the gutsy Pam Underhill who took on the AT Project Manager job for the NPS after my Dad. I remember my dad telling me about the controversy and looked it up in the excellent book called The Appalachian Trail, a biography. By Philip D’Anieri. It’s an audiobook too if you want to check it out!
    What a hike you had over that alpine summit😊

    Liked by 1 person

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