Wreckage v2: Broken Bridges

Had a lot of inconsequentially broken bridges in WA, but this one’s got TK on it which counts for a lot. I rarely get a subject to photo, and I’m not well versed taking selfies. His pack is super long with how he stashes his sleeping pad there. Maybe I should play around with camera timers more…

You can barely make out that bit of boardwalk sunken under the flooding from a mid-winter thaw. Not sure if it normally crosses a smaller stream, but even before submersion it would’ve been woefully inadequate for this span.

This is less a bridge and more an extended boardwalk along the bank of a river. The sections of which are undeveloped seem very prone to flood. I routed thru the woods several times within a few miles of here to avoid the calf deep plus wading while temperatures hold near freezing.

At first glance this bridge in the North Cascades doesn’t really look broken, it might’ve had some ambitious architect, intent on making a statement about trail fixtures. As you close on it though:

You find it is actually collapsed into the water. Awaiting a nice spring flood to wash it downvalley where it may find new life as driftwood, surely inspired by the legions of hiker trash who cross it each season. Atleast someone placed a rock in the middle to help keep your feet dry.

Winter v1

The first snow of this fall, just south of Crater Lake. It thawed fully after two days and then we had temperatures in the 90s, but here I had zigged when I should’ve zagged and found myself on the wrong side of the mountain. Nothing a little more walking wouldn’t fix, but the real trick is how much it cuts into your night hiking ability to have frantically melting snow fogging out your headlamp’s beam.

The thaw is often worse than the freeze, and this cycle repeated itself far beyond its welcome in the upper peninsula of MI. Would’ve much preferred to cross these bridges while frozen, rather than going way up stream or balance beaming across the deep cold waters.

Right after my return to trail following the new year, I was greeted by light snow. I had skipped the mildest part of the winter and had much yet to come for the year, and not much farther ahead I would cross paths with a veritable herd of deer in the suburbs of Dayton, OH. There must have been more than four dozen of them, their tread left the ground bare of all but a few motes of snow.

From way back, atop Blue Mountain in GA only a few days into the trip and already dealing with snow. That’s what you get for starting the AT in February. This was mere hours before Nemo and I met Rescue for the first time, and he got us a ride into town courtesy of the Fire Rescue Crew.

Gear Sprawls v2: All splayed out on the western front

Tarn Camp, WA

A somewhat rare view of my 2 person camp setup, with TK gone I had a whirlwind of gear juggling, first mailing my solo kit home, and then within a couple weeks having to coordinate to get my solo kit back. Also pictured, the wonderful Mica lake in the early morning, firmly in the halo of the morning’s alpenglow.

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Ready to go the morning after staying at an abandoned cabin, which used to serve a tungsten mine in the Pasayten wilderness. Shared it with a couple who had thru-hiked the PNT the previous year, and with Elmo an older thru-hiker who had been accompanying me for a few days, till I turned south.

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Another shot of my pack at a beach, but no snow this time and the weather was wonderful here. Took a couple hours off from hiking to go swimming and watch people zip around the far side of the lake on their motor boats. Blue pack’s time may be running dry, and I may have even replaced it by the time this goes up, getting lots of holes in the exterior pockets and the webbing of the harness if abrading apart, its hard to complain too much though, I’ve carried it almost 5000 miles at this point.

Bivvy atop Abercrombie Mtn, WA

Having just woken up on Abercrombie Mountain for sunrise, a year out to the day from my Katahdin summit under similar circumstances. (Although I didn’t camp on top of Katahdin, don’t worry all you Baxter State park reps who scour the internet. I just climbed up under cover of darkness.) Abercrombie used to have a lookout tower on it and most of the wood components of this otherwise stone bivvy were probably salvaged from it. Mostly what’s left are the concrete footings and a little bit of twisted metal. The stones were all really flat, so it was actually super comfortable to stay in there, although I’m well insulated from ground conditions by my sleeping pad.

 

 

Nothing is Ever Allowed v1

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It may not be a public trail, but that must go somewhere. I also like the fine print. Definitely not a toilet…

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They don’t look closed?

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This one is just a shame, an earthen dam would make an awesome sledding hill.
 

Levity v1: Or Emoji’s in their Natural Habitat

Doubt there’ll ever be a v2 of this one, but there’s a certain levity to finding little bits of personality on the trail when you are working hard.

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Its like the trail itself is smiling on you, right before the next climb.  You pretty much gotta smile; even if you walk for a living, compared to most everyone else, you are still on vacation.

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I’m not sure what a DEhA is, but it made me cackle like a hatter when I found it. Maybe there’s something in ME’s aquifers. The humor might not translate well to text from my head.

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Whoever wrote this was at exactly the same point in their arc on the AT as I was when I passed it. In retrospect it had a lot worse to get, and whatever I was complaining about at the time would probably be a joke to me now.

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There were plenty of little bits of crank-poetry along the trail, many of which describe some of the trail personalities to a T. This one scratched my funny bone at the time and got saved, many others were lost to my camera.

Wreckage v1

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Trail-side wreckage in the hundred mile wilderness, of the most common sort. An old flipped pickup, the must’ve been a road nearer here in the past. Did some minor detective work around this one; there were faded letters on the door, spelling out “Allen General Contractor” and “Hampton ME, 51AL210” I could be wrong on those numbers though. There were seven characters, so it could’ve maybe been a phone number?

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Another car, this one in the UP of MI, mostly notable for its nice coloration and lack of wheels. It was nearby Au Sable lighthouse in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (NLS)

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Here’s a more interesting one, on the Northville-Placid Trail. It’s a shorter trail, (clocking in around 130 miles) and I only spent about 30 on it before turning westward and mostly road-walking out of the ADK. Someone probably hid this canoe on the banks for later use, only for the river to flood and bash it around some trees. At least that’s what I hope happened, it’d be pretty rough if people were paddling about in it when it got busted up.

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This one’s really cool, in case you can’t immediately tell, but this is an airplane, crashed in the Mountains of VT, on Mt. Abraham. Happened in the 70s, all three passengers made it out alive. Its really blown to bits back there though the wings are a short distance away, and by now the forest has really grown up around, and inside of it.

Sculpture v1

I’ve passed thru a couple sculpture gardens on the North Country Trail, the first one caught me off guard as I was walking through the woods and found this:
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A horrifying effigy of a horse with human hands bursting from its neck to deliver unto you a human (?) heart. Once you realize you are in a sculpture garden and not transgressing unto a grove which cultists use for their activities… then its okay.

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This first garden had some delightfully unsettling pieces. like the horse above, but also these masks sitting on stakes, serving as a warning to all those who hike the NCT thru NY. Without context and coming thru at night could’ve been real weird.

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While this boat may not have been in a formal sculpture garden, or be as unsettling without context, it still counts as sculpture. Located on a little bit of roadwalk soon after the NCT merges with the Buckeye Trail (BT) in OH. It even has portholes! If it was after dark and I came upon this I’d be half tempted to sleep inside, but I guess then I’d be the creepy one.

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Pushing the dial even further from fear into whimsy, here’s a couple from Lākenenland in MI’s upper peninsula! Not 100% on the story of this place, and it’ll probably feature pretty prominently in a future trip log. This place is really cool though, the guy even maintains a pretty nice shelter there too. (with a door, and cots!)

P.S. a year ago today I finished the AT, I may have to abbreviate a little more in the logs if I wanna catch up before I’m done.

Architecture v1: Aliens

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These stairs in the Hawking Hills area of OH look like they were torn from a Dungeons and Dragons campaign or something, with their strong lines, needless curvature, and decorative obelisks. Mix that with the occasional missing tile to lend it a well preserved yet ancient feel, like it was left behind by some well meaning conspiracy theory.

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This UFO moonlights as a ski lift in VT. Hey, aliens got mouths to feed too, and in this economy…

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Seriously though, which of these alien landscapes does this most belong to? The obvious answer, is all of them. 60s modernism was made for the moon, and still looks like its itching to leave Earth.

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One of the larger pieces of machinery I’ve seen laying about the eastern woods, I think this contraption is meant to drive the belts that power other machines, maybe from the first oil rush, maybe from logging. looking back, I could’ve spared a couple more moments to gawk at it, maybe see if there was any information stamped upon it. (I think this was sorta near Sheffield, PA, on or near the NCT. If anyone knows more or wants to go investigate.)

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This is totally explainable by modern science, but when I came upon it there was a distinct otherworldly sense about an abandoned telephone pole in the woods. It having been reclaimed by nature and made into some raptor’s home amid a desolate field is just poetry.

Boots on the Ground v1

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The trusty first pair of boots, atop Mount Greylock. I got about 2300 miles on these, divided between 1700 on the AT and around 500 or so during the winter on the NCT.

Boots in the Air POV

The ill-fated second pair of boots, from atop a ski lift I climbed to watch the sun set over lake Champlain. These ones I wore long past broken and still only got about 1300 miles out of them…

Macomb Boots

Another of Boots Mk. II, this one is atop Macomb Mountain, Just a couple days into the NCT, and after quite a fight to schwak up Macomb the wrong way. Ill-advised perhaps, what it cut in distance it probably stole away in time. The whole side I went up was covered in dense pine thicket.

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To add some recent flavor, here’s one of my feet and 4th pair of boots at the end of the NCT. My feet’ve performed admirably, and have seldom gotten much worse than this minor amount of damage shows. These boots have done similarly well, but they’re on the way out. (can’t replace your feet, yet…) With about 2300 miles on them in this picture, they won’t live to see the PNT.

Gear Sprawls v1

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Golden Birthday in a nice enclosure at mile 100. Me and Nemo still had an excessive amount of some stuff here, namely gas cannisters. (Can you spot them all?) Also first back pack is off to the side.

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Sunset at high rocks overlooking Big bald, right before Nemo jumped off trail in TN. Rescue is set up outta the frame to the left.

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The Dover Oak, biggest tree on the AT, makin my pack look small. RIP green pack, your time came too early.

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South shore of Lake Superior. My current pack about as big as it gets these days, maybe barring some food, I don’t remember how deep into the ration this was. Without the snowshoes you’d hardly know the full winter kit is in there.