Day 166: Saddle Back

Day 166

September 27th

Piazza Rock Lean-To to Spaulding Mountain Lean-To

Miles Hiked: 17

AT Milage: 1990.3

This morning I woke up around 7am and was slow to leave my warm sleeping bag. The people in the shelter finally woke up and I learned they didn’t speak English. I began my climb up Saddle Back mountain in my cold wet clothes and shoes. The weather on saddle back was terrible yet it was predicted to be a sunny dry day. This was the first time on the whole trail that I thought I was going to go hypothermic. I had on my entire rain suit which blocks wind and traps in body heat yet I still felt cold to my core. The wind was blowing so hard I had to try not fall over and my hood was flapping agressively in the wind. It kept getting harder and harder to move my legs as I felt my body temperature dropping. Tree line was about three miles away so I had to keep on pushing through. Wet fog kept blowing straight through me. I appreciated that the Maine Appalachian Trail Club marked the trail very well with white blazes unlike NH. I kept wondering how the smallest rocks weren’t blowing off the tops of the Carins yet my 30lb pack was acting like a wind sail. When I finally made it to treeline the trail became very steep and rocky. I was trying to be really careful but I took my worst fall of the whole trail. I had my trekking poles in front of me and I leaned on them slightly too far forward. My pack weight took over and I tumbled down the mountain head first. Luckily I didn’t hit my face. Most of the rocks hit my upper body. I thought I broke my arm for a solid few minutes and just sat on the “trail” crying because of both the pain and the act of tumbling straight down the mountain psychologically terrified me. Eventually, I realized I would be okay so I kept hiking out of the terrible weather but I definitely felt traumatized about what had happened. When I reached the third peak of the day, Saddle back Junior it turned into an absolutely beautiful cloud free day. I looked back at the two peaks I had just traversed in the worst weather I’ve had on trail and wondered how the weather could change so drastically. I was sad I didn’t sleep in to miss the bad weather but I didn’t know it would be like that.

The rest of my day was tough after such a bad morning. Mentally, I was not in a good place at all which makes hiking 10 x harder. I was super lonely and upset about my morning. I just wanted to go to town and get off the trail. At 8 miles in there was a shelter I had originally planned on giving up at. I took a long break before deciding to continue because it was such a nice day, I shouldn’t waste it. I continued hiking on to Oberton stream where I took a break an talked to a SOBO flip flopper named Champ. Originally I was upset when another hiker headed in the opposite direction arrived at my break spot at the same time as me. I just wanted to be alone and not talk to anyone. After a few minutes we started talking to each other and I appreciated our conversation and recognized it was most likely the only interaction either one of us would have with another person until we arrived at camp. Continuing on, the trail went mostly uphill until the shelter and I was slowly plodding along with my sore legs and bad attitude. I slipped on a bog board and went head first into the ground for the second time that day. My head hit a tree root, my hands went into the mud, and my phone flung out of my hip belt along with my hat to be submerged in water. I quickly picked myself and my belongings up, walked a few feet and started sobbing again while wiping dirt off my hands and pulling twigs out of my hair. I was worried my phone wouldn’t work again. I sat down by a stream for a while trying to calm down and make myself have a better attitude to finish my day of hiking. Eventually I made it to the shelter where there was a surprising amount of hikers. Everyone was so cold they kept to themselves in their sleeping bags. At camp I was surprised to see Frog who I hadn’t seen since Shenandoah. Doc arrived after dark but I didn’t say anything to him since everyone was pretty much asleep. I have to laugh because it wasn’t even 8pm yet. I decided to wake up super early to get to town asap.

Happy Trails!

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