AT 2017: Day 136, Ore Hill Campsite to Jeffers Brook Shelter

All he's lost he shall regain

I still don’t know why I was feeling so sorry for myself yesterday when I discovered I had lost my shirt. Losing it really bothered me, and I was still annoyed about that today when I packed and prepared to hike again.

Scout didn’t hear back from Skywalker, so it didn’t seem that the message Scout sent about my shirt was received. That’s not surprising, though, because we weren’t in an area of good cell reception.

DateThursday, August 24, 2017
WeatherPartly sunny, with temperatures in the upper 60s
Trail ConditionsMostly downhill, with a bit more of a challenge than anticipated
Today's Miles8.4
Trip Miles1793.1

I knew there was less than 7.5 miles to go to reach Hikers Welcome Hostel, but I still wanted to get an early start this morning and get there as soon as I could. I had a couple reasons for this.

For one, Felix and I arranged to meet there today. He wants to hike with me for a few days through the White Mountains. I wasn’t sure what time he would arrive, so I wanted to make sure I had already taken care of laundry and resupply before then.

Another reason for getting to the hostel early was I was expecting the pack I ordered in Killington would be waiting for me. For that reason, I needed to ship home the pack I’ve been carrying.

The post office near the hostel was only open until 2 p.m., so I wanted time to box up my pack and get it to the post office before it closed.

The trail started out easy enough, but that quickly changed.

It went up and over Mt. Mist, which was a short but substantial climb of about 500 feet in one mile. Unlike yesterday’s big climbs, there wasn’t a view from the top to provide a payoff.

This turned out be be more difficult than I had expected.

The worst of it, though, was on the descent. I’m not sure exactly how I did it, but I tripped, stumbled while trying to catch myself, and ended up landing on my, well, end.

I came down hard on my butt, hitting directly on an exposed rock. It seemed like the kind of fall that could have easily broken my tailbone, and for a couple seconds I thought that’s what happened.

As I picked myself up and checked to make sure my rear-end was still intact, I turned to look at the rock I fell on. I couldn’t believe my luck.

Not falling on a rock would have been more lucky, but at least this rock was not jagged or pointed. It was rounded, and it was even covered in moss, which maybe provided a little extra padding.

Moss or no moss, the fall hurt. As I began to walk again my tailbone was sore and this slowed me down.

My spirits were lifted about 40 minutes later, though, when I passed a “400 miles” marker written in sticks. It seemed interesting that the last couple of these I passed were counting down the miles to Mt. Katahdin. They were no longer tallying up the miles since leaving Springer Mountain.

Then I remembered for SOBO hikers the numbers are counting up in the same way they did before for NOBO hikers.

I arrived at Hikers Welcome Hostel at noon. It was located a short distance from where the trail crossed New Hampshire Route 25, near an unincorporated village called Glencliff.

As is typical of hostels, there was a bit of initial confusion about the facilities and rules. I relied on hikers who had arrived earlier than me to fill me in on what to do.

There were two buildings. One was an older home with a newer addition, which had a gathering room for hikers. The other was a much newer bunkhouse. Behind the house were a couple picnic tables and a roofless structure, a sort of open-air bathhouse with partitions to separate a toilet, a shower, a sink for washing dishes, and a laundry room. Instead of doors for privacy there were only drapes.

The first thing I did when I met the owner, who went by his thru-hike trail name Packrat, was ask him about my backpack. He went into the private quarters of the house and a couple minutes later brought out a large box.

I was happy to find that REI had shipped the pack as planned. Once I pulled it out of the box I realized the Osprey Atmos 50 was a little heavier than I had expected. I had ordered it because I knew it would fit me and be durable, but hadn’t considered the weight.

Though the Osprey was heavier than the Zpacks Arc Blast I had been carrying, I knew right away it would be a lot more comfortable. I decided the added weight was not worth worrying about at this point. I just needed something to get me to Mt. Katahdin.

About that time, Skywalker arrived. I asked him if he had seen my shirt, but he hadn’t.

I used the box from my new pack to package my old pack, then took it to the post office. Getting there only took a couple minutes, because it was just down the road from the hostel.

Then I sent a message to my wife Kim to let her know the old pack was on its way home. I warned her she would likely have a nasty-smelling surprise if she opened the box, so she should just set it in our garage when it arrives.

After I returned to the hostel, Stick and I gathered up our dirty clothes and planned to share the cost of washing a load. The washing machine was running another load, though, so we had to wait.

Spillz arrived at the hostel a short time later. “Did you happen to see a green shirt lying on the trail?” I asked.

She had not. By this time I had just about given up hope of getting back that stupid shirt.

A few minutes later, Jellybean walked in. I asked her the same question.

With a smile, she put down her pack and from it pulled out my shirt!

I was nearly speechless. “How did you know to pick it up and bring it with you?” I stammered.

Jellybean told me when she saw the shirt lying along the side of the trail she noticed how it fell. She deduced from the angle that it had been dropped by a NOBO hiker, so she decided to pick it up in case she met up with the hiker who lost it.

A brilliant deduction!

I thanked her profusely, then rushed the shirt to the washing machine. It was about done with a previous load, so I made it just in time to include the smelly shirt in Stick’s and my wash.

After taking a shower, I still had a couple hours to wait before the shuttle provided by the hostel would depart for a local diner and convenience store. I split my time between the picnic table outside and the gathering room in the hostel.

By this time, more hikers arrived. Some of them had been doing a SOBO slackpack over Mt. Moosilauke. Besides Spillz and Jellybean, Scout and Yung Gandalf were here. I had not seen Yung Gandalf in several weeks.

While sitting at one of the picnic tables I noticed something odd about my iPhone, which was laying on the table. It was bent!

I hadn’t noticed any problems with the functions of the phone, but this was worrying anyway. I had just replaced my pack and I didn’t want to have to replace another important pieces of gear. And I certainly didn’t want it to fail while on the trail.

But hey, at least I had my shirt again.

During this time of waiting for the shuttle, I struck up a conversation with Bag ‘o’ Tricks. He was a long-time hiker and Appalachian Trail repeat offender. This summer he has been doing a work-for-stay here at the hostel.

As we talked, it occurred to me he might know Felix, so I asked him if he did. His eyes lit up and he said, “Do you know Felix?”

“He’s coming here soon to hike with me for a few days,” I said.

“Well you tell him I want to see him!” Bag ‘o’ Tricks exclaimed.

As promised, Packrat was ready at about 5 p.m. to shuttle us to a diner and then a convenience store.

While we were out I got a text message from Felix. He was on his way and expected to be at the hostel by 7 p.m.

Soon after returning from our dinner and resupply trip, Felix (pictured right) arrived at the hostel. He was with Gabby (pictured left), who had picked him up after Felix dropped off his truck at the other end of where he intended to hike.

Felix and Bag ‘o’ Tricks (pictured center) had a happy reunion with much reminiscing about hiking exploits and comrades. It was starting to get dark, though, and Felix wanted to hike to Jeffers Brook Shelter tonight, so we had to break up the discussion.

Felix will have a limited time to be on the trail for this section hike, so getting in the 1.1-mile to the shelter tonight will save that mileage and more time to get going tomorrow.

Gabby drove us up the road to the trailhead, then we started the climb to the shelter.

Night was already setting in when we left, and soon the sky became very dark. I knew the distance wasn’t far to the shelter, so I decided to keep walking, rather than stopping to pull out my headlamp.

I arrived at the shelter just at the time I was beginning to question the wisdom of my decision to hike without a headlamp. Felix was already there when I arrived, and I was glad for that because he found a couple spots for us to set up our tents.

We talked for a long time after we climbed into our tents, and caught up on events since he met up with me in New York. I thanked him for wanting to hike with me, but I warned him I was a slow hiker.

I told Felix if he needed to hike ahead without me so that he can keep his schedule, he should do that. What I didn’t say but thought was I hoped he didn’t have to do that.

Saint Stephen will remain
All he's lost he shall regain
Seashore washed by the suds and the foam
Been here so long he's got to calling it home

From "Saint Stephen” by Robert Hunter, Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead)

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"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.