It seems we have begun to hit the crazy north-bounder rumors that included a loaner laptop at the Stratton Motel. Along with these false rumors we also heard that the 'Wolf Burger' at the Wolf Inn down the street came with an egg on it. That one wasn't so bad, the burger still had cheese, bacon, an entire sausage party (a burger first for me), lettuce, onion, mustard, mayo, and relish. All the calories a thru-hiker needs. But still, no lap top so we're going to have to try and find another way to get our pictures up here. Bummer, too, because we are building quite the collection.
Our last post came from the top of Avery Peak which was a monster climb. From there we headed down and up again to West Peak, about another 500 feet of elevation gain. West Peak was actually about 100 feet higher than Avery and the view opened up to a full 360 degrees. We get amazing views from the peaks in Colorado and the views from these peaks in Maine 10,000 feet lower are equally amazing. Even with the haze brought by the heat of the day our line of sight was still barely impaired. There was Canada to the north and west, we could see Sugarloaf mountain to the south and a whole lot more I can't even name.
Alas, what goes up must come down. We heard from an uber-hiker trail named Lake (he's done the PCT, CDT, an we met him on his third AT hike, only this time he's going from Key West, FL all the way to Newfoundland) that the AT is the hardest of the long trails for this reason: hikers go up one mountain, hit a few peaks along a ridge and then drop back to the bottom to hike a few miles before heading up the next. It kind of makes me feel like a bouncy ball.
Early on in our hike, more NoBos (just a wealth of wisdom) told us we'd come to love the ups more than the downs. I've figured out a few reasons why:
1) Up causes temporary muscle burn, down causes lasting joint pain.
2) Up generates a massive amount of endorphins, or a "runners high" resulting in smiles, laughter and a desire for more.
3) Up there's a breeze, a summit and views ahead, down there's humidity and bugs. Lots of bugs.
4) Down isn't really any faster when climbing down generally requires either butt sliding or chucking hiking poles downhill so that hands are free to grab onto tree trunks for better leverage.
Last night we made it to the Horns Pond Lean-tos which actually was an established campsite with a caretaker. We met some locals and a little girl gave us some delicious sugar-snap peas. Delicious. Fresh produce has become a delicacy I'm happy to say. There were two lean-tos that were clean and well kept, and the privy didn't even smell too bad. This morning we had to get into Stratton before the post office closed and we made the 6 mile gap in just over two and a half hours. For almost the whole hike I was forcing myself to breathe through my nose. It was a stretch of fresh, young pine forest. I couldn't get enough and the funny thing was it reminded me of the smell on the E.T. ride at Universal Studios in Orlando. Which is exactly what they were going for. I tip my hat.
Sue and her dog Knucklehead who thru hiked together in 2004 and own the motel picked us up at 10:55. The post office closed at 11:00, but we made it. Got into town, hit the grocers and the outfitter and saw our second bull moose eating in a stream next to the road! Thanks to Amy and Jess's grandparents for the package with the cookies! Right now they're actually hidden upstairs. Just too good to share at the moment.
For the moment we're dry, full and fully resupplied which is a great feeling. I also got another new shirt, this one is tougher and will hopefully last longer than the two weeks the last one made it. Seriously, I sneezed and that shirt got a hole in it. I am looking forward to showing off my new found spiffy-ness in the upcoming photos. But it's bedtime, more smiles and more miles on the 'morrow!