Softly whispering Kathadin – 27 July

Mr Naidoo’s Travel Inn wasn’t quite the Taj Mahal but it had a bed, bath and flush toilet so sheer luxury for hikers. Other motels often has coffee out 24 hours a day, Travel Inn has in it’s reception a micro wave oven and Ramen noodles……🤣

Luckily it is located only 100m from a Dunkin Donuts (which opens at 5h30 in the morning). So this morning we packed our rucksacks, strolled down to the Dunkin Donuts, and had breakfast (coffee and egg&bacon “croissant”) followed by donuts. Let me warn you, Hersheys Cookies and Cream donut has real cream inside, 450 calories a pop and Trevor had 2. But he is so thin he needs the calories. Me on the other hand, one can say I’m in good condition.

We booked a taxi to take us back to the trail head. Apparently self respecting thru-hikers hitch hike and don’t use taxis but after not getting a lift the afternoon before I didn’t want to risk having to stand around for an hour hoping for a ride. The taxi picked us up at DD and by 7h30 we were on the trail.

We did some PUDs (pointless ups and downs) for about 15km, then ascended about 700m to the top of Killington, home to the biggest ski-resort in the area. After that we had another 8km to get to our chosen location for the night (total distance about 26km).

We had a good day’s hiking, at the top of Killington we were fatigued but not exhausted. But with about 4km to go (now downhill), I hit the wall. I have often thought I had “hit the wall” in the past, but during my first cycle race (I had no idea about hydration) I really hit the wall and I now KNOW what it feels like. We took a break, I ate some nuts and drank some water, Trevor gave me some (rare) kind encouragement and I managed to make the last few km to our campsite.

Today we passed this sign:

It’s an old sign and its not located exactly where the 2019 “500 miles to go” point is, but we did pass the correct 500 to go point a few kilometres later. Mount Kathadin is where the NOBO AT ends and one doesn’t talk about it lightly or disrespectfully. You mention it humbly as where you hope to get to. Now, with it within 500 miles we can start whispering about it softly.

On Monday – the heavy rain day when we slept in the overfull shelter – we met a chiropractor. He came in after us, and shortly after him two younger guys came in. The old men who were at the shelter first shrugged and said shelter full, sorry. The chiro looked around a bit, said guys we are all in same position, nobody can go out in this rain we have to make a plan. He then figured out where on the floor (bodies under the bunks and heads sticking out) 3 people can fit in. On Tuesday Trevor said to me he was very impressed with how the man handled the situation. We didn’t see him again (he is just doing a 2 week section hike) and today, 5 days later, we saw him about 10km before his section hike ended. It gave Trevor the opportunity to tell him how impressed he was with his handling of the problem. This guy looked Trevor straight in the eyes and thanked him very sincerely – he said it’s not his nature at all and he had to dig deep to find it in him to gently challenge the older men. These things are what make us men…..

The chiro was not the only character from the Monday shelter experience which surfaced today. We are tenting at a shelter (terrible tent pads tonight – sleeping may be uncomfortable) and as we walked in somebody said “ah, my friends from Monday night” : the tent next to our pad has been taken up by Will, the stranger who slept next to (and very close to) me on Monday.

There is a group of school boys (probably around 13yrs old) staying in the shelter tonight (with one accompanying adult), the uneven tent pad may not be the only disturbance tonight!

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