This past Thursday, with a mere 356 miles left to walk to Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine, I fell down and twisted my ankle while traversing a boulder field…again.
I must admit that it felt a bit like Groundhog Day. I was enjoying a beautiful and sunny day, about to meet up with Long Time for lunch, I was stepping carefully along a path full of haphazardly strewn rocks, (damn glacier!), when suddenly my right ankle bobbled and down I went. Same weather, same ankle, same pain as when I fell back in Maryland. And though last time I fell on my left side and this time on my right side, it was immediately apparent that I’d be cutting my day short.
Lucky for us, Long Time and I are in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Here the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) operates a series of huts throughout the park. Now these aren’t the 3-sided lean-tos us thru hikers are used to — these huts are fully stocked, fully enclosed cabins with electricity, bunkrooms, food and a summer staff. Where I fell was just 4 miles from one of them and I was pretty sure they’d have ice for me to comfort my ankle. Turns out they had some frozen peas – perfect!
For paying customers, a stay in a hut with breakfast and dinner runs $100/night. But for thru-hikers they offer a nice work-for-stay policy where in return for 2 hours of some menial task doing, you get all the leftover dinner, dessert and breakfast you can eat, as well as floor space in the common area to sleep on. Not a bad deal! And due to my injury, the lovely staff at Zealand Falls Hut didn’t even make me do my share. It didn’t hurt that some fellow NOBOs told the staff they’d cover my work load. (A big thanks and a round of beers on me to Doc Boom, Trash Can and Marathon
if I ever see you again).
What continues and continues to humble me on this trip is the generosity of strangers. Yesterday, after having rested my ankle the previous night and then having cautiously walked the easy 8 miles out from Zealand Falls to a trailhead parking lot, our fellow work for stayers helped me again by getting me a ride with one of the hiker guests from the hut. Barry, a hiker from Mass who is well on his way to summiting all 48 of the 4000 foot mountains in The Whites, gave LT and I a lift to the closest town and back. In Littleton, I was able to get an aircast to prevent me from rolling my ankle again. Yahoozie! (Oh and a beer for Barry too, if I see you again!)
So now I’m sitting atop Mt. Jackson with just 340.3 miles left to go. I can step confidently and sleep soundly knowing the end is truly within our grasp. Plus after nearing the five month mark, I’m effin’ ready to go home! Gimmie daily showers! Gimmie a good night’s sleep in my own bed! Gimmie food I don’t have to rehydrate!
Thanks to all our readers and commenters as usual! We love the support. And an absolute special thanks to June and Scott, two section hikers we met back in Tenessee who at the time we met them said, “when you get to New Hampshire, you’ve got a place to stay!”. And their place was awesome!! Thanks again!!