Alton and I quickly hiked ahead of the others, and then I hiked on ahead of Alton. After a while, however, I decided to stop and allow my buddies to catch up. When they finally arrived I was checking my pulse, something I often did when running intervals on the track. In fact, this hike was starting to feel more and more like a hard track workout rather than a relaxing walk. Noticing that I was trying to determine whether or not my heart rate had exceeded its limits, the others followed suit. There we stood, six would-be backpackers, left hands on right wrists, eyes clued to watches, wondering what our max heart rates should be.
As the hours sped by, Alton and I again hiked ahead of Reg, Fitts, Doc, and Lindsey. When I reached what appeared to be a dead end to the trail, I shouted over my shoulder, “There’s no more trail.” When Alton caught up, he looked to his right and upwards to explain, “I think the trail is up there.” So after examining our situation, we quickly realized that we were definitely going to have to do some real “climbing” to continue the hike. What we didn’t realize at the moment, however, was what a spectacular view we would have when we experienced our first taste of “above tree line” hiking.
Again, this picture is of me at that moment. Notice the attire of the “knows nothing” backpacker. Cotton Dockers slacks, 100% long sleeve cotton shirt, boots that were made for some task other than hiking, and not pictured cotton socks inside those boots. Also visible is a sheathed knife on a heavy leather belt, an army surplus one compartment backpack, with the aforementioned (prep. entry one) four man tent on top. And finally, there’s the hiking stick that I had picked up a few miles back. I’d never even heard of hiking poles. So here we were in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and about as ill-prepared as a hiker can be.
So as I stated in my last prep. entry, I fully expect to begin this hike with more knowledge than the first, yet with much still to be learned. There is no doubt in my mind that I won’t know all that I need to know to complete a thru hike. At least the gear that I’ll be using this time will meet my needs and provide me with the best opportunity to be successful. After all, we do learn from experience. And experience can go a long way to completing a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.