Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 65 (27 miles)

Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 65 (27 miles)

Yesterday’s rain has yet to abait. When I began it was very light rain and within half an hour it decreased to a drizzling mist. The air temperature was warm and I decided to take my rain gear off so that my body would breath a bit.

This worked great for an hour until the rain picked up again and I was a combination of slow and hesitant to put my gear on. I was fairly wet by this stage and ended up caving in to the sweaty but warm sanctuary of my rain gear.

There was two themes for the rest of the day.

The first, unsurprisingly, was the rain. It continued all day long. And not only that, but it progressively got heavier throughout the day. I was still having a good time walking along on the big, flat ridgelines that have become synonymous with Pennsylvania in my mind.

But the rain did lead to a few problems with the second theme of rockfields. The rock hopping and occasional scrambling was a lot harder with the slick rocks. I learnt that I could not assume that I would be able to stand on them. A couple of times my feet flew out from under me and caused me to crash to the ground on almost flat rocks. I did not heart myselfs falling, but did manage to twist my left knee and very slightly strain a tendon.
About 20 minutes before I arrived at my shelter for the night the rain stopped! It was a very simple yet beautiful feeling taking of my hood.
Unfortunately when I arrived at the shelter I knew I was in for a wet one. The shelter was still in the clouds and the floor was saturated with condensation. I got into my sleeping bag and watched as the bloody moisture built up on the outside of my bag in minutes.

I’m starting to get close to the hard northern section of the trail and most of the day this is what I was thinking about. Trying to analyse different scenarios and what I should do. I have three key areas of concern; The White Mountains, Kennebec River and Mahoosuc Notch.

My outcomes?

The Whites are an unavoidable challenge (perhaps the biggest of the trail) and a decent weather window is needed. I’m expecting most of the snow to be gone, but leaving in its wake a more dangerous ice rink. I am yet to decide about using about which of my microspikes or K10’s I should use.

I am expecting most of the snow to be gone, but leaving in its wake a more dangerous ice rink. I am yet to decide about using about which of my microspikes or K10’s I should use.

Kennebec River is a little more straightforward. In summer there is a ferry that shuttles people across, but it does not operatie in winter. I can either swim this 400ft (120m) freezing cold river or spend a good chunk of the day walking around it via a bridge way down stream. I am leaving this up to the weather situation when I arrive. If it is warm and I don’t risk hypothermia I may swim, otherwise it is a long roadwalk.

Mahoosuc Notch I am yet unsure of. It is notoriously hard and in winter has a reputation for collecting deep snow. I’m most concerned about the having ice on some of the bolder scrambles. This is a wait and see what the conditions are problem. Let future me worry about it!

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