Mountain Crossings Hostel to Blue Mountain Shelter – 18.8 miles
I did not have as sound of a sleep as I was hoping for, since I was in a nice bunk, but it was good enough. I think I was worried about missing my 6 AM alarm for an early start. I heard the wind howling all night and it’s still blowing hard when I wake. Last night, Lindsay had informed me of a wind advisory. I am the first one up in the bunk room and as I am packing up, another guy wakes. He checks the weather; it’s 37 degrees and feels like 13 with the wind chill. Because of wind chill, I wait until about 7:20 AM and daylight. I meet Aloha Nice Shirt and his son, from Ohio, in the restroom before I leave. He’s maybe in his mid-60’s and is slack packing today. They leave about 20 minutes before me and plan to hike fast, so they don’t expect to see me again.
I don’t think the temperature warmed up much. It is a difficult climb out of the hostel, more so with wind, cold temperature, and snow/ice covered ground, than the grade. It is awesome hiking with the trees and trail covered in ice. The trail is crunching beneath my feet. The weather conditions are seriously, dangerously cold and windy for tenting, reminding me again how thankful I am to have been in the hostel last night. My pack is heavy today with a five-day mail drop I received at the hostel.
I eventually catch up to Aloha Nice Shirt in the afternoon on a long gradual climb. We hike together for a bit. They figure I have some ultramarathons under my belt judging from my pace. They are working to keep up with me and they have no packs! It turns out the former Marine son has also ran the JFK 50.
After getting ahead of them, I find a SPOT tracker, like mine. I carry it to the next shelter. I am feeling good until about two miles from the shelter. I am really dragging into camp. My hips are sore. I arrive about 3 PM, take a spot in the shelter, start cooking, and then have a seat around the campfire with other hikers. I ask if anyone lost a SPOT and it belongs to a girl in a group of four. She was really happy to have it back.
On this hike, I’ve noticed that most hikers are typically in their bags by 8 PM. I’m no different.