Day 77

Piazza Rock Lean-to to tenting at mile 1,992.3 miles – 25.6 miles

I’ve been falling behind just a couple miles each day and I need 35.5 miles to get me to the planned shelter tonight, in order to get to the Post Office on Saturday, and then to Katahdin in goal time. It’s going to be hard. With that being the scenario, of course I wake to rain and cold.  Apparently there are some tough mountains ahead, so why not make the day wet and cold too. I’m slow to leave, but not too bad though. I only put on shell and shorts, no pants or gloves; I’ll just have to get moving to warm up. 

The climb up Saddleback Mountain is brutal in the driving wind and rain. It is cold. It is difficult to walk without the wind blowing me over. The mountain is mostly sloped smooth rock above treeline. No protection from the weather. I quickly pick a line and run. Yes, run. Thankfully my pack is light, only being two days from resupplying. It’s too cold to stop or move slowly and exposed above treeline longer than necessary. Few rock outcropping provide brief, marginal relief, but I’m not stopping to put on more layers until I have better protection in the trees. 

Once down into the trees, I quickly put on my rain pants, fleece top, and gloves. I feel better immediately, but I still need to get to the next shelter for some added protection and relief from this brutally windy, wet, cold weather. Once set, I book it over The Horn and all the way to the next shelter for a quick break. 

Well after dark, I’m descending another mountain in the pouring rain. I can barely see even with my headlamp because the light is just reflecting off the heavy rain and into my eyes. After several slips and falls in the dark, on rocks, and in mud, I say this is enough. I can’t see anything and I’m going to get hurt. I need to stop. 

The trail flattens out enough to provide a place for me to pitch my tent without being in the water flowing down the trail. Once again I tent in the middle of the trail because I’m not spending extra time in the rain and dark looking for another spot on this mountain.  

It’s 9 PM. I think I come about eight miles short of my goal. The trail was more of the same today: wet. 

It’s going to be a long day tomorrow!

The hardworking Civilian Conservation Corp completed the final link of the entire AT near this spot in 1937. 

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