LT Day 4 and 5

LT Day 4 and 5

1.5 LT miles, 6 mile road walk, 20 mile hitch, 9 mile shuttle

I got an early start in hopes of either putting in some long miles or a shorter day ending early depending on how the climb up Haystack went. It soon became clear that Monday had done more damage to my body than I realized. Any sort of climbing was a struggle and by the time I reached the road in Hazen’s Notch I knew it was time to sit down for some hard thinking. Going up Haystack seemed sure to make things get ugly fast so the prudent thing seemed to be to get off trail to regroup.

As road walks go the six miles or so down RT 58 to RT 100 were beautiful. No one stopped to offer a ride but traffic was sparse and it was a nice morning in the shade.

Rather than focus on my troubles I opted to try to enjoy how pretty of a place I was walking through. There were a few dog encounters along the way, a German Shepherd that looked like it might have been abandoned threatened me for a while until a voice in the woods called him home. Another two big dogs followed me, barking at my heels, for a good quarter mile.

Still it was such a pretty place it was a walk to be appreciated. Various streams and brooks ran under the road in both directions.

Eventually I reached the highway and realized that I needed to figure out my next goal. Heading down to Johnson to pick up my resupply seemed logical since food was running low, so I stuck out my thumb. Once that was accomplished I talked to my wife a bit and decided to find a place to stay to either recuperate or wait for a ride home. Smugglers Notch to the rescue!

Dinner, beer and breakfast are behind me and I am still feeling a bit broken. I am coming to terms with the fact that this hike is over before it really got started. There has been some cussing and a few tears, but to keep going at this point seems foolish and probably dangerous to my health.

As much as I regret the way this turned out I am glad I tried to chase the dream. For an old fat man this was an ambitious challenge to begin with, but no one could anticipate tropical weather in VT at this time of year. With my aversion to hiking in the heat I planned to start this late in hopes of much cooler weather.

Will I try again? No, probably not. Putting my family through all of this again seems unfair. I also have to acknowledge that the universe seems to be trying to tell me something.

Still, no regrets! Not sure what crazy dream will come to me next, but I will keep chasing them, you can be sure. Thanks for coming along on this adventure and I apologize for not being able to share the rest of this beautiful trail with you.

LT Days 2 and 3 Hazen’s Notch

8.7 LT miles

Day two started with the climb up to Jay Peak. Looking up at the ski buildings was a bit intimidating but the climb actually wasn’t too bad.

Nice views up there in all directions. I was sorry I didn’t have time to stay longer until I met a big school group headed up the other side.

I stopped at Jay Camp near the bottom for water and potato soup for elevensies. Then came a series of climbs that took me over three mountains on my way to Hazen’s Notch. Not sure how hot it was but it was way too hot to be climbing mountains. The last big climb up Buchanan did me in.

The last two miles to camp were quite a struggle as my stomach was angry and not afraid to show it. I arrived in camp just before dark in pretty ugly shape. Getting the hammock up was all I could manage before collapsing. Then it started to rain hehe. I managed to sort of string the tarp over me, but didn’t have the strength to stake it out.

Knowing from past experience that hiking today would only serve to anger my stomach I opted to stay here today to see if I can recover. I hung out the wet clothes and even staked out the tarp.

The shelter here is a classic and smells like one inside heh.

There is a nice view of Jay Peak from just outside the door. Considering I came up the other side and all the way here on a hot, breezeless day certainly explains my body falling apart.

Tomorrow will tell me a lot once I hit that first climb. The weather has improved with cooler temps and a nice breeze so that will help. Hopefully yesterday didn’t do too much damage, but it certainly has given me some doubts.

LT Day 1: Laura Woodward

8.6 LT miles plus about .5 on the approach

Back at the border just after dawn. Expecting it to warm up I skipped coffee but was amped to get started.

The first white blaze! Now these steps counted heh. So hard to believe it was real, but once I started to sweat it didn’t feel like a dream.

I stopped at Shooting Star shelter for elevensies and found this bunny house.

Then it was time to start the first real climb, Doll Peak. Too sweaty to take pics, sorry.

Drying out with a nice breeze in the hammock at the Laura Woodward shelter.

There are two NOBO hikers in there chattering away. They are very excited about finishing tomorrow. I am excited about dinner, gotta go!

LT Day 0:Journeys Rest

We got an early start on the drive and were almost to Canada by lunch. After a short break for trailhead sandwiches we walked the approach trail the rest of the way to the border.

Surprisingly warm for the time of year, but I will take that over rain any day. Going to be warm again tomorrow so I am hoping for an early start.

Not giggling yet as I have a roommate here, but that may not stop me for long. Totally amazed to find myself in this place and on the edge of such a grand adventure.

Tomorrow it will begin for real as hard as that is to believe. I am ready!!

LT Day -1: Antici…pation!

DSC02579aDSC02581a

I’ve been keeping it quiet, but the excitement has been building as the time draws closer. The Long Trail is on! In the morning I’ll head up to Journey’s End to spend the night, probably giggling, before starting southbound on the trail on Sunday. My ride home is scheduled for about a month later, so I’ll be in no hurry. Hoping to have enough contact with the world to post a bit along the way. Should be a very pretty trip if the leaves and weather cooperate.

Those who have been reading for a while know that I’ve been trying to do this trip for years. It started as an impossibility, then matured into a full fledged pipe dream. That is where it stayed for the last couple of years with something always preventing me from getting out there. Hopefully all of that was meant to put me out there at the right time. I’ll be finding out soon enough and will let you know how it turns out πŸ™‚

Six Day Family Baxter Trip – August 2017

Six Day Family Baxter Trip – August 2017

78 pics and some babbling from an amazing family trip to Baxter State Park that included visits to Center Pond, Little Wassataquoik Lake and Wassataquoik Lake Island.

DSC02308aOur little one is not so little any more and after some discussion we decided that she was ready for something a little more ambitious than previous family trips. We planned out a six day back country trip that meant the parent packs would be not so little as well. The Mama Pack came in at 38lbs with 2L of water while the Daddy Pack weighed 57lbs with 2L of water. That might seem unfair, but I had most of the food, so my pack lost more weight each day than hers πŸ™‚DSC02309aThe first day called for a 4.5 mile walk from Nesowadnehunk Campground to the Center Pond LT via the Wassataquoik Lake Trail. Other than a bit of a climb right at the start this was a pretty level trail with little challenge. Great for folks getting out of the car after a four hour drive and donning heavy packs!DSC02311aThere was one small, two part, water crossing to navigate. Here Frau Stranger is demonstrating the extra safe, four pole technique. Well, in truth she is carrying our daughter’s poles as I had carried her over this section rather than let her get her shoes wet. She was not happy about that, but I knew doing the rest of the day’s hike wet would make for unhappy feet later and this was day one of a long, long adventure.DSC02314aThe weather was cool for August, mid 60s, with an amazing blue sky between the clouds zipping around above us. We stopped more than once to just stare at the view between the trees. We also stopped a few times to just look at the trees.DSC02318aThere were lots of bog boards in this section, even in places that didn’t really need them. Flat trails near the road always seem to be over improved while the deep back country sections get less love because they are harder to reach.DSC02322aWhen the trees gave way to this large bog I knew we were getting close to Center Pond. Both the inflow and outflow areas were giant bogs as the flat elevation profile didn’t promote fast drainage.DSC02323aThen we reached the pond itself as it came into and out of view a few times before we reached the short spur to the lean to.DSC02330aIt was a bit choppy out there and you can see from the color of the bag of water on the canoe that the pond had some tannin content, most likely from the bog feeding into the pond. Once filtered it would be fine to drink though still a bit brown. Easier to drink from an opaque bottle than a transparent bag despite the taste being just fine.DSC02331aAnother of Baxter’s fine latrines. Each one is of a slightly different design it seems and I always enjoy their craftsmanship. This one came with a clear roof that gave it wonderful light inside.DSC02332aThe LT was on the small side being a 4 person model, but enough room for us and all we’d carried in. With the cool weather we were happy to have a few walls to keep the wind off of us, though there was only a bit of a breeze.DSC02334aEveryone seemed happy with day one and a bit amazed to think about having five more ahead of us. We were ready for bed when darkness came, though we were disappointed in the lack of a loon crying out there.DSC02335aDawn came with some interesting clouds on the mountains and some cool damp in the air.DSC02337aDSC02340aThe girls went out to pick some blueberries and the sun had warmed things up nicely by the time they returned. Most of these ended up in their morning oatmeal, but some went directly into our bellies. Just shy of being perfectly ripe they were riding the line between sweet and tart.DSC02342aThen we were packed up and heading to the Little Wassataquoik Tent Site. Another 4.5 mile walk, but this one had a bit of a climb at the very end. Nothing too serious, but it looked scary on an elevation profile just because the rest of the trip was relatively flat.DSC02346aThere were a few water crossings, just small rock hops, but one stream paralleled the trail for quite a while. It was nice to hear the rushing water as we hiked but not have to worry about wet feet.DSC02352aSoon it was time to hit the big climb. I am sort of joking, because it wasn’t really that much of a climb. I’m also a bit serious because with the heavy packs, getting up the little hill was a good workout. This is the beginning of the climb, but it got much steeper as it went up. I was definitely puffing by the time we reached the top.DSC02355aMy wife sounded hopeful as she read this sign and saw it was only 1 mile to the LT. She was really happy when I pointed out we weren’t headed there, but aiming for the tent site 400 yards the other way instead πŸ™‚DSC02356aThere were some clouds floating by that looked a bit threatening and a chance of rain in the forecast so the first thing we did was get the tarp up. This would be our first time using the bug house under a tarp rather than inside a lean to which is why I came up here on a previous trip to scope things out. Thanks to that research I came prepared with a 50′ ridgeline rather than the 30′ I normally use for tarps. By getting the tarp up, just in case, I managed to keep the rain away which was my hope all along.DSC02359aThis is the view from in camp, looking at the rocky path that crossed over the brook on its way to the latrine. Definitely a place to keep your shoes and headlamp handy rather than trying to make the trip barefoot in the dark heh.DSC02362aI got our house set up under the tarp, learning as I went exactly how I was going to do that. It worked well enough, but the next time I set it up I was smarter and it worked even better. The girls broke out the Yahtzee using my grill bag to roll the dice on.DSC02365aBy late afternoon the threat of rain had passed and we were back to watching happy clouds racing through deep blue skies.DSC02375aHere is the view looking out at the campsite from bed the next morning. It felt extra special to wake up in this big, open air house rather than our tent. We weren’t covered in dew, so it didn’t feel like cowboy camping. It was similar, but better I’d say thanks to the tarp over head.DSC02380aThis shot almost captures how happy I was to be sitting there drinking coffee, but neither pictures nor words can really do it justice. Waking up in this site with the waterfall burbling and my two favorite girls there was already pretty dang special. Hot coffee was just the frosting on top!DSC02383aSpeaking of burbling waterfalls…here it is up close. There is a small spring just up the hill from the campsite and it was flowing nicely even this late in the year. We still filtered it, but it was some of the coldest, clearest water to be found in the park.DSC02385aOn our way to the Wassataquoik Island site we took the side trail to the viewpoint on the cliff. A short, 0.3 mile spur, but a hefty climb to the top.DSC02387aThe reward is an amazing view of most of Wassataquoik Lake down below. Our hike for the day would take us around the right side, all the way to the other end out of view behind the ridge on the left.DSC02394aBeing late August, late season flowers were wrapping things up before going to seed. With the cool weather there was a definitely sense that Summer was coming to an end and soon.DSC02395aWe had a glimpse or three of Little Wassataquoik Lake along the way. It really is little compared to its bigger sibling.DSC02400aGreen Falls is found via a very short, but wet and slippery, spur and is always worth the danger and effort of visiting. We stopped for snacks and pics as is the custom, at least it always is for me.DSC02403aDSC02409aFinally we found the turn off to our island retreat. This was my first time visiting this site as it is only open for a few weeks of the year and hard to book.DSC02410aThe loons have right of way on the island and nesting there keeps humans off until the chicks have hatched and moved out into the lake.DSC02412aThese folks were out for a day paddle and seemed surprised to find us watching them from the lean to on the island.DSC02416aWe were glad to have a lean to that night as the sky was looking a bit ominous. There were a few periods of rain in the late afternoon, but we had some time to explore a little as well. We would like to come back again if we can get a two night reservation so we can explore both the island and the lake for an entire day.DSC02422aHere you can see our canoe on the island and the rack on the far shore where we launched from. It wasn’t far, but much drier to use a canoe than walking across hehe.DSC02423aI’ve gotten pretty good at setting up the bug house in shelters now. It makes a great place to play cards, rain or shine.DSC02424aFinding wood on the island was a bit challenging, but I put together enough to make a small fire. Fire of course leads to marshmallow toasting!DSC02428aIt looks like this one turned out pretty well if she does say so herself.DSC02434aI bought my daughter a small, blank paged journal for the trip that she could use to create an art journal. Each day she created a few pictures to capture the story of part of the adventure or to show something she found worth sharing. If she says it is OK with her I may post some of those pictures here in a future post.DSC02436aMy view outside as the sun began to rise. So quiet, so peaceful, so beautiful.DSC02437aThat goes for these two as well! So wonderful to come to such a special place with them instead of being here alone wishing they’d been able to come. They had worked hard to get here and deserved the chance to rest so I let them sleep in peace.DSC02444aLater I caught this beautiful shot of my daughter looking out at the lake. That is no special filter there. That is shooting through the bug net, into the sun with a lot of zoom, but it sure looks nice to me.DSC02448aThen came a series of challenges that might have sent other folks into fits of rage or despair, but only served to leave us laughing. We packed up fast and were well on our way to an early lunch until I tried to put on my pack after we put the canoe away. It seems I had lost part of my belt buckle and there was no way I was carrying the Daddy Pack without a belt.

After looking around to be sure it wasn’t on this side of the crossing I paddled back alone to search for it. Just as I reached the far shore I heard my wife shouting out that she had found it under the canoe rack! So I paddled back, we stowed the canoe for a second time, donned our packs and started off. About three minutes later my wife made a comment about turning on her step tracker which made me reach for my inReach….which wasn’t there!

I had set it down by the fire ring when I sent a request for a weather report that morning and forgotten to pick it up after getting distracted by six other chores. Back to the canoe rack…this time my wife paddled over since I had gotten to have the fun the first time. That is her up above, happy as a clam because she loves to paddle. Finally we stowed the canoe for the third time and were on our way…and this time, we meant it!!DSC02455aIt was another beautiful day in the forest and everyone was happy to be moving finally. We were trying something new on this trip and eating hot lunches once we finished our hike for the day so we were motivated.DSC02461aGoing back the way we’d come now we had familiar landmarks to tell us of our progress. DSC02463aThe girls were headed up the final bit of climb and showing no signs of slowing down.DSC02472aI ducked down a short path to Little Wassataquoik Lake to grab a few pics and feel the breeze blowing across the water.DSC02486aThen it was back to the tent site to set up camp and eat that hot lunch. We had delicious potato soup on two days and salmon with rice one day and noodles on another. Heavy stuff to carry, but boy were we happy to be eating like royalty out there.DSC02488aThe next day dawned cold for August. I took a reading of 38Β°F that morning which I consider beyond cool for the time of year. We were glad we had packed plenty of warm layers along with the swimsuits that were never used.DSC02491aLast year our daughter completed the Baxter Junior Ranger program and received an official badge which we augmented by buying her an official looking hat. Now she takes her duties very seriously, including raking the sites before we leave if there is a rake available.DSC02494aShe also watches out for her mother on trail. Here you can see her waiting to make sure Mama is safely across this little water crossing before heading down the trail.DSC02495aRelaxing is not her forte though I’m afraid. After hanging the hammocks both parents would gladly have taken a nap, but someone had to stay on duty to keep the little one from jumping in the pond. My total hanging time after putting up both hammocks was probably less than ten minutes, but still worth the effort, especially because Mama got at least a tiny nap in.DSC02497aDSC02498aDSC02501aDSC02506aA very peaceful afternoon on Center Pond even if I didn’t get a nap. The trip that had seemed impossibly long to start out now seemed to be ending too soon. Having some time to reflect (get it? πŸ™‚ ) on our adventure was nice.DSC02509aAfter dinner we decided to try putting some of those fresh blueberries to use in a couple of muffins. This is the first one going into the pot.DSC02510aI’d been carrying the gear for days and was glad we were giving it a shot to justify the effort. We’ll see how they turned out later….DSC02513aThis wood grouse was making a lot of noise near camp so I had my camera ready expecting a deer or a moose to pop out. Frau Stranger whispered for me to hand her my camera and caught this shot around the corner from our camp.DSC02515aDSC02520aMore quiet reflection time (OK I will stop now)DSC02525aAlso time for more marshmallows. Not sure this one was as good as the one on the island, but she seemed happy enough with her effort.DSC02528aI wasn’t that happy with my muffins though. The large pot seemed to leave the muffins below the heat at the top needed to brown them. They tasted fine enough, but didn’t fully rise like they should. We’ll apply the lessons learned next time and either use a shorter pot or a taller rack.DSC02529aDSC02535aLast sunset of the trip with just a sliver of moon floating in the sky and in the pond.DSC02548aDSC02550aOne last peaceful morning on the shore. Definitely time to soak in that peace so you can carry it home with you.DSC02553aAnother chilly morning encouraged us to get moving though, first to make breakfast and then to break camp.DSC02555aFirst we said our goodbyes to the camp and lean to…DSC02559aDSC02563aThen we said our goodbyes to the pond….DSC02565aDSC02567aThen we stopped to eat a bunch of blueberries!!!DSC02572aThese are the “Holy cow we survived!” faces as we reached the trail head with our car just around the corner. Who could have guessed that we would make it through six days out there and still be smiling?DSC02573aThis made me laugh when we got back to the car. You could see the rangers had to keep wiping off that spot to read our permit. I can imagine them each time thinking those poor folks must be lost for their car toΒ  be here so long, then seeing our permit through the dust and realizing we meant to be gone so long. Now that we’ve pushed our limits I can’t wait to see what we plan for next years adventures!

Grafton Loop – August 2017

Grafton Loop – August 2017

41 pics and some babbling from a three night, 38 mile loop in far western Maine.Β  Grafton Notch has been my “white whale” for a few years now. Despite making an annual effort I had never actually gone all the way around. That darn highway in the notch makes it too easy to cut down the middle when weather or lack of spirit tempted me to give up. I’d started to joke about it being a place where dreams go to die after last year’s issue with the motorcycle tire killing off my LT hopes. Still, I had to return and make the effort to at least try. Anything else would be putting one foot in the grave and giving up on life…

 

Day OneDSC02194aThe road walk to start of about half a mile to where you pick up a snowmobile trail that leads to the real trail a mile or so in flew by this time. My pack felt light and so did my feet.DSC02195aThere are no big signs for the trail along the highway, but on foot these are easy enough to spot. They mark the field gate you need to walk around before following the snowmobile/GLT signs through the private property.DSC02198aCrossing Bear River via the snowmobile bridge it was good to see some water. Western Maine wasn’t in as much of a drought as we were at home towards the coast and this wasn’t looking bad for August.DSC02201aThe small flows at the base of Bald Mtn were still running. Also a good sign that water wouldn’t be too much of an issue on this trip. Sounded nice too πŸ™‚DSC02202aLunch break after climbing over the first mountain of the day. A little time with the pack off and some cheese in my mouth had me ready to hit the climbs I knew were coming up next.DSC02208aMossy glen in the col before heading up towards Sunday River Whitecap.DSC02209aDSC02210aClosing in on the tree line you can start to see more sky between them. It gives you hope!DSC02213aThen this!DSC02218aDSC02219aThe top of Sunday River Whitecap is always one of my favorite spots to be. There is just so much open sky with mountains lining the horizon in several directions.DSC02221aDSC02225aExtensive board bridges and scree walls have been put in place to define the trail and protect the fragile alpine growth. Looking a bit beyond, you can see Old Speck on the left side of the notch, a bit of highway down below and then Hedgehog Hill and part of West Baldpate on the right. I’d worry about that the next day though. I just had a few more miles to my intended camp at Bull Run.DSC02230aDSC02236aA big plus on this hike was the free fruit! A little hard to get there, but darn tasty and plenty to be found because this section of trail sees little traffic. I left some for the wildlife, but admit to eating more than a few.DSC02237aDSC02238aWater at the Slide Mtn site was running low so I was happy to carry on another mile or so to the Bull Run site where the water, as usual, was flowing better.DSC02239aThe tarp isn’t up yet, but the laundry has been hung out to dry. Plenty of room on the platform to share and another nearby, but I have never seen another soul at this site. It helps that I usually hit it on a weeknight I imagine. With good water and a bear box I make it my first night’s camp every time I come up to try the loop.DSC02241aAlways windy here and there are lots of dead trees laying all around the campsite. I sleep well despite that because I know that when the tree with my name on it comes at least I’ll be well rested heh.

Day TwoDSC02243aDSC02245aThe climb up Old Speck from this side is always a joy because it starts out easy, with dirt under foot and actual switchbacks winding their way up towards the steeper climb at the end. We don’t see many switchbacks here in New England so they sort of make me giggle a bit because it seems so easy, even if you are wasting time wandering around the side of a mountain rather than getting to the top.DSC02248aLooking back at Sunday River Whitecap, the big mountain of day one. Now we are above it, despite the easy climbing, which seems sort of unfair given the challenging climb the day before.DSC02250aDSC02251aAt the summit of Old Speck thin clouds were flying past from left to right almost obscuring the Baldpates on the other side of the notch. I didn’t waste any time with pics up there. I was hoping to make it all the way to the East Baldpate campsite that day and had the whole of the notch in front of me before hitting the big climb on the other side.DSC02262aDSC02265aHalf way down looking back up towards the summit of Old Speck. This descent has knocked me off trail before by slowing me down and making my knees weep. Not on this trip though. I just kept rolling down that trail at a steady clip.DSC02268aA nice view of Hedgehog Hill, West Baldpate and finally on the far left the open slabs of East Baldpate. They were getting closer with every step and starting to look bigger too!DSC02272aThe falls were barely flowing on the brook near the bottom of the notch. I was glad I still had plenty of water from Bull Run so I didn’t need to worry about it for a while.DSC02275aTo heck with those Baldpates, I’m sleeping here. I made it as far as Baldpate Shelter on the climb up West Baldpate and found myself looking at it being too early to stop but too late in the day to get where I was headed. Having pushed too hard and failed before I opted to try the easy route this time and set up camp early. It would mean a very long hike the next day to get back on pace, but for now I could take my boots off.DSC02276aAbout twenty AT thru hikers also spent the time at the shelter, though only one was actually camped in the LT. These were all or most all NOBO thru hikers and many of them opted to stop early rather than take on the rest of the climb that day, but they had come though Mahoosuc Notch that day so had earned a break.

 

Day ThreeDSC02278aI had a lot of miles to do and weather was threatening so this is the only pic from the first climb.DSC02280aJust as I reached the summit the rain began to fall. Just a few drops at first, but more steadily as I made my way down into the col before the next climb.DSC02283aWith the wind picking up and water coming down I knew the exposed climb ahead would be “fun”. Those slabs can get a bit slippery when they are wet.DSC02287aDawns last gleaming or Sailor take warning. This was about the time the rain really began to come down and I suited up with rain jacket and kilt. DSC02289aOne last pic of the disappearing mountains and then the camera was packed away for the rest of the very very very long day.DSC02291aCompletely soaked, exhausted and starved is no time to find out you have a tangled ridgeline. Had to sit down to calmly deal with that before I froze to death, then set up camp, get wet clothes off and get dry clothes and down quilts wrapped around me. Rough day πŸ™‚ It had been 15 miles with 3.5 mountains climbed and steady rain for most all of it, but I was within a few miles of finishing this loop after years of failure. I wasn’t feeling great, but I was feeling hopeful.DSC02292aThere’s got to be a morning after, right? Well I was still feeling pretty crappy, but this sunshine certainly lifted my spirits. Putting on wet trail clothes is never fun, but I was stoked about finishing the climb up Puzzle Mtn for the first time.DSC02293aThe views on top of Puzzle Mountain were definitely worth the wait and the effort. I began to run into day hikers at the summit as well as a couple who were planning on doing the entire loop in two days. Ahhh, to be young! Not sure if they succeeded, but I wished them well.DSC02295aDSC02297aIt really was a glorious morning up there and if I wasn’t in a hurry to get down to search for a cheeseburger I might have stayed up there for hours.DSC02300aThe climb down was wet, steep rock slabs which were very tricky so no more pictures. We’ll just leave these happy little cloud pictures as the end of the story for now. This last shot shows most of the mountains along the loop. Perhaps that will help you understand why it has taken me so many attempts over the years to finally make it all the way around. If not this might help…

GLT17aprofile

Being an elevation profile the actual trail distances are compressed. The actual miles were about 13 on day one, about 7 on day two, 15 on day three and 6 on the last day with the total loop listed as being 39 miles. This is for demonstrating the constant up and down of the Grafton Loop which is what makes it such a challenge. There are a few miles on Day 3 which are sort of flatish, but even those were rolling hills.

If you go, whether you are doing it in one night or four, be prepared to work for it. Don’t let that scare you off though. Despite the hopes that have died there over the years I kept going back until I finished it in one go.

This is one of those hikes I looked at just a few years ago and felt bad that I would never be able to do such a trip. I was too old, too fat, too weak. Now, rather than being the place where dreams go to die, it is going to be known as the place where I decided to dream even bigger…