Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Day 157: A Ghost In the Night

August 11: Late in the night, a lone hiker arrived at the shelter. I had been dead asleep upon her arrival, and she quietly set up in the shelter at the opposite end as me. I didn't get a good look at her and, in fact, didn't even realize it was a her until the next morning when the other fellow in the shelter told me that. Being so late and dark, I didn't say anything. I figured I'd introduce myself properly in the morning when we started waking up.

Except when I woke up, she was already gone. She managed to slip away before dawn without my even noticing. A ghost in the night. Later in the morning when the other guy in the shelter told me it was a woman, things started clicking in my head.

Anish stayed true to her "ghost" moniker, arriving long after dark and leaving well before sunrise. I'd have thought I'd imagined her if it wasn't for the other guy in the shelter who assured me that I hadn't. =)

I had heard rumors that someone "big" in the hiking community was planning to do something "big" on the Appalachian Trail, although details were scarce. I'd learn more about Anish later, setting a new AT unsupported speed record a month or two later. And although I never talked to this person or even recognized it as a woman, I'm absolutely convinced it was her. She was the ghost that fleetingly stopped in our shelter for the night.

Later, I'd learn when she finished the trail and the new record she set, and I counted back to when she would have started the trail which would have put her directly around this location. The fact that she arrived so late in the night and left so early in the morning--you have to do that if you're going to be setting speed records on the trail. In all of my years of backpacking, I'd never seen anyone arrive so late then immediately leave so early. And it was a woman, hiking alone. It had to be her.

I'm a little disappointed now that I didn't talk to her when she first arrived, but I hadn't exactly been looking for her on the trail and I had no reason to expect she'd be gone before I woke up again in the morning. I'm not even all that into record-setting hoopla. I don't really mind that people like to set records, but I'm not terribly interested in them myself.

No, but I had another connection with her: She had thru-hiked the AT in 2003 and that was the first time I met before. Before she was famous. Before she had set any PCT records. And here we were, crossing paths 12 years later on the trail where I first met her. It would have been fun reminiscing about our time on the trail in 2003, and I completely missed it.

When I read in Backpacker magazine the article A Ghost Among Us, it says she did the triple crown of trails without fanfare and at an "unremarkable pace." Which made me laugh at the time because the only reason I did remember her was for her very remarkable pace! But admittedly, without fanfare. I had crossed paths with her in Connecticut--or rather, she caught up with me in Connecticut after doing a 20+ mile day. I reached the shelter late in the evening and she was already there having passed me early in the day when I went into Kent to resupply. I had assumed she was in the for the night, but no, she wanted to get a few more miles in and stretch her legs a bit more. Even then I didn't think too much of it, until she told me her start date with more than a months after my own start date. She must have been averaging 25 or 30 miles per day! Holy crap! I'd talked to her for all of about five minutes before she continued on, wanting to stretch her legs a bit more for the day despite the fact she'd already done more than 20 miles that day and dusk was around the corner. It made an impression on me. *nodding* Little did I know that she'd later be setting new speed records on the AT or PCT.

So I was a little disappointed to realize I had missed her this time around. Even more so to realize how close I was actually seeing her--we shared a shelter together!--but not really seeing her. I don't know if she remembers me or not from 2003 since our meeting was so unremarkable, although she did comment on my stamp having seeing it in the register for over a thousand miles so if she remembers me, that would be the reason. The stamp. She probably had no idea I was thru-hiking the AT again myself, but I wondered if she'd start seeing my stamp in the shelter registers and put two-and-two together and realize it's the same person or not. But now I'll never know....

Anyhow! Enough about the ghost that I failed to meet! =)

The trail, finally, started becoming easy again. Oh, it was still muddy with lots of slick and slippery roots, but the steep climbs and drops had come to an end and I moved quickly and (relatively) easily over the trail. It was wonderfully freeing! By 3:30 in the afternoon, I had covered a whopping 23.1 miles, my first 20+ mile day in a month and my second longest day of the entire trail! And by 3:30 in the afternoon! I could still get in several more miles before dark if I really needed to!

But I didn't, mostly because the weather took a turn for the worse. Dark and ugly clouds rolled in, and the air was heavy with moisture. It was going to rain--I'd bet the farm on that. And I wanted to get into a shelter before that happened.

Near the end of my day's hike, I passed by Antlers Campsite. I stopped at the privy to take a photo of the double-seater privy known as "Fort Relief," and not 30 seconds past that I caught sight of a bear running across the trail, maybe 50 feet ahead of me.

A bear! A bear! It was running fast and nothing more than a blur, and even though I had my camera already in my hand having just taken a photo of Fort Relief, I couldn't get it up and aimed in time for a photo. The bear was a flash, and gone as fast as it arrived.

But I saw a bear! Which pumped me up because bear sightings are always fun. =)

But it looked like a rather small bear, somewhere between a cub and a full-grown bear. I was a little concerned that maybe it was closer to being a cub than a full-grown bear and, if so, then where was mama bear? I stopped in my tracks and looked around, waiting to see if mama bear might have been following behind.

But I saw nothing else.

"Hello!" I said into the woods. "Anymore bears out there?!"


"I just want to pass through on the trail! Please don't freak out and attack me! I'm just passing through and minding my own buisness!"

Still nothing.

I continued down the trail, walking slowly and deliberately hoping not to startle any other bears in the brush, and after a few minutes when I felt like I was away from the danger zone, pick up my pace again.

By the time I arrived at the shelter, a light misty kind of rain had started so I was a bit wet, but the heavy rain held off until I was safely in the shelter.

In the 100-Mile Wilderness, I got it in my head to start writing "confessions" in many of the shelter registers calling it my "100 miles of confessions." I don't remember what all I wrote in all of them, but it included such interesting tidbits as my being the love child of Jimmy Carter but I had been paid hush money not to talk about it.
I don't remember what I wrote in which registers because I didn't really keep track of that, but I do remember writing in this register that I had accidentally burned it down during my 2003 thru-hike. The reason this stuck out in my head was because when I wrote that, I was a little concerned that what if the shelter had burned down in 2003 by persons unknown and now they had "proof" it was me? I'd hate to be busted for something I really didn't do, but it seemed like the chances of it having burned down in 2003 were extraordinarily low. I'm sure there was a shelter somewhere on the trail that burned down in 2003--it seems like shelters burn down with surprising regularity--but the chances of it being this one seemed very low.

But the real reason this register entry stand out in my head is the privy--which looked like a little log cabin. Very cute! And I made some sort of comment about "You did a great job rebuilding the shelter, and I really like what you did with the privy! Top notch!" Or something to that effect. The privy even had toilet paper--about two dozen rolls of it. Usually, you have to use your own.

So I wrote, confessing to accidentally burning down the shelter for some stupid reason. Then drew my last maze. Having arrived at 3:30 in the afternoon, I had a lot of time to kill, so I drew my third and last maze in the shelter register title "Help the Tortuga find Katahdin!" I'll let you work that out of your own, though. =)

And Katahdin.... I had less than 50 miles to go to the end of the trail now. The fun and games would soon be coming to an end.....

Lots of lakes in Maine!

Beaver dam!
Jo-Mary Lake
Fort Relief is a two-seater privy. What is up with Maine and their two-seater privies?! If I'm remembering correctly, this is now the third two-seater privy I've seen in Maine! This privy also had a register (also something only seen in Maine), but the pages were torn up and scattered around the privy. I don't think I'll sign it!
It was here where I saw a small bear run across the trail. A bear! A bear!
Home for the night at the Potaywadjo Spring Lean-to, which would be quite full tonight! Most of the hikers were out for a few days, though--not many thru-hikers around anymore. Northbound or southbound! Some, but not a lot!
One of the cutest and nicest privies of the trail! =) It even had a dozen+ rolls of toilet paper inside.
The last Tortuga maze of the trail. (If you click on it, you can show a larger version of it and solve it yourself.)
e knew that she’d hiked the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail (the Triple Crown of hiking) once before, but without fanfare and at an unremarkable pace. - See more at:
Some knew that she’d hiked the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail (the Triple Crown of hiking) once before, but without fanfare and at an unremarkable pace. - See more at:"

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