Sunday, June 28, 2009

Maine Snapshots

Little Dipper and Big Dipper
The Siblings, "Sibs"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Soggy Trails: Leaving Karrie in Maine

From Vickie:
Yeti (Adam Williams) and Big Dipper (Fred Kressler)

Wow, what an experience. This part of Maine is true wilderness. I have been very fortunate to experience its wildlife up close and personal. To date, I have met several moose, mink, otters and even a bear on the trail during my quest to meet up with Fred and Karrie. Yesterday during a tremendous down pour (and yes, it's still raining), I was rescued by a lumber scout and his lab. He felt sorry for me and drove me down a boulder strewn road that I was unable to traverse with my low-rider van. The fog is lifting and I hope to actually see a mountain today in Rangley. Fred and I will be removing our feet from the trail here but not our hearts.

Dipper, After Dark (Borsch), and Curse (Travis)
Karrie, Looking back in June 2011:
My father, Fred aka "Big Dipper" had been my comparable and indispensable companion for three weeks.  We had near perfectly matched stride and humor. And he's probably the only person in the world that I could stand to hike with for that long.  Now it was going to be just me.

My Aunt Vickie had been our car support--always racing to the next AT road crossing with fresh water, and chocolate.  She'd tells us what to look out for up ahead, had already made reservations at a hotel in the next town and had climbed every peak from here to the border in her free time.  What a woman.  She even managed to squeezed her way into the 100-mile wilderness to meet us--giving us and all those that hiked with us a major advantage for weeks.

The day Fred and Vickie left I hugged them one last time and turned anxiously to the woods.  By that evening, they would be back in my hometown, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania 7 states away, and I in unfamiliar woods, with a backpack and the rain.

I'm so glad too. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

At the End of the 100-Mile Wilderness

The "100-mile wilderness" is really 100 miles where you have no easy opportunity to resupply. The "wilderness" part is pushing it. You're never really that far away from people. I remember one time my friend Adam said something to the effect of "Isn't this great? Out here in the wilderness, nobody around, miles away from any town, any road..." and a pick-up drove by on a logging road off to our right that we hadn't seen.

It is suggested that you take at least 10 days worth of food with you, and large warnings are posted on each end of the 100 mile stretch. Near the end of the trail, many of my mates were doing shots of honey, scarfing down granola, and looking at their hiking partners with hungry eyes. Fred and I fared well.

It took us 9 days to get through it, and at the end, Fred, Vickie and I had a homey stay at the Lakeshore house in Monson, ME, complete with kayaking on Lake Hebron. In an excerpt from an email I sent while I was there I wrote:

"Just had a shower. Oh, it was AMAZING. Little things, doors, carpet, 'inside' mean so much right now."

In fact, if there were a club called, "The Karrie Loves You Club." You could be a life long member by giving Karrie a shower when she passes through your area. Really. Showers are the stuff friends are made of.

The next morning we had breakfast at Shaws (see photo, from left to right: Tom, Travis, and Fred). I ordered a "3" at Shaws--3 eggs, 3 strips of bacon, 3 sausages, and 3 pancakes. I think Adam ordered a 7.

We hit the trail again today.

The Makings of Trail Names?

I have gained, though have not officially adopted, the trail name "Lost Camera."

Yes, it is true. I lost my camera. On the second day too. Perhaps this is a name that "rings true" for me. Why it was just last year around this time, that I lost my camera in Greece. Two friends Travis and Tom called me "Super Girl" once and I hope that sticks instead. Send some good wishes my way.

For Fred's trail name, I suggest "Moose Poop." The man gets overly excited when he sees this soft ground deposit on the trail. Its occurrence is fairly common and I'll hear him exclaim "MOOSE POOP!" like a giddy child every time he sees it. You'll find it everywhere up here. After climbing up a mountain for hours--huffing and puffing the whole way up, there it'll be, right smack on the top of the mountain up a steep face that seems nearly impossible to climb. I've found myself thinking, "Moose poop? Really? A moose, all the way up here?" It is impressive. So why not bestow something so impressive upon man so impressive?

Looking back, Jan 2010:
A few days out of the 100-Mile Wilderness, I was named officially. After finding out that I go absolutely nuts for all things astronomy, Travis and Tom racked their brains to find two names that fit together and that were themed after this love of mine. At first they thought of "Ursa Major and Ursa Minor", then they thought "Big Bear and Little Bear." Eventually, after some coaxing from me, they (or perhaps I) settled on Little Dipper and Big Dipper. It was a name that would still have meaning after my dad left the trail, and it had more to do with who I was than "Lost Camera" hopefully ever would.   

Karrie Kressler = Little Dipper. Forever.

Looking back, Jun 2011:
I also lost my camera on the Mississippi Trip in fall of the next year: The camera was waterproof, but didn't float.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

First Post from the Trail

From Adrian:

Hello All! This is Adrian reporting Karrie's adventures via cell communication. (what would we ever have done before cell phones?! I am no good at reading smoke signals.)

Here's the latest: Karrie and Fred climbed Mt. Katahdin successfully! They hiked from Chimney Pond campground and from there took the Dudley Trail up to Pamola Peak. Then it was across the Knife's Edge and to the summit! Karrie reported that the weather was beautiful, not a cloud was in the sky. Beginning the AT at the peak, they descended along the Hunt Trail and ended their day at the Katahdin Stream campground where Karrie's Aunt, Vickie was waiting with sustenance.

Currently the group is about 56 miles into the 100 mile wilderness and Karrie reports that although its only been a few days, they have shared many great camaraderies. Progress has been slowed slightly due to rain and Karrie developing Achilles tendinitis. Other than that small setback, Karrie feels that she is in better shape than she expected, and hopes to continue hiking after some rest, ice, ibuprofen, and perhaps a change in footwear to ease her injury.

Send good thoughts up to Maine for Karrie's Achilles tendinitis to heal quickly and I will post again as soon as I hear more news!

From Karrie, looking back:
I thought that the trail might end right then and there. My heal was stiff, creaky and packed with pain, but we had only gone 50 miles! Our mileage was reasonable. So, were the gods trying to tell me something? This was the very spot where Paris' arrow killed Achilles when he was scaling the walls of Troy. Though my wound would not be fatal, it certainly might mean that I should lighten up on my speed, maybe take a day off, sacrifice a small child...etc.

Without health insurance (why thank you USA!), my best friend Adrian (an athletic trainer) and my mom (a retired RN) became trail-savers. In an attempt to "well" myself, my Aunt Vickie picked my father and I up in the middle of the 100-mile--'cheaters' some might say, but I don't care. We quickly left the AT and went to a drug store to find some gel inserts and ibuprofen. Then, since we hadn't the chance to eat there before climbing Katahdin, we gorged ourselves at the "Appalachian Trail Cafe" with some sweet sweet food. The same day, we were back on the trail. I soaked my feet in the streams, elevated my foot by night, nearly overdosed on ibuprofen, and stretched my heel on every mountain I climbed. I also had my dad massage it and told him that Adrian had recommended it, though I don't think she did.

Within the month the pain subsided and I no longer winced when removing or replacing my shoe. I recommend that Adrian be promoted to head of all athletic trainers everywhere and be given a pony.

I did have one other "injury" on the trail. But that's another story...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Day Two, Leaving Katahdin Stream Campground

We make a wrong turn.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Friday, June 05, 2009

Last Words Before The Trail

It’s been a busy week with friends and family shuffling in and out of the house--some spending the night, other just stopping by for a quick visit and a meal. I feel wonderfully full.

After attempting to load my pack from 5th grade once, I quickly discovered that it was too small for my stature (yes, even mine) and too small in capacity. I needed something bigger. Luckily, some family friends, the Daltons, leant me Carolyn’s old pack. We’re talking 30 YEARS OLD! It’s the type of pack you might look at and say, “Man, that chick is hard core,” or at least, “She looks really good for her age.”

A thorough cleaning, a hip belt readjustment, a little duct tape, and the pack was ready to go. It was able to hold everything I hoped to take with room to spare. I’m quickly falling in love with it. We did receive a warning that the pack could disintegrate on us, and apart from duct tape we haven’t another backup plan. What adventure! 

Early Thursday morning we packed the van full of our gear, and resupply for one month. My Aunt Vickie, who will be joining us on and off the trail, ran errands and busily broke in her boots. Iva packed food diligently into separate servings creating mountains of GORP, ramen, mac & cheese, and everything you could possibly think to dehydrate. I love Ramen. Let’s just put that out there.

Today (Friday) we left the house at 6:30 in the morning, and now at 1:01 we’re skirting around Boston on 495. We crossed the AT in NY near the Taconic on 84 and stopped at the rest stop to ask about it. Just think: we’ll be back here again in August.

We sleep in Millinocket, ME tonight and hike over Katahdin tomorrow morning. Wish us luck!
Happy Trails,

Looking back at this post in December 2009:

Rereading over this, one of my earliest posts, makes me giggle. Since coming home I have pulled out that "5th grade backpack" and re-examined it. True, it wouldn't have worked, it is still too small for my torso. However, its capacity is just fine. I could have fit everything I needed on the trail in it comfortably, but I didn't know that then.  50 liters or less didn't seem like enough.

I got so sick of GORP. I don't think I can eat another raisin or peanut for as long as I live, but I still love Ramen.

Oh man, look at that pack trowel. *Shakes head*  Use a stick!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

At The Beginning...

All stories start somewhere, and this one begins in the summer of 1995, when my father and I decided to hike over Mount Katahdin in Maine for the first time.

The two of us went with another family (Liz, Jed and Jedi), and had the best pick of weather. Hiking into the cirque of Katadhin, we passed the beautiful Chimney pond and took the Saddle Trail to the top. As we neared a sign along the ridge, blazes changed from blue to white, signifing that we were entering onto the Appalachian Trail.

We sustained some injuries that hike: on the down slope I busted my lip open when I fell on a rock, and Jed...well, Jed's bicept ripped away from the bone like a fruit roll up when he grabbed a branch enroute to fill his water bottle. It was eventful, and despite my sore lip, and injured commrade, we made it to camp and had a great time.

The following summer we returned with two additions to our group, and hiked the Cathedral Trail over Katahdin once more. Only this time we had no injuries on Katadhin, and we kept going. We continued south for 65 miles ending smack dab in the middle of Mosquito Alley. I don't remember why we stopped, but I'm pretty sure it was something to do with Fred's job. We were a one paycheck family, and we needed to go home.

But today, we're going to keep going.