9/23 Crocker Mountains and Stratton (10.5)

October 25, 2013 at 3:35 pm

IMG_20130923_094020_143We woke up freezing!  Literally!  We knocked ice off the tent and off the trees as we packed up.  We got moving as early and as quickly as we could to get warm; neither of us slept particularly well last night as the temperature plummeted.  Fall is here!  We had just gotten warm enough from moving when we came across our first big obstacle of the day: the Carrabasset.  Those of you who tuned in to yesterday’s episode know that we were warned against crossing yesterday, as the river was still impassable from rains.  It looked to be only mid thigh now (or knee deep for normal to tall people I suppose), although it was moving quickly.

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When your only decision is a bad one…

The first thing we saw when we reached the river was Jungle Jym, shirt and pants rolled up, sporting a very nervous face and hopping around on the rock.  We asked him how he got over there but the river was too loud to hear well, so we waited for him to make it across.  He had slack packed back to the spot after yesterday’s wild time up and over Sugarloaf to avoid the ford.  Now he was headed back the other way to make up his miles.  Although the Trail is technically a linear thing, stretching from South to North, the convoluted ways in which hikers sometimes have to hike it to complete a thru hike can be boggling.

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Ketchup is fearless in long pants

We worked up our courage, rolled up our pant legs, and plunged into the icy water.  It was so cold it shocked us and made it hard to move but it really woke us up!  Getting out we felt invigorated for a minute and ready to move, but we didn’t want to leave without knowing Ketchup got across safely.  We wrapped ourselves in sleeping bags to wait for him but it wasn’t enough to warm ourselves after the shock of the water.  We both got very nauseous and shaky.  As soon as we saw Ketchup cross we made ourselves get up and walk, thankfully uphill.  The hike up looked steep on the map but it was actually pretty nice trail.  The clouds even lent a pretty contrast to the bright orange leaves.  As we climbed our feet crunched on the frozen ground and we could see that every tiny branch of every tree was coated in ice.  It was beautiful.

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Coming over North Crocker we met a trail crew that was thinking about hiking out a day early.  We gave them our personal opinion that that would probably be OK, based on the gusting wind that was hitting their side of the mountain and knocking ice onto them.  Then we got moving again!  On the downhill we had some trouble staying warm and started to shiver again, but we had warmed up by the time we reached the road to Stratton where we ran into Davey Crockett and Patches themselves!  They were heading back on trail but we hitched in to town, as it turns out, with the woman who owns the Stratton motel.  As soon as we got a room, we turned the heat up to 80 and took hot showers.  We also broke down and ordered zero bags for the end of the trip.  Everyone has their moments of weakness.