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[at-l] Postcards from Ron, Linda & Brandon Moak

Weekly Postcard - August 1-8
Pinkham Notch to Rangeley, Maine
Weekly Miles  - 99  Total - 489.1

As often happens, the path of life takes twists and turns different from  the 
ones expected or planned.  That is what has happened on our journey.  Since 
Fallingwater's last entry from Pinkham Notch, we've experienced  trail highs, 
and emotional and physical lows.
I am writing these words from the comfort and safety of Hiker's Paradise 
in Gorham, New Hampshire.  I had to leave the trail on Tuesday to 
recover from a bug, and give my battered, swollen knees some respite 
from the beating they've taken through the spectacular, but brutal White 
Mountains.  Fallingwater and Lucky 13 are still on the trail. I can't 
wait to see them, and find out how they fared on the rest of their 
journey through the Mahoosucs.  I'm taking a shuttle to Rangeley this 
afternoon (Friday) to meet them at the Farmhouse Inn.  I had truly hoped 
I would be able to continue on with them after a few days of rest.  We 
wanted to finish our adventure together.  However, after several days of 
intense knee pain, and a visit to the doctor, good sense tells me my AT 
journey has come to an end for this year.  
Now, to recap last week.  From Pinkham Notch, we were two days from  Gorham.  
The first was a 13 mile day which took us up the 2,000 foot  climb to Wildcat 
Ridge, then over its imaginatively named peaks A, B, C,  D, and E. (Or, from 
the way we were traveling, E, D, C, B, and A.)  For  $5, we could have taken 
the gondola that runs up to Peak D, but that  would have been the weenie way, 
so we went on our own power.  The day  was clear and the temperature moderate, 
but the air was muggy as we made  our way down to Carter Notch Hut (the last 
of the AMC huts) for lunch.   The afternoon was full of Carters:  Carter Dome, 
then South, Middle and  North Carter (at least they weren't named Carter A, B, 
C, and D...)  I  mentally ticked them off, one by one, as we got closer to Imp 
Shelter.   This area is characterized by mountains with multiple rock ledge  
summits, separated by bog bridges.  There seem to be more bog bridges  through 
the Whites than we saw on the entire AT in '77, not that that's  a bad thing.  
 Imp Shelter was home that night to a diverse collection  of thru hikers and 
short term hikers.  Enjoyed a lovely sunset and view  of the lights of Gorham 
from a huge log bench in front of the shelter.
Saturday was a short 8-mile day into Gorham, with Mt. Moriah between us  and 
an afternoon of cleanliness and relaxation.  We stayed at Hiker's  Paradise, 
the wonderful haven for hikers owned by Bruno and Mary Ann  Janicki, with the 
able assistance of their friend, Bruce.  The hostel  was packed to the rafters 
that night.  Ronald and I thought it  interesting that there were more thru 
hikers congregated in this one  place than the number of southbounders that 
completed the entire AT in  '77.  It could easily have been a hikers' reunion.
On Sunday morning, we tore ourselves away to continue in the quest for 
Katahdin.  The first couple miles after crossing the Androscoggin River 
were mostly flat, and served as a warm-up for the 2,000 foot chug over 
Mt. Hays and beyond, into the Mahoosucs.  Spent the night at Gentian 
Pond Shelter, along with another huge group of hikers (27 total).  We're 
in the middle of the convergence of thru hikers, so from here to 
Katahdin, there is no possibility of solitude, as "The Maine Train" 
pushes north. 
Monday took us over Mt. Success and over the state line into Maine.   After a 
brief celebration with the group, and a photo opp to observe the  milestone,  
we continued on.  The day was marked by numerous boulder  scrambles and log 
ladders.  Two weeks of constant pounding over the  granite of New Hampshire 
had taken its toll on me.  That evening at Full  Goose Shelter, I was 
beginning to sense it was coming to an end.  By  Tuesday morning, I also had a 
stuffy cold, and couldn't even choke down  breakfast.  On the two miles before 
Mahoosuc Notch, we came to the tough  decision that I would have to leave the 
trail.  At the trail  intersection to the notch, we reorganized the packs, and 
said goodbye  until Friday in Rangeley.  They went on, and I walked 2.5 miles 
out on  the Mahoosuc Notch approach to a road, and hitched back to Gorham.   
After meeting them in Rangeley, I will arrange a shuttle to Bangor where  I 
will fly home to recuperate, and cheer the guys on from the sidelines.  It was 
a wonderful journey.
Red Rainbow

A big hole appeared in our hiking family today when Linda had to make  the 
decision to leave the trail and head home.  Tuesday morning, when we  left 
Full Goose Shelter, she didn't look good.  On the hike to the  intersection 
with Mahoosuc Notch, it was apparent that she couldn't  continue.  Just before 
the notch, we redistributed the food and gear,  then Linda took a side trail 
out to the road.  It was hard not knowing  exactly where she was going, but 
Bruce at Hiker's Paradise had assured  us that there was a good out to a 
gravel road with enough traffic to get  back to Gorham.  Still, it would be 
several days before we would know  exactly what happened.
Minus Linda, we headed on through the famed Mahoosuc Notch.  It was  still as 
fun as 20 years ago.  Brandon had a great time crawling over,  under and 
around the huge boulders that lined the notch.  We blitzed  through in under 
an hour, then faced the steep climb up Speck and  beyond.  The climbs up Speck 
and Baldpate, in addition to all the other  mountains in the Mahoosucs have 
done a number on us.  We arrived in  Rangeley on Friday, thankful to be 
through that section, and determined  to take a day off.
Today (Saturday), a large group of thru-hikers has spontaneously  gathered at 
the park by Rangeley Lake.  Tomorrow we're off to face the  next range of 
mountains.  Until then, there's much food to be eaten and  relaxing to be 

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