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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Non Propositional Knowledge

Non propositional knowledge is a term I recently learned that I'm sure you can relate to; it describes the inability of words to accurately express the depth of an experience. We share a sunrise or sunset, we watch a movie or see a game together but then sometimes we alone experience something that we could only wish but know we can't fully nor even closely recount the myriad elements and nuances contained within even something lasting but a moment let alone six months.
Nevertheless I can tell you my body is glad it's over. The 21st mile of a marathon (26.2) is commonly referred to as "the wall". It's a psychological barrier where body and mind are in full agreement that continuing is not a good idea and only the will remains to finish.
I hit the wall or rather it hit me in the Whites and stayed till Oct 27 at about 4pm after the crawl up and down Katahdin. 
A couple of common trail phrases: "everyone hikes their own hike" and "the trail provides". The latter refers to the abundance of Trail Magic, Trail Angels etc which seem to appear out of nowhere at times but so often at just the right time in the secular sense due to sheer coincidence.
When viewed on a profile guide the "100 Mile Wilderness" looks mostly flat, manageable and like a terrain one might make up time and distance on. It's the 100 miles heading into Baxter Park where Katahdin is.
Warnings abound as many look at the guide and make false and in at least two occasions life threatening assumptions. From Monson Maine to Baxter access to towns, resupply, rescue, signal etc is scarce if at all. 
Hikers are advised to carry 10 days worth of supplies, and especially in these weeks all manner of weather gear.
Others agreed, at this late date between the Whites of NH and Baxter of Maine, around 350 miles, maybe around a dozen NOBO thru hikers remain. And marching along makes intersecting without advance contact and coordination at least a "random" occurance. Stay with me now.
So when I finally hobble into Monson around 10am the intent is to eat breakfast, find a place to stay, prep for the Wilderness and possibly locate a shuttle to bring me to Katahdin the next day so I can head south back to Monson vs hitting Katahdin too late as already many have had to turn back half way up due to weather. 
The shuttle would've cost $100 and pretty much from there I would've hiked totally alone as I had since Georgia except now rarely seeing another soul.
So in Monson I find the Lakeshore Hostel. The owner says I will have the whole place to myself, walks me upstairs for a tour and that's that.
Within about 30 minutes of unpacking and starting an inventory I was surprised to see a young couple enter. They're not staying just hanging out to watch tv as they plan to sleep at the trailhead before heading out the next day.
We introduce each other and they immediately recognize my name as the Sparky that Perk had spoke of the day before who I had met briefly the week before. Meet Camel, Canundrumb Jubilee (CJ) and Perk the Scholar. At the Lakeshore in Monson Cam describes an opportunity as his back problems prevent him from hiking what CJ and now Perk want to complete, the Wilderness.
Cam has a truck and invites me to slack pack the entire Wilderness while he meets us nightly after 15-19 mile day hikes along dirt logging access roads. This means all I would now need to carry is the day's food and water and one set of dry clothes in case of a fording accident. There are about 5 streams where one must ford up to their thighs to cross.
This opportunity cut my daily pack weight from about 60+ lbs (10 days food, tent, sleeping bag etc) to about 12lbs, increasing my mileage from 8-10 to 15-19 miles daily.
This cut the trek from 10 days down to 6 days 5 nights! 
Although I got soaked twice I was able to just hike to the truck, grab gear, set up tent, eat, sleep and repeat. While I kept telling them they were a Godsend I fear they only may have seen it as "the trail provides".
The Wilderness does not provide many vistas and is covered with roots, rocks, mud, bogs and combinations thereof.
But once in a while one comes across a nice spot:
And as one approaches gets a glimpse of the beauty and one in the same beast.
Rumors abound as Baxter considers terminating their longstanding relationship with the AT due to the small (3%) but powerfully effective and sometimes destructive forces among thru hikers against the mission of the park.
Katahdin is an incredible piece of property as noted by several notables including but not limited to:
It rises from 1106 to 5268 feet over a 5.2 mile stretch.
As one ascends they climb up to an incredible rock scramble called the Abol Slide
an area where one must climb hand and foot without poles over, under, around, lifting, pulling and grabbing hand holds.
 The Abol Slide section 
leads up to the area known as the Tablelands.
Which eventually brings us to the summit approach:
Perk (the only other thru hiker there on this day) was heading down as I approached and was kind enough to return and take my pic:
Then he left me alone to myself to take a few minutes in solitude:
To record a short video (unattainable on blog), take a few pics:
And reflect and pray before heading back down.
Now what?
Well if you don't mind, and even if you do, I'd like to give it one more post to summarize the hike and share some news about likely and possible futures if as we say the good Lord Will's and the creek don't rise. Give me a couple days whilst I visit me ma and kin.
Luv luv luv





















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