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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
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MARCH 3, 2006
"Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray."
Lord Byron


Storm cloud drama over Styles Peak in Vermont.

Ah, another "optimism" quote! I'm always searching for the silver lining in the clouds of life.

This is a continuation of Photos 25, featuring dramatic and not-so-dramatic storm clouds along the Appalachian Trail last summer. There were too many that I wanted to include for one essay, and there are twenty-eight more of 'em here, the most yet. Be glad I didn't include even more!

Folks with dial-up connections have probably given up on these essays by now, as long as they take to download. Sorry about that. The photos I've previously used in the journal are still at about 400 X 300 but the new ones are half that size or less, so they'll load a bit faster.

OK, let's continue on up the Trail to northern New England (no storm drama in Connecticut or Massachusetts when I ran through) . . .


Jim and I enjoyed our trek up and down Stratton Mountain on Day 107 despite the storm clouds and wind that morning (we didn't get wet). We split up at Stratton Pond, shown in the two photos below, and Jim made a loop through the valley back to the truck while I continued on to Mad Tom Notch (love that name!).

There is another photo of the pond in the journal on Day 107. Although it looks gloomy in these photos, the pond is really quite lovely.


These next photos from Styles Peak early in the morning on Day 109 are much more dramatic.

I took a series of shots there, mesmerized by the sky. Here are two views, and a third is at the top of this essay:


I did get plenty wet on Day 113, my last day in Vermont. In fact, I joked in the journal that I looked like a drowned rat that afternoon when I was walking through the upscale town of Hanover, New Hampshire, home of the "Ivy League" Dartmouth College.

I took this photo of mist and rain clouds from a meadow top in eastern Vermont early that morning. That's heather blooming in the foreground:

The rain in those clouds soon had me soaked to the bone.

It stopped raining by the time I reached the bridge over the Connecticut River, below, the dividing line between Vermont and New Hampshire, but gray clouds still filled the sky as I entered the city of Hanover. Several folks were rowing on the river as I walked across the bridge:


The first major mountain I climbed in New Hampshire was Mt. Moosilauke. Jim accompanied me to the summit on Day 116.

It would have been nice to have a clear day for this hike so we could have seen the awesome views from the summit. It was misty and cloudy on the way up and down the mountain and completely socked in on top. (I'll show you a couple photos from the summit in Photos 27.) The next three shots show the clouds closing in on us as we climbed up the peak:



Moosilauke was a piece of cake compared to the Kinsman Mountains the next day (117) because of all the rain I endured. I was totally miserable that day from sliding and falling on treacherous roots, boulders, and bedrock.

It was my second-worst day on the Trail, behind flood day (141) in Maine. (There's a pattern here!!)




I might have appreciated the Kinsmans more on a dry, sunny day. Will I ever return?? Maybe . . .

The next day (118) on Franconia Ridge was one of my very best days on the Trail.

Guess what? It was SUNNY!!!

I've already shown you lots of photos from the ridge, but I'll repeat two of them that show gray clouds passing over Mt. Lafayette. Although the clouds looked ominous, there was no rain on my parade that day, just some cloud drama and many fantastic views.


Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Trail gods for that glorious day!


Day 127 began in a literal fog (I'll show a picture of that in the next essay). Jim dropped me off at a trail head in New Hampshire, then drove to our rendezvous point in Maine at Grafton Notch on the north side of Old Speck Mountain. He was trying to come in to meet me in Mahoosuc Notch, one of the biggest obstacles hikers face on the entire AT.

But first he had to climb nearly 2,700 feet up Old Speck. He took this photo from one of the rock ledges going down the south side of the mountain:

Thank goodness for both of us, the fog and gray clouds cleared out by noon and we never got wet. Getting through the Notch was tough enough on a dry day! You'll have to read the journal entry that day to see what challenges we encountered.

There weren't any more storm clouds while I was out on the Trail until ten days later. I took these two photos of West Carry Pond early in the morning on Day 137:


After Arnold Swamp (named after Benedict Arnold) the Trail passed the sandy beaches around East Carry Pond:

I lucked out again that day and didn't get wet.

Our luck ran out on Day 139 when we got about two inches of rain at our campground. I took the day off and went back out on the Trail on Day 140 for a twenty-five miler from Moxie Pond and past the town of Monson. It was foggy and wet. You can see from the water drops on the camera lens that it was raining that morning through this swampy area:

I decided to leave the drops for effect instead of editing them out! Do you see where that white AT blaze is? I must have been on a bog board when I took that shot.

Next is a photo of the clouds from Moxie Bald. There is another view in the journal entry for Day 140.

It was still overcast at the end of the day when I passed Lake Hebron near Monson:

I wish that was the end of my rain stories but it's only the beginning of the major trouble we had on Day 141 in the first section of the Hundred Mile Wilderness. It rained more during the night and again in the morning on Day 141. I wanted to take another "rain day" but changed my mind about 11 AM as we were driving to our next campsite. It's the worst decision I made the whole trek.

Check out the journal that day for the gory details of my most dangerous day on the Appalachian Trail.

So on Day 142 . . . Jim and I were both so traumatized from "flood day" that we took the day off to regroup physically and mentally. We checked out some logging roads and trail heads in the Wilderness, ran errands, and walked around the town of Greenville, Maine, right on huge Moosehead Lake.

This is a photo of the paddle-wheeler "Katahdin" and there is another harbor photo in the journal that day.

See those gray clouds? We got MORE rain that day, so guess who was very nervous about the next day's run??

Fortunately, the stream crossings on Day 143 were not as bad as I expected and there was no more rain. Jim visited a couple lakes and took this dramatic shot of East Chairback Pond with some gray clouds overhead:

As noted in Photos 25, we took loads of photos of Mt. Katahdin from our campsite across Jo-Mary Lake. Although the clouds in the next two photos look like rain was imminent on Day 145, there was no rain in the area that day and the sky was mostly sunny.

In the first photo, taken in the early morning, Katahdin is mostly hidden behind the billowing gray clouds:

The mountain is silhouetted nicely against the thick blanket of clouds in this shot, taken in the evening:

You can see other views of the water, mountain, and clouds in Photos 25 and the journal entry from Day 145.

I'll end this essay with one of my favorite Trail photos. I took this one over Lower Jo-Mary Lake near the Antlers Campsite early in the morning on Day 146, two days before finishing the AT adventure run. It was overcast much of the day, but never rained where I was.

In my mind, I'm transported back to that day on the Trail with Cody as we got closer and closer to our final AT destination . . . and I want to go back.

Next up: running in and above the fog in dream-like scenarios.


"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2006 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil