Appalachian Assault – Day 1
i’m going to give a shot are recalling my adventure on the appalachian trail. 300+ miles in 8 days happened so fast. looking back now some of them have blended together. however day 1 still stands out in my mind. here is what i recall.
41 miles of appalachian trail on day 1
(the total for the day was 45 miles w/7,739feet of vertical gain)
(check out the superhero arm warmers.. i’d need them)
karl and i headed out at sunrise from abol campground to climb mt katahdin. this was a slightly shorter but insanely steeper route to the summit of katahdin, which is the terminus of the appalachian trail. you get no credit for this 4 mile and 4,000ft climb as the appalachian trail starts at the top. the abol route we took up felt like a massive slide path of sharp boulders. the tough climb was made even harder by the wet conditions and the lack of coffee in the morning. by the time i got to the top (i think it was 1hr 30min) i had much respect for mt katahdin.
as we climbed i was feeling rather flat. karl was ampted to get started and pulling away fast. i kept thinking “dood, your going for the 2,174 mile appalachina trail record.. not the fastest time up mt katahdin.” as we got closer to the top the rocks became wet and mossy. it was super slippery. i just stayed steady and by the top karl had slowed so i could catch up. that was my job afterall, to be an anchor to karl in the first week, and to slow this astonishingly fast 40 year old down. “3.5 miles per hour for the record”.
at the top we took a video of his start with vio camera i carried up just for that purpose. 7:08am on august 5th, 2008 karl meltzer headed south on the appalachian trail in a bold attempt to break the record. at the time i had a vague idea of just how bold this attempt was. now in hindsight after running 300+ miles of the north section i know what a monumental task this actually is.
now the down. this trail is downclimbing boulders, sharp boulders. karl always wears 1/2 fingered biking gloves when he runs for this very reason. i didn’t think it was necessary – i was very wrong. so i used my arm warmers to help, which worked ok.
again on the way down i struggled to stay in contact with karl. he was moving fast, too fast in my mind. i bet when he looks back he will agree. it was dangerous terrain so a misstep could mean game over – no record. the risk wasn’t worth the reward of a few extra minutes on day 1 of a 46 day run. honestly what was running through my head was what would happen if karl drops me on the first day. “do i just get in the rv and start again with him later?” i wasn’t going to let that happen.. i just couldn’t. by the end i caught karl and he said “i was just taking advantage of gravity”. he’s fast.
marit fischer and karl meltzler sr, who we just started calling senior (much to his disliking) were our support crew. marit is the superstar pr person from backcountry.com. karl senior is the most ripped 65 year old man i’ve ever seen.. and i have to assume the most ripped 65 year old in existence – 6 pack and all. they were there at abol campground to meet us. i still wasn’t hungry but ate a lot and we were off again.
now it gets blury for me. i know i slipped on my montrail slippers, or streaks rather and was in heaven as we ran and hiked fast for another 36 miles or so. i wore montrail continental divdes for the earlier rough terrain and they turned out to be perfect.
some stats nonsense:
total miles on the day – 45
total miles on AT – 41
from abol campsite to the top of katahdin at 5,267 ft via abol trail 1:40:50 with 4,000 feet of gain 4:21:10 –
katahdin to abol bridge w/285ft gain 1:40:51
katahdin to katahdin stream mile 5 2:36:19
katahdin streams to abol pines campground
7:37:10 w/3,454ft abol bridge to south nahmakanta lake