APPALACHIAN TRAIL SPEED ATTEMPT 2001
START: MAY 21ST, SPRINGER MT., GEORGIA
Scroll down to see the reports as they come in.
Andrew Thompson is a 25-year-old ultrarunner from Lynchburg, VA. He is a full-time student at Lynchburg College, studying Exercise Physiology and Environmental Science. Andrew is an accomplished outdoorsman, having completed many ultra-marathons and two adventure races (Hike, Bike, Paddle, and Climb). He has also completed the Barkley Marathons 60-miler for the last two years, the Smokey Mountain Fun Run (72 miles) this year, as well as having hiked from Georgia to Vermont in 39 days in 1998 (Go HERE to read about this attempt). Friends, J.B. and Travis “Travito” Wildeboer will support him. The Boys will be driving a stellar Plymouth Voyager mini-van on the way north. Sponsors for this adventure are Montrail Shoes and some very loyal and generous friends. Andrew’s wife, Amy, will be joining the boys periodically along the way. Being able to stop in Lynchburg, under the care of Amy Thompson, will prove to be a rejuvenating time to look forward to.
*J.B.—A 23-year-old,piece of trail-trash who has completed about ten ultra-marathons, including a victory at the Lake City 50- Miler in Lake City, Colorado. He is a resident of Crested Butte, Colorado, and was on Andrew’s support crew for the ’98 attempt.
*Travito—A 21-year-old, piece of trail-trash whom has completed one ultra-marathon (Mountain Masochist 50-miler). Travis has completed five adventure-races, winning one outright. Travis also completed a northbound thru-hike of the entire Appalachian Trail last summer.
1 - Andrew
Thompson, aka Trail Dog, is heading north! Andrew kicked off his second
attempt to break the AT Speed Record with an easy "walk through the
woods" on his first day out on the trail. Andrew took the first step
to Katahdin at 3:00 p.m. on Monday, May 21, 2001. Trail Dog walked the
first 20 miles, his size 10 feet sloshing around in his Montrail 12's. He
figures they will fit just right after a few hundred miles. Other than
stepping on a rattlesnake it was an uneventful day. He walked the last 30
minutes in the dark.
Start: Springer Mountain 3:00 p.m.
Finish: Woody Gap 9:15 p.m.
Weather: 65 degrees hazy scattered showers
Started at Woody Gap at 6:00 AM. A tough day. It rained nearly all day. It was very wet and stormed very hard for 14 miles. There was a considerable amount of lightening and it was very cold. Did not step on a rattler today, but did see a 5 foot long black racer. Everything is soaking wet, but spirits are high and Katahdin is one day closer.
Start: Woody Gap 6:00 AM
Finish: Dicks Creek Gap 8:40 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 66.8
Started out at Dick's Creek Gap at 6:00 AM. Saw millions of wildflowers today. Feeling ok. Hurting a little but feel body will adjust early in the hike. No main problems with any individual body part. Taking minimal pain relievers - 1 per day.
Got in later than expected so decided not to do last 5.9 mile section. Still a good day with 40 miles, but 5.6 miles short of record pace. Will make up the 5.6 tomorrow.
Start: Dick's Creek Gap 6:00 AM
Finish: Winding Stair Gap 8:25 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 106.8
Started out at Winding Stair Gap at 5:00 AM. Ra ined every step of the day. Have seen a snake every day. Feeling really good. Body is adapting well. Back on record pace. Crew member JB, aka "Sweet tay" (that's sweet tea for you Yanks) probably said it best in his afternoon update....."the boy's runnin'...." Trail Dog started running in spite of the rain and new blister and by day's end had not only done the goal of Day 4's 42.6 miles, but kept going to cover the 5.9 mile deficit from Day 3. Andrew completed the final 7.6 mile section in 90 minutes leaving crew man Travito in his dust (mud). Slept well in spite of torrential downpours all night long. "Long Day".
Start: Winding Stair Gap 5:00 AM
Finish: Yellow Creek Gap 9:05 PM
Weather: Great, if you're Noah
Total Accumulated Miles: 155.3
It rained all night. The crew sat in the van at Yellow Creek Gap at 6:00 for an hour hoping the rain would let up. Crewman JB is sick - probably dehydration. JB witnessed the entire overnight deluge since he couldn't sleep. He threw up constantly and was not able to keep anything down. Being true trail trash, he joined Andrew on the first 8 mile leg and lost his breakfast a quarter mile in. JB finished without slowing the pace and was relieved by Travito at Fontana Dam. The sun broke through midday and things looked better as Andrew left Fontana for the 32.3 mile hike to Clingman's Dome. Both Andrew and Travito miscalculated on food and they ran out of fuel with 15 miles to go. According to Travito, things "started getting a little squirrelly".....a little dizziness and an Elvis sighting. Ran into some day hikers with 10 miles to go and they saved the day with some candy bars. Thank you. Saw two bears 30 feet off the trail - lots of wildlife today. At dark, there were still 4.5 miles to cover before Clingman's. BOTH lights went dead after 1 mile. After a battery change, Andrew's broke for good a half mile later. Covered the last three rocky miles with one light - 1 mph. Hit Clingman's at 11:00 PM.
Start: 7:00 AM
Finish: 11:00 PM
Weather: RAIN AM - clearing PM
Totat Accumulated Miles: 195.6
Ran with JB all day today. Enjoyed some really great views of the Smokies. The downhills were very rough and according to Andrew "deeply hurt my feet". JB took it one step farther and said that the downhills pretty much destroyed their feet. At the end of the day, Andrew came into Davenport Gap to be surprised by 3 of his best friends and sizzling steaks. Copeland and Griff drove over from Boone, NC. Adam "Coydog" McCoy apparently is still suffering from some sort of insanity - he jumped in his car and drove through the night from Michigan to Davenport Gap to offer his support and good looks to the crew. The whole gang feasted like kings.
Start: Clingman's Dome 6:16 AM
Finish: Davenport Gap 9:00 PM
Totat Accumulated Miles: 235.1
Had a pretty decent day. Ran with all three visiting friends and his favorite dog, Cooper, Cope's Siberian Husky. Cut the day short on account of feet being very sore from the Smokies. It was a very rejuvenating day for Andrew - being with his friends and staying the night in his favorite trail town.
Start: Davenport Gap 6:30 AM
Finish: Hot Springs, NC 8:12 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 270.5
Overslept this morning. JB brought in the morning coffee at 5:30 but apparently the snooze button was more popular. It was a "yucky day" and not necessarily due to the weather. The trail wagon suffered its first injury with a flat tire. Apparently, the flat triggered a brake problem and JB and Travis spent the better part of the day getting everything fixed. As if car problems aren't bad enough on their own, add to the mix the Memorial Day holiday weekend factor. JB's quads are sore. Travis is holding up well. Coydog is, well......he's been working a desk job. (HaHa) Andrew and the crew are immensely thankful not only for the moral support brought by the three amigos, but they gave Travito and JB a bit of a rest and allowed them time to fix the wagon.
Start: Hot Springs 7:30 AM
Finish: Sam's Gap 11:04 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 313.6
Day 9 May 29th Tuesday
Start: Sam's Gap 6:06 AM
Finish: Iron Mountain Gap 11:30 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 357.3
Day 10 May 30th Wednesday
Good day. Stayed at Lowell Creek Lodge (hostel) - pretty nice place.
Start: Iron Mountain Gap 6:00 AM
Finish: Dennis Cove Road 10:45 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 402.8
Day 11 May 31st Thursday
The following is an excerpt from Andrew's journal....
"Becoming superman. No bandages on feet at all. Legs are recovering well enough to run some. Crossed into Virginia. Amy came to visit."
Amy and Andrew celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary today by chasing each other through the woods for 50 miles. Hard to believe it was just 4 years ago when the hot air balloon crash almost ruined the honeymoon!!
Start: Dennis Cove Road 6:18 AM
Finish: Damascus 10:30 PM
Weather: Good (Amy was here)
Total Accumulated Miles: 453.4
Day 12 June 1st Friday
Rained all day. Finished out in the pouring rain. Rough night for Andrew. The anniversary is over.
Start: Damascus 6:45 AM
Finish: Fox Creek 11:15 PM
Weather: Steady Rain
Total Accumulated Miles: 494.1 (on record pace)
13 June 2 Saturday
Uneventful day. Blue skies today. Full day of rain yesterday - so sunny weather keeps spirits high. Deserved a good weather day. Finished before dark. Andrew had an hour to sit around camp in the light for a change.
Start: VA 603 Fox Creek 8:00 AM
Finish: VA 617 7:56 PM
Weather: Blue skies
Total Accumulated Miles: 530.8 (8.6 miles behind)
Day 14 June 3 Sunday
Four hours sleep....
Start: VA 617 6:05 AM
Finish: VA 612 Kimberling Creek 8:20 PM
Totatl Accumulated Miles: 575.5
Day 15 June 4 Monday
Four hours sleep....
Start: VA 612 Kimberling Creek 6:00 AM
Finish: VA 641 10:00 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 618.8
Day 16 June 5 Tuesday
Four hours sleep....
Start: VA 641 7:00 AM
Finish: VA 42 8:02 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 656.6 (11.4 miles behind)
Day 17 June 6 Wednesday
Woke up at 3:45 AM and was hiking by 4:40. Everyone is beat. The last three nights have been short - four hours sleep each. AT was behind by 11 miles at the start, but 18 hours and 50 miles later, he was back in the saddle again. It was a very, very long day, but by midnight Andrew was actually sleeping in his own bed with his pretty bride...who is much cuter by the way than JB. Travito and JB will be staying in Lynchburg for three days - eating, sleeping, and not walking. The Trail Wagon will also take a short sabbatical and get some new brakes and a good cleaning. Friend, Derek O'hare will be crewing. According to JB, the boys "are tarred". Again, Yankees, that would be "tired".
Andrew has been mostly walking the last few days, although he and Travito ran the last 15 miles in the dark. Andrew is not really hurting or in pain, just tired.
Start: VA 42 4:40 AM
Finish: US 220 11:00PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 707.9 (2.3 miles behind)
[ Note: JB calls me every two or three days with new updates. It is a pain in the neck for him to find a phone in the woods, but he manages and gets me the info. JB and Travito have been averaging 20 miles per day...each. Also, as if running to Katahdin isn't enough of a challenge, Andrew is doing it on a shoestring budget. The team started off with $200 bucks and is down to about $16 now. A big thank you to all who have been so generous with phone cards, a gas card, cash, food, and even those who are out running a few miles with Andrew. He is thankful and has expressed such to his crew and family. I am sure he will thank you himself come mid-July!! Andrew and the crew can use all the help they can get. The team is all set gear-wise, but food and supplies are always on the low side. Perhaps the real feat here will be that three pieces of trail trash ran from Georgia to Maine on $200!!! - Tyler Thompson (Andrew's brother)]
18 June 7 Thursday
Start: US 220 6:45 AM
Finish: Blue Ridge Parkway 8:52 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 748.4
Crewmen JB and Travito have averaged 15-20 miles per day on the trail with Andrew.
JB notes that they are running out of things to talk about.
Day 19 June 8 Friday
Andrew records in his journal...."Great day. Ran hard in my home AT section."
Start: Blue Ridge Parkway 6:15 AM
Finish: Hog Camp Gap 7:55 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 790.7
Day 20 June 9 Saturday
Start: Hog Camp Gap 6:45 AM
Finish: Dripping Rock 7:00 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 825.4
Day 21 June 10 Sunday
Andrew writes in his journal....
"Drove out to the trail with the boys this morning for a 6:45 AM start. Going 14.5 miles then on into the Shenandoah National Park. Easy terrain. Feeling great. Feet are hardening up. Fourteen miles behind pace but will make it up the next two days. Saw two black snakes. One green grass snake. Three bears. Deer are like starving. Fawns are everywhere."
JB adds in regards to deer..."they really are - it's crazy".
Start: Dripping Rock 6:45 AM
Finish: Doyle's River Overlook 9:02 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 864.4 (14 miles behind pace)
Day 22 June 11 Monday
Today's report was one of the best yet. Andrew is moving well and feeling good. Covering 50 miles in 13 1/2 hours, Andrew and the crew saw tons of wildlife while enjoying incredible weather. It has not rained for a week - it's a bit easier to run in dry shoes and socks and sleep in bag that's not floating! The crew is well rested and the trail is working its way through some beautiful country. The boys have all seen bear, deer, snakes, and lots of trail trash. Andrew has the most bear sightings with 11, including three cubs and a Mama bear. Also came within 5 feet of a growling cub holding onto a tree right next to the trail. The deer are almost rampant - the bucks sporting their summertime velvet.
Andrew writes, "...Playing catch-up with Pete [Palmer]. Easy running all day. Typical Shenandoah terrain. Saw five bears and a copperhead. Experiencing great weather. Hot, but dry. Feeling ready for PA. Moving around well before and after running. Almost Superman. Really enjoying my hike."
Start: Doyle's River Overlook 6:44 AM
Finish: Pinnacle's Picnic Ground 8:10 PM
Weather: Hot, dry and beautiful
Total Accumulated Miles: 914.4 (6.4 behind pace)
23 June 12 Tuesday
Very hot. The heat really makes Andrew tired and it is hard to stay hydrated. Trail Dog saw his 4th rattlesnake today. Close call...almost left a Montrail tattoo on its head. The crew was down to a bagful of trash and 7 bucks when Andrew started just after 5 AM, but by day's end the trail would once again show a bit of its magic. A fellow named Rick Hower has been following the fun, and took off from work a little early today to meet Andrew. After hearing about the situation, Hower took the crew to the store and filled the cooler and the Trail Wagon with food and drink. And another new friend, Wayne Newsome, threw in some of his paycheck, too. Needless to say, it was great timing. Travito said it best...."it was great Trail magic". Thanks guys. AT will send you a picture from Katahdin.
To top it off, Andrew came out of the woods after lunch to be surprised by his Dad who drove down from New Hampshire to support his son. It was a grand reunion and really gave Andrew a good spurt of energy. And just like when Andrew was a boy, Dad came through and made sure that he had a hot meal and warm bed to sleep in.
Start: Pinnacle's Picnic Ground 5:12 AM
Finish: Ashby Gap 9:04 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 967.9
Day 24 June 13 Wednesday
Trail Dad logged 9.6 miles to end the day with Andrew. It was a great day. Having Dad there was awesome and he again put up the crew for the night in a nice plush trail motel. Travito said of the day, "we got to take showers and good stuff like that".
Also hit the 1,000 mile point. Yahoo.
Start: Ashby Gap 7:08 AM
Finish: Weaverton Road 8:50 PM
Weather: Warm and beautiful
Total Accumulated Miles: 1005.1
Day 25 June 14 Thursday
The crew is loving life and having a great time. Andrew is having a ball.
Start: Weaverton Road 6:15 AM
Finish: Old Forge Road (actually just past at small road crossing) 8:40 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 1050.2 (on record pace)
26 June 15 Friday
Pennsylvania is ROCKY. Ended the day in a cornfield with nowhere to camp. JB went up the road a bit and found an old farm and asked the farmer if he could lend some of his lawn for the night. The southern accent worked and the elderly farmer and his wife let them spread out their tents behind the barn. The only catch was that the farmer was at war with some groundhogs and had traps set everywhere so the boys were warned to watch their step. While watching his steps, Travito managed to avoid the traps on his way to the outhouse, but he headbutted a hornets nest in the process. Travito is now sporting a nice lump right in the center of his forehead thanks to Mr. Hornet. Thanks to the farmers....
Start: Old Forge Road (just past) 5:40 AM
Finish: Trindle Road 9:00 PM
Miles: 53.4 miles
Total Accumulated Miles: 1103.6
Day 27 June 16th Saturday
It rained all day. It was a nice break after 8 or 9 days of dry heat. Andrew hiked with his shirt off most of the day enjoying the cool rain. Stayed the night at a trailhead parking lot. Andrew's wife Amy came out and helped the crew set up camp. By the time the crew had everything set up it was raining so hard that the tent was filled with water and everything was soaked. The boys managed to get the tent relatively dry (puddle free), laid out three tarps, threw Andrew in on top with his bag and closed the fly. He slept like a baby. Andrew is doing really well and feeling great.
The worst part of PA is the rocks. The rocks pretty much prohibit running - much of the day is spent looking down.
The sunrise ended up being gorgeous.
Start: Trindle Road 5:00 AM
Finish: PA 443 8:57 PM
Weather: Light steady rain all day/ Torrential rains at night
Total Accumulated Miles: 1158.6 (on record pace)
28 June 17 Sunday
Start: PA 443 5:00 AM
Finish: Hawk Mountain Road 9:08 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 1210.3 (on record pace)
Day 29 June 18 Monday
Andrew was passing by two hikers and their wild dog - which they couldn't control. The dog bit Andrew's hand as he tried to pass by them. It did not puncture deeply, but jolted Andrew enough to make him mad.
Start: Hawk Mountain Road 5:44 AM
Finish: Wind Gap 8:00PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 1255.8 (on record pace)
Day 30 June 19 Tuesday
Start: Wind Gap 6:00AM
Finish: Culver's Gap 11:10 PM
Weather: HOT and HUMID
Total Accumulated Miles: 1307.9 (on record pace)
Day 31 June 20 Wednesday
I (Tyler, Andrew's brother) was able to get out to the trail yesterday and today and spend some time with Andrew. After driving around the NJ woods for a couple hours, I found the crew. It was a late night finish, but we enjoyed a huge meal of kielbasa and potatoes and apple pie in the trail wagon. We had a slow start this morning as Andrew's feet are pretty tender after the rocks, the rocks, and the rocks of Pennsylvania and Jersey. It took a while for his feet to harden up, so it was slow going for most of the day. By mile 6 we saw 5 bears in three separate sightings. Trail Dog spotted a huge mama bear with two cubs just off the trail. We estimated she was 300 pounds -the biggest either of us have ever seen.
Andrew is doing very good. His spirits are high and aside from some sore feet, he is feeling really good. Because of the intense heat, he has not been able to eat alot during the day, but he really packs it in come dinnertime. Andrew looks ten times better now than he did at this point in '98. His crew is incredible. They are all doing super - in spite of the fact that they pretty much look like trash and there is a constant odor which emanates from the crew and the Trail Wagon. It is probably safe to say that JB won't be having any luck finding a wife until this whole thing is over and he can spend some time with a bar of soap!!!
17 days till Katahdin!!
Start: Culver's Gap 6:00 AM
Finish: NJ 94 9:00 PM
Weather: Hot and Sticky
Total Accumulated Miles: 1343.7 (15.5 miles behind pace)
32 June 21 Thursday
Andrew's feet finally started to harden up today and he was able to start running again. The trail wagon has been giving the crew some problems and decided it was going to quit for a while. A local mechanic and $250 solved the problem and now she is up and running again. Local runner Steve Feller hooked up the crew and Andrew with probably their best night yet. He picked them up at the last road crossing and took them home where his wife, MaryEllen had prepared a feast. The boys enjoyed an incredible dinner and then were each treated to their own tub of Ben and Jerry's. Andrew actually laid on the couch and watched a few innings of the Red Sox game while icing his feet. The boys enjoyed real beds with real pillows. Thanks Fellers for everything.
Start: NJ 94 5:45 AM
Finish: NY 9D 10:15 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 1387.3
Day 33 June 22 Friday
Finally ran into buddy Larry Haaz today. He was able to run some miles with Andrew and hook up the crew with some food and cash. Thanks Larry! Today was also the last day for crewman Jeff Law. Jeff is from Iowa and came out East to do the Long Trail and some rock climbing. He crewed Andrew for a week and was awesome. Not only is he a great hiker and outdoorsman, but he is about the nicest guy you'd ever meet. Plus, he's not nearly as ugly as JB and Travito. Andrew really wants Jeff to stay on through Katahdin, but knows that Jeff has a job and bills like the rest of the world.
Andrew is feeling very good and ran about 90% of the day. Almost there.....
Start: NY 90 5:45 AM
Finish: CT 55 10:05 PM
Weather: Breezy and warm
Totat Accumulated Miles: 1439.3 (still a few miles behind pace)
Note: If you are interested in helping out Andrew and the crew with support or supplies or would like more detailed information please call: Tyler Thompson 603-887-4058. Anything you can do would be appreciated!! Thanks to everyone who has helped so far!!
34 June 23 Saturday
Pete Palmer met Andrew on the trail this afternoon. Andrew is moving through Pete's home section (and was actually talking to JB wondering how Pete had managed a confusing road crossing when he broke the speed record in '99) when Pete himself came running down the trail. Andrew and Pete did a couple miles together and then Pete took off - only to show up the next crossing with some pizza. Pete was supportive and encouraging to Andrew and was sincerely happy for his success to that point. Thanks for the support, Pete!
Start: CT 55 6:30 AM
Finish: CT 41 9:00 PM
Day 35 June 24 Sunday
As Andrew was crawling out of his tent this morning, his Dad pulled into the campsite - having just driven like a madman from the Outer Banks, NC. One of the luckier ones, Trail Dad picked a crossing and the crew was actually there!! Andrew and his Dad had a nice visit and then it was running time. After another 50 miler, Dad put the crew up in a motel and bought everyone dinner. Andrew had been wanting a ham and cheese calzone and that's just what he got. According to JB, they were "as big as your face"!! All the boys had their own pint of Ben and Jerry's and all of them slept like babies.
Andrew has been moving really well through the woods. His feet are feeling much better and he has been running quite a bit. He has had a tender spot on his fourth toe that won't callous over, and it didn't help matters when he kicked two rocks in a row today. Mentally, Andrew is tougher than ever.
Start: CT 41 5:30 AM
Finish: US 20 8:58 PM
Miles: 50.5 Almost even with record pace.
36 June 25 Monday
Start: US 20 6:01 AM
Finish: MA Route 2 8:50 PM
Day 37 June 26 Tuesday
In short, the longest day....
Andrew was on the trail by 4:30 AM and ran will into the night. It has been and continues to be very hot with temps going into the 90's. New England, however, never fails to cool down at night, so the boys have been sleeping well. Andrew's feet are doing pretty well. No major problems or injuries. The biggest thing right now is that he is simply tired. The next two days will be tough mile-wise, but after that most of the days will be around 40 miles. The biggest challenge from here on out will be the constant ups and downs in the Whites and then in Maine.
Today is also significant because this is the point where Andrew had to call it quits in '98 and hang up his shoes.
No rain in sight this time - just hot and humid. And a few miles closer to Katahdin.
Start: MA Route 2 4:30 AM
Finish: VT 11/30 1:20 AM
Miles: 58.5 (on record pace)
38 June 27 Wednesday
Was great to start from the place where Andrew had to finish in '98. Big mental hurdle was jumped over this morning.
Tired from yesterday - lost some of the miles gained in last night's big push. Passed what looked like a relatively new sign about mid-morning that said, "Katahdin 469 miles".
Start: VT 11/30 8:30 AM
Finish: VT 103 Lower Cold River Road 8:50 PM
Weather: Gorgeous!!! 75 - low humidity - blue skies
Total Accumulated Miles: 1670.5 (behind record pace by a few miles)
Day 39 June 28 Thursday
Start: Lower Cold River Road 5:20 AM
Finish: Joe Ranger Road 10:05 PM
Weather: Clear and Hot
Total Accumulated Miles: 1715.8 Almost even with Palmer
Day 40 June 29 Friday
Entered into home state of New Hampshire today!!! Nothing like hiking the Whites...almost to Maine.
Start: Joe Ranger Road 5:17 AM
Finish: NH 25A 10:20 PM
Total Accumulated Miles: 1762.5 Almost even with pace
Note: Weekend update should be posted by Monday afternoon, July 2.
41 June 30 Saturday
Start: NH 25A 5:45 AM
Finish: Franconia Notch US 3 10:30 PM
Weather: Hot and humid - heavy rain and thunderstorms in the afternoon
Total Accumulated Miles: 1798.1 almost even with record pace
Day 42 July 1 Sunday
Start: Franconia Notch US 3 5:45 AM
Andrew hiked his way into the Presidentials today under the watchful eye of the Old Man on the Mountain. At the Crawford Notch crossing Andrew and JB picked up their packs with gear for the long haul over Mount Washington. Because of the long section, they were planning to get some sleep along the ridge somewhere when they couldn't keep their eyes open anymore. (Travito thru-hiked last summer so JB wanted to see the mountains first-hand.) According to JB, the plan for sleeping was to "huddle and cuddle". Three hours into the evening hike, the boys broke through treeline and were welcomed by high winds, fog, and rain. Not being able to do much more than lean into the wind and stay in place they went back into the trees and set up the tent hoping to sleep out the approaching storm and get a good start at 3 AM the next morning. Andrew slept well in a nice bag, but JB spent the night shivering and shaking and thinking of Mom. So much for huddle and cuddle. At least with the Trail Dog...
Finish: Mount Webster 10:05 PM
Weather: Windy, Rainy, Foggy, COLD
Total Accumulated Miles: 1829.1 (falling behind by a few miles)
Day 43 July 2 Monday
Start: Mount Webster 5:40 AM
Finish: Pinkham Notch Rt. 16 2:30 AM (Tuesday)
Total Accumulated Miles: 1,849.1
Weather: Worst on Earth
Andrew and JB got started at 5:40 AM. JB didn't sleep at all. Andrew noted that he did not want to get out of that bag and see what was blowing around outside of the tent. Because of the bad weather, they pushed the 3 AM start up a bit so they could go in the daylight.
From the Mount Washington Observatory forecast....."All the ingredients are in place for another outbreak of severe weather again today." A cold front was moving in from Canada and was destined to collide with the hot humid air that had blanketed New England all week. And Mount Washington has its nose stuck right in the middle of it.
Andrew and JB went through 4 hours of the most grueling and treacherous hiking they had ever experienced. The winds were averaging between 45-55 mph with gusts over 80 mph. Both Andrew and JB had decent jackets and pants, but were not prepared with full winter hiking gear. (Remember, it was in the 80's just hours before.) The fog blowing over the ridge was pretty much solid moisture and both were soaked to the bone. Andrew noted that speed and time were no longer even part of the picture. He was just trying to keep his balance and not fall and bash his head. Everything was coated with a half inch of ice. With wind chills dipping to 20 below zero, shelter became the number one goal. JB was literally blown over by the wind gusts several times. About 9:30 AM Trail Dog and JB reached the Lake of the Clouds hut which is 1.5 miles from the summit of Washington. Andrew called the day right then and there -- he knew they would not be able go on with that kind of weather. Especially since they had yet to summit Washington. With no money (Andrew hasn't carried anything but a water bottle for 6 weeks) the boys were able to work to stay at the hut. JB notes that they just sat with blankets around them for a solid two hours in the hut just trying to warm up. Andrew knew that each hour in the hut was adding miles to the already strenuous last push to Katahdin, but there was choice in the matter....the weather was just too bad.
Meanwhile, Travito waited at the next road crossing at Pinkham Notch. The boys were expected in around 10:00 AM Monday morning. He could tell that the weather looked bad at the top, but had no idea that the boys had to stop. By dinner time Travito was pretty worried and had talked a ranger into breaking radio silence and calling around to the huts to look for the boys. Travito, along with some friends and family who had gathered over the course of the day, eventually got word that Andrew and JB were in a shelter.
Back on top, the storm ran out of moisture but the high winds continued. Andrew decided to make a break for it. At 6:30 PM, Trail Dog and JB headed up Mount Washington. The rain and fog were gone, but huge winds kept them from making any significant progress. They were able to summit Washington, but were still exposed to the 80 mph gusts for almost 8 miles as they continued along the ridge over the next few peaks.
By 10:15 PM, they reached Madison Springs Hut. They were able to fill up on water and take a short break from the wind. After 5 minutes, JB notes that he was beginning to tighten up - they were still pretty wet - so they kept on going into the night - if not just to stay warm.
As luck would have it, it ended up being on the most beautiful nights on the trail. The sky cleared and a full moon lit the way. Andrew and JB climbed over Madison at midnight and were down at the road crossing at 2:30 AM Tuesday morning.
Andrew had done the math 100 times while sitting in the hut, while Travito did the same in the Trail Wagon at the bottom. It was painfully clear that the day lost to the wind and cold had taken just too much time from the remaining days. In order to break the record, Andrew would have to do numbers that were just incomprehensible. There was just no way after 40 - 43 mile days he could put up five more days at 60 a piece.
At 2:30 AM on Tuesday, July 3, after 1,849 miles and 43 days on the trail - just 319 miles from Katahdin, Andrew hung up his shoes. The record was out of reach. Mother Nature is hard to beat.
Andrew is in excellent health, has no injuries, and is very strong - mentally, emotionally, and physically. His dedicated crew's only comments were that they had no doubt that he was going to break the record. They, too, are in excellent health and good spirits. (They each did approximately 800-1000 miles.) The crew was incredible.
Thank you to all who supported Andrew and his crew. Andrew is very thankful to all of you who contributed in so many ways. He could not have done it without your help.
Thanks for the ride, Andrew....You're the strongest and most determined man I have ever met. I'm so proud of what you have done. I'm even more proud that you are my brother. Tyler