26 Miles Hike
May 13, 2001
Gin and I hiked the entire 26 miles together. The first 8 miles went very fast.
We reached Lake Skannatati parking lot around 8:30am. Gin is a very talkative guy. From the history of CMC to his family life with Branda, Gin entertained me with many many of his interesting stories. When he told me Time Square was just around the corner, all the sudden, I realized that we have already climbed Parker Cabin Mountain, Tom Jones Mountain and Black Rock Mountain with very little effort. All the sudden, I remembered George’s advise: “Chi, you have to get over the difficult part in your head to finish this trip… when you are ready to walk any 26 miles without regard to terrian and difficulty, that is the day you are ready, and that is the purpose of this trip”. George, you are right!
The weather was perfect on Sunday, except the tree pollen was extremely high. I had a running nose for the entire hike. We took our first water break after 9 miles. I learned from Gin that
drink water only if you have to, not if you want to.
We continued our hike on Red Cross and reached the first view point of Pine Swamp Mountain. The fire tower on the Jackie Jones Mountain appeared at the far distance. Gin pointed out that it would take us five hours to get there. The Red Cross Trail was relatively flat and not much scenery after the first view point. Around 12:00pm, we stopped for a lunch break at the foot of Pingyp Mountain and Pound Swamp Mountain, a notorious hill that once “killed” Derek and Joseph according to George’s and Gin’s memories. Even Mr. Chen admitted that it is a difficult long steep hill.
Gin and I were not hungry, but we both understood how important it was to restore our energy before heading up to the hill. We swallowed our foods as quickly as we could and left for the mountain
shortly after 12:15pm.
Maybe I had expected the worse and mentally prepared for the challenge, the hill was behind us with minimum difficulty. The water supply was waiting for us at the foot of Irish Mountain, but neither Gin nor I need any more water supplies. Gin and I both against the idea of having support team. It is always an easy way out when there is help along the trail.
Right before we reached the fire tower, we met a Chinese couple and they gave us a message from Mr. Chen.
Three of them: Wade, Mr. Chen and Joseph were about 15 minuets ahead of us. They had just crossed Rt106 and heading to the tower. Gin and I were excited and tried to catch up with them by not taking any more breaks. (We only took two 5 minutes break so far for the first 13 miles hike) When we reached the tower, another couple approached us. They told us the same: three of them only 15 minutes ahead of us.
I took a good look at the fire tower and could not believed that I was really there.
The tower that was seemed so far away this morning was actually right next to me. So far, Gin and I had hiked nearly 17 miles together. We laughed, we talked, we exchanged our daily life stores and most important, Gin took my mind out of hiking. Long distance hike was never an enjoyment to me. I did it only because I wanted to prove that I am capable of doing it. Today, facing the toughest and longest hike in my life, I was actually enjoying it. Of course, my legs were tired, my body was exhausted but they were not as bad as I expected. My left knee usually bothered me after 10 miles hike was not hurting so badly. My spirit was still as high as in the morning. This feeling is new to me and cannot be explained. Perhaps, I have already become a better hiker, according to Gin.
By 3:20pm, we reached the shelter right before the White Trail.
Gin and I left a brief message to George hoping that he and the remaining group would catch up with us. The White trail was short and the last 6 miles on the Red Trail was a challenge to our endurance. There were still lots of up and down hills, but my legs were already so used to the hilly trial and they were moving forward on their own with not much effort. Even Gin overcame by the fatigue and he was not as talkative as before. By 7:00pm, Gin and I reached the Parking lot and Wade was waiting for me by taking a nap to catch up his “handsome” sleep.
The moral of the story is: anyone can do 26 miles so long as you commit to it.