Thursday, July 5, 2012

Stage 4 - Wednesday, July 4 (41 miles)

"So at what point does this adventure begin to seem a little . . . . . . absurd?" I asked.

Troy, relaxing at Woods Hole Hostel after Stage 4
"Right about now," said Troy as he headed off for the longest day yet of the tour, 46 miles for Stage 5 of 14.  It was 5:45 am and Eric and Troy were the last ones to leave the trailhead after our overnight stay at Wood's Hole Hostel.  Rebekah, Anne, and Rob had left about half an hour earlier.  Yesterday evening was my first chance to see the runners since they began this adventure.  I'm not sure what I expected of the runners or the hostel, but I was a little surprised by how much it felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.  As the runners filtered in yesterday evening, they weren't very chatty, more quiet and pensive, or just plain exhausted.  They got to work prepping their supplies for the next stage or tending their blisters, scrapes, hunger, and dirt covered bodies. There was a distance in their presence.  I've seen Eric in this state before.  One look into his eyes after a long, treacherous night at Hellgate and I knew he was battling some internal force challenging him to quit which, by the way, he didn't do.  The runners weren't quite in this state, but I did sense they were feeling the miles and maybe beginning to question their willingness to explore fatigue in quite the way this adventure is calling them to.
Eric freshening up in the outdoor shower at Woods Hole

Eric and Anne ready for some homemade pizza

Neville, in apron, with some of the dinner prep crew
Wood's Hole Hostel is a light and airy place, both because of the idyllic country setting with an 1880's log cabin, farm animals, and gardens aplenty, and because of the friendly, welcoming owners, Neville and Michael.  The hostel was a treat for me, but I think it may have been more of a mixed bag for the runners.  Papa bear Grossman was a little protective of his cubs when he was told everyone needed to pitch in to help make dinner.  Eric explained the runners needed time to recover.  Neville and Michael explained this is how their hostel works, with everybody pitching 
in or as my stepmom says, "Many hands make light work." Eric must have convinced Neville because our runners stayed out of the heat of the kitchen, with its 400 degree oven prepping for the pizzas, and dinner was made with the labor of our 12 year old son, 10 year old daughter, Neville, her niece and nephew, myself, and three thru-hikers.  It worked out just fine.  
Rob with his pizza

Crew co-leader Adam enjoying another day of the Tour

Crew leader and chef James with his and Eric's dad, John

"I haven't cussed him yet," Anne told me.  I told Eric that Anne had this to say last night.  "Oh, it's coming," Eric replied.  How could it not?  Today, Stage 5, was their longest mileage yet (46 miles).  I'm anxious to meet up with the runners and crew again tomorrow night (Friday) in Catawba to see how Stages 5 and 6 have played out.  With some luck and careful self-maintenance, they may be as blissful as my daughter, Catherine, is at Wood's Hole.  Well, I can hope.


  1. They're looking good Robin . . . keep them going! I hope Eric has a good Birthday Run today.

  2. Thanks for the great updates, Robin! They are about to hit my favorite part of the AT--McAfees Knob, Dragons Tooth and Tinker Cliffs, all around the Catawba Valley! Woop!

  3. yes, great updates & wonderful pics too! Cheering on my old buddy Rob (and all the crew) from down here in Looziana...

  4. I haven't experienced Dragon's Tooth myself, but I heard some choice words about that area last night. Eric said today that climbing Dragon's Tooth at the end of a very long, hot day was probably not the best idea.

  5. I think that it is great that you have some time with the runners. It looks like they spent more of the time resting to be prepared for the following day.