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  • Earl Porter

Queen of Battle Daily Log

Updated: Nov 4, 2021

In this log, we track key terrain, start and end points, key events, and any trail magic.

11 SEP

  • Baxter Peak (Kathadin) summit (mi. 2193.1), p/u vicinity Tote Rd between Kathadin Stream Campground and Abol Campground.

  • Picked up by truck passing by driven by Carrie Slattery Chambers (Trail Name "Trail Magic," who gave us a ride to intersect with QOB and Team Member Justin "Road Dawg" Miller.

  • Hot drop onto Abol Trail.

  • Met Sean Mahoney (AF Combat Medic) who carries a particular log up all the New England 4k foot mountains to raise awareness of Veteran Suicide.

13 SEP

  • First 20 milers begin, Big Niagra falls (mi 2184) a key stop.

  • Lunch at Hurd Brook Lean-to (mi 2174)

  • Last 10 miles of day actually began the 100-mile wilderness.

  • Got into camp (Rainbow Springs Campsite, mi 2166).

  • NoteL with all tent sites occupied, and had to set up on a slight hill in between walking path.

  • Met person by trail name Twofer who was really down for our mission.

  • Road Dawg moved QOB from Milinocket (first campground) to Moosehead.

  • Reconnoitered resupply locations.

14 SEP

  • Set out to hit 19 miles for the day, reaching Mahar landing (mi 2147.5).

  • We met two older gentlemen at site; had great conversations with both (one being a lawyer of 25 years and the other called the Friendly Swede).

  • Missed a moose sighting behind our tents eating on shrubs on the shore of the lake.

15 SEP

  • Had our resupply with Road Dawg. It was so nice to grab some heat in the QOB and a steak cooked to order.

  • Short day (15-miler) to let the blisters cool down.

  • Camped at Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to shelter (mi 2133.4).

  • Grateful for all the noises of water: rain falling, stream flowing, drops of rain in the stream, rain on the tin roof of the shelter, and the run-off thereof.

  • Enjoyed listening to Naval Ravikant lecture mixed by Akira the Don (Album: How to Get Rich: Vol.1, Akira the Don - Naval Ravikant).

  • Met a Florida Shaman named Barefoot Kathryn who explained the very interesting path to becoming a Shaman and the healing effects of nature. This was ironic to have crossed paths with a shaman at the first shelter; I enjoyed shamanistic healing sessions this summer while preparing to hike the trail and it was alluded to that I may cross paths with a shepherd of sorts from this world (back in June)!

16 SEP

  • Mountainous day!

  • Finished at mi 2114.5, Carl Newhall Lean-to.

  • Met the Tao, Hype, and Pura Vida ("vida pura" means pure life in Spanish). The Tao shared that he practices Thich Nhat Hanh’s view on Buddhism, which made me think of Wayne from my time at The Friend's School of Atlanta. Wayne was a former monk that introduced me to the concepts of meditation, yoga, and mindful thinking.

  • Road Dawg caught Shuttle to Bangor by Jeff.

17 SEP

  • Dax Nifty had to get knee checked out. We split at Gulf Hagas Trailhead.

  • Caused a late arrival (white light).

  • Continued forward to Cloud Pond Lean-to at mi 2097.8 (17-mile day) only to find four campers not willing to make room in the shelter.

  • Ended up with a beautiful view upon waking after a night of setting up tent in rain.

  • Road Dawg flew from Bangor to Atlanta.

  • Caught up to Hype on top of Chairback Mountains (2100). Also ran into former Air Force Fire Fighters Paradise and Magic Man who are NoBos, that eventually submitted Kathadin the morning of Wednesday, September 22.

18 SEP

  • Intended light day (11 miles) to let the legs recuperate; ended up being a 20-miler.

  • Had to move to emergency evac ME Route 15 (mi 2078.6, 19 mi); night arrival.

  • Fell on Big Wilson Cliffs vic mi 2086.4, had to decide whether to roll down the mountain or cut right hand; chose right hand!

  • Slice of hand meant I had to bypass the Leeman Brook Lean-to (2081.6) and get to Dax waiting in QOB.

  • Picked up by Dax around 8 p.m. and driven to logistics site.

  • Scouted out dinner at Woody’s Bar, only place open past 9 p.m. Walked in from trail, broken. Once at bar, realized it was a wedding event and backed out slowly. Ate Nature Valley bars at truck and then headed to Northern Light CA Dean Hospital (364 Pritham Ave Greenville ME 04441) whose head Nurse Sandy (also my sister's name) took great care of me. Fed me lasagna and told me to stop acting like a baby infantryman (her son is an infantryman).

  • Overheard the ER team do crisis management as good as any team I have ever witnessed re: roll 3: dealing with COVID, broken ribs and a chest surgery all while power was knocked out by a local car accident the team also had to respond to in real time! Team decided to glue up my hand; luckily it didn't need stitches.

19 SEP

  • Hospital visit lasted until 2 a.m.

  • Admin day to dry clothes and refit equipment. Reflect on 100-mile wilderness.

  • Identify all those entities that helped up along the way, or that should be shouted out.

21 SEP

  • Drop off end of 100-miler (ME 15).

  • Road Dawg moved QOB to Northern Outdoors Kenneber.

  • Earl met and raised awareness and support with an awesome group moving SOBO (Joy, Xena, Freight Train Ryan, Skittles, and Shades McSharty).

  • Joy informed Earl about Earl Shaw, the first thru-hiker of the AT who stated his intent to walk off the War.

  • Quote of day: Joy: “The opposite of addiction is often thought to be sobriety. In reality it is connection.” This quote stuck with me because connection is also the opposite of isolation, a leading ingredient to the formula veterans suffer before taking their own lives (isolation, financial stress, and toxic relationships).

  • Also met/raised awareness with the Hamburgerler who is the first person to have heard of our group on the trail before we met; Mello from Marietta, GA; Top who previously walked under the Mission 22 flag and made the suggestion that we utilize QR codes; Tinny, Mr. Gofer, Captain and Coach, Birdie and Gene.

  • Also met NoBos (northbound hikers)Pencil and Easel.

  • Trail Magic with ATC Boundary Officer Rachael Russell vicinity logging road NW of Blanchard. Gave me a ride along Taylor Rd./Foss Pond Road in ATC vehicle to QOB because of mistaken feasibility of pick-up location.

  • Took Road Dawg and Dax 3 hours and two different routes to locate Ear. Queen of Battle managed the narrow and rocky ATV paths for a successful pick up.

22 SEP

  • Movement ME 15 to ME 201 (mi 2041.9).

  • Reconnoitered Old Mill; held a fireside chat with Kenneth "Lou" Koon and Greg C. Washington from the Old Mill Pub in Skohegan ME.

  • Guild-on mistakenly left at Old Mill Rd!

23 SEP

  • Road Dawg went to retrieve Guild-on from Old Mill (successfully).

  • Earl crosses the Kennebec River to start, with Greg from Northern Outdoors, who eventually bought us a beer the night of 25th at Northern Outdoors Rafting Restaurant.

  • Okay weather; endpoint East Flagstaff Road (mi 2021.5)

24 SEP

  • Started from East Flagstaff; ended ME 27 (mi 2004.9).

  • Horrendous weather.

  • Crawled across Bigelow Mountain Range.

  • Road Dawg interacts with Clare Milton, author of the Maine website who may want to do a piece on our project.

25 SEP

  • Did some administrative work to help get the word out.

26 SEP

  • More administrative work.

  • Road Dawg moved QOB to White Birches Campsite.

28 SEP

Passed through Grafton Notch in southern Maine and met Thirsty and Garlic who were very supportive of Project SON. Conducted push-ups at a beautiful waterfall vicinity mile marker 268, just north of Old Speck Trail, where the stream that the trail followed cascaded down a 20-foot waterfall.

I realized after conversation with other thru-hikers that I just completed the hardest part of the Appalachian Trail, the Mahoosuc Notch, which follows a boulder field along a draw between two mountains. A combination of rock scrambling and squeezing through boulders requires you to often ditch your pack, crawl or jump through obstacles. Travelling north bounders seemed to benefit from a mainly downhill traverse, which meant that my southbound travel had the extra difficulty of an incline.

I met Pocket Snacks and Washer who accredited veterans for preparing them for their thru-hike and mentioned that I should be on the lookout (BOLO) for trail name Si, real name Anthony Ferrara, who impressed upon them the mental fragility of today’s veteran and the need for veterans to have constructive support from their community.

Slept in Full Goose Shelter with Trippy Hippy, an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran who served as a 77F Fueler. Trippy traveled since March 19th with Dirty Keith, from the beginning. They had such a bond that many interactions they had didn’t require words. It made me remember those type of nuanced close bonds that we gained on deployments.

I also ran into Whispers who had done a few thru-hikes and had the greatest amount of intel regarding the presidential mountain range. Before leaving, Whispers also dropped a gem: that I should look into a nonprofit organization known as “Veterans of 48 North.”

29 OCT

Woke up to great dialogue and Walmart provided me with a quote to remember the rest of the trail: We are travelers on a similar XXX.

02 OCT

Stayed at Carter Notch Hostel, the first hostel stay of the trip, and had an extremely serendipitous time with a group of friends and family who were extremely hospitable. Caretaker Brian, who recently finished an Appalachian trail thru-hike, was so resourceful and friendly that I felt it was such a purposeful stay.

The weather’s very murky conditions provided very limited visibility, but this brought a sort of mystical vibe to the terrain. The only source of heat at Carter Notch was the wood burning stove Brian maintained throughout the night. With the backdrop of the “Crawler” hiking family playing games and making memories in the background, I found myself to enjoy a wonderful night of reflection and strong camaraderie.

The Crawlers each were so interested in the mission the SON team embarked on, asking many sincere questions about why we embarked, how we came to form SON, and what we are doing.

03 OCT

Carter Notch to Valley Way Campsite

04 OCT

Valley Way Campsite (332) to Ethan Pond Shelter (348)

Departed Valley Way early in the morning, weather showed that we might have some sun possibly during the mid-point of the day. We started our climb to Mt. Washington walking through the clouds for the first three hours. Once we hit around the 5000-ft elevation mark, we came out of the clouds and into the SUN. The views of the terrain surrounding us were incredible, the clouds hovering just below us and the summits peeking through them. We reached the summit of Mt. Washington around 1 and made lunch, sat down and started making friends and telling them about our project. We departed by 2 and made quick work of the miles along the Presidential Range ridge line and then we made our way down from the last summit with daylight fading quickly. The last 3 miles of the day we completed in the dark. We completed that phase of the trail by 7:30.

05 OCT

Ethan Pond Lean-to (1844) to Interstate 93 (1820)

06 OCT

Interstate 93 (393) to Kinsman Pond Shelter (378)

08 OCT

Kinsman Pond Shelter to Kinsman Notch Parking (390)

Departed from Kingsman Notch Parking lot area and summited Mt. Mousalaki before noon. We met a crowd of people at the top and at the gaze of many eyes wondering why we carried a flag, I announced that we are a part of a project to hike the AT southbound during the winter to influence veteran mental health. We were approached by a lady and gentleman offering gratitude and support toward our goals. The gentlemen ended up talking with us a good bit while we ate lunch. His name was Anthony and he emphatically shared his father’s story, Francis, who is a Vietnam Veteran.

I was able to learn so much from him and share with him my father’s service during Vietnam. I was so stoked when Anthony asked to hold our guild on (flag) during my push-ups at the summit. We dedicated it to his dad and all those who came before us.

Unfortunately, I broke the back-side of my phone today while disassembling the gimbal device I am carrying. Now its become an ordeal to get a replacement or repair soon enough to not throw off our schedule or jeopardize all the media we’ve gathered. Peaks and valleys.

Ended at NH Rte 25C, mile marker 404. Reminded me of my hometown area code :)

09 OCT

Began around NH Route 25c (404) to Lyme-Dorchester RD (423)

Departed 9:30 to start exploring the 19-mile hike through the ever changing fall colors to Lyme-Dorchester. Met Bob on top of Mt. Cube and nice engagements with the mother of a Seaton Hall ROTC cadet that wants to do EOD.

Found a fire tower on top of Smart Mountain that had the coolest views before the clouds rolled in. Came down the four-mile trail to Road Dawg Miller of course on time, in the Queen of Battle, watching the UGA - Auburn game somehow when there certainly is no cell phone or satellite reception… some things never change.

11 OCT

One month in, and we got our first visitor! Joe Erckenbrack, a good friend from Emory Law, came by to join us for fireside dinner.

12 OCT

Joe, Ottie, and Anne-Christine came to walk with Dax and I today, and then we got lunch and watched the beginning of the Braves beating the Brewers to go onto the National League Championship Series (for the second year in a row)!

13 OCT

Stony Brook Shelter (479) to Churchill Scott Shelter (491)

14 OCT

Woke up at 1:45 am to get Road Dawg to Boston Airport by 4 am for his flight back to Athens. Slept in a recreational parking lot for a few hours, then watched the sunset come up behind the Boston skyline. We then grabbed lunch with a 07 DHS grad living in Boston, Robel Hadgu. Then head back to the RV site to finish any admin work. After a much-needed nap, we headed across the street to Public House for free wifi and dinner. While finishing up dinner we learned a lot about our waitress Lisa; we told her about the SON project and she was very pleased and proud with what we were trying to achieve. She would later let us know about her own struggles and those she witnessed of others through life, and how moving to Vermont and getting back out in nature was very healing for her and her husband (who was also the chef cooking up our awesome dinner)!

15 OCT

Murphy’s law: what can go wrong, will go wrong. As we headed out back for the next leg of the trail, we received a phone call from Road Dawg that Quechee State Park called to inform him that our check-out from the park was today and we were required to move our trailer out immediately. We triaged our recollections and all remembered the verbal conversation where we extended our stay until the 18th, but unfortunately none of us could find proof in time of our extension’s confirmation. So, we rushed back to Quechee State Park while at the same time trying to call other camper sites to check for vacancy to no avail. We then called Quechee and explained again the miscommunication as we were under the impression we successfully extended our stay a week prior by phone. The gentlemen on the other end eventually found compassion in our mission and allowed us to stay at a secondary location that apparently became available during our call. After spending the day making something out of nothing to move logistics sites, we decided the only course of action left to take was to make the best of it. We took our mind off the riggermarole of a day to go see the New James Bond movie at Nugget Theatre in Hanover NH with none other than Joe Erckenbrack and Anne-Christine. (Still not close to Casino Royal)

16 OCT

Began hiking around 7:30 to warm weather as I made my way into the beautiful red and yellow forests of VT. I knew that a bad storm was coming and determined it better to have a short mileage day because I learned that the Little Rock Pond shelter slept 12 people whereas the further shelter only slept 6. The guthook (application used to analyze Appalachian Trail hikes) I noticed it costs $5 to stay at Little Rock Pond and that it was a popular place for day hikers.

Upon arrival, I was taken aback at how peaceful Little Rock Pond was in person. It was surrounded with multicolored foliage and a nice rock face adjacent to the shelter. I was also surprised to walk up on Scout Troop 332, out of Manchester, VT, who was then establishing their campsite for the night. I asked the apparent leader, Greg, whether I would be an intrusion and was welcomed by him and his wife Tracy. Greg and I later realized that we both served in sister-battalions of the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, GA, just at different times.

Little Rock Pond structure was impressively built. Unlike any other shelter I’ve resided in, it not only slept 12 but also had an enclosed picnic table area with wrap-around and covered seating.

It was such a great experience with the Scouts. Greg was ecstatic to find out I am an Eagle Scout and we had great conversations about all the life lessons I draw from scouting. He even got me to teach a hip-pocket class on packing an individual backpack for the trail and leadership outside of the scout uniform. The experience was so insightful I almost don’t even recall the torrential downpour.

Life is about choices and chances, and days like today on the trail fill me with gratitude for the chance to take this journey.

17 OCT

Little Rock Pond Shelter to Mad Tom Notch RD (534)

Cold morning! Woke up with Troop 332 and had breakfast around a warm fire. Oatmeal and breakfast essentials for me, oatmeal and Cheerio’s for the scouts. Justin, one of the scouts, was nice enough to be my cameraman for push-ups next to Little Rock Pond. He wants to be an infantry officer in the marines one day, and I was impressed he even knew the airborne cadence ‘blood on the risers’ somehow.

I also got a picture with Greg and wished to cross paths with him and his family/scout troop again before setting off for a mostly uphill day. The ledges that I traveled today were cool because the tree cover generally opened up toward the south allowing me to observe the bare ski slopes against the mountain ranges.

As the day progressed, the weather deteriorated as if it were about to snow. I linked up with Dax vicinity Peru peak for our drone flight but we determined the wind too strong to fly without risking the entire drown. As we crested over Styles peak the bottom fell out of the sky and we hurriedly scurried down the last spur to hop in the QOB and head back to break down the logistics site.

We finished packing up and taking showers with enough time to travel and see Joe one last time in the city of Lebanon. Joe and Anne-Christine graciously hosted us for a carbonara pasta and we watched most of the Braves game 2 versus the Dodgers (which eventually turned into a Braves WIN!!!).

18 OCT

Logistics site move day for Dax and I; its starting to get cold! While we were packing up the camper, we ran into an issue with one of our jack stabilizers. We knew at some point the nut might strip. Well, the week that Road Dawg would be gone it did. We got out of Quechee around 9:30 and began the journey further south to Greylock Campground in Lanesborough, Massachusetts.

19 OCT

Glastonbury Mountains

What a rocky, murky, and windy day as I moved slowly. We barely saw anyone on the trail but eventually saw a couple of hikers as I approached home for tonight: the Goddard Shelter. The name Goddard stuck out to me today as I approached; the scoutmaster of Troop 134, when I was a Weeblo Cub Scout, was named Ross Goddard. He was a great man and veteran that shepherded my scoutmaster, Trey Palmer, to Eagle Scout. In light of staying with Troop 332 the other night, I found this site serendipitous to reside.

The winds at Goddard were a constant 5-10 mph with gusts of 20 mph! I have to remember not to stay at elevated shelters, and to get a better sleeping bag. My 40-degree bag with a 10 degree liner is not cutting it anymore.

I was able to get the audio to the Braves National League Championship game 3 on my phone! As the sun lowered, with a fully belly, I felt grateful to have dry socks. Trying to focus on the positive instead of the fact that I carried a drone and all its batteries without getting to use it due to winds.

20 OCT

Goddard Shelter to County Rd. (591).

22-mile day with a lot of ups and downs emotionally. I noticed that much of my anxiety today surrounded my fear of failure.

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