i'm still very much in maine. i finally broke down and ordered swayze a pair of dog boots in hopes of helping with her toenail issue. we picked them up from the post office this morning and then went on a 12-mile hike that wound up testing my nerves a little bit. she kept kicking them off and wanting to lay down instead of hike. she eventually got the hang of it with her front boots, but her back boots are too big and kept falling off on their own. i'm gonna call ruffwear tomorrow morning and see if they won't replace her two back shoes with a smaller size. God bless taylor and carolyn... i've been staying with them in their rv for the past five nights or so while i was waiting for the delivery of the boots. tomorrow morning, they'll drive me back to the trailhead and i'll take the ferry across the kennebec river and we'll hike into stratton, where we'll more than likely get picked up for another stay in the rv while we wait on irene to blow through. she's supposed to hit us sunday night/monday morning and in lieu of spending money for a hotel or taking a zero out on the trail (because the forecast for mon is a high of 65 with an 80% chance of heavy rain), taylor offered us another stay with them. :)
there has been quite a bit of bad news this week on the AT. two hikers have died and while both of their deaths bring sadness, one brings about a particular sense of uneasiness and concern. the first hiker's name was open mike and he was found up here in maine not far from where i'll be hiking in the next couple of days. the original theory of his death was that he fell and hit his head on a rock, but then the autopsy showed that he suffered a heart attack, which then led to him falling and hitting his head. he was hiking alone and no one found him in time. the other hiker to pass is a much sadder story. his name was stonewall and i met him roughly nine miles south of harpers ferry, west virginia. he was sitting on the trail rolling a cigarette and, as is usual when two hikers pass each other, we began talking. he was a southbounder and he loved the civil war; that's how he got his trail name. he said his pack was around 60# and that he wanted a pack that heavy to sort of experience what the soldiers in the civil war experienced. we didn't talk long... maybe ten or fifteen minutes. i gave him my aqua-mira (water purification chemicals) because he said he didn't have any purification method and i was going into town that day so i could get some more. we parted ways, and i learned this week that he is dead and the circumstances surrounding his death have been deemed suspicious and the FBI is investigating this case. he was found somewhere in virginia around roanoke. i heard through the grapevine that he was found half-buried. someone from the appalachian trail conservancy contacted me via facebook the other day because i commented on their link that they posted and they requested that i call the FBI and give them any information regarding stonewall. i can't really tell them much of anything, but calling them is on my to-do list before i hit the trail tomorrow morning. it's just so sad... it's one thing to die doing something you love because of natural causes or because of the inherent risks of the certain activity; it's a completely different thing to have your amazing adventure ended because of something that has nothing to do with you. both hikers died doing something they loved, but i almost feel like open mike's case is a cause for rejoicing, whereas thinking about stonewall brings tears to my eyes. it's so weird to feel the way i do because i only talked to him so briefly, but i find myself thinking as i hike now, "what if you'd just talked to him for ten more minutes? what if you hadn't been in such a rush to get to the post office for that mail drop?" thirty seconds can be the difference between being in the right place at the right time and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. these days, i try and not rush through my meetings on the trail. i hope and pray he his brought justice.
there's really not much else going on... i am almost through the mid-maine section, which means that my new england climbs are about to get serious. i talked to spice boy briefly last night via text. he went over mount washington yesterday and the actual temp was 38 with a wind chill factor of 28ish. what. the. heck. i can't wait to get out of the cold weather area. give this girl some heat! oh... and also let me see a moose.