Thomas Pond, ME
It’s been raining since we left Pat’s Pizza last night. College football isn’t as popular in Maine and the boys freaking out about fumbles and interceptions drew some attention. Dad’s driving drunk. Bill’s smoker’s cough, deep and usually productive.
Rogue and I went for the shortest little walk a few minutes ago.. She was off leash and stayed with me. I’ve got to find some exercise today. My arms and chest are still sore form my decent off Katahdin, but I can already feel my body aching, the itch for more movement. I have been sitting since I sumitted.
October 3rd was such a beautiful day to finish. Projected to be the only day of clear skies for a while, it was warm, sunny, not a cloud in the sky and even half way up, the view of surrounding colors changing, granite rock face peaking through forests were rewarding.
The prior night’s sleep came not til’ early, early morning and both alarms were silenced be my unconscious hand. Bill woke us at 5:30 and after the routine blow dry and chemical spray down, we stopped for gatorades and coffee and “Fresh baked” gas station pastries.
The drive from Medway to Baxter took ages and I felt like 13 year old me, sighing in anxiety, ski gear on for the first time. Anxious to start, anxious to finish, anxious for my dad. Why?
The first 9 miles were similar to the last few miles of the 100 mile wilderness, moss covered, bog board plank walking, fall leaves and shade. We covered ground quickly, even stopped for a snack break. Dad asked me, “What do you even think about while walking for so long?”
We signed in at the Katahdin Stream Campground’s Ranger station, but both rangers were “roaming the campground”, so I didn’t get my official ATC paperwork or whatever it is they give out. Not long after we started from the trailhead, Dad had to stop for a breather and a pattern started to form. I walked behind him, afraid he would become discouraged for not being able to keep up. An older hiker gave him the advise of not being shy and letting me go on without him so we could make it back before dark. The man passed and Dad said, “Well, that doesn’t make me feel any more confident.”
He quickened his pace, but had to stop for another break just a few hundred paces up the trail. I should thank Fiddlin’ Jim and Forager for telling us how much more difficult the trail was going to get. It was that that struck the chord that sent me tearing up the mountain. I left three packs of cheese crackers and a handful of fun-sized snicker bars with dad before taking off.
I climbed with an intensity that only five months of build up could acquire. I started passing people on their decent, congratulating accomplished thru-hikers, those that started from the birches lean-tos in the early morning.
A mother, waiting for her son with no water, a 61 year old wearing socks and sandals, some retired Baxter State Park employee; the views were outstanding.
I hit the Katahdin summit sign and some hiker I had never seen before took mediocre pictures of me sitting upon it. Someone offered me a smoke and I ate a handful and started running back down to meet dad. Boulder hopping with a smile on my face. Uncle Bill met us at the campgound at sunset with a six pack of PBRs and life back in society started.
Logan Brook Rd
“Handsome Hiker” and I leapfrogged a few times and ended at the same camp spots. He smoked me two bowls and we talked about him being twice my age and how our bodies were in prime condition.
Two candy bars down and strawberry poptarts. It’s raining and I can hear airplanes. 20.4 miles and it feels good. White Cap Mountain is the last before Mama Katahdin.
I met a group of six dudes thru-hiking together at the last shelter, six new faces to add to the ever-growing list of hikers in the bubble. Strange to be just one of the many, remembering the solitude of the middle states.
I’ve noticed a change in my thoughts.
69 miles is a very short distance.
It’s still raining and chilly. Not the kind of weather that makes you wanna get out of your tent. It was raining when I was 69 miles into the hike, too.
Potaywadjo Spring Lean-To
21.5 miles and I attended to two slices of pizza and three beers at 2:30. I leapfrogged with Dos Lekis and the Knights of the Order of the White Blaze. I’m quite enjoying the knight’s radio: “All the hits, All the time”: A couple of dudes singing to each other. Adorable really.
Typical Appalachian Trail Scene:
My tent, Rogue asleep on my sleeping bag. The shelter houses about four bearded dudes. A fire. It’s cold enough for socks and thrift find down pants.
I didn’t realize how dim my headlamp was until I went to the water source.
Terry Adam’s Cabin
After about 4 miles, I came upon a big painted sign, “Trail Magic in memory of James Adams (Yogi Bear)”. A south-bound flip-flopper, Lobo, told us of this awesome trail magic- a spot worth checking out, so I ventured down this overgrown dirt road. A jack rabbit ran straight up to us just at the drive way to an old hunting shack built in 1944. Rogue ran off after the rabbit and I walked up the drive to a friendly english lab named Chaska. There were five people here when I arrived. Terry introduced himself and apologized for not having breakfast made for me. The three other hikers that were at the last shelter with me showed up and he started making us steak and eggs.
Rogue and Chaska played and when I was the only hiker left, Terry made us both drinks and asked me to go to town to meet another hiker for dinner with him.
Only 11 miles or so, but I ran into 15 hikers today on the trail. Sobo lady and dog, two guys hiking the 100 mile wilderness, Sassafras, The Engineer and Delaware, City Slicka, Pine Cone, Pretty Bird, Big Gulp, Apollo, and two dudes hiking the 100 mile wilderness south bound and a couple I met while at the Sterling Inn.
I sat at the top of Monument Cliff on “Third Mountain” with a gathering, convergence of us all, text my parents. Mom said she stopped reading A Walk in the Woods because it was making her too nervous for me.
Sleep evades as it did pre-hike.
In one of my few dreams, Jay and I were in some sort of hot springs whirlpool, the center of which turned into a big blackhole. He jumped in and it threw him right back at me with a laugh. I couldn’t bring myself to jump in after him.
Another dream: a lady stopped me while I was walking down a street and asked for a to go box. So I walked and she drove slowly next to me to the nearest restaurant. I went in, asked for a to go box, and brought it out to this lady still in her car. There were a bunch of skateboarding monks in orange robes, too.
The plan is to resupply and be on my way!
To the hundred mile wilderness!
Wilson Valley Lean-To
15 miles ain’t bad with a morning resupply and stuff session. In fact, I was surprised at how far we got. About a mile south, the trail crosses the Big Wilson Stream- about 30 yards across and maybe 3 ft deep. Deep and fast enough for Rogue to refuse to cross. I ended up fording it five times, the first with both our packs and the last with Rogue thrown over my shoulder. I guess she never really has been much of a water dog.
Ninja Mike happened to be staying at the lodge next to the place I resupplied and ate at. He’s planning on hitching up to Katahdin to summit as soon as he can. It will be in the mountains of Colorado that I will see him next. We talked about how strange it is, catching the bubble. A constant stream of new faces just in the last few days: Turtle, Dos Lekis, Mad Max, Fifol and Little Foot, Big Gulp, Sassafras, Delaware, Fifty Shrimp, Bud..
I wish I was better with names.
The Sterling Inn
I wasn’t planning to stay here, but I’m glad I did. I spent quite a portion of yesterday’s hike thinking about burgers.
Pierce Pond lean-to was 3.7 from the Kennebec River and the ferry service only ran from 2-4pm. When I stopped for lunch, it was 1:55 and it took us less than an hour to get to the river. The ferry turned out to be a guy with a canoe, “Hillbilly Dave”. He’s been ferrying hikers for 8 years now and roughly estimated he had shuttled 10,000 hikers and about 500 trail dogs.
Rogue and I walked to the post office where the post master, Marie, let me use the phone and invited me to use her personal bathroom across the street.
bog-side campsite, campfire sitting, chocolate raspberry crumbles and potato chips. Nikola Tesla and stoner rambles.
I only hiked 10 miles or so, but Maine is beautiful and it is starting to hit that the end is fast approaching.
near mile 2065.6
I’m camped in some kind of tree farm next to the trail on a nice thick patch of ultra green moss. The weather today was perfect, sunny and warm. The changing leaves are so beautiful and the trail stayed close to the banks of the Piscataquis River.
Cranberry Stream Campsite
Rogue and I got here around 7 pm yesterday. It had been misting on us since 2 or so, but the rain held up until early this morning. Two tents were here and it took 45 minutes for me to realize it was Jason and Justin. Yesterday, I thought about my water intake and how low it had gotten, so I dropped my pack as soon as I arrived and went to the water source. There, the 2000-miler sign met me and I squat down and peed at the base of it’s tree.
I had to unzip my sleeping bag last night even with the rain, it was warm and humid. Hoping the weather holds out a bit longer.
Stealth Spot near Jerome Brook
Long Falls Dam Rd
Turtle was adjusting her pack just before take off when I came upon her. She continued to walk in front of me and we talked about the usual thru hiker topics, small-talk. I passed her and, honestly, I’m really surprised and glad to see her at our make shift campground.
Just and Jason were already set up when Rogue and I rounded the corner. I had just passed a sign that read 2.7 miles to the lean-to and was ready for the worst of it. It was already 6:20, so I found a spot and quickly set up in order to eat. The day’s hike has been mostly centered around thoughts of food: fried chicken, french toast, french fries, and alcoholic beverages.
I spent the morning’s first climb thinking of Richard “Dick” Brown, the late AT trail maintainer who died from a heart attack while cross-country skiing at the age of 80. It was good to meditate on something as beautiful as dying doing something you love.
The Bigalow Mountain Range was surprising. Ultra-windy summits, misty low cloud coverage, a rainbow, and I started to bleed in the middle of the two most difficult climbs. I guess I mediated on menstruation and fertility a lot, as well. It seems that I have reached that point in my life when people start marrying and birthing and really subscribing themselves into the vicious cycle most know to be everyday consumeristic-capitalism modern society. Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, More Wilderness, Less Babies! Less Procreation, More Recreation!
It’s a strange occurrence, menstruation. You might think after 10 years of knowing each other, we’d be closer.
“The Buddha walks on.”
“You gotta embrace the suck”
I’m destroying a jar of peanut butter….
The Farmhouse Inn
My watch’s 6:30 alarm just went off, but I’ve been up for 30 minutes already. The sun is just barely peaking over the hill and Rangley Lake looks calm from the “Milk Parlor Hostel” window. It was a good night, shower, laundry, beers, and I fried up three eggs to remind me of living with my parents, complete with ketchup and mustard. I caught up with Walrus and Catch Up, and it may well be the last time I get to see them as they are getting back on the trail with plans to do over 20 miles everyday from here to Katahdin.
My feet are like sandpaper.
The owners of the inn just moved here from Colorado. She and I talked a bit last night of her “rainbow tribe” family. They have two biological children and two adopted- a girl from China and the cutest “chocolate” baby boy from Africa. It’s a good morning for Miles Davis.
near Orbeton Stream
13.5 miles in 6 1/2 hours. I was kind of hoping to see Jason and Justin back on the trail, but they’re probably 7ish miles north of me. The trail was cloudy and I met a few day hikers before going up Saddleback Mountain.
It didn’t rain last night and I had to take off layers because I woke up too warm. Slow morning with Rogue playing catch and I smoked in the passenger seat of an abandoned Arctic Cat ATV.
16 some miles today. I just about ran the last 1.9 miles from the road trying to beat sunset. There’s a creepy abandoned cabin and an overgrown dirt road and this is the first time I have camped alone since Mt Lafayette. Heart flutters aren’t the best feeling. I cannot decide if they are because I am so close to finishing, or if it’s the shitty processed food I’ve been living off of..
I should have peed before getting all warm and cozy…
My 8:30 alarm didn’t go off. It’s all good. I’ve been getting later starts, still put some miles down yesterday.
I paid $12 for the rides in and out of Andover, ME. 15 minutes till closing, I order the Hungry Hiker Breakfast at the Little Red Hen. Andover had nothing for me, but the Little Red Hen was perfect! Those ladies are the sweetest.
The Pine Ellis Lodging, however, was mostly a nightmare. I couldn’t stay there because of Rogue, and the guy giving shuttle rides was drinking and driving. Hurricane High Gravity.
I found myself back on the trail with a bag of potato chips, a ginger ale, and I met three section hikers that were about to finish hiking the entire trail after 20 years of hiking.
Night hiking over peaks and moss and it’s supposed to deep freeze tonight.
I hardly slept last night. I guess the jacket was too wet to have in my sleeping bag and it wasn’t long until the outside of my sleeping bag was totally soaked. I cocooned myself in, but the smell was worse than a locker room. As per usual, the only bit of sleep I did get was after the alarm I set.
The last thing I remember from my dream was of my sister saying, “You browse around then go to the cashier for the cigarettes and forget everything you were browsing.”
I made it twoish miles before finding this perfect sunny spot.
I spread out, even set up my tent. Cheesy bacon macaroni with hickory smoked tuna and talking to my parents made me feel crazy.
“You’ve got too much time to think.”
I think, if more people took the time and effort to lick the inside of their candy bar wrappers, the world would be a better place.
15 miles again today and I’ve nearly doubled my time coming out of the Whites. I spent a hot second at the New Hampshire/Maine border with a NOBO hiker I met at Pinkham Notch, Space Ranger.
Since leaving the Whites, the trail has been seemingly fast, nice and flat between wall scalers. The last tenth of a mile was just about the steepest trail I’ve ever descended. I had to take my pack off and dropped it down onto a rock before I could descend safely. I haven’t been feeling too well. Probably just a massive shit forming, but my stomach has been sour for a few hours now. Beef ramen with a could of spoonfuls of instant mashed potatoes, sriracha, and the last of my tortillas.
It seemed so unreal in Georgia. What an experience it has been to see the changes between the 1900 miles.
It started to rain early this morning. All I can think about is doing “the most difficult or fun mile on the AT” in the rain. Jumbled boulders. If it’s anything like yesterday’s finish, then I’m fucked.
Speck Pond Campsite
Hardest 3 miles of the AT?
Mahoosuc Notch was ever bit as difficult as I thought it to be and more. Jumbled pit of boulders, in and out, up and over, the trail goes under rocks and over them, it leads through passes that are only wide enough for you to squeeze through without your pack and on your stomach. About half way through, I took Rogue’s pack off and strapped it to mine. After which, she could jump through the pit easily and made my way a bit more difficult.
I spent most of the Notch’s mile on my ass, sliding over wet, slippery rock face. With the unusual balance and extra weight of Rogue’s pack, I took much care placing each step. One misjudge of balance and the notch could catch an ankle or leg between school bus sized boulders, suck you down into the hidden stream under the “trail”.
Naturally, it started to rain again as I slid my way over and about jumbled moss-covered granite. All I could think about was slipping into the small hiker sized holes, being caught in the stream 10 feet under the trail, and what would happen if I caught my ankle, or fall against the sharp side of a boulder.
It took me a dismal 2 and a half hours to cover that mile.
The mile up and out of the Notch was hard mostly because I had spent so much energy on the previous difficulties. I could tell Rogue was feeling fatigued as well. Every time I stopped to catch my breath, she would find a mossy spot to lie down in. She fell trying to jump a rock face littered with tree roots. That dog is really something amazing. She’s been doing so great over this Maine terrain.
My stomach is still sour. Nothing that I eat or drink satisfies my cravings. (Although, the watermelon Airhead I found perched perfectly on a rock for me from Yoda was mouth-wateringly delicious.)
It’s cold out. I was just watching the water evaporate off my rain jacket.