Caratunk – And Other Hikers
Today we hit Caratunk, ME on the banks of the Kennebec River. Tomorrow we take the canoe ride across the Kennebec and start into the Bigelow Range. A lot has happened since we got out of the 100 mile wilderness.
After a week off, the ankle seemed good enough to start again. Ian wanted to make sure I was ready so that we wouldn’t run into more injury delays; good advice. Anyway, after attending my meeting in Philadelphia, we headed back to Monson and Lakeshore House. When we got there we met a crew of SOBO’s, including another Appalachian Trials blogger, Josh Goebel (trail name Achilles). It was a good group and we seemed to coincide with our pace since Monson. They all walk faster than me, but we end up at the same place at night.
This is a new experience for Ian and me. We did most of the 100 mile wilderness alone, or ran into one or two strangers that we never saw again. It is great fun to meet the same people at the shelters each night. It is much more social and supportive. Some of these guys have trail names already, but not all. Ian and I still don’t but I guess they will come eventually. We are tagging along with Achilles, Doubletap, Slingshot, Homer, Ben, and Scavenger. Like us, Ben doesn’t have a trail name yet.
On this stretch we crossed three “smallish” mountains (<3,000 feet). Still they were a challenge – steep ascents and a lot of blowdown not yet cleared.
The biggest challenge in this section was fording the West Branch of the Piscataquis River. This was waist deep with a strong current. You definitely needed to hang onto the rope string across. We all waited for each other to make it across here. Good moral support, plus some helping hands if anybody got into trouble (nobody did).
The other place a group of us gathered was on top of Bald Mountain for a late breakfast and some cell phone connectivity. Then, we moved on to the next two peaks and the shelter after that. This was a 13 mile day and I was definitely feeling tired.
The next morning the bulk of the crew got up at 4:30 to hike the remaining 6 miles into Caratunk. Ian and I slept in (until the decadent hour of 6:30 no less!) and took our time. We all met up in Caratunk and are planning to head out tomorrow.
Josh wrote a great post on some “do’s and dont’s” for the trail. I wish I had had his advice when I started!
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