Day 156: Into the Wild

Northstar dropped me off at the ME 6 trailhead just outside Monson at 7:30 with PBJ and Just Try. JW needed to retrieve a package containing his new shoes from Shaw’s but they wouldn’t get it for him until they’d finished serving breakfast. He’d catch up later.

A few steps from the trailhead, a sign warned us that we were entering the 100 Mile Wilderness and that we should carry a minimum of 10 days supplies. I had one dinner, one breakfast, and two lunches in my pack. We’ll see how this turns out.

A Bare in the Woods

I passed Just Try at the 100 Mile Wilderness warning sign, where she was shooting a YouTube video, and PBJ just after that. Then, despite the hordes of hikers in Monson who should be heading north today, I hiked alone for most of the morning.

Around 10:30, on the descent to Little Wilson Stream, I saw a pantless woman crouched along the trail ahead me. As protocol demands, I quickly turned my back and waited for her to finish. And waited. And waited. Finally, hearing no “It’s okay!” I took a peek and saw her walking away, so I continued down the trail.

When we met at the riverbank, she pointed upstream at a shelf of rock that stretched across the stream and said, “I think most people cross up there. You have long legs and can probably get across without getting wet.” To avoid prolonging the awkward moment, I immediately headed upstream.

A Presbyterian Baptism

I found the crossing and stepped out on to the first slab of rock. The wet, first slab of rock. A tilted, slippery, wet slab of rock. My feet went out from under me, I fell flat on my back, and started sliding into the flowing water. My ear pod popped out on impact, splooped into the water, and disappeared. I rolled as I slid, sticking my left arm into the water just in time to stop myself from a full swim.

Nothing was broken, and I’d only gotten one arm, one foot, and part of one leg wet. It could have been worse. My ear pod floated up a foot away, so I grabbed at it, but dropped my trekking pole into the stream, fell forward, but caught myself with my other arm. I was still okay. I only had two arms, one shoe, and one leg wet.

Just a sprinkling, as it were, and I didn’t lose my ear bud or my trekking pole. I was destined for success.

A Wesleyan Baptism

I got up, balanced on the slick rock, took the next step, and fell flat on my face. But I didn’t get any wetter. I got the same sprinkling I’d just gotten, but done one more time. I picked myself up, changed my path, and waded across to the promised land on the other side.

I climbed out of the stream and looked for the next white blaze. I found none. So, I pulled out my FarOut app and discovered that the trail never crossed the stream. It turned right along the other bank, following it downstream for a thousand feet.

I waded back across the stream, avoiding the wayward woman who had sent me down the wrong path, and got back on the straight and narrow way.

A Baptist Baptism

I reached the real stream crossing a few minutes later. I looked in vain for a dry route across, but the chasm was too wide and deep. The only way was across was through the water, so I plunged in, doing my best to keep myself upright.

I’m pretty good at river crossings, so I made it most of the way over, stepping up on the last rock … and slipped again, this time backsliding into the stream. A full immersion. Head, shoulders, knees, and toes. And backpack.

The Baptisms Didn’t Take

I’d like to say I emerged clean and refreshed, but my baptisms didn’t take. And I’m afraid there may have been some notching. My notching clothes were soaked. I had to pour water out of my notching backpack. And I’d somehow torn notching three-inch gashes in my notching shoe uppers.

I wrung out my clothes, shivering and goose-fleshed in the cold, and then shouldered my pack and started the climb away from the creek. As I reached the top, PBJ appeared behind me and shouted across, “Where’s the best place to get across?”

PBJ’s notching sense of humor.

Daily Stats:

  • Start: Monson (Mile 2083.7)
  • End: Long Pond Stream Lean-To (Mile 2098.8)
  • Weather: Clear skies. Cool. Mist on the lakes and ponds.
  • Earworm: I Write the Songs (Barry Manilow). Shoot me now.
  • Meditation: Jn 15:14-15
  • Plant of the Day: Face
  • Best Thing: Mist on the ponds
  • Worst Thing: Multiple baptisms

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Comments 22

  • Lori : Oct 8th

    Sometimes the baptisms of various denominations can be notching annoying. 🤗

    Wonderful piece of writing! 😊

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Thanks Lori. Hope the apple press was a hoot.

  • Sandy : Oct 8th

    Its been wonderful to follow your adventures this summer. For 4 years, you and other bloggers have kept me in touch with the woods while I’ve been in hospital rooms and doctors offices or up in the middle of the night caring for my husband through his cancer treatment or dealing with the aftermath of his passing. I have especially enjoyed your sense of humor and reading about the support and companionship you have from Northstar and Gus. My kids and I are getting back out onto the trails around school and other activities. Maybe we’ll attempt something longer than a weekend trip soon. In the meantime, thank you for letting me share in your adventures from afar. They have been a light in the darkness for me.

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Thank you for sharing that. I’m sorry for your recent journey and loss. Cancer sucks. I hope you can find peace, healing, and a happy trail.

  • Beth : Oct 8th

    Plant of the day: face
    Those are ferocious! Be avoid at all costs!!

    I will miss your humor.

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Thanks Beth. Likewise.

  • Aric : Oct 8th

    Best Thing: You are only a few days away from the end of this journey and letting us follow along with your posts. I’m glad you weren’t injured in the water crossings.

    Worst Thing: In a few days you’ll be finished and we won’t be reading about your daily joys and hardships. Please consider writing an Appalachian Trail elegy after this is over, warts and all and water with a little extra.

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Aric! Didn’t know you were reading. Was trying to recall for Northstar what your name meant.

      I’m thinking about a book, but have others in the queue. We’ll see. Thanks for the encouragement.

  • thetentman : Oct 8th

    More notching. You potty mouth.

    Can’t you put pontoons on those size 15s and float across?


    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Lol. The 15’s have too many holes to float. The Altras haven’t held up well in New England.

      And I blame Steinbeck, Taretino, and my sister for my potty mouth. I was innocent before their influence.

  • Rushmore : Oct 8th

    Great notching post!
    Your multiple baptisms should save you from the notching bad place. I’m gonna miss you!

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Lol. I’ll miss all this too, as well as your encouragement.

  • jen l : Oct 8th

    You’ve really grown on me. At first I wasn’t too into someone’s journey who slept inside most nights and had support. But it’s just a different journey and respectful in its own way. And you have a talent for relaying your experiences in a depreciatingly funny way. Your posts will be missed.

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      Thanks Jen.

  • Omar : Oct 9th

    Very glad you are OK Jon!🙏

    • Jon : Oct 9th

      I am!

  • Alison : Oct 9th

    Notch!! Very glad you made it through the dunkings. I’m really going to miss your most excellent writing–going to have to scroll back to the beginning to read your whole odyssey. Absolutely love how you three have travelled–most inspiring!
    Can’t wait to read about your first view of Mama K.

    • Jon : Oct 16th

      Haha! Thanks Alison.

  • Mike Nixon : Oct 12th

    As a dyed-in-the-wool Baptist, I’ve always preferred immersion. However, by the time you reached that point in your crossings, I actually felt bad that you had gone through so much! From a Biblical perspective, at least you finally got it right. LOL

    You may be done by the time you read this. If not, stay safe & strong!

    • Jon : Oct 16th

      Lol. I was sprinkled as an infant and then dunked as an adult, much to the chagrin of my reformed father in law. I think I’m covered whichever side is right.

  • Jeff Greene : Oct 22nd

    Plant of the day truly made me LOL here on the couch!

    • Jon : Oct 23rd

      I always wonder if anyone reads those… thanks for reading Jeff!


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