Holy mother of bogs and blow downs
What with all the zeros, I’ve been trying to decide on how to label my days..so we’ll go with days spent on the trail!
After everyone got back from P.E.I, we drove down to Monson. After dropping off my gear and dog at Shaw’s (thanks so much guys!), we went and got a much needed breakfast at Pete’s Place. Awesome food, awesome resupply, and awesome people! Everyone was so friendly and inquisitive.
After breakfast and a few minutes of tearful goodbyes, I walked into Shaw’s to acquaint myself with some of the other hikers.
There was another group that had needed to leave the 100 miles, but we’re going back to slog through the remainder (you go!!). I also met soway and ebrake, a SOBO couple with plenty of trail experience. True hiker trash, and two of the friendliest people you’ll meet. The cold and rainy day was spent talking gear, past trail experience, and watching Ponyo!
A relatively uneventful day. Soway, ebrake, and I were dropped off at the trail just outside Monson. The A-team, being experienced and also super ultra light weight, took off into the woods as I struggled up the wet slate trail.
BTW, slate is incredibly slippery when dry, and seems near impossible to stay up on when wet. Maybe that’s just me though.
The trail was pretty flat, and incredibly wet. But it was nice and cool, so the bugs stayed away for most of the day. We had our first actual river fording this day. This river definitely seemed more like a brook or stream to me..but whatever. The A-team was nice enough to wait for Solomon and I on the other side in order to make sure we made it alright, and then they continued on.
After a short 9 mile day, the three of us stopped at the shelter. Unfortunately, the bugs came out about 30 minutes before Solomon and I arrived, and stayed all night. We wound up sleeping zipped in the hammock, but on the shelter floor. Thank god for sleeping pads and bug nets.
After a late start (10:30!), the sky finally cleared and the weather was perfect! Except for the bugs, it was a glorious day. We came to the second crossing of the Pascataquis river about an hour and a half in. This seemed much more river like, though it was still relatively simple. Again, the A-team was waiting on the other side, though this time it was more likely to enjoy the beautiful scenery and Sun.
Solomon and I decided to steal their idea, and enjoyed the rocky beach for about 45 minutes. A great snack and relaxation break.
The rest of the nine miles that day felt like they were one giant stream or bog. It was almost laughable that I even bothered trying to keep my feet dry. We stopped at Moxie Bald lean-to, which was absolutely picture perfect. After a quick wade through the cold water, we once again set up camp in the shelter. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: Damn bugs.
This shelter had a great log book, filled with entries from last year’s last NOBO’s. What an inspiration, reading everyone’s finishing thoughts! I spent a good deal of my evening reading and laughing with these inspirational hikers of yore.
We rose with the sun(4:30 or so) in order to put in some more miles. The day started with a hike up Moxie Bald mountain, my first climb since Katahdin! We ran into what I assumed was a NOBO..there was very little conversation. It was early and he had the glazed ‘almost there’look in his eyes. He warned me of blow downs and then wished me luck on my hike.
I was relieved to reach the top(morning climbing is tough..), and was rewarded with some great views and cell phone service! I know the point of the trail is to get away from the grind and all that, but you quickly start missing real conversations and people. Unfortunately everyone was asleep, so they just got landscape pictures from me(don’t expect them to quit anytime soon. I’m excited and the views have just gotten started)
We stopped for a breakfast break at Bald Mountain Brook lean-to and then trudged on towards Pleasant Pond Mountain. And I do mean trudged. The majority of the trail so far has been bogs. Some having sucking mud, some have leafy mud, some have watery mud, some have mud that looks solid but then eats your shoe. I could go on for days about mud alone.
If it’s not a bog, it’s a small, rocky, rooty stream. Dry shoes are not possible, don’t even try.
You have to cross Moxie Pond at one point. But this pond has water moving more swiftly than some rivers I’ve seen in Mississippi. I don’t understand Maine water or names for bodies of water. I just don’t. I give up, Maine wins.
The climb up Pleasant Pond Mountain never seems to end. You are constantly arriving at what looks to be a peak, but isn’t. Thankfully, more cell phone service! We took a few long breaks to call and text friends and family(finally, conversations!) before continuing to climb.
Then the blow downs started. Massive pines, all right on the trail, and most of them the trees with white blazes on them. Climbing, ducking, crawling, and scratching my way down and around the trail was incredibly demoralizing. At one point, after not seeing the trail for 45 minutes, I panicked, sat on a tree, and called my mom crying that I was lost.
Slightly pathetic? Maybe…
Comforting? Very!! Thank goodness for cell service!
We managed to find the trail again, finished the climb, and slowly made our way back down the mountain to Pleasant Pond lean to, where my first trail magic awaited. A perfect bottle of merlot sat waiting for me in the shelter! Whoever you are, kind stranger, my sanity is in your hands!
An early morning and short 6 miles into Caratunk. We decided to stay at The Sterling Inn (highly recommend). There was another thru hiker here, blue jay, when I arrived. He was super friendly and answered all 147283749438 of my questions with patience and honesty. He’ll be finishing his NOBO hike in a week and then will start out on the CDT to finish his triple crown!
We talked, had a few beers, and watched Forrest Gump(a perfect representation on a thru hike we decided) with another guest staying. Eunice, another of the sweetest people in the world, was kind enough to bring us back food when she went out to eat! Salad and Apple pie for me.
This morning had a wonderful breakfast, good conversations and q&a sessions with other guests, and goodbye to blue jay and Eunice.
I’m currently laying on the couch, foot propped up on pillows, iced and bandaged, reading and writing. Another hiker just showed up, so hopefully it’ll be another entertaining evening before hitting the trail again in the morning. Getting nervous about upcoming weather and terrain, but I am ready to get back out there.
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Great description of trail Kaili. I agree about the blowdown! We are still cooling our heals in Monson. Hope to start up toward the end of the week as the ankle heals. Keep up the posts! You are now our “scout” and we will follow your descriptions so we know what to expect.