It’s OK to Wait

I don’t really know what to think of the past week or so. On the one hand, I’m not making the progress I’d like to be, but I’m still putting in some long days. My longest days of 18 and 19 miles were some of my most recent. But I’m sitting on 68 miles in the last 7 days.

On the other hand, I have gotten the chance to hang out with some great people and have some beautiful days of hiking. The more I’m out here, the more I realize this journey is more about the people than the Trail. The Trail provides the network and trauma bonding we need to make those people-to-people connections. Waiting has brought me the physical, emotional, and spiritual rejuvenation to take on the next set of challenges.

Zeros in Monson, Back on the Trail

I took an extra zero in Monson at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel. Well worth the three nights there. Poet is super knowledgeable and very eager to help all hikers meet their goals.  It was a relief to be in this connected network as my first day out of Monson would have me cross the East and West Branches of the Piscataquis River.  After what I experienced in the 100 Mile Wilderness, I was looking for boring fords. A few days after the rains stopped, the levels had returned to reasonable flows, making for easy crossings.

Glassy Views on Bald Mountain Pond

After the rivers, I climbed Moxie Bald Mountain and Pleasant Pond Mountain. The weather was great, and the peaks rewarded my efforts with some great views.

Southern view from Moxie Bald Mountain

Into Caratunk to Cross the Kennebec River

I had stalled enough by now that the Kennebec Ferry canoe service was operational again. They suspended service for a few days due to the heavy rains and large discharge from the hydropower dam upstream. After an uneventful crossing with Matt doing the paddling, I began walking towards the Bigelow Mountains, my first big climbs since Katahdin. I spent the night at East Flagstaff Lake enjoying the loons while I rested for the day ahead.

The Bigelows are a “Welcome to Southern Maine” notice for SOBOs. Hiking has been relatively easy excluding Katahdin until now. After a solid climb up Little Bigelow, you are greeted with a two-mile haul up Avery Peak at a climbing rate of 900 feet per mile. Then it’s on to Bigelow Mountain West Peak and the South Horn, with equally extreme, though not as long, ascents and descents.

I did all of the 12 miles from East Flagstaff Lake to Horn’s Pond Lean-to, over the Bigelows in the rain. No views from the top. Only wind and pelting rain.

This is fun. Come join me!

The forecast is calling for more bad weather including thunderstorms. My plan is to wait the worst of it out in Stratton before I tackle any more of the peaks above the treeline. I don’t mind the rain too much, but the extreme conditions make it tough going.

Blame it on the Rain

It’s challenging to get my perspective in a good place. I want to get my miles in, but I also want to finish this thru-hike safely. I’m just not comfortable taking on these conditions, so the rain takes the blame for my delays.

It also takes credit for some great opportunities to meet and reconnect with some amazing people.

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Comments 4

  • Daddy Warbuck$ : Jun 30th

    Keep it up man. You’re going to have bad days. Don’t let bad days become bad weeks.

    I’m 60 days into my thru hike and turned my focus away from mileage to time on the trail. Sometimes I’ll be slow, but I can control the time I wake up, how long my breaks are and when I call it a day.

    Air Power!

    Daddy Warbuck$

    • Brad Brannon : Jul 1st

      Thanks, Daddy Warbuck$! Agree on minimizing the negativity. Even on the days when I want to hike but it’s not safe (at least in my personal assessment) I enjoy talking with other hikers. I’ve learned a lot about the Trail and their personal experiences in life. Sure, I’m feeling down about not hiking that day, but I made a decision and am making the best of it.

      I do like the days on trail measuring stick. If I’m in the woods, I’ll at least make some progress. In town, zero miles and $$$$ spent.

  • John Nummerdor : Jun 30th

    I live in Virginia with my wife and daisy (dog). We moved here from Wisconsin to retire. We are not far from the a.t. We have done some trail magic. When you get to Virginia and need something let us know. Safe hike.

    • Brad Brannon : Jul 1st

      Thanks, John! I’ll look you up when I get closer to the Mason-Dixon line.


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