Kennebec and Caratunk zero (7/23, 7/24, 7/25)

Day 148, 7/23: Horns Pond shelter -> West Carry Pond shelter (17.9 miles)

I woke up in my hammock toasty in my sleeping bag, but the air outside was freezing cold. It was in the 40’s and the shock of the cold temperature made it seem like it was in the negatives. Getting out of my warm bed was a challenge, and I ate snacks and my orange I packed out in lieu of cooking. We packed up as quickly as possible and got on the trail.

We went up South Horn mountain, which was steep but not terribly long. At the top, we had a nice view of the Bigelows. I slowed down and Rash and Piñata hiked ahead. On top of the first Bigelow, I met 2 day-hikers from Maine and chatted with them a while. It was a beautifully clear and sunny day, and I thought I saw Katahdin in the far distance. The Bigelows is one of the first places Katahdin is visible, and a few SOBOers confirmed what I thought was Katahdin.

My first view of the finish line! The tiny blip is (maybe) Mt Katahdin

Beautiful Maine

The spectacular views continued up Avery peak. I met lots of SOBOers, and a group of section hikers from Grenoble, France. They had camped at the site beside us at the shelter last night. I stopped for a snack break at the base of the mountain on a mossy rock. I leapfrogged Cous-cous for a little bit, and on a short side trail to an outlook he motioned me towards him without speaking. He saw a mink run up a tree and now it was staring down at us, looking at us suspiciously.

Snack break

Mink in a tree

Shredded purple pinecones (?)

Cous-cous hiked on, and on the flat, rocky summit of Little Bigelow mountain, I joined up with Chopsticks, Two-Step, and Big E. We came to the shelter for water, and I found Rash and Piñata sitting on the bank at the blue blaze intersection. Their bags had holes so filtering water didn’t work very well. We filtered water from my bag and we hiked on. We still had 7.5 miles until the shelter with a few small climbs. Rash and Piñata hiked ahead, and I hiked the last few miles with Chopsticks. At the shelter, a trail angel had left a Rubbermaid container with cupcakes, apples, and other amazing goodies. I ate an apple and a SOBOer started a fire.

We had some trouble finding a hammock spot due to dead trees, and ended up a bit of a walk from the shelter next to Cous-cous who is also a hammocker. I enjoyed the fire while I cooked dinner and ate most of my snacks since tomorrow is town day. We went to sleep listening to the loons talking back and forth.

Day 149, 7/24: West Carry Pond shelter -> Caratunk, ME (14 miles)

I woke up several times during the night listening to something walking around in the woods. The crunching of leaves made me nervous since we were a ways from the shelter, but it sounded small. The loons called steadily all night, peaking at 3 or 4am to an ear shattering screech that woke everyone up.

We woke up earlier than usual to make sure we could catch the ferry in time. I made oatmeal in the shelter and Rash and Piñata joined me. Chopsticks and Old E were still around by the time we left camp. The terrain starting out was mostly flat with some rocks, but we were making really good time. I passed a hiker going SOBO who reeked of citronella, and the whole trail smelt strongly of citronella past him.

We got to the shelter to rest our feet since we were making good time, and found the group of 4 hanging out: 2 Step, Cous-cous, Chopsticks, and Old E. We ate snacks, I got water from the pond, and we rested for some time before heading out.

2 Step, Cous-cous, Chopsticks, and Old E

Flicker and Gandolf: Get busy living!

Past the shelter, the trail took us over what looked like a modge podge of logs and rocks on the edge of a pond, and over log bridges suspended ~5 feet above the water and rocks. When we got to the ferry, another hiker was in front of us in line. Rash crossed with him, and Piñata and I crossed together.

Group picture with Rash on the other side of the water

Piñata and I with the canoe operator

The white blaze in the bottom of the canoe

We stopped at the brand new privy on the other side of the Kennebec river, and then headed into town. We saw Snooze and Sauce at the B&B before the post office, and stopped in so Rash and Piñata could get their package and so we could all get milkshakes. We then went to the post office to mail back our winter gear.

Happy blaze!

Snooze and Sauce

Hiker box at the post office

Day 150, 7/25: zero in Caratunk, ME

I woke up to sounds of loud cars and trunks zooming by on the nearby highway. Our hiker gear doesn’t smell like roses, so we opened the windows yesterday to air everything out. We hadn’t made a final decision if we wanted to zero, so I went to the desk and sketched out a rough mileage plan for the rest of our hike. When Rash and Piñata got up, I ran it by them and we made some adjustments. We put it on pause to go eat breakfast because we were starving (a normal feeling thru hikers wake up to).

Mileage planning

The breakfast was outstanding. I had a big bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, an everything bagel with cream cheese, apple sauce, hot chocolate, a poppy peach muffin, and orange juice. Eric (the owner) talked with Old Style and played music from CDs on an old CD player. While we ate, the famed Alex (who is on his 4th day staying at the hotel) came downstairs. It was 2.0, who we’d met at The Barn and Pine Ellis, but we didn’t recognize his real name when Eric mentioned it earlier.

Rash with juice at breakfast

We slowly made our way upstairs to finalize our plans for the day. We decided to relax and take a zero since this hotel was clean and our room was huge. I went downstairs and told Eric, then I crashed on the couch in the common area and watched TV. I watched Golden Girls, a tattoo reality show, Scrubs, and That 70s Show before turning in for a nap.

Rash sewing his shorts

Our huge room

Giardia de Laurentiis

Common room with huge ceilings

My root attack healing

We went to the Boatman restaurant for Taco Tuesday with 2.0 and Old Style. We gorged on all you can eat tacos, talked about the trail ending soon, and walked around the gift shop. I got a butterfinger ice cream bar to satisfy my ice cream craving.

Eating tacos with 2.0 and Old Style

My first round of tacos

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