Over the Saddlebacks!
Margarita and I had our master plan set. We were going to lessen our food carries and try to push for more frequent town resupplies. The idea was that a lighter pack would allows us to go over these tough mountain ranges efficiently. After scaling these ranges we’d hitch into town and resupply. The Saddlebacks and the Bigelows had a reputation as being rugged which is why we opted for this strategy. Today the town stop would be into Rangeley via ME Route 4. When we got to the road (already hiking 10 miles), shuttle driver Kim picked us up along with a hiker named Signature that had been hiking along Margarita and I. Signature needed some new shoes, so he asked to split the shuttle ride three ways with us. We gladly accepted this offer. Kim dropped Margarita and I off at an IGA and said she’d be back in an hour and a half. We wanted to be in and out of the IGA, so we could have time to get over the Saddlebacks in a timely manner. We both got a day and a half worth of food and enjoyed a little salami, cheese, and bread lunch outside in the sun until Kim came and picked us up. Time for the Saddlebacks!
On the way back to the trail Kim told us that Signature didn’t find his shoes, so he had started on the trail an hour ago. Time to catch up to him! We thanked Kim for her shuttle, and we began again at around 11:00. We ran into a little trail family of Cheez-it, Beastie, Dusk, and another hiker who’s named I’m blanking on. They all, aside Dusk, got a ride into Rangely from a lady who was van supporting her husband.
We started hiking and immediately started to thank our lighter packs for this ascent. The trail was rugged and steep, but it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before. Before we broke tree line, we stopped to take a little Mio water break. After quenching our thirsts, we rose above the trees and started the rock slab to Saddleback Mountain. It was at the summit that we saw Signature again! Hungry and a little tired, we all sat down on the granite surface to indulge on various meats and cheeses. After a little while we jumped back on the trail and said farewell to Signature. We summited the Horn, Saddleback Junior (which ended up being the hardest climb of the day), and a pretty steep PUD to get to our campsite at Sluice Brook. I’m pretty sure this was the general location where Geraldine Largary went missing in 2013.
Campsite was better than expected. A nice waterfall provided water and an abandoned logging road made for ample tent sites. A section hiker had made camp across the falls, so our paths only crossed when we filled up water. It was just Margarita and I enjoying dinner at the moment. It was still only 7:00, so there was time for people to roll into camp. But we enjoyed ending our day a little earlier. Eating without the red light was a nice change. I ate a knorr rice side with olive oil and bacon bits, as well as eating a packet of ramen as an appetizer. Margarita, who learned her lesson of cold soaking rice, opted for the tried and true cous cous. Some cheap cooking method banter ensued, notably where I called my style of cooking “hot soaking” which to anyone with half a brain is just plain cooking. I enjoyed my hot meals, but I will say, I tried Margarita’s cold soaked cous cous and it was pretty good. I could see myself using this strategy when I’m off trail and want something quick to eat.
About an hour later, Signature rolled into camp. Following him was his trail family of Beastie and company. Signature apparently likes to hike in front of them. They said they saw a bear a 1/4 mile away. That didn’t really phase me as I stored my food the same way I always did.
Margarita and I went to bed before the rest of them, but I need to make note of the conversation that got Margaritaville out of her tent.
Beastie: When did you get here?
Signature: I just got here, but I could have gotten here earlier if it wasn’t for people distracting me for lunch (he said this half jokingly)!
At this point, Margaritaville stuck her out of her tent and said:
Bullshit. You started before us, and we all started at the same time!
Everyone was kind of laughing during this interaction. We caught Signature trying to pull a fast one or whatever he was trying to do. I still don’t know what the point of that statement was. But I’m glad Margaritaville called him out for that. Beastie seemed to love that Signature got exposed for this. I loved every bit of it. Don’t mess with Margarita.
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