Southern Maine… Mad Ups and Downs, Stunning Beauty
In my last update, I feared that I had seriously injured my left shoulder. Turns out it was just a matter of a couple of cortisone injections and a few weeks off. But still, I felt like a kid who showed up for an exam he was woefully unprepared to take. Realizing that the Whites are a rotten place to look for one’s trail legs and with a few lingering questions about my shoulder, I decided to skip north to Grafton Notch and head north to see what my new home of Maine has to offer.
Mad Ups and Downs, Roots, Rocks, Mud and Stunning Beauty
This heading pretty much sums it up and I will confess I had to struggle a bit to accept this reality. But the truth is that the Appalachian Trail, like any other thing we love, must be embraced for what it actually is rather than what we might want it to be. My heart yearns to just walk… to burn miles, but here each step requires reflection. Like a game of chess, you must keep future moves in mind. I’m lucky to get eight or nine miles a day.
After driving from Wiscasset to Grafton Notch, I set up my tent at the Baldpate Lean-to just before an afternoon rainstorm rolled in. The next morning I climbed Baldpate in the clouds through howling winds and camped near the Surplus Pond road.
Sketchiest Night Ever
The following day was hot as blazes and that coupled with some insane ups and downs made for a tough day. Guthook promised a few camping sites near Old Blue Mountain, but I either missed them or they were taken. As I walked into the night in the rain, I regretted passing a perfectly fine spot about 4:30. I ended up sleeping in by far the sketchiest spot to date. It was a relatively level spot near a bench that during the day and in better weather offers a pretty good view. It wasn’t big enough for my tent. I put on dry clothes, put my tent’s footprint on the ground, crawled into my bag liner, and simply draped my tent over me. It was after 10 and this was the best I could come up with. Thankfully the rain tapered off to intermittent sprinkles.
My favorite part of this hike was drying out with legions of hikers at the Bemis Mountain Lean-to. We were all drying out from the previous day’s rain. I looked around and realized literally everyone at the shelter had passed me in the previous day. One of the tougher parts of being a geezer section hiker is that my trail relationships tend to be fleeting. I’m unlikely to see any of these guys again, but I enjoyed their company. I went on to camp near Bemis Stream.
I walked by several beautiful ponds. Since my doctor had suggested cold soaks would help my shoulder, I was tempted. If I had spotted a suitable rock for basking after what would have been a nut-shriveling cold swim, I would have been all over it. I camped near the Little Swift Run River Pond.
I’m now enjoying a zero in Rangeley. While all the breakfast places seem to be closed for the season, Sarge’s Pub is outstanding. Laundry, resupply, and blog post out of the way, I’m enjoying a Harry Potter marathon.
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