Thru Hiker Reunion at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel
Bama ➡️ Baxter Day 163&164
Day 163: 17.8 miles
This morning we got up fairly early at our tent site by the pond. We were all excited to get to Shaws Hiker Hostel today so we packed up pretty quickly. Then we were walking around 7:20am. The terrain this morning was nice and easy. It was pretty flat most of the day. Though there were some long stretches with a lot of mud. We had to rock hop around to keep our feet dry. That was a bit tedious for sure.
We wound up walking for about 4 hours before we stopped off for our first break by a river. It was a nice enough place and everyone was in desperate need of a rest. Though the day was flying by because of that long first stretch. I ate something there and did my stretching. Then we kept on going.
An hour or so later we were at the road and wound up getting a ride over to Shaw’s with a nice lady. We arrived in between shuttle times but it worked out just fine. When we got dropped off at the hostel I was surprised and so excited to see a bunch of familiar faces! There was Bambi, Lawsuit, and Cookie Monster! All of whom we hadn’t seen since trail days! That was so cool. I really couldn’t believe it. They were packing up and getting ready to hike out. But Bambi and another hiker decided to stick around for a bit to hang out.
Then as we were going to put down our backpacks I saw Toe! A hiker that I met last year on the PCT and also ran into at trail days. She’s going south on the AT this year but I didn’t expect to run into her. I had figured that she already passed by us at some point while we were in town. My spirits were high as all hell seeing all of these lovely people that I had never expected to see again on this trail.
When we first arrived we talked to Hippie Chick and she found a perfect room for the guys and I to stay in. It had a full bed and 2 bunk beds which was perfect for all of us. Typically it’s easier for us to get our own room rather than sleeping in a bunk room because of Roxy.
Once we were set up in there we decided to walk down the street to the nearby gas station. All of us were starving and heard there was good hot food there. I got a couple pieces of pizza and some coffee milk. That’s something I don’t often see in stores but absolutely love. We sat outside and ate on the sidewalk. Then headed back to the hostel.
The gear shop at the hostel was open when we got back. I went over there to look around and hopefully pick up a couple packages. My new pair of topo shoes were sent there, and my mom sent my passport. I also ordered a new thermarest pad. The other day in town when I slept on it I came to realize that it did in fact have a hole in it. So I ordered a new one online while we were in Rangeley. Thermarest is a good enough company but their return policy is not at all hiker friendly.
If you have a hole in your pad you have to send it into for them, and pay a fee for them to fix it. They won’t just exchange your broken pad for a new one. So you have to wait a long ass time without a sleeping pad while it gets delivered, fixed, and then mailed back out. That is truly a thru hikers worst nightmare. Other companies will refund you or send you a new pad immediately. But not thermarest.
I do not have time to wait for all of that to go through. Soon enough I’ll be up in Canada and getting mail drops will be even more complicated. So I just ordered a new pad instead. I’ll mail my defective pad home to my mom and then contact thermarest to have it sent back to them to be repaired. Then in the future I’ll have a backup pad to have sent out in case this happens again. Which it inevitably will. You hear frequently on trail about people having issues with their inflatable pads, especially thermarest. For now I just had to dish out the extra $200 to get a new one. What can you do I suppose.
Up in the gear shop I got helped by an adorable hiker who worked the store, Amelia Airheart. She actually knew me from my posts about the Pinhoti trail! She hiked the Pinhoti trail just after me this year. It was cool to talk with her because we had never actually met. And she helped me find 2/3 of my boxes in the piles of boxes up there which was really nice of her.
I contemplated doing my resupply but the store was so huge I didn’t have it in me quite yet. I was intimidated by the immense selection of resupply items. So instead I just headed back out to hang out with the guys. Then I grabbed some loaner clothes and went to take a shower. After that Boosted, Sweet Pea, and I walked down the street to a local spot. They were doing live music!
We met up with Bambi, Toe, May Queen, Chowder, and Lexicon. I got some wings and and a cider. It was such a blast hanging out talking with everyone. It’s so hard to believe that this is about to be our last town stop along the Appalachian trail. How did the time go by so quickly? I’ll truly never understand. Even know I know that this happens on every thru hike.
After I ate I wound up getting another cider and a crab Rangoon appetizer that the bar did. They were killer! A few hikers left and a few of us remained and drank a bit longer. Then we all walked back to the hostel.
Later on I used my flip fuel device to siphon some cans for myself, Toe, and May Queen. Then I headed back to the room to call it a night.
Day 164: 20 miles
This morning I woke up pretty early to the sound of hikers chatting and the delicious smells of the Shaw’s Hostel breakfast. I got up and ready for the day. We still had resupply for this next stretch of trail as well as buy the food for our food drop in the 100 mile wilderness. But there was still time for all that.
I went into the kitchen and wound up talking with Poet, Long Shot, and Amelia Airheart. She was asking me about my plans for the IAT and eventually the whole ECT. Last night I downloaded the Gaia I maps for Baxter state park so that I could follow the maps to connect my footsteps between Katahdin and the IAT terminus. All the planning felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now it was all becoming so real.
I asked Poet some questions about the Florida Trail because he had done it in 2019. That man has infinite wisdom and it was really cool to talk to him. He loves the Florida Trail so it was great to get some incites about certain aspects. The atmosphere at Shaw’s hostel is just incredible. Everyone is so warm and welcoming. I felt like I was at a family gathering answering questions and sharing stories with loved ones. It was a really good feeling.
Once the guys were up and ready we all sat outside and waited for breakfast to be ready. There were loads of tables set up inside and outside to serve the iconic Shaw’s breakfast. Poet had been cooking the whole thing up all by himself. He had multiple cast iron skillets full of potatoes and onions. There was also a flat top griddle which was covered in strips of bacon. The whole set up was impressive to say the least. And he managed it all seemingly effortlessly.
The food was served and everyone got two eggs, home fries with onions, and strips of bacon. It was all so delicious I devoured the plate in no time. I could have probably eaten an entire skillet of those potatoes. They were so ridiculously good. Then the second course came out, which were blueberry pancakes. The berries had made them the most vibrant blue pancakes that I had ever seen! And they may just have been the best pancakes I’d ever had. By the end I was stuffed and unbelievably satisfied.
After eating I headed over to the gear shop to begin my resupply. I had to get food for the next few days. And I also had to pack a food drop bucket full of the food I would need to summit Katahdin, as well as descend knifes edge and connect to the international Appalachian trail. Plus once I got on the IAT I had to go for about 45 miles before my first resupply. All of that as definitely a bit stressful. But I knew that I would manage just fine.
Inside Hippie Chick also printed my return label for my defective platypus filter and said that she would mail it out for me. That was so ridiculously nice of her. And I coordinated with her to have my thermarest box dropped off with my food drop, because it was looking like it wouldn’t be delivered until later today or tomorrow. In the end everything worked out just fine.
Then once we were all ready a group of us got a ride back to trail with Poet. While he drove us he spoke about the end of this hike and how quickly these remaining miles would fly by. Previously I hadn’t really felt sad or nostalgic yet. But as he was talking it all became so real. That man really has a way with words. I felt so grateful for the wisdoms he shared as he drove us back to the trailhead. Then he dropped us off, snapped a photo of all of us, and we headed on our way. About to embark on our final quest along the AT, the 100 mile wilderness.
We passed by the sign practically as soon as we got onto the trail. Then wound up walking for about 6.8 miles before stopping for a break. The trail was nice and easy generally. There were some rocky and rooty sections as well as some mud. But over all the terrain was pretty gradual and wasn’t technical at all. When we made it to Little Wilson Falls which seemed like a great place to stop for a bit. The waterfall has one of the longest drops along the AT. The drop down is about 60 feet!
We sat nearby the waterfall and all lounged for a bit. I ate something and did some stretching. Then we continued along. Not long after the falls we passed by Little Wilson Stream, a river ford where we inevitably had to get our feet wet. But I took my shoes off and put my sandals on to cross. I figured I’d keep my feet dry for as long as I could. The rocks were super slippery but I took my time and was alright. Luckily the water wasn’t too deep or fast moving.
After that we had a gradual climb for a couple of miles. Then the trail began descending once more until we reached Thompson Brook. Another potential river crossing. But lucky for us we were able to rock hop across and keep our feet dry. I was happy about that. Though not even a half a mile later we passed by Big Wilson Stream and had yet another crossing. This time wet feet were seemingly unavoidable. But I took the time to take off my shoes and wear my sandals. Which was almost a bad decision because of the slick rocks.
It was really hard to hold my shoes in my hand and navigate the slippery rocks. The water was also thigh high at portions. So I was most worried about slipping in or dropping my shoes. But I managed to get across without any incidents. Sweet Pea had tried to rock hop across but quickly realized that it wouldn’t be possible. In the end he took his shoes off which was actually an even bigger mistake. He would up throwing his shoes across to free up his hands and one almost rolled back into the water. That would have been so bad! While he was going across he did wind up slipping and getting wet which was a bummer.
Once I got across I kept on going and didn’t stop until Vaughn Stream. That was about 8 miles from the last water fall where we took a break. When I arrived at the stream Boosted was already there hanging out with Roxy. She was chewing on a bone that she got from Shaw’s hostel. I joined him and whipped out some snacks. I also filtered water for the first time with my new sawyer! They didn’t have a platypus or a be free so I’m back to the old classic sawyer squeeze filter.
Sweet Pea joined us a little while after and we all hung out for a while. And as we were sitting there we looked at the upcoming map and realized that they was yet another river crossing up ahead. I’d have to take my shoes of yet again. We would have gone further to break after that point but we didn’t realize initially.
So when we set back out we went for literally a half mile before I had to put my sandals on once again. Not long after that I was going through a section of mud and the mud took my shoe right off my foot! I nearly lost it in the mud. But it fortunately wasn’t too deep.
A mile or so after that I was cruising along when I saw something up in a tree. I froze and realized it was a pine marten! A little ferret looking animal which was absolutely adorable. I was able to get Sweet Pea’s attention so that he could stop and see it too. We got to watch the little guy jump around between branches for a while. Then as we were talking it looked over right at us and was tilting its head, like it was just as curious about us as we were about it. That was one of the coolest animal encounters that I’ve had in ages. You so rarely get to see small animals like that on trail. I felt really lucky that we got to see it so close up and for so long.
After that we had a pretty damn long climb up to Barren Mountain. It was a bit of an ass kicker to start but I managed. As time went on the trail got a bit more gradual. And we began getting some really great views at the Barren Ledges before the top of the mountain. When we finally did get up top there was a fire tower. All of us hung out up there briefly. Then Boosted checked the weather and saw that it was potentially going to start raining anytime.
So we decided to begin our descent down to the Cloud Pond Lean-to. I had really wanted to go further today but it seemed like that wasn’t going to be happening. The lean-to was also .4 miles off trail which was crazy. We usually never go that far off trail for water or shelters. But Boosted wanted to stop off so we all headed down.
The pond was really pretty but sadly the shelter was completely full. If we were going to be tenting either way I just wished we hadn’t wasted the time coming down the side trail. We might as well have just continued on to a tent site along the AT. Since we were already there we decided to take a quick break. It began to drizzle lightly but wasn’t too bad. Personally I wanted to keep going to get some more mileage in. Sweet Pea wanted to do the same, but Boosted was leaning more towards tenting by the shelter.
My only gripe with staying by the shelter was that tomorrow we would have to do a 24-26 mile day no matter what. We have to be at a certain road in a couple days to get our food drop from Shaw’s. That’s not a negotiable time frame, it’s a set and exact time that we’ll to be there. It’s also supposed to pour rain all day tomorrow. So the more mileage that we get done today, the less that we’ll have to do tomorrow in the pouring rain.
But in the end Boosted really preferred the idea of staying here and I wasn’t going to fight it. I just knew deep down that tomorrow was going to be a long and hard day.
We wound up finding a pretty mediocre place to all set up our tents. But it worked! Once I was situated I made a peak refuel meal for the first time in ages. The cheddar broccoli with rice ones are my favorite. Then I laid in my tent and did some stretching and exercises before calling it a night. It began to rain lightly and then picked up as the evening went on.
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