Virginia Today, Maine Tomorrow: The Flip Flop
Last week we hiked through the Grayson Highlands, then spent Memorial Day Weekend car camping there with our friends who live in Washington, DC. On Monday they drove us up to DC, and on Tuesday evening we flew to Portland, ME. Though it was a little earlier than we had planned, the time to flip flop was upon us.
We took just about every form of transportation to get to Bangor, ME. The Metro in DC from our friends’ apartment got us to a bus to Dulles Airport. Then we spent the night in Portland on Tuesday, and then after Ubering to Walmart for a resupply, we hopped on another bus to Bangor. From Bangor a lovely fellow named Phil Pepin drove us to his place in Monson.
Phil owns the 100 Mile Wilderness Outfitters, a beautiful and rustic camp right on the AT. He thru-hiked in the 70s and created this oasis after retiring. He’s very knowledgeable about the AT and has done a lot of work with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. Phil initially meant to cater to thru-hikers, but high traffic and disrespectful people caused him to shift his focus. His place is very laid back and family friendly, and unfortunately not all hikers can adhere to that. Phil told us that the last straw was one Lone Wolf who decided to graffiti his name in his new bunkhouse. Not cool. He now mostly does business with section hikers and the occasional southbound or flip flop hiker.
We had a wonderful time at Phil’s, and I would highly recommend his services.
Another NOBO Section
Anyway, back to the flip flop. Isaac and I initially planned to complete our hike southbound, but currently Katahdin is still closed. We decided to hike northbound up to Katahdin and summit on the 15th, the day it’s supposed to open. Hopefully Baxter State Park doesn’t delay the opening any further.
This plan has presented many logistical challenges, but overall I’m glad we flipped. The weather in Maine is wonderful, and the trail is largely empty. Still, it may be difficult/expensive to get from Katahdin back to Sutton, ME, where we started.
My Maine Love Affair
Our first week in Maine has been unbelievably gorgeous. We started our hike where the AT crosses highway 27, just south of the Bigelows. Our first night at Horns Pond Lean-To was lovely. Horns Pond is a picturesque pond under a mountain peak, and the shelter area is like a campground. It has two shelters and a day use lean-to as well! The next day climbing the Bigelows thoroughly kicked our butts. There were snowdrifts of about two feet in places.
The lean-tos in Maine are beautiful, and many of them are placed right on a beautiful pond. My favorite so far has been Pierce Pond.
Leaving the shelter there was a very sketchy stream crossing, though. Evidently the trail goes over an old dam that’s now dilapidated.
We also ferried the Kennebec River. The “ferry” was a rather vague description, but it entailed a nice man with a canoe. Before taking us across the river, Mr. Boatman showed us how to harvest some local delicacies.
We hiked eighty miles from highway 27, and now we’re back in Monson. When we arrived at Phil’s, he offered us a work-for-stay for the night. Isaac did some light landscape work and then we spent the afternoon running errands in town.
Tomorrow we begin the 100-Mile Wilderness. I fully expect it will be some of the most pristine, beautiful wilderness I’ve ever experienced. Maine is awesome, y’all.
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