Wetfoot and Arry Vol. 11 Day 21-23: Finding Peace

Day 21. 10.7 miles

Today was beautiful. Lots of tough mountains.

Arry loves morning snuggles in my sleeping bag.

Last night I met a hiker, who was determined to hike the AT in 100 days! Her name was Kip aaaaand she was on track to make it.  Best of luck to you!!

Saddleback Junior was a tough climb, as advertised. Lots of rock scrambling over roots and things, and there were some pretty steep parts. But did I have to carry Arry? No, I did not. She figured her own way up and over everything. And I’d rather go up something like that than down. The view from the summit was beautiful.

Gorgeous view from Saddleback junior.

Next up was the Horn. It sounds intimidating, right? The whole hike up I kept thinking of the song that goes, “The horn. The horn. That wakes me at morn.” And then the clarinet part got stuck in my head too!

The view at the top of the Horn was even more gorgeous! From there we could see the path we were about to take up Saddleback.

The Horn. You can see the path up Saddleback Mountain in the distance.

It was a quick jaunt up to Saddleback. Which had AN AMAZING VIEW. The views keep getting better and better up here. Finally, we were on a summit at the same moment another was, and they were kind enough to take a picture of me, Arry, and my grandma!

We at for a while and enjoyed the view, eating some snacks, and talking to a few hikers that Arry charmed. I think today was one of the first days we really sat down on a summit instead of just *click* and moving on.  I think part of that was the weather. It was a gorgeous day, and the bugs weren’t bothering us. Come to think of it, I didn’t even put bug stuff on Arry all day.

Saddleback reminded me of hiking in the Adirondacks, where I first fell in love with the mountains.

The downhill from Saddleback hurt my knees. It was all slanted rock slab. I slipped quite a few times on the way down. I realize I’m getting better about not carrying too much water.  I started getting low, and we stopped to refill at Piazza Rock lean-to.

Amazing view from Saddleback Mountain. Probably my new favorite view of this journey.

I can’t tell if extra stops are good or bad for Arry. She seems like she wants to rest, but she never really lies down. Maybe we will have to work on longer rests; these are a new thing for both of us.

From there it was an easy two miles to Route 4, where we walked about a half mile to the Hiker Hut. Steve and Tomb Raider put us up in one of their huts for the night. Yay for sleeping on a mattress!

Arry slept the entire time while I went into town and grabbed food and used Wi-Fi and had service. Tomb Raider said she checked on her a few times, but she was fast asleep, enjoying the comforts of a soft bed.

Enjoying the view from Saddleback would not be complete without fruit snacks!

There is no electricity or service here. But it is a cozy camp nonetheless. The hummingbirds came to feed nearby as we chatted; they sound like motor cars!

I met a whole bunch of awesome hikers. NOBOs Brown Eyed Girl and Dreamer. A SOBO couple, Molasses and Ragdoll,  Tomb Raider and her pup, Levi.

Entrance to the Hiker Hut.

I also saw my first moose butt! Levi freaked out and ran after something I saw as a brown blur. Tomb Raider said it was a moose! Wow. Finally. It very well could have been a deer for as little as I saw of it. But I’m going to go with it was a moose.

Today I felt calm. I kept asking myself if my mom would be disappointed, if my grandma would be disappointed, if my boyfriend would be disappointed. But I finally realized, the only thing they care about is if I will be disappointed in me.

Day 22. 9.7 miles

Trying my hand at stealth camping tonight. I’ll just say we aren’t very stealthy. Whenever someone walks by Arry huffs at them, completely giving away our position. Oh well.

We had a slow morning. It was nice to chat with Brown Eyed Girl, Dreamer and Tomb Raider for a little bit longer. Tomb Raider made delicious egg sandwiches that we wolfed down, along with some coffee. I don’t carry instant, and treat myself only when I’m in town.

Tomb Raider and me at the Hiker Hut.

And then we were off. And then back again because I forgot my collapsible water bottle. And then we were actually off!

The terrain was much less steep. A few ups and downs, but nothing compared to the past few days. It was, however, muddy. Very, very, muddy. It seemed like we were walking through swamp land, and the bugs increased twentyfold. Not nearly to the incessant barrage we encountered in the 100-Mile Wilderness, but enough that I noticed, and they began to bother Arry.

About halfway to our campsite, we stopped at Little Swift River Pond Campsite. There were two workers chopping some downed trees. And there were canoes!

Arry is on a boat!

Now, the canoes honestly weren’t in the best shape. The best-looking one had pink duct tape mostly covering the large crack in the bottom, and one of the seats was busted. Luckily they had a scooper included so you could bail yourself out if you got too much water in the boat.

Needless to say, I threw on a life jacket, grabbed some snacks, and persuaded Arry to get into the boat.

We drifted out a way and snacked in the middle of the peaceful pond. It reminded me of when we used to go boating at Camp Cherith of Western New York. I still remember some of the strokes Quinn!

Enjoying the canoe. Safety first! Especially with all that duct tape.

After about ten minutes the canoe visibly had water in it and I had to bail us out. Five minutes later I decided we were done canoeing for the day as I bailed more water out.

I now know why it is called Little Swift River Pond. There was merely a gentle breeze, but paddling to shore took quite an effort. I suppose I should be thankful to my older sister who always made me row the fishing boat out on the lake because it was good practice to build strong muscles! But we made it back without collecting too much water inside the canoe.

Arry has been getting pretty spot on with trying to take a break every hour. So we stopped about every hour, snacked, and in general I tried to enjoy the hike and be present in the moment.

We passed the Sabbath Day Pond lean-to and filled up on water. But we pressed on another .3 miles to stealth camp by the sandy beach. Arry immediately took off sprinting and barking at the waves. Sorry everyone.

Beautiful sand beach.

I like to think she thinks there are creatures inside the water making the waves. Whatever she thinks about them, they excite her.

Our campsite is quite a nice spot. There are lots of butterflies, the so-purple-it’s-almost-black and white ones, which I think means good luck. Maybe the weather is not going to rain anymore? I keep passing 4G locations and forgetting to update my weather.  Such is life, go with the flow, I’ll just keep putting the rain fly up every night.

As Arry and I relaxed, two high school boys stopped for a while, waiting for their grandma to catch up.  What a cool experience to share with your grandkids! Turns out the boys live in the state of Georgia, and grandma lives in Maine. Her grandsons are visiting for 35 days, and she thru-hiked in 2003, trail name: Sassafras.

I carry a picture of my grandma with me as I hike, but I’m starting to think maybe sitting together on the deck at the lake drinking coffee together might be more meaningful for both of us.

In my muses I’ve realized I’ve turned this hike into a giant timeline. I had to get to Abol Bridge at a certain time on a certain date. Now I have to get to Pinkham Notch at a certain time on a certain date. So it is freeing, but also constricting, something I think most thru-hikers tend to avoid. But I’ve become more and more determined that I’m not going to let once-in-a-lifetime opportunities with family be passed by anymore. The AT has been here for years, and will continue to do so.

Day 23. 12.3 miles

It took us a long time to hike 12 miles today. We did stop and take lots of breaks though. Aaaand we hiked closer to 13 miles because I forgot my blue convenient water bottle when we took a break, so we backtracked. And all the way back up quite a large hill.

The monument where I sat on a bench, and left my water bottle.

We had a slow start, didn’t get moving until about 7 a.m. But we made good time to ME 17 and the Height of Land overlook. We moseyed over to the scenic side, with the fancy posters and things. I sat by the big rock, and took a drink from my water bottle (and didn’t securely clip it back on).

About a half mile later, and also 1,000 feet lower in elevation, at  Bemis Stream I realized it was missing. So I left my pack and we ran back up.

Height of Land overlook.

I thought I was having a terrible day. I kept slipping down the trail, Arry had enormous amounts of energy, I lost my water bottle. But as luck would have it I met Wildcard and Colden at the overlook as I retrieved my bottle. And that made today pretty lucky indeed.

Arry and I hiked with them for the rest of the day. We crossed a dirt road, and just ahead we found trail magic! Greg and Geri left a cooler for the day filled with snacks! I ate a peanut butter jelly and enjoyed some cold grapes! So, my day was turning around.

Trail magic!

At Bemis Mountain Second Peak all four of us took a break. It was a unique mountain, not very good views, but we walked along the ridge and I appreciated the shrubbery growing along the rocks.

At the Bemis Mountain Lean-to we stopped for another break, and perhaps that’s what took so long today comparatively. I let Arry relax without her pack, while we filled up with some brown water.

Relaxing on Bemis Mountain Second Peak.

The water has been harder to find in this section, and also not quite as clear as it was in the 100-Mile Wilderness. I suppose that has something to do with the lack of rain and the heat wave here recently. It is supposed to storm tomorrow afternoon/night so hopefully that will help.

Bemis Mountain Second Peak ridgeline.

I seriously contemplated staying, but I knew Arry had a bit left in her, and it would make tomorrow a shorter day in the impending rain. So we headed out to another stealth campsite four miles away near a spring I hoped would have better water.

The summit of Bemis Mountain didn’t have any views, but Wildcard took a picture of us, which was thoughtful as there very rarely is a time when I can a picture of us that isn’t a selfie.

View at Bemis Mountain summit.

We hiked with them for a total of about eight miles, until we stopped at our stealth spot. Good news, the spring was much clearer. Bad news, the black flies are making a comeback and reminding me of their swarms in the wilderness. Here Wildcard and Colden left us and continued on for another four miles.

They had one phone between them, which they dropped in a stream back in the 100-Mile Wilderness, and a few pages ripped out from the AWOL NOBO guidebook that Colden rescued from a NOBO who had completed the pages and was about to burn them.

I forget what Colden does, but Wildcard is a nurse, both from Georgia, they got married and eventually moved to Colorado. They quit their jobs together and are now hiking the trail together. They are quite a cute pair. And they hike blazing fast.

From the overlook on Bemis Mountain.

It was really good to hike in a pack with them. It’s easier for me to relax with Arry when she has people to follow instead of just running ahead along the trail.

Hiking with them was nice, but it reminded me of hiking and backpacking with my boyfriend. I shall reminisce about the adventures in my mind tonight.

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