Wetfoot and Arry. Vol 3: Days 4-5: Pancakes!!
Day Four: Ten Miles
I’m trying really hard to relax and enjoy the small things. I think being able to just talk with Mr. Gopher yesterday was helpful, and I think it was good for Arry. We’re going to be pushing ten miles almost every day for the next two weeks, so she needs all the rest she can get.
The terrain was very marshy, muddy, and yet at times woody. It was also the worst of the black flies and mosquitoes I’ve ever seen! Unfortunately, the butt of my hiking leggings ripped, so I’ve been hiking in shorts. Usually when we get going I take my long-sleeve T-shirt off and hike in a tank top. This morning it was warm so I started in a tank and shorts; not a good combo, let me tell you. A few miles onto the trail I had a mini panic attack as I had had enough of the teensy bites everywhere and I fought to throw on my long-sleeve T-shirt and the bug headnet I bought last minute from Walmart. Good choice (thanks, boyfriend!). Although sometimes the bug net makes me feel claustrophobic. So I switch it up. Sometimes I let my face be eaten by the small itty-bity winged things, and sometimes I wear the hood like all the other hikers I pass.
I met Caveman today in passing. He’s a southbounder that started just south of Katahdin. I never did ask if he is planning on heading back to summit.
I was wondering why some parts of the trail seemed expertly manicured, while others seemed like a walk in an overgrown forest. I ended up meeting a trail contracto.! Turns out from mile 2,000 through Baxter State Park there are 23 trail maintainers who all have a section of the trails and they all call him for removal of trees etc. Today he walked seven miles… with a chainsaw!
We made easy work of the ten miles from West Carry Pond to Pierce Pond lean-to. Just a short walk away is Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps, a traditional Maine sport camp. They have a pancake breakfast I’ve been looking forward to before I take the ferry over to Caratunk tomorrow. You can only register in person the day prior, so Arry and I meandered down there to make sure we get PANCAKES TOMORROW!
The trail to camp took us by a brook and some cheerful waterfalls. The camp was very welcoming. Tim has a super cute little dog named Charlie. Arry and he were respectful of each other’s space and got along just fine.
It was a magic little place. Tim was so friendly and the guests staying there for the week were so sweet. As I ate the blueberry muffin and drank sweet pink lemonade that Tim offered, I chatted with two of the couples.
Chris and her husband had a pomeranian named Mufasa. What a great name for a fluffy little beast! Arry and Mufasa tolerated each other as well. Chris is a veterinarian for over 33 years. She gave me some herbal essence bug repellent she said I could lather on Arry, especially her ears. I think I just witnessed trail magic! They also have another pomeranian that is a paraplegic and are getting one of those wheelchairs for him. Fun fact: show pomeranians are four to six pounds. Hers were bigger. Seventeen and 12 pounds. I guess I always thought those dogs were bigger than that.
Brenda and her husband had a terrier. That dog was sooo content to just sleep in her little bed. She woodcarves and her retired husband carves the wooden handle part on knives and is working on learning leather working so he can make sheaths.
After a few hours we headed back to our campsite overlooking the lake. Just sitting with my feet in the water was relaxing, although the mosquitoes were quite brutal. Despite not having service for the second night in a row I’m content. I found a small hill where I had service during our ten-mile journey and I called my boyfriend, because I have time to do what makes me happy. I can rush from shelter to shelter, campsite to campsite, but I will miss the beauty in the journey.
So here’s to pancakes tomorrow morning, and continuing to find peace in the journey.
Day Five: 9.7 Miles
Black flies are vicious. When you’re trying to make dinner. Get water. Filter water. Anything. They are all around me like they’re drawn to my warm-blooded body. No wonder Arry dislikes them and hops into the tent as soon as I have it up. I didn,t think I’d be using the bug headnet as much as I have been, but I highly recommend it.
This morning was an early morning. We got to Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps just after 6 a.m. Arry and I hung around until some of the guests showed up. Tim showed me the book he keeps of all the notes and cards sent to him from past hikers. It is sweet that he keeps them all, and just goes to show how much of a difference one person really can make.
At 7 a.m. Tim promptly brought me 15 (three were bonus!) pancakes, four pieces of sausage, and two scrambled eggs. And they were delicious. I must not have my hiker stomach yet because I couldn’t finish it, even with Arry’s help. Although to be fair, once she realized there was sausage she didn’t want any more pancakes.
The guests and I chatted for a while. One of them was kind enough to take a picture of me and my grandma (and Arry) with the pancakes. My grandma asked me to take her on my AT adventure. I think she’d have liked to be a part of the pancakes on this trip! The guests reminded me of her too. They all started talking about gambling, and friends of friends who’d lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to gambling. And each had to tell the story of how when they go they set an amount and that’s their spending money. Just like my grandma when she and her old lady friends go to the casino.
We left the camps about 8 a.m., headed to the ferry across the Kennebec River. It used to be a water crossing AT hikers forded with their bag over their head, and then a hiker died so the ATC enlisted some guides to shuttle hikers across in a canoe. One is not supposed to ford it on one’s own. There are three men who rotate through the days, based on what other guides they have lined up. From May to June they operate the canoe from 9 to 11 a.m. There are posters of it hung up in shelters and along the trail for miles so everyone is aware.
We arrived at the river crossing just after 9 a.m. The Kennebec is beautiful. Today we had Rob as our friendly guide. After signing the waivers, and putting on my lifejacket (Arry didnt get one) we hopped onto the canoe. Arry wasn’t so sure about getting into the canoe, but she did very well for her first canoe ride! About ten minutes later we were across and basically in Carantunk.
About 200 meters from the Appalachian trail is the Caratunk B&B, and 200 meters from that is the post office where my lovely boyfriend sent me a resupply package. I had plenty of time to pick it up and rearrange everything, putting what I didn’t need into a hiker box right next to the post office. At this point they didn’t have too many hiker boxes being held yet, but the postal man said that in a few weeks they would start piling up.
Special mention item: New leggings a must when the bugs are biting! My old ones ripped right across the butt cheeks and I’ve been hiking in shorts, and let’s just say my legs are bit up.
After I mailed back a few things I haven’t used and didn’t feel I needed I spent a few hours in the Caratunk B&B using their Wi-Fi, and sharing a vanilla milkshake with Arry. She charmed the two men that worked there, and the two painters. Ryan, the owner of the B&B, was making fresh cookies and coconut cream pie for future hikers. Yum! With Katahdin being closed he said the hiker season is very late, and he feared the SOBOs were going to bubble, which they normally don’t simply because there are so few in number compared to NOBOs.
After saying adieu to the B&B, and all the folks back home, we had a pleasant walk out to Pleasant Pond lean-to and explored down to Pleasant Pond.
It is amazing what a few interactions with people can do to change your perception. I’m glad I spent a few hours between rushing to the next campsite to relax and just enjoy where I am. We probably could have stayed longer, but hey, we all have things we can improve on.
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