Wetfoot and Arry. Vol 6. Days 11 and 12: Rain and Mountains
Day 11. 9.9 Miles
It rained off and on all night. I woke up at 4:30 a.m., and decided to get a head start on the day. The forecast I have a screenshot of says. and I quote, “A chance of rain before 9 a.m. Then a chance of showers from 9 a.m. to noon. Then a chance of thunderstorms and showers after noon.” Yikes.
It was cold this morning. I went to put on my sportsbra. It was damp and extremely cold. For those of you who don’t wear bras, once they get moist it takes forever for the elastic band to dry out. I would rather have a wet T-shirt and a dry bra than vice versa, any day. By contrast, my Patagonia tank top is always dry in the morning despite how much I sweat. I decided to forgo the bra. Perhaps this will be a continuing trend. I’ll save maybe a few ounces by not wearing a bra, and not carrying a second.
As we set off before 6 a.m., I was determined to at least get past the boulders before 9 a.m. There was a SOBO female Dutch hiker camped at the same site who did assure me it was only a small section.
The climb up Chairback Mountain was nice. I don’t remember seeing a sign for the peak. And then we saw it… a huge mound of rocks we had to climb down. It was slick, and Arry was being careful. I took her pack and headed down, past a section she was not confident to follow me down. I figured this would be like the stream crossings, so I quickly scrambled down and took off both our packs. Poor Arry thought I was leaving her behind and whined the whole time. But I would never!
I scrambled back up to her, and we found a different section she climbed down. We finally got to the bottom, and I couldn’t see our packs! I must have climbed down and ended somewhere else. So back up I climbed, and Arry followed. I told her not to follow me down as I headed down toward the packs, put them on, scrambled up, and realized I forgot her leash. So down I scrambled again.
By this time I was tired of scrambling on rocks so I went around, and Arry made her way down the rocks to meet me at the bottom. As I set my pack down, to put hers back on, I noticed I was missing my rainfly! It must have come loose as I made my way around the rocks, so back I went. Eventually, all people, dogs, and gear were accounted for and back on the trail!
As we forded West Branch Pleasant River, we met three day hikers. They were hiking the Gulf Hagas loop. I’ve been told by multiple people to stop and see the waterfalls. Not like I’m going to drive six and a half hours to see them probably ever, so we took a short detour and saw Screw Auger Falls. One of the day hikers was nice enough to take a picture of us.
Not wanting to add too much mileage to our trip, we turned around and headed back up the trail to call it an early day, hopefully dry out gear, and stay dry if it does rain in the future.
I also was able to reach out to my boyfriend and sister; for some reason I have roaming and can call, but not send texts, and others can text me, but cannot call. Weird.
While planning the resupply with Poet, he recommended a schedule that would cut a whole day off my trip. I am confident after our hike yesterday and today that we can knock another day off, which would put us out of the 100-Mile Wilderness on Wednesday. I got confirmation my sister can meet us Thursday! And my boyfriend booked us a room. So now all that is left is to contact Poet tomorrow on top of White Cap Mountain, and ask to change my Monday resupply at Crawford Pond to Sunday at Jo-Mary Road.
I think the 15.6 miles we did yesterday was a huge boost to my confidence in both of our abilities. While still enjoying the hike (like taking a side trip to visit waterfalls) I’m learning we are capable too.
Day 12. 10.8 Miles
It started raining about 5 p.m. last night. On the tent it sounded like I was at the pistol range, with no ear protection and everyone was shooting continuously. It started thundering about 6:30 p.m. and I went to sleep. I woke about 8:30 p.m. to Arry and another dog excitedly barking at each other. The skies had cleared and one of the volunteer caretakers and his dog had just made it out to do some weekend maintenance. They hiked through the storm. Yikes!
After the dogs said hello, it was back to sleep again so we could be up early to get some morning miles in. Poet had said the first 15 miles of the 100-Mile Wilderness were moderate, the next 15 were difficult, and then it got easier. But we still had four mountains to climb today! So I was still speculative.
We climbed Gulf Hagas quickly. It was like someone had magically removed all the roots. We were still climbing up rock stairs but instead of seeming ominous and creepy it felt like we were climbing up castle stairs. I’m sure castles have rocks stairs.
The summit was like no other. It seemed like a meadow was on the top, and I felt like we would soon be coming to a picnic table.
I almost missed West Peak. Arry stopped and was sniffing near some trees that seemed magical, all covered in lichen and moss. As I went to take a picture of the magical trees, I saw the sign we had made it to the top!
Summiting Hay Mountain, we didn’t even break stride as we strolled along the top. It appeared much flatter, perhaps like a haystack? Or a flattened haystack at least.
I could feel the anticipation growing. All we had left was White Cap! White Cap meant a lot of things to me today. 1. It meant the end of most of the terrain, how boring. 2. Officially changing my resupply to tomorrow at noon! 3. My first view of Katahdin. And 4. Cell service.
To say today’s climb was easier would be a correct statement. To say it was easy would be false. Every mountain, every flight of stairs will take your breath away and turn your legs to jelly. And just because it only happens for a short period of time, doesn’t mean it was in fact easy.
As we neared White Cap, the rock stairs seemed to grow more regal. Our castle was nearing!
The view was magnificent. We walked a short way and stared at Khatadin in all her glory and surrounded by clouds. It still looks like there is still snow on her. I wonder if she is officially open to hikers. I forgot to check.
As Arry rested, I started ticking off things on my to-do: resupply rescheduled, weather forecast screenshot, call my love and wake him up (it was 9 a.m.).
Then down we went. Down more rock stairs. This time Arry taking us a near breakneck pace. We passed Logan Brook lean-to. Thanks Poet for the idea to push to East Branch! At Logan we met two older day hikers and a NOBO from Georgia who seemed offended that I asked if he was NOBO or SOBO. I guess he passed us as we were chilling on the summit. He was in a rush to get to some pond camp, he started saying mile markers but in my head they only go up to 188 right now. What I do know is he rushed off, and left me feeling very anxious. I wonder how I will be after months of walking towards somewhere, and I am finally days away.
We continued, flying down the terrain, passing several more SOBOs.
There was a section that seemed like a tree graveyard. Trees all over had been blown down. Someone had chainsawed through them all, leaving a path through close to a hundred downed trees. Others not on the trail were leaning precariously, as if they might fall under the extra weight of those that had already fallen over.
I feel like I’m Buddy the elf describing the terrain. First we walked by the tree graveyard, then through the mossy fairyland, and then through the land of Christmas pine forest. But that, my friends, is exactly what it felt like.
The bugs are back, and mosquitoes are now my main foe. We have decreased in elevation, and the temperature has increased and I forgot how ruthless they truly are. It is the only thing not magic about today. They line up along my tent and leer at me. The sound of them hitting my rain fly sounds like rain, but don’t be fooled. My tent walls are splashed in my own blood, sucked from me by the little buggers, until trapped in my tent I smote them with with my opposable thumbs.
We’ve done 46.7 miles in the past four days and will do 52.7 more in the coming four days, yes I know it doesn’t add up to 100, such is the 100-Mile Wilderness. To say it is starting to feel real is an understatement. I know I haven’t started all the way from Georgia, but even these few weeks, getting to Katahdin is almost here and I am excited!
I scheduled the resupply for noon, it is currently 11.8 miles away. A total of 16 miles tomorrow. Doable for sure. Poet hasn’t steered us wrong yet. I am nervous, and will likely start even earlier tomorrow. It would be devastating to miss my resupply. However, today we hiked 10.8 miles by noon, including four mountains and a long break on the summit. We should be fine. I suppose that is part of this journey. To take risks and push yourself a little more every day. Ten miles a day is easy pancakes now, so I need to force myself to challenge the team.
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