Beautiful Trails and Ingrown Toenails
After spending a fantastic 4th of July in Monson it was time to head back on trail. I ate another massive Shaw’s breakfast, packed my bag, and then took their morning shuttle back to the trailhead. The next section of trail was supposed to be easy and well maintained. Fortunately that was true.. unfortunately I developed a nasty ingrown toenail which will be discussed later!
Day 11 (18.0 miles)
The terrain was easy and relatively flat. The rocks and roots that Maine is famous for subsided for this day. The trail followed creeks for much of the way and there were a number of fords. None of them were deep or dangerous but my feet were consistently wet (the reason I think my ingrown toenail got bad). Although the terrain was easy my feet were sore at the end of the day. Luckily, the shelter that I stayed near was on a beautiful pond. I setup camp and cooked dinner just in time to be socked in by a good bit of rain.
It was this evening that my left big toe began to ache a bit. Immediately after looking at the toe I knew the issue. I’ve had bad ingrown toenails before that I’ve had to have removed by a doctor. This was less severe but I didn’t have the “proper tools”. I got some of the nail out and thought I would be good to go. My tent spot was secluded and I slept for nearly 12 hours. The rain hitting the top of my tent made me feel glad to be warm and dry in my sleeping bag.
Day 12 (13.0 miles)
The rain stopped just before I got out of my tent. My shoes and socks were soaked from the day before (this is pretty normal on the AT.. just didn’t help my toe situation). The agenda for the day included two smaller mountains: Moxie Bald and Pleasant Pond Mtn. The first mile up Moxie Bald is steep but a solid trail. It tapers off towards the top and is a nice climb in all. Many people said the summit view was amazing but I was met with a misty whiteout.
The descent was more challenging. I fell pretty hard on a wet rock slab, nearly injuring my knee. The nice trail from the previous day had faded into the typical Maine terrain. Near the bottom my left foot went into a deep puddle and was soaked again. Immediately my big toe began to ache. A few miles later the pain was becoming a bit overwhelming. I removed my shoe and the ingrown nail was worse than I thought. Over an hour of agonizing “trail surgery”. Basically just digging out pieces of embedded toenail. I managed to get all of it out but one piece. The toe was completely bloody and swollen, it was time to let it go.
Some neosporin and a band aid later and I was back on trail. The pain was tolerable but not enjoyable by any means. I rushed to climb Pleasant Pond Mtn and was relieved when the weather started to clear. There was a great view at the top and even some service. It was great to talk to my fiancé and family after a tough day on trail. It was about this time that a bird (I think a type of grouse) approached me at the top.
Getting to camp at Pleasant Pond was a relief. I took the afternoon to relax and dry things out in the sun.
Day 13 (19.7 miles)
Toe felt better this day. Swollen and sore but didn’t hurt too bad while walking. Crossing the Kennebec river requires using a canoe ferry that only operates during certain times. The earliest crossing was at 9am and I intended to be there a bit before. I hiked nearly 6.5 miles before 8:30am. The trail from pleasant pond down to the river was a gradual downhill with only one small climb. As I reached the riverside I was delighted to see my friend Tenacious. He was also awaiting the ferry. We chatted for a bit before the ferry “captain” got us boarded and took us across the river.
After the river crossing we followed a beautiful creek with cascading waterfalls. The trail was a relaxing climb with forgiving terrain. We decided that today would be a good day to push some miles.
A few more miles into the day and we hit an area where a Gauss Hawk has been swooping at people to protect its nest. It even managed to take a ladies hat and to cut another guy around his eye. We kept a careful watch for the bird but luckily exited the section safely! The rest of the day included two ponds. One of which had a nice beach that we swam in and got a good view of a family of ducks.
We camped at West Carry Pond, the second pond, which was a great secluded spot. My body did not want to go any further both from soreness and hunger. I ate twice what I normally do for dinner. Finally, I felt full. The night got better when I meet two other SOBOs at the campsite. A great but difficult day on trail!
Day 14 (12.6 miles)
Woke up at 5:45 am and surprisingly Tenacious had slept in a bit.. still beat me out of camp by a while though. The legs and feet were feeling good given the previous long day. The first part of the day was easy. There was a beautiful pond that we passed where we took a short break and filtered some water.
After a few miles of rolling hills we hit the climb up little Bigelow. Although only a couple miles in length, it felt long. The views were well worth the climb and honestly I had no choice but to go up.
A lunch break at the top was perfect. Tortillas filled with trail mix and peanut butter hit the spot. Cell service was great and I was able to touch base with the family.
We finished lunch in the early afternoon and headed down the mountain into a saddle to camp. The entrance to the campground is hidden behind large boulders that you get to climb through.
The remainder of the day was spent setting up camp, hiding in my tent from the rain and eating dinner. Joe, one of the other SOBOs I met the previous night, met us at camp and decided to meet us in town the next day.
Day 15 (10.4 miles)
The morning began with the climb up big Bigelow. The climb was tough but the terrain was better than expected. The views at the top were breathtaking. It was amazing to see the terrain we had covered and what was yet to come. We could even see Katadhin far out in the distance!
Although the first climb had the majority of the elevation, there were still a few more climbs to cover before hitting a highway to Stratton. We took our time and were careful on the technical sections. An early 10:30 am lunch provided us the energy to push through the final climbs.
The last few miles felt long but we covered them quickly. Excited for some town food! The hitch into town was easy, got one on the third car. Immediately went to Backstrap Grill and downed a delicious cheesesteak. We used the market and gas station to resupply and then headed to camp at Mountain View motel. Scored a rustic cabin for $30. A shower, more food, a cold beer and a campfire were a perfect way to spend the evening. I was glad to be in town but excited to hit the mountains again tomorrow!
Thanks for reading this post! I’ve decided to try and post updates for each section that I resupply (roughly 3-5 days). As I have said before, I am loving the trail and the people I have met. With everything you see in the news you wouldn’t believe the kindness that is still out there. Thanks again for reading and remember to keep wandering in your own direction!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.
What Do You Think?