Kennebec River

Beaker across the Kennebec River in Maine

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherMy last post found Beaker, the chemist from West Virginia about to climb over the beautiful Bigelow Mountains. He has been making extremely good time through Maine and hopes to climb Katahdin within the next two weeks.

8/1/17 Destination: East Carry Pond Stealth Site, Miles today: 22.1

Today’s hike of 22.1 miles, indeed, took Beaker over the Bigelows, with the best views he has experienced since the Whites. After climbing and descending several peaks, he reached Avery Peak, named for Myron Avery, who was the driving force behind the construction of the AT. After summiting Avery Peak, the trail became pretty tame – still rocky and rooty; but, no longer as steep.

The afternoon was a pleasant hike under glorious skies on flat, easy trail. Most of the NOBO hikers on this part of the trail were headed for the West Carry Pond Lean-to for the night. Beaker decided to push on another 3.6 miles to a stealth spot on East Carry Pond.

Tomorrow, he hopes to cross the Kennebec River. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has put a ferry in place. The ferry is a canoe operated by a local outfitter. The boat ride is considered part of the trail and actually has a white blaze painted in the bottom of the ferry. Hikers wait in line and cross the river two at a time. The ferry only operates from 9 – 2 every day so hikers need to plan carefully.

East Carry Pond is beautiful in the setting sun. Beaker tested out the water up to his ankles to wash the mud off his legs. He was expecting the water to be cold; but, it was actually quite warm.

8/2/17 Destination:  Sterling Inn, Caratunk, ME  Miles today: 9.4

Beaker Kennibeck River

The Ferry on the Kennebec River

Beaker got up and on the trail early this morning to be sure that he had time to make the ferry. It turns out the trail was quite easy this morning and he made it to the Kennebec River by 10:30. When he arrived, there were about five people waiting to cross. Beaker crossed the river with fellow thru-hiker, Yogi. They waited on the north bank until Feathers, Wild Thing, Grapenut, and Bearslayer all gathered on the other side. Then, they walked to the Caratunk B&B, where they all bought milkshakes. After the shakes, Beaker called the Sterling Inn and the shuttle came and picked them up. The Sterling Inn provided a very pleasant and restful spot for the rest of the day. The group went for pizza and spent the evening watching movies.

8/3/17  Destination: Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to, ME  18.8 miles today

Beaker heading up Moxie Bald

The View from Moxie Bald

Today was a pretty easy day on the trail. Beaker logged in 18.8 miles. The majority of the hike was flat. Climbs over Pleasant Pond Mountain and Moxie Bald were on the agenda but, compared to what Beaker had been ascending, the summits were pretty tame. The sun poked out from behind the clouds for a while making the day’s journey a very pleasant one.

After an “up and over” of Moxie Bald. A number of the NOBO hikers camped along Moxie Pond. Beaker likes to camp along the ponds and enjoy the atmosphere of the water and the sounds of the water at night. He set up his tent under the trees next to the shoreline. There are about a dozen tents crammed onto any available flat spot. The NOBO group sat on flat rocks by the pond and ate dinner together reminiscing about the trail adventure. Beaker retired to his tent and enjoyed listening to coyotes in the distance and the loons on the pond.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Beaker, Kennebec River, Maine, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Laming – First European to Hike the Appalachian Trail

HikeItForward-Final-MediumAccording to the Bangor Daily News, on Sunday, September 16, 1973, six thru-hikers arrived at the summit of Mount Katahdin. Robert Bell from St. Louis; John Silva from Cranston, Rhode Island; Daniel Welch from Kansas City, Kansas; Michael DiNuzio and Frederick Elliot from Binghamton, NY; and the first man outside of the United States to complete a thru-hike, John Laming from Hertford, England.

The White Mountain, NH

The White Mountain, NH

Robert Bell and John Laming both began in Georgia just a few days apart but did not connect until they reached New Hampshire and the challenges of the White Mountains. Once they began to hike together they teamed up all the way to the brown sign atop the finish line in Maine. In an interview with the Bangor Daily News, John shared that the Presidential Range in the Whites was the most interesting and inspiring of the entire journey. He paid a high respect for the wilderness of Maine and pointed to the fording of the Kennebec River as the most hazardous undertaking of the fourteen-state trek. At the time of John’s hike there was no ferry ride across this dangerous river and the ford was treacherous when the water was high.

FullSizeRender

Laming on the Right

Although growing up in rainy England, Laming shared that he had never experienced as much rain as he did on his walk along the Appalachian Trail. In addition to the early rains along the path, he was also impressed (and maybe even depressed) with the summer heat waves. By the time they reached the mountains of Maine he thoroughly enjoyed the cool fall temperatures. When asked about his most pleasant memories of his thru-hike, John recounted the incredible sunsets and listening to the loons on the ponds in New England.
John Laming was only nineteen years old in 1973 during his Appalachian Trail adventure in the US. He returned to England with plans to enroll in an agricultural college with the goal of becoming a national park warden. In the picture, copied from the Bangor News article, Robert Bell is on the left and the young blond Laming is on the right. This invasion from the other side of the ocean was successful for the blue-blood from the UK.

https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=2457&dat=19730921&id=XuszAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jzgHAAAAIBAJ&pg=5165,1758058&hl=en

Categories: Appalachian Trail, England, Georgia, John Laming, Kennebec River, Maine, New Hampshire, The Whites, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More River Crossing Tips

HikeItForward-Final-Medium Before leaving my research on the Kennebec River in Maine, I wanted to share a few more tips for a successful river crossing. The Rough Rules of Thumb: 1. Look for a bridge. 2. Pray for a canoe or boat. 3. Hope for a guide rope stretched across the water. 4. Remember as much of the following advice as possible.

Bob Proudman, Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) Director of Trail Operations and Hawk Metheny, ATC New England Regional Director provide some sound principles for inexperienced hikers attempting to ford a river (I drive a Honda so “Ford”ing sounds strange but very American).

1. Before crossing, scout out the best location to cross—Don’t assume that the blazed line of sight to the other bank is the best or only path to follow. The volume of water flowing downstream is not constant and water levels/currents are dynamic, so a good crossing point yesterday may not be safe today.

2. Avoid “chokepoints”— Look at the current and how fast it is flowing. Avoid crossing at points where the banks of the stream narrow. The power of the current will be strongest at these chokepoints and could sweep you off your feet.

River Crossing3. Speed of a floating stick—Throw a stick into the water and see how rapidly the water carries it away. If you cannot walk as fast as it is moving, then it is not safe to cross.

4. The more body mass you have in a strong current, the less control you have—If you begin to cross and the depth of the water is above your thighs, turn around and look for a better location to cross.

5. If the current seems too swift, turn back. If a river is flooded, wait for it to subside. If in doubt as to whether a river is safe to cross, don’t cross—find an alternate route.

6. Crossing barefoot is never recommended because of rocks, submerged logs, fishing tackle, broken glass or rusted metal. Open-toed sandals are not recommended because they do not protect your toes, can fold in a strong current, and increase drag. Remove the boot insoles and your socks, and use gaiters. After fording, dump the water out of your boots, put the insoles back in, put your socks back on, and wring out your gaiters.

https://www.appalachiantrail.org/docs/default-document-library/Safety%20Tips%20for%20Fording%20Streams%20and%20Rivers.pdf

If you missed the first blog on fording stream check out my archive on 2/7/14.

Photo of river crossing: http://www.northeasthikes.com/a-walk-on-maines-wild-side-22-days-section-hiking-the-maine-appalachian-trail/#jp-carousel-1457

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Hiking, Kennebec River, Maine, River Crossing, Thru-Hike, Trail | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Maine Pt 2 – The Kennebec River

HikeItForward-Final-MediumThe 281 miles in Maine can be roughly divided into three segments. We quickly looked at the first section – 109 miles of rugged trail featuring the boulder jungle gym called Mahoosuc Notch.

The central section of 58 miles, between Bigelow Preserve and Monson, Maine, is less strenuous than the first and is spotted with ponds, streams, and swampy areas. One of the most distinguishing features of this section is the crossing of the widest, unbridged river along the Appalachian Trail, the Kennebec River. The Kennebec is approximately 70 yards wide with a swift, powerful current. As a result of releases of water from hydro-facilities upstream, the depth and current of the river change quickly and unpredictably. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club has arranged with local outfitters to provide a scheduled ferry service across the Kennebec at no cost to hikers (although tips are encouraged). This free canoe ride is the A.T.’s official route – there is even a white blaze painted in the bottom of the canoe.

Canoe White BlazeThere are many other streams and rivers that must be forded and these crossings are one of the most dangerous challenges hikers confront. River crossings can be deceptively hazardous. Even a very shallow, swiftly flowing body of water can pack enough force to knock a hiker off his/her feet. The use of extreme caution and lots of common sense must prevail.

I’ve discovered some very practical advice in crossing unbridged rivers and streams. One source is George G. Spearing’s thoughts in an online article found at www.danceswithmarmots.com/navtips.html#2. George suggests the following when attempting to cross a stream alone:

  1. If possible, view the river from above to identify the shallowest point and smoothest area of river bed.
  2. Avoid submerged snags, boulders etc. Do not attempt a crossing if large pieces of debris (logs, branches, etc.) are being carried downstream.
  3. Keep your boots on. Wet boots are preferable to damaged ankles or feet.
  4. Do not cross wearing long pants… pants will increase resistance to the current.
  5. Release the waist belt and the sternum strap on your pack before crossing – this way you will be able to free yourself quickly if you lose your footing or find yourself in a position where your pack is snagged and holding you down.
  6. It’s also good to remember that your pack has a certain amount of buoyancy and can serve as a flotation device if necessary.
  7. Generally, the safest area to cross will be a straight section between bends in a river. If you imagine the river in the shape of the letter ‘S’ then the safest area to cross will be the middle of the ‘S’ between the bends. That way, if you should lose your footing, hopefully the current will carry you into the bank on one of the bends.
  8. Use a strong pole or stick about five or six feet in length as support, placing it on your upstream side so that the current forces it into the bottom. Always keep two points of contact on the river bed at all times and cross diagonally downstream, resisting the current much like you would a strong wind.
  9. Take shuffling footsteps, feeling for the bottom.
  10. Try not to look down at the flowing water as this may upset your equilibrium, look ahead for the best possible route.

Canoe Photo: http://www.pjwetzel.com/2012/08/pierce-pond-and-kennebec.html

Categories: Appalachian Trail Museum, Hiking, Kennebec River, Maine, Thru-Hike, Trail, White Blaze | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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