Maine

Thru-Hikes Completed

Beaker made it to Katahdin on August 12, but his thru-hike continues as he returns to a 315-mile section in Virginia that he bypassed earlier in his hike. There have been several hikers who recorded their journeys on trailjourals.com that have completed their adventures and climbed to the brown sign on top of Katahdin in Baxter Park. Today’s post will quickly highlight the four individuals that have headed home as thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail.

Salesman.GA

Salesman at border of GA/NC

salesman-me-e1502967905368.jpg

Salesman on Katahdin

The first of the journal writers to summit Katahdin was Salesman who finished up on July 9th. He began his adventure on February 20 and, like all four of these hikers, walked through some snow and cold weather during the early days of his walk through 14 states. His trek lasted 140 days which is quite a rapid pace especially through those cold trail days. Salesman’s real name is Mike M and he lives outside of Charlotte, NC. He grew up in East Tennessee and had hiked some sections of the southern AT over the years. He started early because he did not want to compete for shelter or hostel spots in the bubble. Mike had been thinking about an AT thru-hike for about 5 years and was waiting for retirement to make the dream a reality. Congratulations to the Salesman.

Will-da-beast at Springer

Will-da-beast in Georgia

Wildabeast,ME

Will-da-beast in Maine

Will-da-beast after hike
Will-da-beast post hike

 Will-da-beast, summitted Katahdin on July 21st after starting at Springer Mountain, Georgia on March 1 for an adventure lasting 143 days. Will-da-beast, Charlie Quattro, is a 53 year-old grandfather who had desired to hike the Appalachian trail for many years. He had many experiences on the AT in the past, having trekked through all of Georgia, part of North Carolina, and all of West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. He began the trail with a long beard but he cut the growth at the brown sign in Maine.  

Whistler.GA

Whistler – Day One

Whistler.ME

Whistler – Day 141

Whistler, Bill Monk, from Nova Scotia, Canada, began his epic hike on March 5th and completed the adventure on July 24th. His journey of the  2, 180+ mile trail encompassed 141 days. Bill is married to Annie and they have two sons, Brian and Richard. He and his sons did some hiking on the AT in 2002. He had the privilege to actively support the Annapolis Board of Trade (similar to the Chamber of Commerce in the US) for the past eight years while recently serving two terms as their vice president.  

1st Sgt.Ga

1st Sgt at the Approach Trail – GA

1st Sgt.ME

1st Sgt at the brown sign

First Sergeant, Dave, began his his thru-hike on 23rd  of February and completed his journey on August 10 – a 169-day trek. He is a retired United States Air Force member (30 years) and an avid Geocacher. The rank Dave held for about the last 10 years of his career was First Sergeant (thus the trail name). Hiking the Appalachian Trail had been a dream of Dave’s since he was just a boy. He planned for the hike for more than a year. 1st Sgt hiked two large sections of the AT with Beaker, reaching the summit of Mount Katahdin just two days before the chemist from West Virginia. Dave’s wife Christine joined him a few times during his thru-hike of the trail.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Beaker at Baxter State Park

8/9/17 Destination: Rainbow Stream Lean-to;  Today:21.7 miles; Miles to Katahdin: 30.1

Beaker and 1st Sgt Back TogetherShortly after falling asleep last night, Beaker was awakened by the bright light of a full moon shining in his tent. He got up, walked to the shore of Lower Jo-Mary Lake in order to see the moon rising over the pond. Getting closer to the pond, he saw Odin, Big Style, and Teabag still sitting by the fire. They started reminiscing about the trail. They all had our journals, so we started picking random days and everyone would read their entries. Beaker thoroughly enjoyed their time together and  hearing the perspectives of the others.

Wednesday, the 9th, was another good day on the trail. Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15. I didn’t even fight it this morning. I immediately applied DEET to keep the swarming mosquitoes away. The 100-Mile Wilderness brings this ominous image of a remote, desolate section of trail, but the closer Beaker and his group of thru-hikers get to Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin, the more crowded the trail becomes with NOBOs, SOBOs, section hikers, day hikers, and various hiking groups.

Beaker Beach Party

The Beach Party with some of the Fellowship

The group hiked for several miles in the morning hours along Nahmakanta Lake. The shoreline has several beautiful sandy beaches. The ponds have been my favorite part of hiking in Maine. Beaker joined Wild Thing, Feathers, and Scout on the beach for lunch. The water was so inviting that, after checking for leaches, some of the hikers decided to take a  short dip. It was wonderful to rinse the accumulated dirt, sweat, bug spray, and grime off of my body. After swimming, we sat on the beach soaking up the sun.

After the beach party, they started climbing Nesuntabunt Mountain. Nesuntabunt is the last mountain before Baxter State Park. At the summit, the hikers got a good view of the mighty Mount Katahdin.  After logging in over 21 miles today, Beaker was tired and looking forward to a fairly flat 15-mile hike tomorrow – along with a great meal at the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness.  The destination this evening was Rainbow Stream Lean-to. It resembled a tent city with around 30 people camping out around him.

8/10/17 Destination: Abol Bridge Stealth Site, ME; Today: 14.9 miles

Beaker Tent City - Abol

Tent City – Abol Bridge

Beaker was up and out of camp by 6:00 to hike the 14.9 miles into Abol Bridge for lunch. There were a few muddy sections; but, in general, the trail was quite gentle. There was only one small climb to Rainbow Ledges, where he had a beautiful view of Mt Katahdin. I was glad to see that the summit was absolutely clear and cloudless because I knew that 1st Sgt was up there working his way to the summit today. I hope it stayed clear for him.

Beaker made it to the Abol Bridge campground by 11:30, where there was a restaurant and convenience store – fried chicken for lunch and ice cream for dessert. There are two campgrounds at Abol Bridge – both full. Beaker and his group found a stealth site just outside the park that turned out to be perfect. We set up a nice little tent city under the power lines about 0.2 miles from the campground. After getting settled, Wild Thing, 4WD, and Beaker went back to the restaurant for dinner.

Tomorrow, they have a short 10-mile hike through Baxter State Park to Katahdin Stream Campground, where they will apply for thru-hiker permits at the Ranger station to hike up Mt Katahdin on Saturday. They will then catch a shuttle to Wilderness Edge Campground in Millinocket and prepare for the summit on Saturday.

8/11/17 Destination Wilderness Essie Campground;  Today: 9.9 miles

Beaker. BaxterToday’s hike was only 9.9 miles of relatively flat, smooth trail to the Ranger station at Katahdin Stream Campground. Beaker was up and on his way by 6:20. He arrived at the Ranger station at little after 10:00 and procured his permit to summit Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Soon after checking in, a thunderstorm arrived making Beaker glad that he had not decided to summit today – Katahdin is not the place to be in a thunderstorm!

The rest of the Fellowship arrived shortly thereafter, checked in, and then waited for the shuttle to arrive at 1:00. Soon they were on their way out of Baxter State Park and arrived at Wilderness Edge Campground. They promptly showered and caught a ride into town to eat.

The plan for tomorrow is to meet at 5:00 am. at the campground office for the ride back to Baxter State Park. We are hoping to be on the trail as early as possible. We hope to summit and be on our way back down by early afternoon to beat any potential afternoon thunderstorms. After months of hiking through rain, sleet, snow, wind, and blistering sun, it still doesn’t quite seem real that we will be standing on the summit of Mt Katahdin tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Abol Bridge, Baxter State Park, Beaker, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Beaker In the Midst of the 100 Mile Wilderness

8/7/17 Destination: Logan Brook Lean-to, ME

Miles hiked: 1800.5, Miles to Katahdin: 71.4, Miles Today: 14.6, Miles to complete thru-hike: 389.3

Beaker Katahdin.8.7

A View of Katahdin from the Trail

Beaker was awake and on the trail by 7:15 this morning. After fording the Pleasant River, he started climbing. His plan was to climb over four peaks today, including 3650 ft Whitecap Mt, so he expected the day to be pretty tough.

To Beaker’s great surprise the path presented some of the best trail he’d seen in Maine. There were still roots and rocks; but, there was even more smooth dirt trail. And there were rock steps over many of the steeper portions. And switchbacks! As a result, the climbs over Gulf Hagas, West Peak, and Hay Mountains were actually enjoyable.

Going over Gulf Hagas Mountain, Beaker saw moose scat (lots of it), but, of course, no moose.This was a disappointment but there are still many miles left in Maine. He saw his best view of moose on one of the last days into the 100 Mile Wilderness. There is still hope and time for Beaker to get a glimpse of these amazing animals.

Since the group of hikers were only going 14.6 miles today and the trail turned out to be so hiker-friendly, Beaker took his time and enjoyed the day. Even the climb up Whitecap Mountain turned out to be pretty mellow as the summit led Beaker above treeline and a view of Mount Katahdin in the distance.  I stood there for quite awhile looking at it. Even though it is still 70 trail miles away, it looked big! After hiking since February, it was reassuring to see that the mountain actually existed.Another short 1.4 mile hike brought Beaker to the Logan Brook Lean-to and home for the night.

8/8/17 Destination: Antlers Campsite, ME Miles to Katahdin: 51.8, Miles Today: 19.6

Beaker.Maine WildernessToday’s hike was another easy one:19.6 miles of mostly flat or downhill trail. It rained most of the night and Beaker slept a little later waiting for it to stop, although he was still on the trail by 7:40. The bubble of thru-hikers that Beaker joined through the 100 Mile Wilderness made one small climb over Little Boardman Mountain; but, the rest of the day was mostly flat and still filled with roots and rocks.

The only bad thing today was the mosquitoes. For the first time on the entire thru-hike, Beaker pulled out the DEET. The only thing I hate worse than DEET is getting swarmed by mosquitoes.

Beaker made camp around 4:00 in the afternoon. The skies had cleared during the afternoon and the Antlers Campsite, located on a peninsula on the Lower Jo-Mary Lake, was a Hallmark setting. 4WD built a fire and the Fellowship gathered and cooked dinner together. They have a big day planned tomorrow – 23.4 miles to Rainbow Lake Dam, where they hope to get an exciting view of Mt Katahdin.

8/9/17 The cell phone coverage must be weak or nonexistent today, because Beaker has not posted to his blog today. I am getting excited for him as he approaches the end of his time in Maine. He should be through the 100 Mile Wilderness very soon. It is then a 10 mile hike to the base of Katahdin and a 10 mile round trip to the summit and back.

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker into the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine

After a good night’s sleep at Moxie Pond, Beaker has turned his face toward Monson, Maine and the 100 Mile Wilderness, the last major obstacle before the climb up Katahdin Mountain.

8/4/17 Destination: Shaw’s Hostel, Monson, ME Miles today – 17.9

Beaker. River Guide

Rope Guide to Help Ford

Beaker was up early and cranked out the miles – 17.9 miles by 1:15 pm. The route on the Appalachian Trail was fairly flat; but, still dominated by rocks and roots. He had to ford two streams, which resulted in wet feet. He was the second to leave camp and, as usual, he was passed by just about everyone throughout the day. Everyone was stepping it out in order to get into Monson today and maximize the amount of downtime to prepare for the next week. Monson is the last town before Baxter State Park, home of Mt Katahdin. Between Monson and Baxter is the 100 Mile Wilderness. Thur-hikers have to carry food for the next week unless they arrange a food drop off a private logging road.

Beaker  decided to spend the night at Shaw’s Hostel today. It is one of the best known hostels on the trail due to its location. It is the last hostel the NOBOs pass and the first one the SOBOs pass. About 60 hikers joined him. Once he got checked in and showered, he went shopping and bought supplies for the next six days. I hate carrying that much weight; but, there aren’t many alternatives.

Tomorrow, he will head into the 100 Mile Wilderness. Due to its remoteness, he is concerned that his cell phone service will be pretty limited, making his blog posts difficult to publish. The goal is to make it through the wilderness in time to summit on Saturday, August 12. After I summit next Saturday, I will catch a flight home (missing the post-hike partying), see an eclipse, go to a wedding, and head back out August 27 to complete the portion of the Virginia AT that I missed while moving back in April. The adventure isn’t nearly over…

8/5/17  Destination: Long Pond Stream Stealth Site,  Miles today- 14.8;  Miles to Katahdin  100.2

Beaker.Shaw's InnAfter a big breakfast at Shaw’s, a large group of thru-hikers from Shaw’s entered the 100 Mile Wilderness – just the name sounds dangerous and remote, like you’re entering a dark, mystical forest in a Tolkien story. There is an ominous warning sign as you enter the wilderness telling the adventurer to carry a minimum of 10 days of supplies and to not underestimate the difficulty of this section. Beaker discovered that it was the same old rocky, rooty, muddy AT that he’s been hiking all through Maine. Instead of 40 miles between towns, it’s 100 miles.

Beaker hiked under overcast skies with the threat of rain all day. The whole group started out together after being dropped off by the shuttle; but, it began to spread out as the day progressed. Beaker hiked most of the morning with Odin and 4WD, then he hiked mainly by himself during the afternoon. I would catch back up every couple miles at the numerous stream fords. We crossed several streams that were too deep to rock hop. So, we’d all stop, remove our shoes, wade across, and put our shoes back on. I have actually had extensive stream fording experience with my years of hiking around WV. As a result, I would generally pass the group at the stream and they would all pass me again over the next couple of miles.

The group decided to stop about a mile short of the shelter and camp by the Long Pond stream because the water supply was plentiful and easy to obtain. It was a bit of a short day; however, since their  packs are heavier than normal with extra food, no one seemed to mind stopping early. The rain that had been threatening all day finally arrived. So, we all retired to our tents. I am now all snug and dry in my tent listening to the rain.

8/6/17 East Chairback Pond Stealth Site, ME Miles today- 14.8

Beaker. Trail in MaineThe skies opened up shortly after going to bed and it poured most of the night. Beaker was able to  stay dry in his tent. The hikers awoke to overcast skies, which stayed with them most of the day. The sun occasionally peeked out; but, generally, it was overcast and blustery until evening, when the skies finally cleared.

Today’s hike turned out to be pretty tough! It’s as if Maine is reminding the thru-hikers that they aren’t done yet. Beaker climbed up and over six mountains today but none of the peaks were overly tough for the hiking legs developed over the past 2,000 miles. However, the combined up and down of all the summits wore Beaker out.

It was nice to climb back up on the ridge tops, though. That’s where you get the incredible views. It’s amazing to look out and see nothing but wilderness – no roads, no houses, no power lines. And the ponds are incredible! Huge ponds everywhere that do not appear to have been touched by people – no boats, no piers, or any other evidence of humans.

Throughout the 100 Mile Wilderness, Beaker has been hiking with a group of thru-hikers that call themselves the Fellowship.  They are a great bunch of kids. Actually, they aren’t all kids. 4WD is a 50-something Hungarian man now living in FL. Wild Thing is a 45 year old school teacher from Stratford Upon Avon. He teaches 3rd and 4th grade. Misplaced is a 30 year old woman who has been working in a corporate office for a restaurant chain. All the rest are 20-somethings. Giggles and her brother Waldo, Feathers, Odin, and Scout (all guys) are Americans. Big Style and his friend Teabag are both British guys.

Generally, Beaker hikes alone; but, if one of the Fellowship takes a snack break or stops to look at a view he would catch up. They would then hike together for awhile. Today, he had lunch with Odin and Big Style atop Fourth Mountain.

Beaker arrived at East Chairback Pond, where the group decided to camp for the evening, around 5:20 PM. The clouds had cleared, leaving sunny skies and cooler temperatures. He fixed dinner with everyone else.  After dinner, he decided to make a cup of tea to help counter the evening chill.

Odin and Big Style decided that a hot cuppa sounded pretty good too. We took our tea to the rocks on the pond and watched a pair of loons fishing while the sun slowly set over the pond. It was a magical moment – a 53 year old guy sitting there with a 25 year old American kid and a 19 year old British kid, sipping tea. At that moment, we were just three thru hikers enjoying the evening after hiking a tough section of trail. We are all ready to be done with the trail; but, this moment wasn’t lost on any of us. We realized what a special space out of time this was and that we would really miss moments like these when we all returned to our regular lives.

Shaw’s Photo – http://packpedal.com/post/128105520258/hikers

 

 

 

Categories: 100 Mile Wilderness, Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Monson, ME, Shaw's Hostel, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Beaker Into Rangley

Beaker continues to make progress through the beautiful state of Maine on his journey through the 14 states that comprise the Appalachian Trail.

7/29/17 Destination: Hikers Hut, Rangely, ME   9.4 miles today

Beaker_2017The 9.4 mile nero day into Rangely was ushered in with beautiful weather. Beaker is hoping the nero-day will give Sitting Bull, Hoops, and others time to catch up. Beaker seemed to be the first hiker out of camp and the designated webwalker, clearing the spider webs off the trail. He was happy to pass an early rising SOBO hiker going the other direction, knowing that this comrade had cleared the webs ahead.

The Hiker Hut (hostel) is only 0.2 miles off the the trail but about 5 miles outside Rangely. It is also off the grid meaning there is no electricity, plumbing, indoor shower or WIFI. Steve, the proprietor, shuttled Beaker into town, where he was able to get lunch, go to the library and print off a legal document his wife needed him to sign, mail the letter, go to an outfitter store and replace a couple pieces of broken/worn out gear, and get some ice cream. Steve picked him up later in the day and made a stop at a local grocery for a resupply.  

When Beaker got back to the Hiker Hut, he repaired the outside mesh pockets on his backpack. Our equipment is beginning to get tired, too. I just have to get to Mt Katahdin. I can then figure out what needs replaced before I finish the Virginia portion.

7/30/17 Destination: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. Miles today: 18.7

Beaker Saddleback in Background

Saddleback Mountains Loom Ahead

Beaker was up and on the trail by 6:15 am. Another beautiful day.  Beaker hiked over the Saddleback Range which included 4 miles above treeline. I never tire of the views above treeline. It’s just incredible. You feel like you are on top of the world.

Although the Saddlebacks are fairly strenuous, Beaker was able to hammer out 18.7 miles, a distance that has not been covered since entering the Whites. The terrain continues to be rocky, rooty, and boggy, but he hopes to do the same mileage tomorrow and set a pace to summit Katahdin on August 12.

Beaker passed Poplar Ridge Lean-to today and was painfully aware that this was the last hut visited by Inchworm in 2013. Inchworm, a thru-hiker, got lost in the woods and it was not until 2015 that her remains were found in her tent, having died from exposure and starvation. Passing the actual spot where this took place was very sad and moving.

7/31/17 Destination: Horns Pond Lean-to;  Today’s hike: 18.6 miles;  Miles to Katahdin: 183.1; Miles to complete his thru-hike: 501.

Beaker. Horns Pond

Horns Pond

Beaker was on the trail by 6:15 motivated by his ambitious agenda for the trail today. He started out by climbing over Spaulding Mountain, then Sugarloaf. The descent off of Sugarloaf down to the Carrabassett River proved to be quite steep and rocky. At one point, I stepped on a rock which turned under my foot, sending me to the ground. I went down hard on a pointy rock on my left quad, causing a deep bruise. I expect it’s going to be pretty stiff in the morning….[The trail in Maine is] the most physically demanding thing most of us have ever done. All of us take multiple spills every day. I am surprised that more people don’t get seriously injured, to be quite honest.

After crossing the Carrabassett River, Beaker started the long and steep climb up South Crocker Mountain. Part way up the mountain, he joined Misplaced, a 30 year old woman Beaker had previously met on the trail. They ended up hiking the rest of the afternoon together. He enjoyed the company of hiking along with someone else.

On the descent from the top of  North Crocker, the sky decided to open up and drenched them both. The road to Stratton, ME, sat at the bottom of the mountain. Arriving at the road, there was a man in a van dropping off two hikers. He asked if they needed ride to town. Yes! It was a quick five-mile ride into Stratton. Misplaced and Beaker went to the restaurant at the White Wolf Inn for a second lunch, followed by a quick trip to the grocery. They were back on the AT before 5:00 after a quick hitch to the trailhead. The 5.1-mile climb to Horns Pond Lean-to was muddy, but not too exhausting. They finally arrived around 7:30 and joined four other hikers in side by side huts. It was a tough day; but, a very good day. The plan for tomorrow involves more long miles over the Bigelow Mountains.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Maine, Rangley, Saddleback Mountain, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker – Slack Packing and Trail Blessing in Maine

7/26/17 Destination; Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME     14.9 miles today

It was a clear but cold night making it very hard for Beaker to get out of his warm tent this morning. Another thing that slowed me down this morning was my tired body. Yesterday’s hike left me a bit stiff and sore. I took a pretty good fall onto my left hip, leaving it feeling bruised today. …. all of us NOBOs are getting weary. Not just tired, which you can recover from after a day’s rest, but weary.  Beaker’s friend Antman, who is 25-30 years his younger, has decided to leave the trail for a while to rest up and try to gain some weight. He’s down to 133 lbs and just not feeling enthusiastic about the trail.

Today’s 15-mile hike was actually quite nice. The cloudless skies called Beaker to break out his sunglasses. He climbed up and over Old Speck Mountain, dropped down to Grafton Notch, climbed again to the summit of the West Peak of Baldpate Mountain, and finally another steep climb up the exposed East Baldpate Summit.

A 1,300 ft elevation descent over six miles to East B Hill Rd brought Beaker to a point of rest while he waited for a shuttle from Pine Ellis Hostel to pick him up. The arrangement was for a 5:45 meet time. Finally, at 6:40, a minivan arrived. The driver apologized for being so late. The hostel had sent her to the wrong road crossing. Beaker arrived at Pine Ellis Hostel, quickly showered, threw his clothes into the wash, and headed to the General Store/Diner to grab some dinner before they closed.

“Although this isn’t the nicest hostel I’ve visited, I’ve decided to do an 11 mile slack pack tomorrow and spend another night. I will still get another 11 miles in; but, I won’t be carrying the weight of my full pack and I’ll only spend about five or six hours hiking.”

7/27/17 Destination: Slack Pack back to Pine Ellis Hostel, Andover, ME Miles today 10.1

Beaker awoke to a steady rain at the hostel and seriously thought about just taking a full zero day and staying in bed. He decided to breakfast at the highly recommended Red Hen restaurant. While he was enjoying his meal, the rain stopped. So, he returned to the hostel, loaded up a daypack with a few essentials, and caught the 9:00 shuttle to the trailhead. This section of the AT was actually pretty tame. There was only one really steep climb, Moody Mountain, near the end of the hike. Beaker hiked most of the day with Wild Thing, a primary school teacher from the U.K. About a mile before the pick up point, darkening skies made good on their threats and started gushing with a steady rain. Fortunately, the slack packers arrived at the pick up point at the same time as the shuttle. They were quickly back at the refuge of Pine Ellis Hostel.

Beaker showered and got his wet clothes into the laundry. Around 5:30 several hikers from the hostel headed to the Red Hen for a Mexican Buffet, as did every hiker in a twenty mile radius, including Sitting Bull and Hoops! They had come off the trail at the same road crossing that Beaker had yesterday. So, they are 10 miles behind him, but they made plans to try to meet up in Rangely, ME, on Saturday.

7/28/17 Destination:Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, ME 17.4 miles today

The shuttle dropped Beaker off at the AT trailhead 8:15. He started with a steep climb to the top of Old Blue Mountain, complete with vertical climbs, rebar rungs in the rock faces, and log ladders. Once reaching the top of Old Blue Mt, the trail terrain settled down a bit and the weather was perfect – full sun, light breezes, and temps in the 70s. The only real issue is that the trail is very rooty. The tree roots can be very slick and it’s easy to trip over them.

Late in the afternoon, about 13 miles into the hike, Beaker saw a handwritten sign announcing trail magic ahead. As he arrived the guy at the grill says, “Hey, Rusty! It’s about time you get here! We’ve been expecting you all afternoon.” Beaker was caught off-guard to be addressed by his real name since everyone uses trail names on the AT.

It turns out that Snowman and his wife Teddie drive 140 miles round trip weekly from Lewiston, ME, to do trail magic at this spot. It also turns out that they read my blog on TrailJournals. These guys really know how to put on trail magic – hamburgers, hot dogs, soda, blueberries, bananas, potato chips, and various snack cakes. Wow!

Beaker (Rusty) had another four miles to his destination so, he stuffed himself and then headed down the path. Shortly after heading out, he passed a SOBO wearing a UT hat and commented on it. The SOBO hiker stopped and said, “Wait! I’m supposed to give a message to a NOBO from Knoxville hiking in a kilt. 1st Sgt says to hurry and catch up.” In reality, the two friends are about 55 miles from one another.

Beaker arrived at Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to. The evening sun on the pond was tranquil and the tunes of the loons lifted his spirits. All in all, this ranks as one of the best days I’ve had on the trail.

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Baldpate Mountains, Beaker, Maine, Slackpack, Thru-Hike, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beaker Into Maine

7/23/17 Destination White Mt Hostel, Gorham, NH     8.4 miles today

911Another pretty day: a little overcast in the early morning but, it soon cleared into full sunshine. Beaker was packed and on the Appalachian Trail little after 7:00 am. He had a nero (near-zero) day planned – an 8-mile hike into the White Mountain Lodge and Hostel. The nero-day included a climb Mt Moriah, the last summit in the White Mountains National Forest.

About a mile into the hike, Beaker came upon Sitting Bull and Hoop’s stealth camp site. He stopped to visit for a few minutes and found out that they were scheduled to stay at the same hostel tonight.  

Arriving at the hostel Beaker received new trail runners that his wife, Marguerite, had ordered from REI and had shipped to the hostel. His last pair lasted a grand total of three weeks… three weeks! I told you the Whites were tough! They were blown out at the sides and ends of the toes and big chunks were missing from the soles. The remainder of the nero-day involved a resupply, a needed rest for the legs, and watching the weather for tomorrow – heavy rain in the forecast.  

7/24/17 Destination: Carlo Col Shelter, ME    16.9 miles today

Overcast skies, but no rain in the morning. Beaker decided to head out rather than take a zero day so he was walking 7:30. Sitting Bull and Hoops were still eating breakfast when he left; he passed Ramsey Bolton’s stealth camp about a mile into the hike – Ramsey was still asleep when Beaker passed.

Around 8:30, it started to sprinkle. Before long, it settled into a steady rain that lasted the rest of the day. Beaker was quickly soaked to the skin. Anytime he stopped for more than a few minutes he would start to get chilled. The trail is out of the Whites; but not out of the mountains. Today’s hike proved to be pretty tough… up, down, mud, rocks, rain…. I managed to take several spills today. Nothing serious. Just enough to get me wet and muddy.

Beaker. NH.ME lineThe highlight of the day Beaker crossed the Maine-New Hampshire border! He reached Carlo Col Shelter just after 6:00 pm, a long, slow day on the trail. The shelter was packed.  All five wooden tent pads were occupied by what appears to be a French Canadian youth group.  Beaker set up his tent on a sloping piece of ground near the shelter. The temperature is in the low 40s, the wind is rattling the tent, and the rain is pelting down. It feels more like March than July. At least I am safe, warm, and dry in my cozy tent. I can’t wait to put on those wet hiking clothes in the morning…

7/25/17 Destination: Speck Pond Shelter, ME   9.5 miles today

For some reason, I thought that once we finished the White Mountains it would be a cruise to Mt Katahdin. Wrong! I hiked 9.5 miles today and it was a full day.

Beaker awoke to rain but by the time he hit the trail, the rain had tailed off and the clouds actually began to thin. By afternoon, he was hiking in full sunshine. The  trail was still a muddy, the rocks were still wet and slick, and Beaker lost count of how many times I went down. Most of the falls were slow and fairly controlled. I had one pretty bad fall on my left hip which left it pretty bruised and tender, though.

Mahoosuc Nothch

A Small Taste of Mahoosuc Notch

The climbs continued to be steep, with sections where rebar steps were embedded in the vertical rock face. Beaker stopped for lunch at the Full Goose Shelter. After lunch is when the real fun began – the Mahoosuc Notch and the Mahoosuc Arm. The Mahoosuc Notch is a mile long narrow gorge with steep, high boulders and rocks of assorted sizes and shapes creating a natural obstacle course on steroids. You have to scramble over, under, and around these boulders as you pick your way through the notch. Upon completing the Mahoosuc Notch, Beaker was immediately faced another obstacle – the Mahoosuc Arm.   It is a climb gaining over 1500 feet of elevation over 0.9 miles. There were many sections that were almost straight up. At the top of Mahoosuc Arm, it was a short hike to Speck Pond Shelter.

 

Mahoosuc Notch Photo found at georgiatomaine2012.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/710-mahoosuc-notch-trail/
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Beaker, Mahoosuc Notch, Maine, Mount Moriah, New Hampshire, The Whites, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Class of 2017 – January to March: Part 2

As I shared in my last post, there are 139 online journals posted on trailjournals.com that reflect a start date on the Appalachian Trail in January, February and March. Of these 139 bloggers, there are only 27 active journals at the end of the day on July 8. Let me give you a quick update on these “early starters.”

Buttercup

Buttercup and D.P.Roberts

Just today, July 9th, another journal shared its final entry as a knee injury is forcing a couple from Germany, Buttercup and D.P.Roberts, off the trail. Their diary was written in German so I found a German translation app to help me understand their posts. They had reached Wind Gap in Pennsylvania. The boulders of PA claimed another twist and in just that quick of a moment the hike needed to be postponed and abandoned. Therefore only 26 remain.

There is no one left on the trail who began their trek in January. Only six of the 27 hikers began the journey in February while the remaining 21 (including Buttercup and D.P.Roberts) initiated their adventure in March. 1st Sgt. and Beaker, the hiking buddies that I am following more closely, started the journey 2 days apart – 1st Sgt. began on February 24 and Beaker left Springer Mountain on Feb 26.

007

Springer Mountain Southern Terminus

All 26 hikers still on the trail began in Springer Mountain, Georgia and are hiking northbound (NOBO) although two hikers have just decided to do a Flip Flop – a hike that stops hiking NOBO, travels to Maine, climbs Katahdin while the weather is still nice, and then turns around and heads southbound (SOBO) to completion.  

These brave adventurers are spread out over seven different states. In addition to the two flip floppers who are in Maine, three other NOBOers find themselves hiking their last state. The leader of this group is Salesman, from Charlotte, NC, who is very close to his victory climb to the top of Katahdin. Four of the thru-hikers are in Vermont; another four in Massachusetts; one in New York; one in New Jersey; nine are fighting through the rocks of Pennsylvania; and three are still working their way up the state of Virginia.

The journals that remain are recording the adventures of  sixteen men, four women, and six couples. I pray that each has an amazing experience and I will be excited to see how many are able to complete this physically and emotionally challenging event.  

Photo of  Buttercup and D.P.Roberts found at  http://www.trailjournals.com/journal/about/18839
Categories: Appalachian Trail, Class of 2017, Georgia, Maine, Mount Katahdin, Pennsylvania, Springer Mountain, Thru-Hike, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

USA!

Flags.jpgI have always felt it such a privilege to live in America. My dad served in the Army during World War 2 and met my mom, a native of England, in London during this global conflict. Mom married my dad and moved to America shortly after the war. She quickly fell in love with Pennsylvania and the land of the free and the home of the brave. One of her proudest moments was becoming a naturalized citizen and claiming Old Glory as her national flag. My mom would often tell me that America was the greatest country in the world.

WILMA RUDOLPH USA

Wilma Rudolph at 1960 Olympics

My parents and my early education helped instill in me a patriotic heart, filling my mind with bigger-than-life heroes like Davy Crockett, Lewis and Clark, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Marion, and Paul Revere. I was not a great history buff, but I remember feeling so proud to be an American while watching the Olympic Games on TV growing up.The President of the United States was always respected and honored in our home no matter which political party was in office.

I have been on a few missions trips out of the United States over the years and have grown in my appreciation of my country. The incredible freedoms we experience and limitless opportunities to serve as Americans is truly amazing. After spending just a couple of weeks in a third world country, I found myself so thankful to be back home. Some Americans have much to learn about priorities and what is truly valuable in life but there is no doubt of the abundant blessings in the US.

20140824-062412.jpgHaving hiked the Appalachian Trail and seen parts of New England with exciting eyes while experiencing those spectacular views from mountain summits from Georgia to Maine, my love for the land deepened each day. Most of the people I met along the trail treated me with kindness and openness. Their welcoming spirit and the genuine appreciation for my thru-hiking  adventure brought a sense of bonding with folks that would have been strangers otherwise.

Rocky (my beautiful wife) and I hope to do some hiking in the Pacific Northwest next year, thanks to the generosity of my friends at Dayton Christian School. As we visit several national parks and see parts of the United States new to both of us, I imagine that we will stand in awe of the Creator and His blessing upon this great country.

FireworksI know that there are many different opinions politically, morally, spiritually, and philosophically, but I hope that we can all agree to celebrate a country that allows such differences while attempting to protect the rights of each one of us. May God continue to bless America enabling us to enjoy the fireworks of freedom, the parades of peace, and our lives of liberty.

Photo of flags found at https://tangofoxtrot.net 
Wlima Rudolph photo found at http://www.pinterest.com/pin/372250725433595698/
Fireworks picture from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fireworks
Categories: America, Appalachian Trail, Georgia, Maine, Olympic Games, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Blog at WordPress.com.