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 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
After 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
The 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