Start Milepost: 2075.3 Time: 7:15
End Milepost: 2090.6 Time: 15:36
Miles hiked: 15.3
Miles to go: 99.2
Blue Side trails:
Overnight: Shaw’s Hiker Hostel
Map: Click on map pin
It was a grand day on the trail. Yes, quite an exaggeration. It was a day like most others. I got dropped at the trailhead and was advised to take the blue blaze trail and turn left at the junction with the AT. I seemed to recall that was a mile of blue blaze. GutHook proved my memory was correct on that point. Hold that thought about memory.
I turned onto the AT and proceeded southbound along the trail – up one hill and down the other. Along the way I bumped into several NOBOs and stopped to get their impressions of the trail and their planned summits of Katahdin. One young fellow, Shocker, said he was going to summit Katahdin with his dad on the 1st! I remarked that he would be hustling. He agreed, adding that his dad could not get off work for the 4th when he would have preferred to summit. I told him he was a good man – and good luck!
I saw Bourne again – the hiker from NZ. He will summit on the 2nd so he can get a ride to Boston with a friend and then visit his grandfather in NYC one more time. Bourne advised me that he had to remove his shoes and socks to ford a stream. With that news, I concluded that I too would have cross barefoot. No big deal; I was far-shore lifeguard during a night river crossing in Ranger school. I had this crossing in the bag! I mentally prepared for the several tasks involved in the crossing: secure boots and socks in the pack, place the iPhone in a baggie, roll up my shorts. Check, check and check. By then I was at the stream’s bank so I went ahead effortlessly with the tasks I’d mentally rehearsed.
I got to the far shore with assist of a rope strung across the creek. The rope was some help given that the stream bed was very slippery and the current was swift, but it would have been nice if the rope did not sink below the water level as I crossed! The loose rope left me on the verge of toppling into the water. Still, the crossing was a piece of cake – nothing like a well rehearsed plan being executed to perfection. On the far shore as I dried my feet with paper towels I had carried from the hostel and started to put my socks back on, I glanced across the stream to see if anyone was following me across. Nope, no one behind me – but I did see a nice pair of hiking sticks leaning against a log where I had begun my crossing. Good grief, the sticks were mine! I should have taken a picture. I went back and got them with a wide grin. So much for detailed planning and perfect execution….and for a failing memory.
The rest of the hike was not as interesting. I did meet several men who had been at breakfast with me. One stood on the top of a rock ledge yapping about where he was going to have lunch and was about to move on to another topic when I inquired if he would mind stepping aside so I could pass. His only retort was that he did not know that I was impatient. Little did he know…
I finished the hike in good time but can’t say I was full of energy when I reached the pickup point. I was worn out. And then it occurred to me that I had two more days of tough mountains before the level stretch into Baxter State park. So if anyone – like me – thinks at this stage of the AT that the hike is all but over, he better think again. It sure isn’t.
I went down again today. I was just trying to get by a tree but a slippery root left me slowly settling down the tree trunk until I made contact with the ground. What was the first part of me to contact the ground? Why not try the old right forearm that is still bleeding. There were other slips on black slate that might just as well be black ice.
Update. Recall that I lost my glasses three days ago and the postmaster gave me a pair. Well just before breakfast the hostel owner said a hiker had a pair of glasses for JAX DAD. Sure enough, I found the hiker and he handed over my glasses with the croakies still attached. The hiker did not know how many hands they had been through before he got them. I found out later how many when I ran into Captain Whiskers who took a strange interest in the tan croakies attached to said glasses. He asked me for my trail name and when I told him he broke out in a big smile and his buddy started laughing. Captain Whiskers said he found them days ago as he bent over his poles trying to catch his breath. They were lying in some weeds beside the trail which was the site of another of my stumbles – and a stumble that gave my left leg some pain that persists. I thanked him profusely and continued along my way.
Eight more days; but who’s counting besides me!?