As we prepared for the day, it was hard to imagine how Maine could top what it showed us yesterday.
When the bad weather pushed out last week, it left us clear skies and calmer winds. Since then we’ve had warmer temperatures and have been able to enjoy Maine’s scenery.
And what we’ve seen so far has been spectacular.
|Date||Thursday, September 14, 2017|
|Weather||Sunny with a high temperature in the mid 70s|
|Trail Conditions||After a steep ascent and difficult descent, the trail became more hikeable|
The weather for today looked good, but the hiking looked to be difficult.
We would be continuing our climb from Baldpate Lean-to up Baldpate Mountain. From the mountain profile shown in the trail guides, the climb looked daunting.
Based on that and the distance we had to the next shelter, we decided to stay put last night at the shelter, which would give us more time for the climb this morning.
The climb was unexpectedly easy. Starting out, there were even steps to make the first part of the climb especially easy.
In almost no time we were standing at the top of Baldpate’s west peak. We had an outstanding view ahead to the east peak.
The gap between the two peaks didn’t drop down much, so making our way to the east peak was not difficult, though it contained a peril if we weren’t careful.
The terrain through this section was a combination of rock slabs and alpine bog.
The trail passed a deep mud pit. It looked as though it could have swallowed a careless hiker.
With a little bit of difficulty to stay balanced on the puncheons, I managed to avoid falling in.
The east peak of Baldpate Mountain was completely exposed. The trail went up solid rock.
It occurred to me that if I were heading in the opposite direction in wet or icy conditions, the only practical way to do that would be to slide down on my butt.
Thankfully, I was going up and today was warm and dry.
Because it was open, the view backwards was as interesting as the view forward.
This was a steep climb, so at times we needed to use our hands to maintain balance and continue moving forward. Trekking poles were useless.
The summit was broad and flat. Tall cairns helped to mark the way across.
Before heading down the other side, Tengo, Stick and I stopped at the top of the peak for a selfie.
The time was only 9:30 a.m., and we had plenty of time for the rest of the day’s hiking.
Descending from the east peak was much more difficult. The trail was mostly made of rock slabs, and where they were pitched downward they were surprisingly slippery.
We stopped for lunch at Frye Notch Lean-to. Gimli, Frodo and Samwise joined us a short time later.
While we were there we made plans for stopping in Andover. One of the trail guides mentioned a new hostel, and we decided it looked like it was worth a try. The reviews looked good and we liked that we could call to arrange a pickup from the trail.
After a short climb up and over Surplus Mountain, the trail became easy. We called The Human Nature Hostel and arranged for a pickup on East B Hill Road at 3 p.m.
We arrived at the road at 2:55 p.m., and a few minutes later the hostel’s owner, Yukon, arrived with his mini-bus.
Yukon drove us into Andover, a small town with only a couple businesses. It had a general store that served food, and that was all we needed.
I ordered something called a Bigfoot Burger. Despite the name, it was good.
While we ate, Yukon left to pick up some other hikers at another road crossing. When he returned we got on the bus for a ride to the hostel.
He was building the hostel himself, and though it was not yet done he was able to provide all of the services we would need, either here or at a house he was using while finishing the hostel.
Laundry and the bunks for sleeping were in the hostel. We had to go to the other house to shower because there was a problem with the shower in the hostel. This wasn’t a hassle, though, thanks to the mini-bus.
Later, Yukon took us to Mexico, another small town, but this one had a Walmart.
This would be our last opportunity to resupply at a Walmart, he said.
Yukon was an interesting character. After serving in the Marines, he completed a thru-hike of the AT and trained in outdoor survival skills. Later, he made a couple appearances on the Naked and Afraid reality TV series.
Earlier tonight, while waiting for my turn in the shower, I sat on the deck of the house Yukon was using. I could see from there a range of mountains across the entire horizon. The AT traversed over the whole distance of these mountains.
Sitting here looking at the mountains gave me an opportunity to reflect on where I have been and where I have yet to go.
I've been feeling stronger each day since I entered Maine. Though I've thought before my chances of finishing this long hike were getting better by the day, now I'm truly feeling it.
Maybe it's just my confidence that’s building, but I’m beginning to feel something tugging at me, urging me onward.
When I return to the trail tomorrow Mt. Katahdin will only be about 265 miles away. Its magnetic pull brings me closer with each step.
Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow?
Gonna rise up
Burning black holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold
Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
Suddenly swallowed by signs
Lo and behold
Gonna rise up
Find my direction magnetically
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole