As I was preparing for my hike last spring, I spoke to students at the school where my wife taught. She used my hike as part of some lessons for her fifth grade class.
When she told them about the Appalachian Trail and my plans to hike it from Georgia to Maine, one student asked her how I was going to get home when I finished. Would I have to walk home?
It’s an understandable question for a child, but also points to practical questions about my return home when I finish.
|Date||Monday, September 25, 2017|
|Weather||Mostly sunny, humid with a high temperature in the mid 80s|
|Trail Conditions||Moderately easy climb and descent of a couple mountain peaks|
Now that the end of this long hike is in sight, my family and I are trying to answer those questions. Kim and our two sons have been working on arrangements to get to Maine, but this has not been as easy as it might seem.
Age and legs notwithstanding, my hiking speed is partly dependent on the terrain of the trail and the weather.
Hiking guides can only give me a guess about the difficulty of the terrain. And although the weather has been cooperating for the last couple weeks, I can’t be certain that will be the case for the next two weeks.
So for now, I can only make an educated calculation of when I will reach Mt. Katahdin and hope the plans my family make to get there time out correctly.
There's an additional complication added to the planning. After I summit Katahdin I want to return to New Hampshire and hike the miles I skipped when I took a couple days off to heal my ankle.
Kim has been working intensely on a plan for our two sons and her to meet me at Baxter State Park. We talked about it last night, but more details need to be worked out. She’s discovering it’s difficult to make hotel reservations in Maine and New Hampshire at this time of year because it’s the peak leaf viewing season.
Staying in Caratunk House Bed and Breakfast has been comfortable, relaxing and enjoyable. It was unlike any stay I’ve had on this hike and the owner, Paul, has been a wonderful host.
Topping off our deluxe stay, Paul prepared a delicious breakfast for us this morning. It included fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and thick slices of French toast. There was also coffee and orange juice.
We had several options for staying and resupplying in Caratunk, but I was glad we stopped here. After thanking Paul and saying goodbye, Tengo, Stick and I left at 8:30 a.m. for the short walk back to the trail.
The trail was easy at first, and for part of the way followed the path of a wide brook.
I stopped at Pleasant Pond Shelter and filtered some water at a nearby stream. Stick was here also and we sat by the shelter to eat lunch. Tengo had already pushed on ahead.
From here, the trail began a steeper climb with only a couple switchbacks.
The temperature was rising much higher than it had been in a several days, making the day too hot and sticky for this climb.
I arrived at the top of Pleasant Pond Mountain at 1:30 p.m. The summit was at 2,048 feet in elevation, which wasn’t high enough to be above treeline, but there were some rock outcrops and ledges that provided views of the valleys and lakes below.
Just seven-tenths of a mile farther, the trail went over Middle Mountain. This mountain was a couple hundred feet taller, but the views from here were more obscured by trees.
Because today was a Sunday, I thought Kim would be home this afternoon, so I called her from the top of the mountain. I wanted to confer with her more about plans for meeting at Mt. Katahdin. By now she had most of the arrangements worked out.
When she sets off to tackle a big task, it gets done completely and thoroughly.
After leaving Middle Mountain there were a few tricky spots on the trail, but the descent was not nearly as difficult as many in Maine have been.
Along the way, the trail passed a large beaver bog with many dead trees.
The shelter we stopped at was located a short distance beyond another wide and rocky brook. It was picturesque in the late afternoon light.
It’s a fact of life on the trail that when you stop to take a shower and do laundry you get sweaty and smelly immediately after you return to the trail. That’s what happened today during the climb over the two mountain peaks.
Surprisingly, though, the temperature didn’t cool down much overnight. The air remained warm and humid, which made sleeping uncomfortable and difficult.
Put a candle in the window
Got a feelin', got to move
Oh, I'm gone, gone
I'll be comin' home soon
Long as I can see the light