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AT 2017: Day 171, Abandoned Logging Road to Chairback Gap Lean-to

And it looks like the old man's getting on

Hike with Gravity

Last night’s thunderstorm woke me up and kept me awake for part of the night, but I’m not complaining. I stayed dry. What's more, the violent strength of a storm has always fascinated me.

I ended up oversleeping my intended wakeup time by 40 minutes. I thought if I got an early start I would be able to catch up to Tengo and Stick this morning. Nevertheless, I was packed up and leaving camp about the time Boomer, Jason and Single T were just waking up.

Weather Cloudy, becoming mostly sunny with a high temperature in the mid 60s
Trail Conditions Some steep and rocky climbs
Today's Miles 12.5 miles
Trip Miles 2,082.1 miles

The younger hikers would pass me later, but for much of the morning I felt I had the trail all to myself.

I set out unsure if I would catch up to Tengo and Stick. I hoped that would happen, though. We were planning to get our resupply dropped off tomorrow, so I needed to stay close to make sure we could coordinate the pickup time.

Tengo and Stick were less than two tenths of a mile ahead of me. They didn’t reach Long Pond Stream Lean-to either, but I didn’t know this when I stopped last night and didn't learn it until the end of the day.

I moved fast this morning and made good time. By 9:35 a.m. I had gone three miles and reached a rocky ledge on Barren Mountain.

From the view here, Lake Onawa could be seen below, lying next to Boarstone Mountain.

I continued on over Barren Mountain. From time to time there were other views to see from here.

The mountain was part of a long ridge. I followed it for more than an hour. The remnants of an abandoned fire tower stood at the summit. It had been only partially dismantled after it became obsolete.

The afternoon began with a climb up the first of a series of mountains called the Chairbacks. The first of the peaks in this range were numbered, starting with Fourth Mountain.

From a rock at that peak I could see the Baker Peak and Whitecap mountain ranges. Second Narrows Pond, which lies outside the 100 Mile Wilderness, was also in view.

After the descent from Fourth Mountain I began to hear the sound of a helicopter flying nearby. A short time later I heard chainsaws. The sounds were coming from the other side of a ridge, so I was unable to see what was going on. I suspected a forest fire was burning, but I didn’t smell or see smoke.

A short time later, I saw Wendy, the volunteer from Monson who had told us about how to get our permit and camping spot when we reached Mt. Katahdin. She was out for a day hike on her day off from the visitors center.

Wendy confirmed for me that a forest fire was burning. She thought it might have been started by lightning in last night’s thunderstorm.

The next mountain wasn’t Third Mountain, it was called Mt. Three-and-a-half. Then came Third Mountain.

The mountain after that wasn’t called Second Mountain, though it was part of the same string of Chairback mountains. It was called Columbus.

On the way up, I looked for a spring because I had read that Chairback Gap Lean-to didn’t have a reliable water source.

When I reached the spring, I found a note addressed to me. Boomer and Jason wanted to make sure I knew I needed to get water before reaching the shelter.

This was a thoughtful gesture, and I enjoyed that the note was signed “Boomer and Jason and Maple.”

The trail down to the shelter had been recently rerouted to provide better erosion control. The work had been done by the Maine Trail Crew, a group made mostly of volunteers.

The crew is sponsored by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Crew members work four nine-hour days, and usually have to walk several miles in to reach the remote locations where they work.

When I arrived at Chairback Gap Lean-to, Stick and Tengo were there. Although I only started out a couple tenths of a mile behind them, I wasn't able to catch up with them until the end of the day.

I arrived at the shelter just before 6:30, and they they said they hadn’t been there for long.

The night was cold and breezy, so I needed both my sleeping bag and my quilt to stay warm.

I hiked nearly all of the day alone, but I enjoyed it. I felt strong and content.

Brown-eyed women and red grenadine
The bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean
Sound of the thunder with the rain pouring down
And it looks like the old man's getting on


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.