Distant view of Mt. Katahdin

And at last it's the real thing, or close enough to pretend

Day 173, White Brook Trail Junction to Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to

Saturday, September 30, 2017

We were up early again today. Stick, Tengo and I are anxious to reach Mt. Katahdin and are pushing harder to get there.

A more immediate concern for today had been to meet someone from Shaw’s Lodging at Jo Mary Road. We had scheduled for our food for the rest of the 100 Mile Wilderness to be dropped off there today at 4 p.m. We were thinking now that may be a stretch for us to reach in time.

Weather Partly cloudy and breezy in the morning, clearing skies in the afternoon, with a high temperature in the mid 60s
Trail Conditions Two easy climbs and descents, otherwise easy-hiking terrain except for occasional rocks and roots
Today's Miles 14.0 miles
Trip Miles 2,110.9 miles

When we made arrangements with Poet, he told us he would not just drop off our food. We had to be there when the delivery was made.

This is one of the reasons why we agreed to do the drop-off this way. It eliminates a chance of not getting our food because an animal or unscrupulous hiker got to it first. They are both known to be very hungry.

There was a reason for setting the time at 4 p.m. The drivers who drop off food don’t like to be on that road after dark because of the risk of running into a moose. It’s something I hadn’t considered before, but I can see how it’s a very real risk around here.

We realized now it would be stretch to get to Jo Mary Road by that time. We could get there today, but probably not by 4 p.m. We decided to use our backup plan and call to reschedule the drop-off tomorrow morning.

So though the pressure was off for today, we still wanted to move as fast as possible. We are becoming increasingly concerned about the weather forecast. At our current pace, we would be ready to summit Mt. Katahdin on Thursday. Right now, the forecast calls for thunderstorms that day and the next.

The trail to the summit is closed when the threat of dangerous weather is high. Being forced to sit and wait for the stormy weather to pass through would be painful, but of course, we also want to be safe.

Cloudy sky and view from White Cap Mountain

We were on the trail shortly after first light. From our campsite, we only had nine tenths of a mile to go to reach the top of White Cap Mountain.

As soon as we neared the top and were able to begin seeing distant views, I looked around, hoping to see Mt. Katahdin. I had read it could be sighted from here, but I wasn’t seeing it.

Stick posts his trail journal from White Cap Mountain

The top of the mountain extended for nearly a mile, and what I didn’t realize at first was that Katahdin doesn’t come into view until reaching the north end.

Stick discovered he was able to get a wireless signal from here, so he stopped to catch up on his trail journal posts. He has been diligent about posting regularly on the trail, whereas I gave up a long time ago of staying current in my blog.

I kept walking, anxious to see Mt. Katahdin for the first time.

First view of Mt. Katahdin from White Cap Mountain

Then as the trail rounded a corner on the north side of White Cap, Katahdin came into view. There was no doubt about what I was looking at. The mountain was clearly the largest, most prominent point on the horizon.

The summit was just 73 trail miles away. As a crow flies, it was much closer than that, but the trail will take a zig-zag route to get there.

Katahdin was so tantalizing close.

I knew the trail from here would be less difficult until I reach the base of Katahdin, yet still, I must walk every one of those miles.

Even when I get there, I can't forget, I won’t be done. I will have about 25 miles to hike after reaching the top. I have to finish nearly 20 miles in the White Mountains, and there are five more miles to walk just to get down from Katahdin’s summit.

Stone steps on descent from White Cap Mountain

First, however, I needed to hike down from the top of White Cap Mountain. This turned out to be surprisingly easy, thanks to some tremendous work by the Maine Trail Crew.

When I reached Logan Brook Lean-to I stopped to remove extra layers of clothes. I was finally warming up after the cold start to the day.

Though the descent wasn’t difficult, my knees were hurting badly, so I took some ibuprofen. I hoped my knees weren't trying to tell me to stop before I reached the end.

Creepy dog statue

Continuing down the mountain, I was startled to see a dog perched on a rock. It was a Dalmatian, which is not a breed typically seen on hiking trails. It stood there, seemingly unaware of me.

Closer look at creepy dog statue

As I got closer, I realized this was not a real dog, but a creepy statue. I don’t know why it was put here, but it was a disturbing sight. It may have been some kind of memorial to someone, but it was definitely not “leave no trace.”

Zig-zag trail at bottom of White Cap Mountain

Once I reached the bottom of White Cap Mountain I had completed all of the major climbs of the 100 Mile Wilderness. Only one peak remains for me in Maine and that is Mt. Katahdin.

I stopped for lunch at the next shelter, East Branch Lean-to. By now, my knees were feeling much better.

Mountain View Pond

When I returned to the trail I crossed the east branch of the Pleasant River, which was only a rock hop, then passed Mountain View Pond.

Mileage sign at Kokadjo - B Pond Road

Then after an easy ascent and descent over Little Boardman Mountain, I reached Kokadjo - B Pond Road at 3 p.m. A sign there told me I was nearly seven miles away from Jo Mary Road. Our decision to reschedule the food drop was obviously the correct one.

Crawford Pond

Crawford Pond was less than a half mile beyond the road. It was nice to look at, but by now I was starting to feel tired. The next three miles seemed to drag on, though I didn’t make bad time.

Cooper Brook Falls

By the time I reached Cooper Brook Falls, I was worn out.

I walked over to the nearby shelter and found a note from Stick and Tengo. They said they left about 25 minutes before I arrived.

The time was now 4:40 p.m. I could have kept going, but I didn’t see much point. I was now close enough to Jo Mary Road I could easily get there by our new food drop time of 9 a.m.

I decided to stay here and sleep in the shelter. This way, I could make an early start tomorrow without needing to pack up my tent. I was the only hiker in the shelter and I only saw one hiker pass by.

The soft roar of Cooper Brook Falls was a soothing way to end the day.

This must be heaven
'Cause here's where the rainbow ends
And at last it's the real thing
Or close enough to pretend

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