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AT 2017: Day 174, Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to to Nahmakanta Lake

And we were rolling, rolling, rock n' rolling

Hike with Gravity

I woke up this morning at 5 a.m., which has been the usual time lately as Stick, Tengo and I have been trying to put in more miles each day before dark.

The difference for today was I had slept in a shelter and was by myself. That meant I was able to pack up and get back on the trail sooner than normal.

Weather Clear skies with a high temperature in the mid 60s
Trail Conditions Not much elevation change, many sections were a jumble of rocks and roots
Today's Miles 15.7 miles
Trip Miles 2,126.6 miles

Looking at the Guthooks app and AWOL trail guide, the trail ahead to Jo Mary Road appeared to be easy. I didn’t want to take any chances, though. I needed to be there before 9 a.m. because that was when and where my food would be dropped off.

Tengo and Stick had hiked somewhere ahead of me yesterday, but I didn’t know how far they were or how close they were to the road. I only knew I didn’t want to hold things up by being late.

I was back on the trail by 6:30 a.m., with 3.7 miles to go to reach the road.

The time it took me to walk that was surprisingly fast. I arrived where Stick and Tengo were camped, which was only 40 or 50 yards from the road, sooner than I expected. They hadn’t yet taken down their tents.

As we waited for our food to be delivered we discussed our plans for getting to the summit of Mt. Katahdin. We continued to be mindful of the weather forecast and decided the best thing to do was attempt to summit on Wednesday, a day earlier than first planned.

As it turned out, we didn’t have to wait long for our food. It was delivered early, at about 8:45 a.m. The driver from Shaw’s Lodging was named Gary. He not only brought the buckets we had filled with food, he brought us a thermos of hot coffee.

Gary updated us on the weather forecast, which convinced us we should attempt to summit Katahdin on Wednesday. If the terrain and weather hold up the way we think, this should be doable.

There was one problem with that, which I didn’t know how to overcome. Our change in plans would mess up plans Kim and our sons had made to meet me at Baxter State Park. They were heading to Millinocket on Wednesday, with the intention of getting up early Thursday morning so Logan and Landon could hike Mt. Katahdin with me.

I knew they would understand the need to change plans, but I still felt bad about it.

It took some extra time to transfer our food to our packs and get moving again, then we began walking swiftly on the easy trail.

In an hour we hiked 2.5 miles to the inlet of Cooper Pond. The only thing to slow us down was a need to stop to shed a layer of clothing once the morning temperature warmed up.

Less than two miles later we passed Jo Mary Lake and a campsite located near there. This place looked like another good spot for camping and swimming, but we were on a mission and kept going.

Beyond the campsite, the trail became more difficult to walk. It was covered in a tangle of exposed rocks and roots.

I thought I was slowing down through this section and worried I was once again dragging behind Tengo and Stick. When I reached Potaywadjo Ridge Lean-to, they were stopped there for lunch. They told me they had only been there a couple minutes.

Stick took off quickly after lunch, but Tengo and I hiked together for most of the afternoon. The trail continued to be mostly flat, but the rocks and roots remained.

There were several stream crossings along the way, but none provided any difficulty to cross. At 4 p.m. we stopped to collect and filter water at one of those streams, the oddly-named Tumbledown Dick Stream.

By 4:30 p.m., sunlight was beginning to fade. Despite this, I was fairly certain my eyes were not deceiving me when we came upon a woman who was standing near the trail with two goats.

Yes, goats. This was one of the most startling sights I had seen on the trail.

Tengo and I didn’t stay long to talk to the woman or her goats because we were trying to catch up to Stick. As the sun began to sink behind the trees, we became concerned about finding a place to stop.

We realized finding a campsite would be difficult in the dark. Aside from the rocky and rooty trail, the forest was dense, also filled with rocks and roots. We couldn’t stop just anywhere.

We also had no idea where Stick was.

Before long, we decided to stop at the first satisfactory place to camp, even if Stick wasn’t there. We didn’t realize, though, that we were already approaching Nahmakanta Lake.

The first clue we were near was when I began to smell a campfire. A short distance later we arrived at a road leading to the lake and discovered a campsite.

A sometimes section hiker named Two-tone Albatross was camped there. Stick was there too.

Two-tone Albatross was set up to provide trail magic for hikers passing by, but sadly, he had already run out of the chili he had been serving. He prepared some tea for us, though, which we drank with our dinner.

We made good time today, despite a delay for picking up our food. As long as good weather stays with us, we can do more miles tomorrow and Tuesday, then summit Mt. Katahdin a day earlier than planned.

I said, "Take me to the dance"
"Do you want to dance?"
"I love to dance"
And I told him, "They don't take chances
They seem so removed from romance"
"They've been broken in churches and schools
And molded to middle class circumstance"
And we were rolling, rolling, rock n' rolling


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