July 2nd 2014
Happy early 4th of July everyone! We will be in the middle of Maine wilderness on the 4th (probably on top of a mountain somewhere) so we won’t get to shoot off fireworks this time around! I was really hoping to get invited to a small town American Bar B Que (are you listening Mainers?). Actually, Caratunk looked like the perfect town with only 68 residents but alas we had a resupply to make in Stratton.
We were delayed a day just outside of Monson because of the rain. So far it’s not too terrible hiking in a drizzle but when it rains, that means all the run off flows into the rivers. We were stuck for a day waiting for a river to lower because it was way to high and fast to ford for us newbies. It turned out fine waiting back at the lean to with new friends and stories all around. The next day the river was 2 feet lower and the ford was not an issue. We were able to make up time with an 18 mile day later on.
The lean tos and camp sites we’ve been staying at have all been beautiful! We try to make it to a lean to for the night because they are usually in very worthy locations and all have a reliable water source as well as a privy. As you can see from our pictures we like to camp next to lakes. They make for buggy nights sometimes but it’s nice to wash up after a day of hiking. Sometimes we make a fire and the smoke drives the bugs away for a pleasant evening.
We usually meet a lot of hikers at the lean tos and I love hearing their stories! We are starting to meet about 4 to 5 north bounders (NOBOs) a day now and some play up the fun rivalry but they are all friendly and helpful (not to mention fast!) It’s amazing how fast news travels on the trail. We like to check the log books at every lean to - it helps us leave notes for those behind us and keep track of how close we are to those in front. We have fallen behind some of our friends but we’ve caught up to a few people too. I miss camping with the small group we made in the 100 miles but it’s fun to meet new people every night.
Now that we’re out of the 100 mile wilderness we can see the trail is better maintained in some parts. More bridges, less roots, switchbacks, etc. It’s still tough hiking sometimes but there is clearly more effort to keep the trail tidy.
My favorite part of last week’s hike was going through Caratunk. We had to catch a ferry to get across the Kennebec River and it turned out being a guy in a canoe. I LOVED the fact that they painted a white blaze on the bottom of the ferry. We made it a short day and only hiked 4 more miles. It was a very pretty hike along some waterfalls and the lean to was just gorgeous. We had to stay by Pierce Pond because we were told to visit Tim Harrison and have his AT Hiker 12 pancake breakfast. It was SO WORTH IT. We split the breakfast of rasberry, blueberry and apple pancakes with eggs, sausage and juice. I was full till lunch which is rare for a hiker! That morning is my favorite part of the trip so far! He was the nicest guy and a legend on the AT - he’s been at this for 25 years now.
Now that we made it to Stratton, we are just starting the dreaded New England mountains. Yesterday we climbed the Bigalows and peaked 4 mountains. We had a 2 mile climb that really slowed me down but I promised myself a honey bun once I reached the top and that helped me keep going. I can tell I’m stronger than where I was 2 weeks ago and I think I’ll adapt to the mountains quickly.
The towns up here are so different than what I’m used to. I’ve traveled through towns like Waldo but I didn’t really get what it meant to be small town until I had to do some grocery shopping and the only option was a gas station. They have general stores up here instead of Walmarts! Yikes I wonder how that sounds. I’m enjoying my experience - I promise.
We are going to try to finish up Maine before we resupply (which will include the famous hardest mile on the AT!) so it will probably be another 10 days or so before I post again. I swear it will become more frequent soon! Just got to get past all these stupid mountains. Wish us luck!