Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 171- If It Were Easy, It Would Be Boring; And Not Worth Doing

Last night I got plenty of sleep which was nice, I heard a few things scurrying around and this morning I now know they were red squirrels. I was awoken by things dropping to the ground, and then one hit Ravioli's tent. I peered out and realized it had to be the squirrels dropping pinecones or nuts or something. I heard them chirping and scurrying around in the trees. It was chilly this morning but I got up and moving to keep warm. I left camp at quarter to 8:00 which was nice, and knew I would have to ford a rather deep river today. Wasn't looking forward to that since it is late September in Maine, luckily it hadn't rained recently. The morning hike was peaceful, the sun shone through the trees onto the trail. I wore my hat, gloves and long sleeve until I warmed up a bit. The trail was actually a nice hike with minimal rocks and roots which was pleasant. Fall is taking full effect up here and it is gorgeous. Before I left, many friends made the assumption I'd be "gone for the summer" and "missing summer." It is actually the opposite in-fact. I witnessed the spring and all of the flowers coming to bloom, I got to see first hand all of the wildlife and sunny days of summer, and now every day I get to walk amongst the fall foliage and all of those once green, now russet colored plants. I did not miss out on summer, I lived; and embraced it. I came up to the river crossing and there it was, a line of rope strung across the way for fording. It would be knee deep; luckily there were some rocks and branches placed that would barely get you across. I crossed with dry toes! There were many small stream and river crossings and the trail was very similar to what I remember Georgia being; narrow, dirt, rounding the edge of the mountain, with the occasional up and down for no reason. We forded another river crossing of the same river, and here I balanced on some sketchy rocks, went to step on a tree and in went my right foot; damn. I finished crossing and sloshed my way along. We got to the road and the first thumb up and car passing scored a ride! Thank you so much Pam! We got dropped right at the Lakeshore House and when I walked in I found Earl and Baltimore Jack sitting at the bar! It was such a nice surprise! I sat beside Earl and ordered a Blueberry Sea Dog. For lunch I got the special which was corn tortillas with chicken, avocado, tomato, sour cream, and salsa; they were great. I chatted with them for awhile and caught up since I last saw them, it really is great to see people on the trail you've met before, hikers or not. After they left we went up to settle our stuff into the room and when Ravioli shut the door, it wouldn't open. I twisted and pulled but nothing, I turned the lock and still nothing. What the hell was going on, and why was I locked in a two story room with someone right now? I got out my credit card and knife to try and open it; the knob would turn but it wouldn't activate the piece that went into the frame. I knocked on the door while Ravioli yelled for the hikers in the other room watching a movie. Finally the owner came up and she tried to help, which turned to she was going to hip check the door in. We advised this was not a good idea and asked if she had a Phillips head. She came back with a flathead which wouldn't do the job, but; I played with the  piece with the screwdriver and I was able to push it back and open the door. From here the piece was stuck in so Rebecca went to get some duct tape to put over it so it didn't happen again. It's never a full moment on the trail; or off the trail. From here I went out back to the dock and enjoyed the beautiful lake. The cell service is really spotty here, if any; but there is wifi so I am all set! Next was another set of familiar faces; Stacey and Shane from the Farmhouse Inn walked over. Seems like they took the day off with two of the kids to come have lunch and check the place out. I sat on the dock by myself for awhile and just enjoyed the tranquility of it all, after awhile City Slicka and I got to talking quite a bit. After a bunch of others joined the dock before heading back out to the trail. I moved to the back deck when I heard Rebecca telling Chip about some bucket contraption. I heard $25, road, 50 miles, food drop; these were all great key words. I walked up to see what this was all about and got some great news. Basically, for $25 you get a bucket (which two people can split) you put in half of your food, and carry the other half. Around the halfway point of the 100 mile wilderness your bucket is dropped at the road crossing and you put your trash in the bucket, and take the other half of your food, I'm in! Chip and I decided to split the bucket and he put his half in. He, like me; always gets more food sent to him than needed. I ate my first Honey Bun of the trail courtesy of his re-supply. We all sat for awhile and talked with some locals, and then once the sun set it got pretty chilly. Chip hiked out and I went in to get some dinner. I sat at the bar and talked with Kerosene, a section hiker who has been at it for over 40 years. He will finally finish this year, how exciting. After settling up with dinner I went upstairs to get my laundry in and shower. After my squeaky clean shower I sat on the couch with Flea, Skiff, and Giggles to watch Meet the Parents and then Flea put on J Lo and Ja Rule Pandora and then a bunch of other throwback tunes which we are jamming on and now we wanna know what your fantasy? Solitude and Chicklet showed up and then later Sloth and Southbound and we put in Wallace & Gromit. The movie selection went from Fighter which did not play, to The Little Mermaid which was not rewound, to finally Almost Famous. I had never seen it before but I love Kate Hudson and I am really glad we watched it. A great movie for sure. It's now 1:00am and although I won't be hiking out until later in the afternoon, it is still way past my bedtime! Goodnight all, the 100 mile wilderness awaits, I will update you all once I summit Katahdin; see you on the other side!

Day 170- A Great Day With A New Chapter

This morning the Southbounders got up around 5:30 to start a fire, guess she is a Fireball. I lay in my sleeping bag, drifting in and out of sleep, until about quarter to 7:00. I heard Ravioli making noise so I figured I better start too. I got everything packed up and the couple was still over by the fire, tent still set up. I went over, said goodmorning, and went to filter some water. We got out of camp at 8:00 which was a nice surprise; I felt like I was lagging and it had to at least be 8:30 already. We had two decent climbs today and the first one started not long out of the gate. It was a workout after having a break from elevation changes the last couple days. A lot of it was newer trail though so we weaved and went up and around the mountain instead of straight up. Once we were up there, I got some cell service so I tended to that; and then I turned it off and enjoyed the view. The fall colors are really showing now that a lot of leaves are turning. The view was gorgeous with a cloudy overcast sky, some light shining on the valley and the gorgeous colors. I could have sat and stared at that all day. I stayed there for a while when Ravioi called his father, then I headed out before him since I was slower than he is. The way down was a little brutal on my knees, I've been debating putting the brace I have with me back on my left knee; hasn't happened yet, we'll see. Once we got down the mountain, there were a couple swamp/bogs and although they are not the cleanest areas, it was pretty to look at. The trail continues to be root, rock, and mud infested. At times, the trail barely even looks like a trail. We even crossed some power lines today, I feel like down South there were a lot of crossings, and there hasn't been as many recently. It was a nice change of scenery, especially since it wasn't the dead of summer, and I didn't have to run to the trees for shade; I remember those days! After the power lines was another very large pond, and a beautiful dirt road with trees turning color. Walking it reminded me of being back home. I forded a river crossing and then the trail flattened out, not only in elevation but in obsticals as well. It actually reminded me of being back in Georgia almost 6 months ago. There was minimal root, the occasional rock, but mostly a dirt path beneath the trees. We stopped at the river at the shelter for lunch, I had a tortilla with pepperoni and string cheese, and some easy mac. We had our second climb ahead of us and around 6 miles to go. Starting up the mountain was quite nice actually, the path was wide and pretty. It was your typical climb until about 2/3 of the way up, there were huge boulders and rock slabs in interesting places. Not long after, I came to a dead tree with a blaze on it. I had been looking for such a case for awhile now and there it presented itself. I submerged the tip of my pole behind the dead loose bark, I started further away from the blaze than needed so it didn't crack of break. It was a clean peel and before I knew it my white blaze was in my hand! Now only to keep it unharmed until I get it home, I had to get cell service to let my mom know I'd be sending it back. I walked the remainder of the ascent with the blaze in one hand, and my two trekking poles in the other. When I got to the top, I had a little photoshoot with the blaze and the signs. I was so excited I got one, I want to frame it in a shaddow box. I put it in a large ziplock, with some smaller ones folded up behind it for a little support. I poked two holes in the ziplock and attached it to the top of my pack, hopefully to be unharmed. The hike down wasn't terrible, it was taking a toll on my knees but it could have been a lot worse, once we reached the bottom we were at the originally planned shelter. Instead of getting into Monson Thursday, we decided to try to get in Wednesday night. This meant 15.5 miles each day, instead we would do 15 today and 16 tomorrow. For the most part tomorrow is flat whereas today had two climbs. My last maildrop won't be in until Thursday so we may stay Wednesday night and hike out a few miles later Thursday after I get my package. We hiked on further into the woods and forded another river, at this point it was almost 6:00 so we decided to get water and look for a stealth. What I almost forgot to mention, was just prior to this I decided to do a push-up from a standing position, unintentionally. There was a huge tree down on the trail, I walked to the right to get around it and before I knew it I was down on my palms. Seems my foot must have caught a root and I went into full plank position, thankfully not hurting anything or breaking my wrists. Now back to camping, we walked maybe 50 yards passed the river and found a nice stealth off trail. We decided to set up there for the night so I put up my tent, got everything situated, and started dinner. While the water was boiling I dumped my foodbag to take inventory. My last maildrop would have 7 Mountain House dinners so I didn't have to carry so much weight through the wilderness. I decided dinner would be Thai peanut noodles mixed with chicken Ramen noodles. I mixed some Gatorade, made some tea, and finished it off with a cosmic brownie. It was around 7:00 when I finished, and we each turned in for the night. I wrote in my journal while I finished my tea, and then I looked back at the photos on my phone of the trail. It sure is crazy to see where we have all come from, and how far! The ones you thought would stick it out until the end have left, and the ones you thought would quit are still here. It takes a lot of patience and willpower to take on a journey like this, and I am glad I have the ability to do so. I remember not too long ago I was thinking of leaving and not finishing the trail, and here I am; in my 0deg sleeping bag, writing a blogpost in Maine, 16 miles away from the last town before the 100 mile wilderness; crazy. I had heard about the trail running down friendships and wondered how. Why did they become so bitter to one another, and have a hard time finishing? I now have a little inside to a similar situation. All I can do is speak for myself and from my experience. You hurt the ones closest to you; the trail is coming to a closure and you have been through so much together. You are not only saying goodbye to the trail, but the people as well; and that is a hard thing to do. You become short in your patience with one another and bitter, every little thing seems so much bigger than it really is; and before you know it-it's over. I lay and wonder who will be in that famous Katahdin photo with me, and my only hope is; all of the people who are meant to be in it with me.