Our slack packing came to an end today, what a sad day it was! Let's see, we won't be slack packing again until Katahdin, the Big Bang. Ravioli was up first like every morning, and he sat chomping on Oreo Klondike bars, I believe he ate 3. I packed my pack the night before so I didn't have much preparation for the morning, he did not. I got up, spread some cream cheese on a bagel and had my Greek yogurt I had bought the day before. I like to think my breakfast was more conventional than Ravioli's Klondikes and Lynn's muffin and a beer; though I did have the last 2 sips of my mudslide from last night. We got everything ready and when I went to move the Blue Bitch outside, hell broke loose. I had been slack packing for; 7 days? Maybe. And hadn't slept in the woods in; 8 nights? Maybe. Beds are comfortable, but I did miss the outdoors and my tent; a full pack, I did not. She was heavy, a beast, and I had to carry her 16.3 miles today. We loaded up in the truck and we squeezed 4 of us in the backseat, 1 up front and 3 in the back (one was getting dropped at the trailhead down the road.) we drove about 45 minutes and we were back on the same dirt road as we started on yesterday. We got out and walked .1 back the way we came on the road to the trailhead, damn purists. The gang was; Mailman, No Rush, Astroguy, Ravioli, Triple P (Lynn), and I. Before long the three guys were gone, I was not adjusting to my full pack well. My new 0deg sleeping bag takes up a lot more room than my previous, 45deg and before that 32deg bags; I put that on the bottom above my tent. Also, my foodbag was heavier than needed since I had been slack packing so much; this made my pack quite top heavy. I was in the rear of the pack and I saw the other two stopped at a lake view. They had gone down to the rocky beach, I was still in a bitter funk so I stayed at the opening. I took a photo, but didn't want to walk down on the rocks. I am guessing since the end date is nearing I am becoming bitter, before I know it; it will be over. I guess hostel hopping and slack packing also put me around people all the time. I found out while out here, I actually like my alone time; and it had been lacking. Not only was I back to being the slow one of the group, I enjoyed being in the back by myself. We came to a paved road to find Miss Janet and another 2000 mile marker. Someone had spray painted the road so she brought chalk and decorated. We took some photos with Chicklet and it was way cooler than the one the previous day. I tagged my name of course in orange. We hiked on knowing we had a big day ahead of us. The profile showed a couple gradual ups in the beginning, and then flattening out the rest of the day. What they don't tell you is flat means horrible roots, rock, and mud. My knees, feet, heels, ankles, shins; everything hurt. I need to remember these days when I am back in "real life" getting paid or sitting at a desk job or listening to my kid scream one day; dreaming to be back on the Appalachian Trail. I know the day will come, more than once I am sure; but it was hell. Remember days like today when your knees are inflamed and irritated, your toes are numb, your second toe (since it is longer than the first) is crunched, your calves are tight, your right heel is throbbing and uncomfortable on each step, your feet all around are just sore; remember this on those days. The trail is hard work, even on the days where you are not climbing 4000ft mountains, it hurts and is hard. We stopped for a snack, and thought the shelter should be coming up in the next mile so we decided to go there and eat lunch. Like everything on trail, it took awhile. When we got there, I made a peanut butter and pepperoni sandwhich on my last bagel. I also ate a cheese stick and an oatmeal cream pie. There was a super friendly chipmunk that would race all around camp and come right up to me. We left lunch and had around 10 miles left to go, on the way out I heard Marathon call my name, seems he is going to the same shelter tonight. I hiked on and listened to my iPod, I can't wait to listen to the radio, or Pandora, or any other music than the same songs over and over again. I am grateful I brought an iPod though, I have no idea how people do it without music. Did I mention how tough the terrain is? Roots are the death of me. We walked the perimeter of a "pond" (what Maine considers a pond, is a lake to those in Connecticut.) I found Ravioli, Marathon, and Lynn sitting on a pile of wood by the pond; I joined them. The day was supposed to be rainy and possible thunderstorms, all morning it was blue skies and gorgeous. The temperature had warmed up too; now, the clouds were rolling in and the pond looked lonely. We sat there for a good break and relaxed, seems the day was kicking everyone's ass. I tossed my hands behind my head and leaned back on my pack, I was getting too comfortable. We hiked on through some beautiful trail, but not as much as the body killer portions. The trail in Northern Maine has transformed from a trail, to walking in the woods (and not in an easy way.) Let me explain this; if you go out in your backyard woods and walk around you find it's not very easy; there are trees down, branches, rocks, logs, roots, leaves covering, mud-this is the trail condition now. Sometimes you wonder, is this still the trail? Yup, there's a white blaze. Everyone kept breaking and I would catch up to them, sure it was nice of them to wait for me; but my body was in so much pain, and the sun was setting I just wanted to push through it. Since it is the middle of September, the sun is now setting at 6:45 I believe; 6:45! We still had around 2 miles left to go which meant we would be getting there around 6:30. The woods was already dim, rocks and mud were not as visible; nevermind if anything was wet. We finally came to the shelter and found Solitude, Chicklet, and Chip staying there. I walked down passed the shelter a ways and set up my tent, and then got stuff for dinner. I walked back to camp and went to filter some water (the shelter is right on a lake, I mean pond.) When I got back, Lynn had already set up her tent up there, Marathon went to find the cabin that serves pancakes in the morning, and Ravioli had not set up. I combined chicken ramen and chicken Knorr pasta together and it was pretty good. I also had a nip of Kalhua which warmed me right up (even though I wasn't cold) and a cosmic brownie and oatmeal cream pie for dessert. We sat around the fire for a bit, and then turned in after a long day. I got in my tent, looked over the photos from the day, and then looked at my guide. I checked the time expecting it to be 9:00 and it said 7:48, wow I was exhausted. I actually blogged today's entry tonight in my tent, and tomorrow we catch the ferry for the river crossing!
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