Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Day 172- The Last Leg Of My Journey, Here's To One More Week, The Start Of The 100 Mile Wilderness

After staying up pretty late watching movies, I slept pretty well over the course of the night. Ravioli decided to zero and spend another night at the hostel so he left all of his things, I compressed mine as much as possible so I was packed and ready, but still here to enjoy the day.
I knew my package wouldn't be here until late afternoon, so I took care of some things and then went next door for breakfast. There was a little cafe with homemade breads, jams, and desserts; they also had a full breakfast menu. I ordered the special which was a mushroom and cheese omelet, I asked to add ham which I thought would be added to the omelet not on the side, home fries, tea, and a Starbucks frappuccino. I was the only one in the restaurant until an older guy came in and sat for coffee. The place had to have just opened recently since everyone was kind of awkward, like they were unsure of what to do, and overly eager. At checkout I eyed the freshly baked muffins, when I asked what kind they were I got the perfect response. "Raspberry with a cream cheese filling." I added one on to my bill. The small breakfast joint was very expensive for what it was, they may last with locals; but the hikers will not pay that kind of bill! On the way back from breakfast I dropped a postcard in the mail that I had been carrying since New Hampshire. I went back to the hostel to hang out on this gorgeous day we were having. There really was no place I would rather be than sitting on a dock with my feet dangling in the water in Maine on a sunny day. The hostel was in the process of hikers leaving to get back on the trail, cleaning, and getting ready for new hikers to arrive. I sat out on the dock with Pandora playing and soaking up the rays until I heard my name called, in a familiar voice. I sat up and saw that it was Lynn! I walked over and she said lets grab a beer to bring out on the dock, so we went inside to the bar. We ordered our beers, and she filled out paperwork to stay the night; guess she wouldn't be hiking out with me today. We got our beers and went outside, as soon as we sat down we both knew there had been some tension between us. There was no need to bring it up since we both acknowledged it and decided there was just poor communication throughout it all. That's all it was really and things were back to normal, we tried to plan out the final week since I would be hiking out later and she would be spending the night. There was a shelter just 3 miles into the 100 Mile Wilderness and if I went there, she would just be 3 miles behind the following morning. I wanted to do more than 3 miles but if my package didn't get here until 3:00 anyways, I wouldn't get on trail until late. We sat and talked while listening to music and finishing our beers, and then she went to shower and do laundry. On one of my many trips back to the hostel stairs I found my package sitting there, and it was only 1:00! I brought it upstairs and opened it; some mail which my Mom never sends, 20 pounds of food, my book, and the frisbees! The plan was for us to write on the inside of the frisbees and chuck them off of Katahdin. The mail consisted of Joline's baby shower invite, a new ATM card, and an envelope from my great grandmother. I opened the envelope and found a small card with a gold cross on the front, as I opened the card and read the words I started to cry. Lynn was in the room over and asked what I was laughing at, I didn't respond. I read through the short words that my biological grandmother wrote about Gran passing away. Included was her obituary and funeral card. I walked out of the hostel and down the road towards the postoffice where I had cell service, dialing my Mom's phone number. She answered and crying I asked, "Did you get a call or card about Gran?" Confused, I explained the card that I had gotten in the mail. She apologized and said that she did not know, and hadn't opened the card, she just figured it was a homemade card that she always sends to me from time to time. We sat on the phone for a moment or two, and I told her I had to go and get ready to get back on the trail. During the duration of my Appalachian Trail adventure, I lost two of my great grandmothers. I stared at the side of the red hostel building, the water, and the mountains off in the distance trying to collect myself. I wiped my eyes, took a deep breath, and walked back to the hostel. I felt like a robot; going through my box and trying to get things ready while people are asking me if I am ok? I put half of my food re-supply in my bag to go with me, and the other half in the bucket to go to Jo-Mary Road halfway through the wilderness. I put both the orange and green frisbee in my pack and gave the yellow one to Lynn. I sealed up my box to ship home with a few small items and the blaze that I had gotten on trail, and called FedEx to arrange a pickup. I just wanted to get on the trail now, everything was taken care of and the wilderness was waiting. I found Miss Janet's van down passed the post office and ran down to see if she could bring me to the trail. She said she was bringing a few people to resupply in a few minutes and could bring me too. I ran back to the hostel, told Lynn she would take her to resupply and gathered my things. We all packed into Miss Janet's already packed van. I enjoyed my muffin since I had been too busy to eat lunch and sat on Lynn's lap and off we went. We drove for awhile and next thing I knew, we were at the grocery store; guess she would drop me off while they shopped? I asked her, and she thought I needed to go to the store so she figured I would get dropped off on the way back; great. Guess I would be getting on trail much later. We all climbed out like a circus act, and checked out a moose on a trailer which a boy had shot. Lynn and I went into the outfitter part of the store to look for new shoes for her. I charged my phone at the cashier to be sure it was charged as much as possible. We went shoe by shoe trying each on to see what would be a good fit. You never really know until it is too late, but I picked out a nice trail runner in her size and she said it felt great, so she went with those. Next was the food resupply, we walked around running into everyone and their Honeybunns and Knorr pasta sides. I helped Lynn resupply since I didn't need anything and was just along for the ride. Their carts were full of junk, beer, and normal food for tonight's dinner. We went outside to the parking lot where Miss Janet's van was and waited for each hiker to slowly trickle back. I was dropped at the trailhead at 4:30 to enter the 100 Mile Wilderness. I was nervous, yet optimistic. I felt like a caged animal looking to be released, I was weary of entering the wilderness alone, but at the same time excited. I had heard from many Southbounders that the 100 Mile Wilderness was extremely muddy, rocky, and full of roots. Mainly they griped about the roots and this worried me, I was scared on what to expect. I read the sign warning me there would be no resupply for 100 miles until Abol bridge and proceeded past. I walked in a daze within my own thoughts until I passed an older couple walking towards me. I just read a sign about the dangerous deserted wilderness and here was an elderly couple out for their afternoon stroll? I was not expecting to see day hikers, maybe I would get trail magic? We said hello briefly, they asked if I was a thru-hiker, and that was that. I continued on and thought, this isn't so bad so far! I was excited to be out in the woods, and at my favorite time of day. I passed by a pond and the afternoon low sun made everything a warm golden color. I passed Hog Driver and he was in his usual irritated mood, I told him Miss Janet would be waiting for him that she just dropped me off. I continued on until I reached the first shelter 3 miles in, as I walked up I saw someone was reading the log book. I said hello and asked if he was planning on staying here tonight or heading on. He looked familiar and I knew I had seen him at the bar at the hostel but didn't know his name. He introduced himself as Zig. He assured me he was staying here tonight and would be tenting, as would I. Hikers find it quite fascinating when I tell them I have never slept in a shelter, and have never used a privy. The shelter was built kind of on a hill so it didn't have the best tenting real estate. I walked around, walked up a ways, and back down towards the water down below. I didn't really want to be further South from the shelter, but there was nothing further North either. Zig was nowhere to be found so I decided to set up kind of near the shelter on a nice flat spot. Normally I don't like to tent near the shelter since that defeats the purpose of excluding myself for the night, but since no one was staying there I didn't mind. I heard tent poles and walked back into the woods a bit to find Zig at a defined campsite, figures. I didn't want to impose so I said how I was setting up back by the shelter but if he didn't mind I would come over there for dinner. He didn't oppose. I went back to set up my tent and get everything ready for the night, when Zig came up and asked if I needed water. I told him I did, but I pump so I didn't want to make him filter my water. He told me he also uses a pump to filter so I gave him my Camelbak and told him thank you and that I really appreciate it. By the time he got back with the water, I was all set and ready for dinner. I brought my Mountain House (I asked my mom to send me all Mountain House for the 100 Mile Wilderness so I didn't have to carry the extra weight of couscous and rice), olive oil, Gatorade powder, and cosmic brownie over to Zig's campsite. When I walked up he was reading but quickly put away his book as I sat down. He was in the process of making mashed potatoes and I started my dinner. We sat and talked of life, work, the trail, and his dog. His name was Zig because his dog who he was hiking with was Zag and she had to go home when the trail got too tough on her. I admire him being selfless for the sake of his dog's wellbeing. Most people out here bring their dog because they want the company and it really take a toll on the animal. He even went 700 miles without one zero! That is just crazy to me. Once it got dark we decided to call it a night and I went back to my tent, I looked at the time and noticed it was only 7:15 and yet it felt like 9:15. I didn't plan out my week in terms of mileage and that was kind of scary. Up until now, I was on a tentative schedule to get me to my next mail drop, and now; I had already gotten my last. I knew I wanted to finish not this weekend, but the one after and also zero in the woods. I usually have everything well planned out and I wanted to have kind of an idea of what I should be doing for mileage each day to get me there around October 4th. I took out my Awol guide, got my phone calculator ready, and figured it out. I would take where I was currently and add 15 miles to see where I end up, from there I would add another 15 for the following day. Sometimes I would be a little short or over so I would compensate and by doing that, it got me to The Birches Campground Friday night, to summit Katahdin Saturday morning with a zero in the woods. It was more of a nero actually since I would stay at Antler's campsite, the most beautiful campsite on the AT according to Baltimore Jack. From there I would go a short 4 miles or so to a lake view stealth of Katahdin to relax and reflect with the end in sight. I hope Lynn catches up, and if not tomorrow; at least on my night at one of the planned campsites. Every time I picture my summit photo in my mind it is with a blue sky, I really hope this is the case and that I stay happy, healthy, and unharmed in the process. There is a prayer I say every morning; Please keep me happy, and healthy, keep my mind strong as well as my body, let the weather be good, and the day pass by quickly, while enjoying every minute of it. It is hard to believe in 2 weeks, my journey will be over.

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