Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 173- The 100 Mile Wilderness Is An Amazing Place

I decided to save my phone battery and turned it off for the night hoping I wouldn't sleep until 9:00! I didn't bother setting an alarm since I was in bed so early and figured I would get plenty of sleep. Like clockwork I woke up at 6:30, perfect. I got out of camp by 7:30 and didn't see Zig before I left. I decided to take up my old routine which was to walk for 4 hours straight. When I was hiking alone a lot I would hike for 4 hours straight not stopping to break, then break for lunch, and walk the rest (in this case another 4 hours.) Hiking this way breaks up the day nicely since it means at lunch you are halfway through. The wilderness is exposing every pond and it is gorgeous to see this much water on the trail. Since not seeing Zig this morning, I have yet to see another human being; it is both nice, and awkward. I crossed a small river ford in which I should have kept my feet dry, but my right food slipped and dunked right in. I walked down a dirt road beside a pond and felt as though I was back in Connecticut in the fall. Fall is my favorite season so I am loving getting the peak of fall in Maine, and then coming home to the peak in Connecticut. Atlas, some fellow hikers! I found Flea, Fifty, and Spiff they had just started hiking since they had slept in. We hiked up in elevation to a nice view and I let them go ahead knowing they are faster. The fall foliage was breathtaking and the photos don't do it justice. I have gained a blister on my left big toe in between it and the second toe, a both odd and irritation spot for one if you ask me. I haven't had a blister in months and now the last week I have to deal with this. Another river ford presented itself and this was by far the most intense one yet. There was a rope for crossing (just like every other ford) but this time you actually had to get wet and use it. I looked at the river, the rope, and across the way. Thinking to myself, there's got to be another way; wishful thinking. There wasn't. I saw Fifty across the way drying out and shouted asking him if there was an easier way, to my suspicion there wasn't. Dreadfully taking off my sneakers, socks, compression socks, and gators I secured everything for crossing. I debated putting my pack cover on but in reality, if it fell in it would have been soaked either way. I took my phone and ipod out of my pocket and put them in a ziplock in my pack just in case. I rolled up my long shorts to cut off circulation around my thighs. After slipping into my crocs, I stepped into the water, man that was chilly! I grabbed ahold of the rope above me and carefully walked across the flowing river. The water was about thigh high on me and the edges of my rolled up shorts got wet, but I made it safely across. I then took out my phone and carefully took some mock photos even though I was already to the other side. I dropped my pack, sat on a log, and let my preexisting shoe and sock dry out while I dried off my legs and feet with a dirty sock. I sat in the sun drying out while my clothes did the same. Next to me I found a dead moose, how comforting. After letting everything dry as much as it was going to, I put some moleskin on my blister and got dressed and ready to go. I crossed the railroad tracks, found a sign which lead to trail magic, and was on my way to camp. I decided not to stop for trail magic for two reasons; one, I wanted to "rough it" my last week or so in the woods now that my journey has come to an end, and secondly it was off trail. The trail was occasionally muddy, and rocky, and full of roots; but the good news was it was in sections. It would be muddy for a little and then decent again, it would be full of roots, and then flat. Tonight I would be stealth camping at a view at Barren Ledges and I was hoping it would be decent. I started my climb and quickly it got the best of me. It was the end of the day, I was sweating my ass off, I was very hungry and thirsty, and I just wanted to be relaxing at camp. The climb was longer than I expected and I had to stop to raid my food bag before I passed out. I devoured some sesame sticks and dried cherries, chips, and fruit snacks, with a few swigs of Gatorade and I was up and moving again. I finally got to a sign that read "Barren Slide View" and decided to drop my pack and check it out. I walked over and down to a view that was decent but not tent worthy, to the left however it looked like some cliffs so I followed that path. I came out to huge rock slabs, an amazing view, and something I could diffidently work with. Should I chance giving up this spot to go .2 further to the ledges? I debated for a moment and decided against leaving and went up to grab my pack. I put my pack on the rock slab and jumped over to another slab that looked like it may be more level. Campsite scouting is an optical illusion you always think the grass is always greener on the other side, until you get there yourself. I was soon finding out that although this area was certainly something I could work with, it wasn't as easy as I had thought. Back and fourth, I finally set my tent up on the edge of the huge slab that was attached to the land where I had originally come from. I was right on the edge, but it was the best that I could do, and the view was amazing. I got out my Jetboil and began to make my second Mountain House and appreciated the lakes below, and the mountains in the distance. Although I was exposed in many ways, the wind was nonexistent. It was as if I was in my own utopia on the edge of the world. I enjoyed my dessert, journaled, and watched as the sun went down. Picture perfect, and I was witnessing it all. It made me feel bad for everyone else in the world in this moment who were not seeing what I was seeing. Even the other thru-hikers who chose shelters instead of places like this. It is so rewarding when you bust your ass to climb a mountain and then you get a view, and sunset reward. It was by far one of my favorite campsites and I decided to sleep for the second time without my rainfly to enjoy the stars. At this time, in a week; I will be preparing to climb Katahdin in the morning-crazy! My phone is only showing weather up until Wednesday, and until then looks great so I am crossing my fingers Saturday will be too. I can tell already that I am not level since I keep sliding down, and to the left; should be an interesting night. Once the sun went down, the wind picked up a little and the stars emerged. I couldn't keep my eyes open to wait so I rest them until one time I opened them and the sky was black with a million stars shining. There really is no place I rather be than stealth camping on the top of a mountain!

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