Sunday, October 12, 2014

Day 177- The Most Perfect Unplanned Stealth Campsite

Last night I woke up at 11:30 (which felt like 2am) to go to the bathroom, and was wide awake. I think the excitement of Katahdin has hit subconsciously and it feels so unreal that in a couple of days I will be standing on top with the legendary sign. I still have my first journal from Neels Gap and haven't been writing in it every night, but I looked at the pages I had left last night and realized that there was the perfect amount to finish October 4th which was mind blowing. Then I realized September had 30 days and not 29. Luckily, I now decided to summit on the 3rd of October so we are back to having just enough pages to finish out my journey, weird! I also looked at the fact that my journey will end in 180 days, not 173 or 181 but an even 180. I got out of my tent to another gloomy day and walked the four or so miles to the spot where I had originally planned to stealth. There are many reasons I was meant to summit on October 3rd, but one great reason was the fact that I couldn't see Katahdin. There was a sign letting you know there would be a view of it, there was the lake, and all I saw was pure white nothingness. This reassured me that I made the right decision. Why sit all day and look at a mountain you cannot see when you could see it beautifully in a couple days. I smiled as I took a selfie with where Katahdin should be, and walked on. The walk continued on to be nothing short of greatness. My mind was racing with thoughts of people I've met, and what comes next; and the calming of the silent woods made me smile. I used the Sharpie that my Mom gave for the frisbees to write "You're doin great" on a blaze and then came up on a very un-natural thing. Here in the middle of the wilderness was a metal staircase to get you up on the bank from the river. Talk about an eye sore, though I did appreciate it! The rain held off today which was nice, and for the majority of the day I was walking alongside some river. It is always nice to break up the woods with a good river or stream every now and then. I stopped right on the trail for lunch and enjoyed a wrap and some cold Ramen. The blister on my big toe is getting bigger each day and more irritating. I have been taking off my shoes at lunch to let some air get to it. Any other time I would have heated up my safety pin and popped it to drain, but I didn't want to irritate it with only a few days left. The pressure of it is quite uncomfortable however. After lunch, I walked along a pond, and then across a beach which was cool. I wish it were summertime and I could just hang out at the sandy beach and swim all day, another time. Tonight I would be stealthing on top of a mountain which had a view of Katahdin and I was quite excited about this, as long as the weather cleared up a bit. The clouds started to part as I walked across the beach and it only got better from there. The last mile or so of my day was a slight incline and the sun actually came out at the end of the day. I was sweating as I climbed up this mountain to my camp spot. As I've said before, the downside to stealth camping is carrying your water. Luckily I would just have to carry it under a mile which wasn't bad. I worked my way up and stopped at a gorgeous clear spring for water. You could see crystal clear to the bottom and once in my Gatorade bottle there was no grudge yellow tinge to it. I walked with the water up the mountain sweating for the first time today, the climb paid off however. I got to the sign where it said "view of Katahdin" and saw someone standing by it. Hoping it wasn't a ranger, I said hello. I then realized I knew him, he had stayed at the cabin with me while I was there one of the nights. I asked if there was a spot to stealth camp and he said "yeah, as long as you are conservative about it." I walked down the blue blazed trail and found a great stealth spot. There was this circular dirt section before the rocks of the view which would be perfect. I didn't have a view of Katahdin from my tent, but I would take a good nights sleep to be on level ground. I set my tent up, dried out my sweaty clothes and wet rainfly, and prepared dinner. I peered at the opening in the trees and saw Katahdin off in the distance. From where I stood, it was a 16 mile line of sight viewing. I ate my dinner on the cold hard rocks to stare at the beauty of it all. There was a large lake in front down below and I could hear people talking all the way at the bottom. The skies were clear, and I thought it would be a perfect time to write more on the frisbee. I grabbed it and the Sharpie, and began to write; though the Sharpie was drying out and the writing was faded. Then it didn't work at all, great. I grabbed my journal and figured I would write in that instead, I got the first sentence or two and then my pen faded and stopped working, seriously!? I guess I wasn't meant to write the remainder of the trip. But I had to finish the frisbee. I accepted for now and just stayed in the present moment. The clouds rolled in partially covering Katahdin, and then for sunset (which was on the other side of the mountain) they blew away and left me with a pink mountain. It really didn't get better than this, I was sitting staring at a mountain I have been preparing and planning to climb for almost 6 months now. I heard people talking and getting closer and this worried me hoping it wasn't a ridge runner about to yell at me for stealth camping and tell me to keep moving. Luckily it was not, it was a couple who flip-flopped and had completed Katahdin a few days before. Nike (the woman) showed me her bruised chin and scratched up legs; seems she fell about 15 feet in front of the sign. Her chin looked really painful, she should have a fun time in the Whites. I told her that I hoped I don't get a souvenir like she got while up there. As soon as the sun set it got really cold and a little windy, I stayed for as long as I could before climbing into my tent and sleeping bag. I checked the weather to see that the next couple days would be perfect and Friday would be too! The thing I had been dreaming about for nights before was soon becoming my reality. In three days I would be climbing Katahdin!

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