The Southbound couple from last night ended up camping at the top of the mountain by the sign for the view. I heard them snapping sticks and building a fire. They were up pretty late since I would occasionally still hear the snapping of the fire in the distance. Oh to be Southbounders, not worrying about making it to Katahdin in time; though I would not want to be headed into New Hampshire and Vermont right now either. I packed up and had no morning view of Katahdin since it was so foggy and cloudy. As I walked by their camp they were just getting up and moving for breakfast. I walked on and eventually came across one of my original planned stealth spots with a view of a quarry...needless to say the first image below is the view and there was no spot to camp. Another reason, everything happens for a reason. I walked beside a gorgeous flowing river towards me, that was filled with man made water slides, I have to come back to the wilderness some summer when it is hot. The terrain was flat with the occasional root or mud section, but mostly a bed of fall leaves. I can hear my feet still crunching on top of the fallen foliage. During my walk I came up on a gorgeous pine forrest, I am a sucker for this sight. There is something about the smell of pine, the openness, the giant trees in such an order that makes you feel so small, the quiet in which you could hear a pin drop, and the sponge like spring in every step on top of the pine needles. I came up to a shelter that had baseball bats for the flooring which was something I had not seen before, and just beyond the shelter was a sketchy bridge crossing. By bridge I mean two uneven logs places next to one another to walk across. Up until now the woods have been pretty good to me, coming up there was more roots for me to deal with but thanks to the trail maintainers there was also some nice dirt paths. It was like a red carpet for the woods. I was getting closer and closer to exiting the 100 Mile Wilderness and entering Baxter State Park. I sat on the side of the trail to eat lunch and air out my feet like I had the day before. I saw no one. Normally after sitting for 30 minutes or so you see at least one person. Continuing on, I planned to stealth camp at Rainbow Ledges with another view of Katahdin. Climbing up you always know when you are close to the top; the normal terrain turns to big rock and it is like walking on smooth ground. When I got there, I didn't see Katahdin. I looked and looked, and it was all rock slab so plenty of camping opportunities, but why stay up high in the wind if there is not a great view? I decided to keep walking, hoping to find a stealth spot further down in the woods. Walking down on my left was a big open area under a tree, it almost had a glowing effect with it's attraction. I set my pack down, walked further to make sure there wasn't a "real" stealth spot and when I found nothing I returned. It was right on the side of the trail and if a ranger or ridge runner were to see me, I would be told to walk on; but here is to hoping they don't! I set up my tent and hung my rainfly in the tree since it was still damp from the night before. I sat on a rock, put on my crocs, and boiled some water for dinner. I mixed up some Gatorade and then it started to get chilly so I ate inside my tent. I looked over my guide and noticed tomorrow I would be on the last page! Katahdin, the straight up elevation was in sight and soon I would be climbing it. Tomorrow night I would be staying at the Birches Campground and the following morning would be my ascent up Katahdin. I dumped out my food bag once more to monitor how I was doing on food. I organized it in a way that had an extra dinner at the bottom just in case, my lunch to bring up Katahdin next, dinner for tomorrow night, lunch for tomorrow, and tomorrow's breakfast on top. I also saved a clean shirt and socks for the big day. Lynn and I have gone back and fourth a few times and I have let her know my plans but it seems I am a few miles ahead of her each day, and then a couple more the next. I got in my big poofy sleeping bag and hoped I could fall asleep.
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