As the rain drums down on the outer rain cover of the tent, I curl up in my sleeping bag and listen to it. Just beyond, the South Carrabassett River makes it’s own sounds. I am tented on the north bank of the river, and am very glad that my hanging food bag is waterproof. The sounds of guitar music and conversation are drifting over from one of the other tents clustered here as well.
So, today. Let’s see. The first 13-miler I have been able to do in a while. I started out about 7:15, after chatting online with the bro. I rockhopped several streams; Maine is full of ponds and streams, which is great for thirsty hikers.
Then I climbed Lone Mountain, which is amazingly unique in that it had an ‘up’, but no real ‘down’. I stayed at pretty much the same altitude for a while, which made for easy walking. Yesterday, Maine felt like New Hampshire; today, it felt like Vermont, with Pennsylvania accents – a lot of pine forest and pine trail, with sharp, pointy rocks akin to PA’s thrown in for good measure.
Spaulding Mt. was nothing major either. Just a bit of up and down enough to make it’s point that it is a mountain. Just before climbing it though, is a shelter, and I stopped here to eat a real, honest lunch, instead of just snacks. It was 1:30, and I’d already covered 8 miles, so I gave myself a good break, and re-energized with real good.
And then there was Sugarloaf. And only two miles to go to the tenting area. Maine reasserted it’s utter Maineness during the first mile – rocks, roots, mud, and water.
And as for the second mile? Well, I envisioned something like this:
(Scene: Maine Appalachian Trail Club meeting. Present are four MATC trail maintainers, and a case of beer. Agenda: determining the course of the trail from Sugarloaf to the South Carrabassett River.)
1st MATC member: “I know! I know! Let’s make it over this section, where they will have to somehow make it down the tallest boulders imaginable! We can get them out of the trees and onto exposed cliffs and sheer dropoffs here, here, and HERE!”
(1st MATC member jabs at the map on the table at several points, and gulps a beer.)
2nd MATC member shakes his head and speaks up: “Not good enough! Why don’t we throw in a really bizarre U-Turn when they least expect it, and make them climb back up again for a while, before bringing them back to the exposed areas where the winds can all but blow their hats off?”
(Applause fills the room. Everyone has another beer.)
3rd MATC member, thoughtfully: “You know, the boss really likes rock steps, he’s going to insist we add a few. We could do it after the really terrifying part, lull them into thinking it’s all over, y’know?”
(Someone spills beer on the map. A pause while a new map is brought in.)
4th MATC member is giggling drunkenly, claps his hands for attention. “Fine, rock steps, but make sure they can both see and hear the river below… Then make them meander forever, even go back up again before finally… Hey, pass me another beer!”
Yep, that is what I was imagining for the last mile. /Finally/ reached the river, crossed, was able to get the tent up and eat a quick, no-cooking dinner before the rain started. My food bag is hanging out there – I hope nothing gets into it.
Tomorrow, Stratton is only 8 miles away, but I have to climb North and South Crocker Mts. first, and now they will be wet. Blech. I’ll just have to be extra careful. And I’ll be carrying a wet tent. Double blech.
I hike on!