Back in the tent, I had a much better sleep than I had in the comfortable bed at the hostel in Caratunk. Odd, but true… When I roused enough to check the time, it was 5:30! Time to get up and on the trail… But I lingered until 6, before beginning to pack up.
Arriving at a shelter or campsite these days, I have the same routine, since I have come to prefer tenting to staying in a shelter, despite the extra time it takes. My backpack is packed accordingly. At the very bottom lie the clothes bag, then on top of that, the stuff sack holding my sleeping pad. Since both are very compressible, having them at the bottom frees up more space; also, they are non-essential for setting up camp, so it is good to have them out of the way. The bag holding the cooking gear fits in nearly next to the sleeping pad. The two things that always take up the most space are the tent and the food bag. These go on top, nestled next to each other – it is much easier when the food bag is almost empty, of course. Tent poles and stakes are stored separately, in a long side compartment on the pack, not inside the main.
But, back to the routine. After finding as good a tent spot as I can (tonight, mine is sloped, but relatively rock and root free), the tent body, which is mostly all mesh, gets set up. If the weather cover is dry, I immediately put it over the tenr; otherwise I stretch it out to dry while I make supper. After eating, I toss a variety of gear into the tent: sleeping bag, air pad, toilet paper, headlamp, clothes bag, and the ever-handy fleece jacket. Rarely anything more, nothing less. Certainly never any food.
The tent, when fully set up, has two triangle-shaped vestibules. The now mostly empty pack fits neatly under the left side vestibule, the right one shields my crocs and boots from any bad weather. Cooking gear and the snack bag get stuffed into the waterproof food bag, which I hang from a convenient tree well away from the tent, or, as ronight, from the mouse-proof hangers in the shelter. Trekking poles just spend the night leaning against a tree.
Why am I telling you all this? I’m not sure. I feel logistical tonight – not a bad turn of mind, considering organization is going to be needed tomorrow and the next day!
But, about today’s hike. Immediately on leaving the riverside where I was camped, the trail began climbing 2 miles to the summit of Moxie Bald Mt. However, this was mostly all ‘sidewalk’ – a narrow strip of path where the sod was gone, leaving just bare rock. It was not a hard climb, and the views from the top were lovely. I got at least one good pic. I ran into a freshman orientation group from Colby College, and cheerfully took some group photos for them before continuing on.
The descent wasn’t hard either, I made good time. Not as good as yesterday’s, but quite decent! Sometimes the path was soft pine needles, sometimes it followed an old stream bed and was all rocks – did not care for the latter. Still made great time.
I stopped for a break about 2:30 at Marble Brook, a lively little stream with a pebbly shoulder. Very idyllic! I had only 3.5 miles to go to the next shelter, which would make it a 13 mile day, and I intended to go past and make it a 15 mile day. At least.
Well, that 3.5 mile stretch was supposed to follow a river. It did… But sometimes it got bored with staying right next to the river, and for no apparent reason would climb 100 or 200 feet up the side of the river gorge, follow a narrow sandy path high above for a while, then pop right back down as if nothing had happened. It was okay the first or second time, but after the sixth, it was getting tiring and time was marching in.
I hit the shelter at 5:00, which was plenty of time to do at least 2 more miles, but I was tired – sat and ate a beef stick while I pondered what to do. In the end, I ended up staying. Which means I will have to do a 9 mile day tomorrow, not quite the nearo I planned, but I’ll live. 9 miles isn’t that bad.
I hike on!