That's probably the most classic Appalachian Trail quote there is. I used the last part in one of my
prep entries. The entire passage deserves repeating now that I'm in Maine.
I forgot to mention yesterday in the section about the history of the AT in
Maine that much of the original trail was designed and built in haste at a time
when manpower limitations and the desire to push it through to Katahdin left
little alternative. Much of the early AT in Maine followed old logging roads and
low terrain. (Hey, that would have been easier to run, huh?)
The Trail has been almost totally relocated in Maine in the intervening years
so it features the beautiful mountains, forests, lakes, bogs, rivers, and
streams in the region. As in other states, relocations are continually being
made to enhance the experience for hikers and prevent erosion and damage to the
Today's ten-mile section traveled through deep green forests and past several
large creeks and waterfalls, scenery for which Maine is renowned. There aren't
many summer views from the low mountains in this segment, so I enjoyed the shade
and serenity of the "green tunnel" as I passed through the pretty woods, the
scent of pine permeating the warm air.
There are a few leaves and ferns here and there that are starting to turn
their fall colors but the woods are still mostly green. It seems a bit warm for
this far north in September - 80s in the valley and pretty warm in the
2,000-3,000-foot range where I was today. It was 49 degrees again at the start,
with fog in the valleys but clear above 2,000 feet.
Even though the trail surface was pretty rough all day (rocks, roots, lots of
mud), I made a little better time than yesterday - 5:30 hours. I didn't have
panoramic views to delay my progress today, as I did on Baldpate yesterday! I
was able to run only about a mile today; the trail surface was just too gnarly
to walk very fast, let alone run.
I met the two young ladies above at the Hall Mountain lean-to halfway through
my hike. I went southbound today to minimize the steep downhills I would have
had going north, and was looking forward to the last five miles that were mostly
downhill, a gradual 1,500-foot drop. I mentioned to "Giggles" that I hoped I
could run some of it.
She'd just walked up that five miles. She looked at me and rolled her eyes,
saying, "Yes, maybe for about twelve feet at a time!" I don't know if she's a
runner, but her perception of what's runnable matches mine. She was right; there
were some spots to run but not for more than a few feet at a time!
WET AND WILD
Just down from the trail head I got a chilly wake-up fording my first large
creek of the day, Black Brook. I'd rather get my feet and legs wet than slip off
wet rocks, so I was up to my knees in water right away. Although there was a
rope across the creek, it was so loose that it was pretty non-functional. I used my trekking pole for
stability and got across this creek and several others just fine.
I wore my new Montrail Highlines today and they dried off quickly after each
dousing. They have the same sole as the Hardrocks I've been wearing this whole
trek but they feel lighter, more like Leona Divides. They were very comfortable on
After fording Black Brook I had a steep 1,030-foot climb up Moody Mountain
in a little over one mile. As there are few sissy bridges in New Hampshire and
Maine, there are also few sissy switchbacks up these hills! How can a mere
2,440-foot summit wear me out so much? (Um, large steps up rocks through tangled
Getting up Moody, however, was much preferable to getting down the other
side, one of the worst downhill sections I've run into on the AT. Not only was
it steep, it also had very rugged footing, lots of large step-downs, wooden ladders,
and several metal hand- and foot-holds (see photo below) on nearly-vertical
walls of rock. The only way I could go down the metal "steps" was to do it
I went southbound today to avoid having TWO downhills like this. It's easier
for me to go UP this type of terrain.
My reward at the bottom of the mountain was beautiful Sawyer Creek, then a
second interesting cascading creek I followed up the equally-steep hill to the
top of Hall Mountain and the shelter there. On the way up this mountain I met
six adult hikers and thirteen teen-aged hikers going north; none were
"Giggles" had just arrived at the shelter when I got there. We talked a few
minutes as I shed some clothes and signed the register, the first one I've
signed in Maine. Giggles and her friend, "Box o' Fun," hail from New York, where
they live near the AT. I met "Fun" a bit down the Trail. I believe I saw them at
Pine Grove Furnace in PA and just caught up to them again.
Together, they are called "The Laugh Factory."
Jim talked with the women at Speck Pond on Saturday when they asked him if
he'd seen their cousin on the Trail. As soon as I said my trail name, they
mentioned talking to Jim. He gets to meet about as many hikers as I do.
There were only two more brief climbs the remaining five miles; the rest was
downhill. To my complete amazement the Trail didn't go over the summit of Wyman
Mountain but traversed its west side instead. I saw the "Honeymooners" going
north in this section. They're making good time. Two miles from the end I passed
by Surplus Pond, another pretty mountain lake.
Total elevation gain today was about 3,165 feet, loss 3,240 feet.
My closest animal encounter today was with a flock of grouse. Previously I've
only seen one at a time. This time six or seven flew up in sequence as I passed
their nests, as if they'd synchronized their act.
Oh, and I saw the first moose poo I've seen in Maine so far, but no moose.
The acorn-sized pellets were pretty dried out so I didn't look too hard for the
This was a bonus day for seeing thru-hikers and sectioners. When I arrived at
East B Hill Road I found "Captain America" sitting on the same rock I used
yesterday to wait for Jim. He just finished the section I did yesterday.
"Captain" was most anxious to see how I'd done on Saturday. I talked with him
and "Shatter," a caretaker, shortly before going through Mahooosuc Notch.
Neither could believe I was tackling so many miles on such tough terrain.
"Captain" asked me what time in the morning I finished. Ha! I informed him I
finished at 9 PM, not AM. He was impressed. (He was equally impressed that Jim
came in six miles to run and hike out with me.)
As we were talking, who should appear across the road but "Buffet" and
"Goat," an older couple I met 'way back in VA or MD. (It's funny. I can
remember exactly what the Trail looked like when I met most hikers I've talked
to, but I can't remember which state it was!!)
I'd seen their trail register comments for the last few weeks but couldn't
seem to catch them. Now I'm less than a day ahead. They said hi, mentioned
seeing Jim at Crawford Notch recently, then caught a ride to Andover,
a popular stop-over for thru-hikers. They were going in to get some lunch, then
hitch a ride back to the Trail to continue on this afternoon. I hope I see them
again so we can talk more.
"Captain" was waiting for his ride to a B & B in Andover. When the owner came
to pick him up he graciously offered both of us some lemonade. Trail magic!
After a few more minutes a man about my age drove up, parked his car in the
nearby lot, and walked down to talk to me. He was part of the group of four
older men I met yesterday before the shelter where the hiker was still asleep at
10 AM (yes, they woke him up!).
Turns out he was today's designated driver for the group of five men who are
hiking the Trail in Maine this summer. That sounded familiar, so I asked about "Hokie
Hiker." Turns out he was yesterday's designated driver, which is why I
didn't see him then. Soon "Hokie" and the other three men in the group popped
out of the woods; they'd just hiked my section southbound, the same way I did.
I don't remember the other men's names but they were most helpful with
information about the Trail north of here, including the Hundred-Mile
Wilderness. They had a copy of great information about road access, since they
were crewing each other, and told us where to get it - at The Cabin.
I'd heard of The Cabin in Jan "Liteshoe's" trail journal. It's a hostel or B
& B near Andover. We called their number and asked if we could get a copy of the
access information. "Bear" and "Honey," the couple who run the place, suggested
we come by and talk since we were close by. We spent about half an hour with
them and gained very valuable information about the rest of the Trail.
Hikers can stay in their bunk rooms or choose a small camper out in the yard.
They generously invited us to move our camper to their yard but we declined
since Jim's going to
move it to a state park closer to my next three trail heads tomorrow.
We discovered that "Charlie Brown" and "Steady Eddie" are staying in one of
the campers at The Cabin, as did the group of five men from TN ("Hokie's" gang).
Charlie and Eddie weren't back yet.
We also missed Warren and Terry Doyle, who summitted Katahdin on Sept. 4 as
planned but skipped a section near Speck Pond that they are hiking today. I
believe "Singapore" and "Miss Wiggy" also finished. This is the crewed group
that began the same day I did. I met them early on, then never could keep up
their pace. I'm so glad they all finished!
After I got cleaned up and ate some soup we went to the campground office
and used our new Wi-Fi card on the computer to look up more information about
logging road access, campgrounds, crossing the Kennebec River, and summitting
Katahdin. Jim's already done a lot of research from information Diana and Regis
Shivers sent us from their 2003 AT run. We are so appreciative of everyone's
information in this regard since road access is a big deal in the wilds of