APPALACHIAN TRAIL ADVENTURE RUN

   
       
Jim, Sue, Cody, and Tater at Springer Mtn., start of the Appalachian Trail Adventure Run

 

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Runtrails' 2005 AT Journal
 
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DAY 130:  TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6
 
Start: S. Arm Rd.                                               
End:  East B Hill Rd./Andover, ME
Today's Miles:                      10.1
Cumulative Miles:          1,928.5
Miles to go:                       246.4
   
 
"To those who would see the Maine wilderness, tramp day by day through a succession of ever delightful forest, past lake and stream, and over mountains, we would say: Follow the Appalachian Trail across Maine. It cannot be followed on horse or a wheel. Remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, lonely for contemplation, it beckons not merely north and south but upward to the body, mind, and soul of man."
 
- Myron H. Avery, "In the Maine Woods" (1934)
 


"Giggles" (above) and "Box o' Fun" (below), two strong, enthusiastic young women who are almost done with their AT thru-hike. 9-6-05

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 environment.

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 this section.

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 roots, perhaps?)

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 backwards.

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 thru-hikers.

"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 moose.

MORE THRU-HIKERS

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.

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 Maine.

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil