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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 136:  MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 12
 
Start: Deer Farm Campground/Kingfield, ME          
End:  Rest day
Today's Miles:                        -0-
Cumulative Miles:          2,006.2
Miles to go:                       168.7
   
 
"Fording the Kennebec is extremely hazardous.
Do not attempt to ford the river."
- written in bold type in "The Official Appalachian Trail Guide to Maine"
 


Fall is on its way, above. Maple leaves turning red.    9-8-0-5 along the  Appalachian Trail in Maine.

Blame it on the river.

I'm sitting in the camper on a beautiful sunny day, taking a (much-needed) rest day when I intended to keep going on the Trail to the finish without a break, barring bad weather.

OK, blame it on the weather.

When we went to bed last night around 9 PM, the wind had just started blowing with hard gusts that shook the camper. I could feel and hear it all night, even with ear plugs. There was no rain, just hard wind. I was hoping no trees would fall on our camper. This beautiful campground is full of trees.

The alarm went off at 4 AM, one of our earliest wake-ups. The next section of 17+ miles will take me through an area full of trees and bogs and lakes. Although there isn't much elevation change, it is slow because of all the mud and muck. I'll be under pressure to reach the end of the section on the other side of the Kennebec River before 4 PM, the absolute last time the ferry service provides a ride across the river each afternoon.

Mind you, there's no ferry as such. The ferry service uses a canoe to transport hikers back and forth across the river. Our campground hostess knows Steve Longley, the fella who usually mans the canoe. He used to stay in one of the cabins at Deer Farm. Steve is a Notre Dame graduate with a yen for the wilds of Maine, not working in some corporate office in a city.

The wind was still howling at 4 AM when the alarm sounded. My sleep-deprived mind raced. How safe would it be to run and hike through seventeen miles of woods when I've already been konked on the head by a branch on a windy day? And would Steve want to paddle his canoe back and forth across the wide Kennebec River in a high wind? What if I got there on time and he wasn't providing his service? It would mean back-tracking three miles to a dirt road that is forty miles out of Jim's way to pick me up (very few bridges cross the Kennebec).

We woke up and debated whether it was either safe or wise for me to run this section today. We aren't anywhere close to the trail head for the next section, so the options were do this one or take a day off. I asked Jim if he'd want to be out on the Trail in this wind. He said no.

So I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep!

Didn't happen. I laid there a total of nine hours and got maybe two hours of sleep the whole night, worrying about what to do and listening to the wind.

It was still windy when we got up at 7. Weather reports indicate it will be windy all day. A cold front is blowing in from Canada. I called the ferry service. Steve is in Portland, ME today, but another guy is planning to ferry hikers across the river unless the wind gets too strong.

So I'll give it a go tomorrow. Meanwhile, my knees can use the break. There has been a lot of elevation gain and loss the last seven days, and they are complaining.

That's it. Blame it on my Granny Knees.

(You'd be surprised how many of the young hikers complain about their knees hurting, too. Makes me feel a little better.)

TREE HEAVEN

The most ubiquitous sight along the Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, is trees. Yes, there are mountains and lakes and rivers, but trees are the common denominator from one state to the next. It's a long green tunnel when the leaves are out, a cool, shady respite.

Now we are at Tree Central.  Maine has a higher percentage of treed land than any other state in the U.S. Ninety percent of the land mass in Maine is treed, despite three centuries of intensive logging.

Below is a photo from September 6 showing some of the eighteen million acres of trees in Maine:

We are becoming quite aware of the importance of logging to the economy of Maine. We see about as many logging trucks on some of the roads here as we do passenger vehicles. They drive fast, even on dirt roads. The logging roads are our lifeline, providing access to trail heads in areas that are too long for me to run/hike in one day. Jim is becoming an expert in deciphering which unmarked logging roads to take at intersections.

In the first stage of logging in the 1700s and early 1800s, felled logs were transported by rivers during the spring run-off. The Kennebec was an important route. Rivers are no longer used for this purpose.

Methods of harvesting and processing spruce and pine in Maine have changed dramatically over the years with the development of mechanized equipment and the use of trucks and railroads to transport the lumber to mill sites. There are eighteen paper mills and numerous lumber and specialty product mills in Maine.

So far, I haven't seen much evidence of clearcuts along the Appalachian Trail or from the mountaintops. In some areas the trees are obviously younger, but pains have been made to route the Trail through densely forested areas. I'm curious to see what the "Hundred-Mile Wilderness" looks like in a few days, since logging is active in that area.

MAINE LOBSTER

Maine has an extensive shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean. This is the only part of Maine that I've previously seen. I have fond memories of eating delicious, freshly-caught Maine lobster, another important industry for the state.

So Jim said, "Let's find a restaurant that serves Maine lobster." Great!

Unfortunately, the campground owner says we won't find any around Kingfield. We'll have to wait until another town or on our way back home through a larger city.

NEW HAMPSTERS

We've had only one response to the question of what New Hampshire residents call themselves, and we're sorry we didn't think of it ourselves:

"New Hampsters," of course! Thanks, Harry.

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

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil