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 138:  WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14
 
Start: US 201/Caratunk, ME                                
End:  Moxie Pond Road
Today's Miles:                      12.2
Cumulative Miles:          2,035.6
Miles to go:                       139.3
   
 
"If you ever wonder why much of the Appalachian Trail in Maine
is wet, muddy or rocky, just imagine the weight and
abrasive action of 4.000 feet of ice grinding over the landscape."
 
- The Official Appalachian Trail Guide to Maine, p. 82
 


Open slate ledges on Pleasant Pond Mountain which were striated by glaciers

Tater swimming at south end of Moxie Pond.  9-14-05

One of the reasons I've come to terms with all the rocks along the AT is my interest in the geological forces that caused them to be there in the first place.

For example, I read last night about the striated slate bedrock on top of Pleasant Pond Mountain, which I climbed today. It is composed of rock called the Carrabassett Formation, which was formed 400 million years ago. Much later it was smoothed and scored by the last ice sheet that covered North America from 25,000 to 14,000 years ago.

I actually thought about that as I ran and walked across the slabs of slate on this mountain! The views of nearby mountains, valleys, and Pleasant Pond itself were pretty much obscured by low clouds so I focused on what I could see - the interesting rocks below my feet.

It's fascinating to learn about the geology, culture, and history of the areas through which we've traveled this summer.

Take the interesting names of some of the towns and features in Maine. Many of the names along the AT originated with the Abenaki Indian tribes that lived and hunted in these forests. These are some of the places we've already been; I'll include more as we come to them:

Androscoggin -- "a place where fish are cured," or "full of  fish"

Caratunk -- "forbidding or crooked stream"

Carrabassett -- "small moose place"

Kennebec -- "long level water without rapids"

Mahoosuc -- possibly "home of the hungry animals"

Mooselookmeguntic -- "portage to moose feeding place"

Moxie -- "dark water"

Oquossoc -- "slender blue trout"

AND A BIT OF HISTORY . . .

Yesterday's entry was so long, I deliberately left out some history regarding the photo and reference to Arnold Swamp. There was also an Arnold Point where I took a short side trail to a spit of land jutting out into West Carry Pond.

Both are part of the Arnold Trail, which the AT now follows for about two miles between Middle and West Carry Ponds. They are named after Benedict Arnold.

In 1775 General George Washington appointed Col. Benedict Arnold as commander of a detachment of 1,150 men whose mission was to cross the wilderness in Maine and Quebec and mount a surprise attack on the British stronghold of Quebec City.

The expedition left Cambridge, MA in September and followed the Kennebec River to the Dead River, very close to where we are now camped at The Forks. Then they turned west and followed the old Carry Ponds portage trail where I was hiking yesterday.

The weather conditions in this region of Maine were terrible and it took Arnold's men six weeks to slog through the swamps, bogs, and rivers in their heavy wooden boats. They didn't reach Canada until it was bitterly cold. The force was down to 700 men, and their eventual attack on the British was a dismal failure.

There is a novel by Kenneth Roberts, Arundel, which recounts this ill-fated march to Quebec. It might be of interest to ultra runners and other adventurers, as well as history buffs; I haven't read it.

MAINE HAS MOXIE!

You betcha - Moxie Pond, a very long, slender lake with many summer cabins lining its shores; Moxie Falls, one of the largest falls in the state; and Moxie Bald, which I get to climb tomorrow. Today I just went as far as Moxie Pond Road at the southern end of the lake.

Oh, and there is an official state soft drink also named "Moxie," derived from a patented syrup used medicinally for many years.

Really!

The map section I'm running and hiking now is 37 miles long between the Kennebec River/Caratunk and Monson. Today's segment was only twelve miles long because the next road access is over eighteen miles away. The terrain is rougher in this section than what I covered yesterday, so thirty miles was out of the question for me to cover in one day. It took me about five hours to do the first twelve miles, and that included very few stops.

One reason was the 2,200-foot gain over the first seven miles to the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain and over Middle Mountain. Over 1,100 feet of that was in the sixth mile - that will get your attention! It's good practice for Katahdin. Total gain was about 2,500 feet.

Then I gently rolled up and down to Moxie Pond, a net drop of 1,500 feet (total descent of about 1,900 feet). This wasn't anything epic by New Hampshire or Maine AT standards, but the footing was rugged enough over most of it to slow my pace. I was lulled into complacency by yesterday's easier footing and came back to reality today.

BUGS AND BOGS

It was a warm, muddy, buggy day on the Trail. I welcomed the cool wind when I finally got higher up on Pleasant Pond and Middle Mountains. At lower elevations in the deciduous forests the sky was overcast. It was a bit foggy as I rose into the sub-alpine zone of dry pines, mosses, and little red berries. I got above the clouds on top of the mountains at the whopping elevation of 2,500 feet.

Isn't it amazing that the sub-alpine zone here is around 2,000 feet and I can be on rocky outcroppings at only 2,500 feet and have great views?

Well, on a clear day there would be great views from there. Even though I was in the sun on top of Pleasant Pond Mountain I could barely see the namesake pond (lake) below me because of low clouds. As I descended to Moxie Pond I went through several short areas in the woods where it had rained this morning, then it would be completely dry a few feet later.

The second half of this section is more interesting than the first half. I followed sweet little Honey Brook <collective groan>  for about three miles early on but didn't take the time to run a side trail to the lean-to at Pleasant Pond. That probably would have made the first miles more interesting to me.

I really liked the rock formations on both mountains and the huge boulders going down the east side of Middle Mountain. There were some interesting "step" formations about four hundred feet wide that I've never seen before

A lean, tall, older gentleman who lives in the area, only the second hiker I saw on the Trail all day, was walking uphill toward me as I was taking this photo. I commented on how unique the rocks were and he agreed. "But I think it's these big, beautiful red spruce trees that keep me coming back here," he said.

We were about two miles from the road and he was continuing on further, all uphill. He looked to be in his eighties.

I loved the gift of inspiration he unknowingly gave me. I hope I can still climb mountains when I'm his age.

THERE'S MY CREW!

Jim and the dogs hiked in (uphill) about a mile to meet me at the end. I always love seeing them coming up the Trail to greet me. Both dogs were soaking wet from their swim in Moxie Pond. We ran up the road about half a mile to the parking area. The AT follows the road to that point and then returns to the forest at the southern end of the lake. That helped me whittle a bit of mileage off tomorrow's section. Jim threw sticks in the water for the dogs again and I got the photo of Tater above.

We drove north along narrow dirt Moxie Pond Road for about eight miles, right next to the long, slender lake. It is so beautiful, with little summer cabins all along the road. We haven't taken the time to see Moxie Falls yet, at the north end of the lake near the towns of Lake Moxie and West Fork.

We stopped on the way home at the Northern Outdoors lodge for lunch. Who should pull in right behind us but Charlie ("Charlie Brown") and Ed ("Steady Eddie") in their little blue crew car! I didn't know if I'd be seeing them again. They are a day behind me now, having just crossed the Kennebec this morning. Ed made the ferry ride by 11, but Charlie missed it. Since the river wasn't nearly as high as yesterday afternoon, he proudly forded it upstream where there are some sand bars (they were well under water when I was there yesterday). The water was only knee-deep, but the rocks were so slick that Charlie had difficulty remaining upright across the wide channel.

We all had lunch together, swapping Trail and crewing tales:

Ed from Minneapolis, MN, is in the middle and Charlie from somewhere in NJ is on the right. They plan to camp where we are tonight since the hostel down the road is closed temporarily. Both Charlie and Ed are married, both are recently retired, and both are having the time of their lives! I've really enjoyed talking with them several times.

When Jim and I got back to the campground, which we have almost all to ourselves, we walked over to the river to let the dogs swim again and get any mud off. This is the view from our camper, with the Kennebec in the background - one of the best campsites we've had yet!

Jim had fun kayaking on little Morgan Pond next to the lodge this morning but he got so wet he didn't want to do it again in the afternoon. It was a lot of work paddling from one end of the pond to the other and back. My arm's still sore from falling yesterday. I didn't want to paddle that hard so I didn't go kayaking when we got back. I spent part of the afternoon working on this entry while Jim did laundry.

Now it's time to fix supper. Gotta get to bed early for a long day on the Trail tomorrow. Since it's nearly dark here by 7 PM it's easy to go to bed early.

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

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil