"LB" is an adaptable young man. I believe the ability to adapt and be
flexible in life leads to a lot more happiness than being inflexible and too
When I started this adventure run I listed three "rules" for myself:
1. don't get injured, 2. have fun, and 3. be adaptable and flexible.
Both Jim and I have had plenty of opportunities to invoke Rule #3, almost
on a daily basis, as we've reacted to the weather, my injuries and need to rest,
and other factors that affect the mileage I do, where we camp, etc.
Yesterday I wrote that I was planning to go back to Big Wilson River and
start today's section there. This would mean hiking an extra 3½ miles just to
say I'd followed the white blazes the entire way.
I changed my mind this morning. I decided to be more flexible, I guess you
could say. I already did the "legal" high-water by-pass of Big Wilson on
Saturday. In fact, I did more than double the mileage I skipped today on
the Trail, I crossed two extra flooded streams, and had to bushwhack to get to
the bridge. I think that more than covers me.
Early this morning Jim drove me up the rough jeep road we found yesterday
that put me within four-tenths of a mile of the AT, a little past Big Wilson
River. We woke up to a full moon - a nice surprise after two days of clouds. I
loved being in the sunshine all day, even though the Trail was still very wet
from all the rain Friday and Saturday.
Exposed rocks were dry on top of all five
mountains I climbed today in the Barren-Chairback Range, but rocks and roots in
the woods were still wet and slick. I wasn't able to run much. Even walking was
tough after that deluge.
The bedrock in much of the area from the West Branch of the Piscataquis Rive
(near Monson) through the Barren-Chairback Range is composed of Silurian slate,
an unusually dark form of slate. According to the AT guide this is an
exceptionally fine-grained slate that is used in the building trade (think slate
foyer or stepping stones) and as the memorial marker for the John F. Kennedy
grave site in Arlington National Cemetery.
Many quarries remain in the Monson area. We've seen stacks of slate for sale
at home building stores and garden centers in the area.
The stone is beautiful in every form I've seen it on the Trail - flat,
rounded, whole walls in gorges, and grooved on open ledges at the top of today's
mountains: Barren, Columbus, Chairback, Third, and Fourth.
And it's slicker than ice in nearly every form, even if it's not wet.
Remember that if you ever use it for flooring or as stepping stones! We
inherited some slate stepping stones when we bought our Virginia house. They
look nice but they're hazardous.
This was an interesting section of Trail - frustrating because of the
difficult footing, but definitely interesting because of the variety of terrain.
There are mountains, hardwood forests, pine forests, ponds, bogs, ledges,
cliffs, boulder fields, scree, and numerous views of surrounding mountains,
lakes, and valleys.
This is a view of Long Pond from Third Mountain (don't you just love that
Even though the main peaks are all under 3,000 feet, this section of Trail
involves significant gain and loss of elevation, some of it quite steep.
largest gain was 2,040 feet from Long Pond Stream to the peak of Barren Mountain
(elev. 2,660'). Total gain was about 4,650 feet. The largest descent was 1,580
feet from the summit of Chairback down to the West Branch of the Pleasant River.
Total loss was approximately 4,600 feet.
FEAR AND LOATHING
I had to overcome some fear of flooded streams today, after Saturday's
stressful experience. There were several creeks early in the section that
concerned me, including Vaughn Stream and Long Pond Stream.
Jim saw both of them on Saturday when they were flooded and very difficult to
cross. He chose not to cross Vaughn when he was first planning to meet me at Big
Wilson River. "Bigfoot" crossed with difficulty while Jim watched. We saw Long Pond Stream
yesterday as we traveled to that trail head and it still looked like it had a
Remember how I've mentioned before that I love running or walking next to
creeks on the Trail? Now when I hear a creek or falls coming up I cringe in
fear, worried that I'll have a difficult crossing because there are so few
bridges across streams in Maine.
Long story short, I got across every creek just fine today, including Long
Pond. Yes, the current was strong but I went upstream where it was wider, more
shallow, and not as wild. The water came up to mid-thigh height. I went slowly
and made it across OK. Vaughn and the other creeks were lower and easier to
I ended at the West Branch of the Pleasant River today so I could see what it
looks like. In the morning, I have to cross it immediately. Although it is about
100 feet wide, it was only calf deep today. Barring rain tonight, it should be
I played leap-frog this afternoon with "LB," noted above, and "To-Phat"
(pronounced TO-Fat with a long "O"), only getting ahead of them while they stopped for breaks. I
found "Buffet" and "Goat" reading and snacking on one of the ledges with a view
and talked to them about "Kokomo" and the flooded streams.
Jim saw "Chainsaw," "LB," and another hiker when he came in to meet me on the
Trail. He left a dozen soft drinks and some snacks on KI Road, where he parked
and everything was gone when he returned. We're hoping it was thru-hikers who
got the goodies. They need them more than ever now, in the Hundred Mile
Wilderness, because it'll be days before they can re-supply.
He also talked with
"Bigfoot" and his crew person ("Stumblefoot") at the parking lot. They asked
him if he'd seen "Kokomo." They hadn't heard from him since Saturday and had no
clue he'd returned to Monson after his near-drowning in the Big Wilson River.
Jim told them what Kokomo told me and they were finally able to contact him in Monson.
They'll pick him up there. Apparently he's changed his mind and will return to
the Trail again. I'm glad he'll be back.
Sometimes you just have to take a little time to regain your courage before you
get back on the horse that threw you.
Jim was busy taking photos today, too. He visited two lakes (Spectacle Pond
and East Chairback Pond) with Cody. I believe this is a photo
of East Chairback Pond:
I love this colorful photo he took of laundry drying on this porch of a house
near Monson. Look how orderly everything is!
I have a 21-mile run/hike planned tomorrow, getting up to 3,650
feet on Whitecap Mountain, the highest I've been in a while. And it might rain!
Oh, dear . . .