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 147:  FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
 
Start: Pollywog Stream/logging road                    
End:  Abol Bridge/Baxter State Park
Today's Miles:                      17.4
Cumulative Miles:          2,159.8
Miles to go:                         15.1
   
 
"It must be a real thrill to finally be in Katahdin's shadow. Congratulations to both of you. The last several weeks have been a real thrill to read.  Thanks for putting so much work into your journal; it has made this summer a lot more fun at work.  Again - good job, and you have a lot to be proud of."
 
- e-letter from one of our good ultra running friends
 


Boulder crossing over Hurd Brook. Can you see why this would be tough to cross when high water covers the boulders??   9-23-05

View from our camper toward Penobscot River.

Don't you guys have anything better to do at work than read my journal???

Just kidding.

I've teased my cousin about that, too. I'm jealous because I didn't have an internet connection on my computer at work (before I retired) so I could do the same thing!

Several folks have written that they read the entries during their coffee or lunch break every day. Others take time from their busy lives to read it at home. I'm happy so many people have enjoyed it; we never dreamed that word would spread so far and we'd be hearing from folks all over the world.

Yes, Gary, it is a thrill to be in Katahdin's shadow. And today we literally are. Jim moved the camper to the Abol Bridge Family Campground and I can see the mountain a few miles away as I type this entry. Jim has a great knack for finding super camp sites, doesn't he?

The Abol Bridge spans the wide Penobscot River where Abol Stream merges with the river. Our camper is twenty feet from the little lake formed at the confluence (second photo above); the bridge is about 200 feet away.

When I walked across the bridge this afternoon at the end of the section, I admired the river, looked for our camper, and . . .

WOW!!!

There was Katahdin, almost close enough to reach out and touch!!

I had no clue we could see the mountain from this campground. A couple days ago when we drove up here to check out the place, it was overcast and we didn't drive all the way down to this site.

It was a great surprise for both of us today.

STILL PARANOID

Last evening when I signed off I wasn't sure how much mileage I would do today. By the time I went to bed, I decided to run and hike just 17.4 miles and end at this campground. Rain was predicted and I was just too tired to consider doing 27 miles without knowing how rugged the Trail would be.

Rain woke me up at 4:30 AM. I wanted to sleep until 6:30, but couldn't get back to sleep. I was worrying about the creeks. One week after my trauma in flooded rivers, and I'm still paranoid about any amount of rain resulting in dangerous levels of water again!

I'm not the only one. "Kokomo," who wanted to quit last Saturday after nearly drowning in the Big Wilson River, is back on the Trail but still understandably leery of any creek crossing.

Hurd Brook was my hurdle today, one of those streams the AT guide warns hikers about when full. It was fourteen miles into the section, meaning I wouldn't get there for a while.

What if there was so much rain in the area that I'd have trouble getting across it?

So about 5:30 AM I roused Jim and said I wanted to get going earlier. Wonderful husband and crew that he is, he immediately got up and started making my breakfast. Bless him! Even with putzing around on the Trail taking photos and finding places for Cody to swim, I was done by 2:30 PM and could enjoy the beautiful views from our campsite the rest of the afternoon.

The rain stopped about the time I hit the Trail at 7:20 AM. The sun peeked out of the clouds a bit, then it started raining off and on for a couple hours.

Finally by late morning the sun was shining for good, just in time to see the views of Katahdin and other mountains from the highest point, Rainbow Ledges.

This was another section full of big and little creeks and lakes, all interesting and beautiful. If you don't mind lots of roots, rocks, and mud, it would make a great hike. There were a few places I could run, but not very long each time.

RAINBOWS GALORE

The AT follows lively Rainbow Stream for about two miles near the beginning of the section. It has an abundance of cascades, sluices, and waterfalls. I knew I was going to have to cross it eventually. Fortunately, the crossing was at a calmer spot and was no problem.

Rainbow Stream is the outlet for large Rainbow Lake and several smaller lakes called Rainbow Deadwater (they were very still). The AT follows these lakes for seven miles, sometimes very close to the water. Even though the sun was out by the time I got to the large lake, the wind really kicked up, causing waves and whitecaps.

One or more float planes with pontoons flew over the lake about every thirty minutes, breaking the serenity of the woods through which I was hiking. I'm guessing the plane was from a local business that offers rides in this area to customers.

The driest spot today was the four-mile section that included Rainbow Mountain and Ledges. It was also the main blip on the profile map, a gradual climb of about 600 feet and descent of 800 feet. I enjoyed the smooth rock slabs on top, one of the best places to run today. The MATC has installed some nice rock steps on the north side of the mountain, the only "civilized" touch on today's course.

Hurd "Brook" (more like three creek channels) was full of large boulders that I was able to successfully rock-hop. The water between them was deep enough for Cody to swim in. It definitely would be difficult in high water. I included a photo of it at the top of this page. Just imagine trying to cross that stream if the water was so high you couldn't see the boulders. My first Little Wilson crossing was similar last weekend.

The only other major stream was the West Branch of the Penobscot River, which I crossed on a highway bridge at the very end of the section. The Trail does not follow the river south of the bridge.

This is a very cool photo Jim took tonight of a fisherman in the Penobscot River near our campsite:

 

FALL IS IN THE AIR

Most of this section is at or near the 1,000-foot level. This far north, that means lots of pine and birch trees, bright green moss, and ferns. A bit lower, red maples are coloring the forest orange and red, and large bog ferns are turning brown. It is autumn now.

The winds today are bringing with them a cold front. Instead of 50s in the mornings, we may have frost tonight. Since we arrived in Maine we've enjoyed warmer than normal temperatures. One of the TV weather guys in Bangor joked recently that Maine has two seasons: three months of summer and nine months of winter. Guess it's time for winter now.

I mentioned recently that Jim and I were struck by the fact that we are so far north in Maine that part of Canada is west of us, not just north. Then he pointed out to me that part of Canada is also south of us now.

Good thing we'll be going home soon - the snow's about to fly up here!

MOTHER NATURE'S AWESOME CREATIVITY

I took the time today to take several photos of interesting fall leaves, little spruce trees growing on top of boulders, BIG spruce trees whose roots are wound all around boulders, and little ferns growing like hair on top of boulders the size of dump trucks.

One of my "post" entries will probably include smaller scenes from nature like this. Jim thinks I've "arranged" some of the nature photos, like a bright red maple leaf that fell perfectly on top of a larger green leaf, but I haven't. I could never create a composition as well as Mother Nature does. I sometimes spot unusual or especially beautiful nature scenes and just stop short, even if I'm running. Not much has escaped me on the Trail.

Well, except moose. I never have seen the classic moose-in-the-pond-with-dripping-grass-in-its-mouth pose. We saw three large moose crossing the logging road this morning as we drove to the trail head, two cows and a bull with a magnificent rack. He was last. I fumbled getting the camera out of my pack and missed a great shot of him standing in the middle of the road, looking at us. Jim had a near-miss with another moose on his way back to the camper.

So we've seen lots of "road" moose, but only a few "trail" moose. Maybe tomorrow . . .

MORE NATIVE AMERICAN NAMES

Here are two more colorful Abenaki names of places in today's section:

Abol: short for Aboljackarnegassic, "bare, devoid of trees"

Penobscot: "descending ledge place" or "the rocky river" (also name of major Native American group in this area)

TRAIL FOLKS

I saw "Chainsaw" at the Rainbow Stream Lean-to this morning. He and "Just John" were the only shelter occupants last night; neither has seen "49er" yet.

We talked about who was summitting Katahdin and when. Chainsaw said there is a large group that is one or two days behind us because of the high water last week; they were ones who got stuck behind the Wilson rivers, such as "The Honeymooners," "Patch," "Giggles," "Box o' Fun," "Skywalker," "Charlie Brown," and "Steady Eddie." Apparently the water was even higher on Sunday morning, the day after I went through.

Double wow. I can't imagine those rivers being even worse than when I saw them!

I caught up to "Just John" a little ways up the Trail. He's very concerned about "49er." He and Chainsaw both said thank you again for the Trail Magic that Jim has been providing. It was especially appreciated in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness and Jim had lots of fun helping out the hikers.

"Fido" and his parents were camped near us last night at Upper Jo-Mary Lake. Jim saw them again this morning. Fido's a bit behind me.

At the second shelter I read the entries from several hikers ahead of me. Most hikers' entries included e-mail and web journal addresses for friends behind them, well-wishes, and reminiscences of the Trail. I wrote a longer entry than usual and also included this web address. Since I haven't formed close friendships with any of the hikers I don't know if there will be any correspondence after we're through, but I'd like to congratulate as many as I can.

Here at our current campground are "Buffet" and "Goat." They plan to hike the remaining 9.9 miles from Abol Bridge to the base of Katahdin tomorrow, then summit on Sunday. We enjoyed getting to know them a little better this afternoon. They are also retired.

"Stumblefoot," "Kokomo," "Bigfoot," and "Clinton" are also camping here. I've seen Clint on the Trail a few times but didn't know his name until this evening.

Pictured in the photo below are (L to R) Jim, Sue, Bigfoot, Kokomo, and Stumblefoot (Kathy) at the campground, with Abol Creek and Mt. Katahdin in the background:

During my hike today I made a decision based on the forecast for a perfect sunny day tomorrow and rain Sunday afternoon: Jim and I will summit tomorrow morning (5.2 miles of the reputed worst climb on the AT) and come back down (another 5.2 miles that don't "count"). Then I will "walk home" southbound - run and hike the 9.9 miles between Katahdin Stream Campground (the base of the mountain) and Abol Bridge, where we are camped.

Then I will be DONE!!!!

"Kokomo," "Bigfoot," and "Clinton" liked the idea so much, they plan to do the same. They'll ride with us because Kathy's RV is too big to enter Baxter State Park.

For the direct link to our Katahdin page (also on the topics page), click here. There is a very graphic elevation profile of the last 50K of the Appalachian Trail, including the 17+ miles I did today, as well as interesting information about the mountain and its history and more photos.

I got teary-eyed after reading the sentiments of several hikers in the last trail register I read today. Despite being very tired and wanting to go home, I will miss being on the Trail. One more day to enjoy it!

Off to bed very early,

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

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2005 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil