Okay, so this post will cover the two weeks in southern Maine. Therefore it will either be not detailed or very long. Or somehow both. Lets see how it goes.
After the 100 Mile Wilderness I spent a full zero day (no miles hiked) in the small town of Monson. There was a small grocery store and a gas station with food serving. But where all the action happened was at Shaw’s. A hiker hostel, well acclimatized to the needs and wishes of hikers. Showers, laundry, beds, loaner clothes, entertainment, food serving, resupply options and even a well stocked gear store. A fairly easy place to spend the day.
Everyone made it there and we had a great day sitting around on the grass drinking beer, walking back and forth to the gas station for pizza. It was one big gathering of southbounders. I’m gonna namedrop everyone, even though it means nothing to most of you reading this. Jenni (now Spirit), OTB, Earth Surfer, Kabra, WhiteBread, Barefoot, Sincerity, Marcus, Tinkerbell, Lars (zoomed by us in the 100 Mile) and Tomato.
Me, Spirit, Sin and Tomato got on the early shuttle back to trail the next day. It was a full day of flat walking, otherwise unheard of for Maine. A north bounder set up a trail magic station with drinks, food, snacks, fruit and a bunch of other goodies. Thanks for that Conan!
My foot was hurting a lot at this point. Probably from the minimal shoes I wore, combined with the uneven terrain. I was even worried that I had broken my foot. I had a really bad day because of it. Every step felt rough. I made it to the tiny town (might even be considered a village) of Caratunk early morning. Resupplied at the hostel there and left as soon as I could.
The trail crosses the Kennebec River, the widest ford on the trail. But fording it is not recommended because its more like swimming. Luckily there is a guy in a canoe who takes people across.
I made it to West Carry Pond Lean to in the afternoon, went for a swim in the pond (it’s a lake, Maine just likes calling everything a pond) and made a fire. Tomato made it there right after me and we were shortly joined by several northbounders. Spirit got there a little later and suddenly we were a big group sitting by the fire. One of the northbounders sat in the lean to, playing somber music on his ukulele. And just like that, a bad day had turned into a good one. Sometimes all it takes is some good company.
The day after started out great but went south quickly (I’ll try to not overdo it with puns like these, I promise). The first climb of the day had me more or less lifting my legs with my arms to make it up the mountain.
Later in the day, after countless stumbles and sighs, I drank some coffee and began the biggest and last climb of the day. About 2000 ft straight up. And you know what, I’m not sure if exhaustion had turned into stubbornness or if I was just high on caffeine, but I flew up that mountain. The further up I got, the better I was feeling. Until 45 minutes later, I stood at the top of Bigelow Avery peak. Drenched in sweat but with a big smile on my face.
That evening I met a group of overnight hiker who offered us dinner and company. We sat there, exchanging stories as the sun set. The campground is located between two peaks, and tents are set up on wooden platforms. It felt as if we were camping in the sky. Me and Spirit decided to try to get up at 4am the next morning to catch the sunrise on top of Bigelow West Peak.
I decided to cowboy camp (without a tent) and fell asleep looking at the crowns of pine trees, swaying in the mild wind.