Last section up north!

Friday July 28, 2017

Monson, ME 9 miles

Total mileage 1051.7

I was up early and ready to go this morning. We got into camp yesterday around 3 pm and I was tucked in bed around 5 pm. My foot and legs were bothering me yesterday but when I got up this morning I was feeling pretty good.

We got a few sprinkles during the night, but woke up to dry tents. We hiked out at 6 am with cloudy skies. The skies got darker and it sprinkled on us lightly, but not enough that we needed to cover up with rain gear. It didn’t last long. By the time we finished the day at 11 am the sun came out and it was a beautiful day.

Yesterday we finished up the day with a 3 mile walk along the Piscataquis River and we continued that this morning for another couple of miles and had to ford it again today. It was a bit rough walking through that cold water at 7 in the morning. But walking along the river was spectacular!

We are staying at a Shaw’s Hostel in Monson, ME and we will zero here tomorrow before heading out into the 100 mile wilderness. I have 115 miles left to complete this northern section before heading back south.

I have been thinking more about my stomach and trying to mimick my routine from home. At home when I get up I take my thyroid medication then go workout. After my workout I cool down with a bottle of water and get ready for work before eating breakfast. I haven’t been drinking my normal amount of water in the mornings. Truthfully I haven’t been drinking much at all in the mornings. So this morning I drank a bottle and when I got hungry I ate something and felt fine. So maybe I am getting old and sensitive. 🙁

I am grateful for my family and all the support I have received from them and my friends. Thank you.

Day 96

Thursday July 27, 2017

Horseshoe Canyon Lean To 13 miles

Total mileage 1042.7

I had a tough time falling asleep last night. It sounded like there was a deer in the woods and I was hoping it wouldn’t pounce on my tent.

I woke up around 3 am and could hear a very faint rain sprinkle on my tent. I quickly got up and went pee before it really started to come down. When I woke up again around 5 am it was still raining so I just stayed in bed.

SOULFLOWER went buy on the way to the privy and I told her I would get a weather report from my GPS. It looked like it would be clear by 9am and Jim also checked weather for me and he thought it would stop around 8 am. It was a very light rain so we decided to get packed up and go.

It stopped raining about 7am shortly after starting, but my shoes still got soaked from all the wet vegetation.

It was cloudy for most of the day with less than an hour of sunshine. We had just one climb this morning and we took a bad weather bypass trail around the summit. It was a rocky exposed summit and we didn’t want to be scrambling on wet rock so we played it safe. Neither one of us wants to slip on wet rocks and get injured.

The terrian looked easy in the guide book and it really wasn’t to bad, but I just had a hard time at the end of the day. My feet were sore and wet and my lower legs were tired. I just wanted to be off them.

We had a number of water crossings today and one that we had to ford. It seemed silly to take off wet shoes and socks and put on sandles to ford the river, but they weren’t totally soaked so the dryer I can keep them the better.

Today I tried to pay more attention to how I felt after eating this morning. I was pretty hungry about 7 am so I ate a small muffin and some trail mix and it didn’t seem to feel so good in my tummy. I’m may be becoming one of those people I used to redicule because they couldn’t eat in the morning. I am going to continue to see how I do with food in the morning.

It is raining again this evening. So far it has just been a light sprinkle. I hope it doesn’t amount to much because I set my tent up in a little depression. I don’t want to open my tent flap in the morning and see a moat around it! 🙁

I am grateful for the generosity of trail angels. I ate my snickers bar that I received from a trail angel for desert this evening. That is the forth candy bar I’ve had on this trip and they all have been given to me.

Note: Cell service is very spotty up here and the wifi at this hostel sucks so I haven’t been able to upload my pictures. I will do so when I have service.

SOULFLOWER Reunion

Wednesday July 26, 2017

Bald Mountain Brook Lean To 14 miles

Total mileage 1029.7

I slept like a rock last night and I even fell back asleep after I got up to pee at 4:30 and slept until 5:40.

I moved to the Caratunk B & B hostel yesterday, that is where SOULFLOWER had a reservation. We had an awesome reunion. It was so good to be back together.

Breakfast wasn’t until 7 am so there was no rush for us to get ready this morning.

I think I may have figured out my anxiety. I don’t think it is anxiety at all. I think it is from eating a big meal first thing in the morning. I use to always eat first thing in the morning before going out for my workout, but once I started to take thyroid medication I had to wait a half hour before I could eat. I started to workout first then would get ready for work and wouldn’t eat until just before leaving the house. I have noticed that I wasn’t enjoying eating early in the morning, but I was doing it anyway since breakfast was provided by most hostels. I think the butterfly feeling in my stomach was just my stomach not being ready for so much food. I have heard some people say that they just can’t eat in the morning. This was never me, but maybe something has changed.

Today was gorgeous! It was a beautiful sunny day. We woke up to morning temperatures in the lower 50’s and it later warmed up to the low 80’s.

We had some really awesome clear views. Although the day was a little rough on my feet after being off of them for the last three days. The terrian was rough with rocks and lots of tree roots.

I am greatful for the beautiful day and to be hiking with SOULFLOWER again.

Note: Cell service is very spotty up here and the wifi at this hostel sucks so I haven’t been able to upload my pictures. I will do so when I have service.

ANXIETY ATTACK

Sunday 23, 2017 – Tuesday 25, 2017

I stayed at a really nice place last night, The Sterling Inn. It has bunk rooms as well as private rooms and everything a hiker needs (resupply, shuttles, and laundry).

I was planning on heading out on Sunday morning, but I just felt so sick about getting back on the trail. I was having an anxiety attack. I would say that the honeymoon is over and the mental aspect of the trail has just hit me. I had my stuff all packed up and ready to go but I just couldn’t make myself leave.

Probably for the last couple of weeks when I leave town I have an anxiety attack. I don’t know what it is really from, but I don’t think it is fear of the trail. I think I am just missing Jim terribly. Plus he is about to have rotator cuff surgery and he has been having some pain in he ear and jaw and we don’t know what is causing it. He has been to a dentist and an endodontist and it is not a tooth problem. I’m just really worried about him.

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I have been really emotional and have had bits of crying. I just want to go home and see Jim. I want to make sure he is OK. He had planned to summit Katahdin with me, but the accident changed all that.

I know I want to finish Maine, but I am thinking of taking a break and going home for a short spell to see Jim and to make sure everything is going well after the surgery. I will wait until summiting Katahdin to decide for sure. He will be home from surgery by the time I summit so I will see how he is doing and go from there.

I decided to wait for SOULFLOWER. That is why I took so many days off in a row. She is just a ray of sunshine and so fun to be around. I knew she would help me finish up Maine. We will be leaving in the morning and headed to Monson, the last stop before the 100 mile wilderness. I will admit I am nervous about the logistics of the 100 mile wilderness. I have to have a permit to climb Katahdin and only 12 people are allowed to camp at the base to climb Katahdin. If the weather is bad I would have to hike ten miles back to a campground or go into the nearest town that is 40 minutes away and a $48 one way shuttle. I will definitely be praying for good weather.

The last couple of days the temperatures have only been in the 60’s and 70’s for the highs

10 MILES BY 10 AM

Saturday July 22, 2017 

The Sterling Inn Caratunk, ME @ 2038.6 14 miles

Total mileage 1015

Last night as I was getting ready for bed and trying to decide what I was going to do today,  a group of 12 young girls came into to camp and set up next to me. I thought they would be late sleepers so I decided to hike 10 miles to the next shelter then do the remaining four miles to town the next day since I had to catch a ferry between the hours of 9-2. I didn’t think I could do all 14 miles before 2 pm. 

Well… those girls were up at 4:20 this morning! 😲 I couldn’t believe it. Since I was awake and wouldn’t be disturbing anyone I decided to go for the 14 miles. 

As I was leaving camp two other older guys were also leaving so I decided to see if I could keep up with them. They were moving pretty quickly and I really couldn’t take a break to drink or eat so I did my best to drink and eat while walking. 

Some how I managed to keep up with them and before I knew it I was at the shelter I thought about staying at by 9:40am! I couldn’t believe what I had just accomplished! Ten miles completed by 10 am! The time went by so quickly with all of us talking. I do have to confess that the terrian was flat and pretty easy. 

The day did come with a few challenges. Which involved walking on some boards /trees that are used as bridges. They freak me out because they bow and bounce under your weight. 

We got to the ferry before noon and the guys went first. The ferry is a canoe and and can only accommodate two hikers at a time. I tipped our transporter and he was really grateful. 

 After I got across we all walked into town to the Caratunk B&B. They have some hiker resupply and also serve milkshakes. I got a milkshake and was also hoping to get a bunk for the night, but they were full. They called another Inn down the road and they had room for me and would come and pick me up. This is the first town that I have come to that I haven’t had a reservation. 

The trail today was really beautiful. I passed a couple of ponds and several waterfalls. And I got trail magic again today. A couple in a boat stopped by the shelter which was on a pond and they had candy bars.  A KitKat and a snickers for each of us. To date I have only eaten 3 candy bars including the KitKat I ate this morning and they have all been given to me. I didn’t buy them. I have not had a soda to date either. Now ice cream is a different story!!!😊

1001 MILES

Friday July 21, 2017 

West Carry Pond Shelter 12.6 miles

Total mileage 1001

I had my last night at John and Patti’s last night. They were unbelievably generous. I am so thankful for all of their help and am feeling so blessed. Thanks again you two!

John dropped me back off at the trail this morning with my pack full with five days of food. I hate carrying that much food. It puts my pack weight close to 25lbs and that is a bit to heavy for me. I definitely knew it was back there especially after the last four days of slackpacking. 

I was up on top of Little Bigelow Mountain by 10 am and it was pretty hazy out so I didn’t take many pictures. 

I arrived at camp just a little after 4 pm and I was so happy to be done for the day. My back was sore as well as my feet. 

The arrow above was one of the peaks that I climbed in the past few days. 

When I walked up to the shelter there was a trail Angel there with cookies and apples for the hikers. 🤗

It’s hard to believe that I have hiked over 1000 miles! I have some unbelievable leg muscles and strength! The time has gone by pretty quickly. 

Thank you John and Patti! 

Thursday July 20, 2017

Caribou Valley Rd @ 1993.3 to Stratton, ME @ 2001.6 8.3 miles slackpacking 

Total mileage 988.4

Although today was low milage it was still pretty strenuous. I went northbound today, doing the hardest climb in the morning. I summited both North and South Crocker Mountains. It was pretty sunny down in the valley before I started my climb, but once I got up in elevation it was really hazy so no good summit photos today. Just one of yours truly and my visor still is lopsided!

I met a women while I was on the trail today. She is 74 and section hiking the AT with a full backpack. She hopes to finish the trail on Springer Mountain (southern terminus) by the time she is 80. I have met some of the most amazing and inspiring people on the trail. I just love this small community! 

Tonight is my last night with John and Patti. I could just adopt these two. They are so wonderful and made me feel so welcome. I am so grateful to them. John, for all the shuttling that he did for me allowing me to slackpack and Patti for all her great cooking. I gained a few pounds while I was here.  John thru hiked in 2008 and had so much trail knowledge to  pass on to me and I was so greatful. As I am writing this I can hear them talking and laughing in the kitchen and they sound like newlyweds telling each other about their days. It is so good to see after so many years of marriage. Thank you both for everything you have done for me! You guys have really had a huge impact on my hike. 

Mount Bigelow 

Wednesday July 19, 2017 

Safford Brooke Trail @2012 to Stratton ME @2001.6 southbound 10.4 miles slackpacking 

Total mileage 980.1

Most of the towns in northern Maine are pretty remote and many of the residents have to drive a ways just to grocery shop. It is so different from back home, where everything is just right there. Most mornings it takes John an hour or hour and a half just to get me where I need to go. I am so thankful for everything he and his wife Patti have done for me. It has really impacted my hike and I can’t thank them enough. 

Today was forecasted to be the best weather day with no chance of rain. John thought it would be best to do the Bigelow Mountain range today. It is a tough climb above treeline. I went southbound to make things a little easier. It put the hardest climb of the day first thing in the morning when I feel the best. The picture above is of Sugarloaf Mountain. Which is a very popular ski destination. I climbed this mountain yesterday. Well I should say I crawled up. I was on all fours trying to get up it. It was definitely a rock scramble. 

This emergency Hut was at the top of Avery Peak and the photo below is where I was headed after my Avery Peak summit, the West Peak of Bigelow Mountain. 

View of the Rangeley Lakes from Avery Peak. 

The photo below is the North and South Horn on Bigelow Mountain. It was definitely a strenuous day!

Another good day! 

Tuesday July 18, 2017 

Caribou Valley Rd to Woods Rd 10.4 miles slackpacking 

Total mileage 969.7

Today I hiked south from Caribou Valley Rd to Woods Rd. It was a scramble on all fours going up Sugarloaf Mountain then the rest of the day was easy. Well…  easy terrian by Maine standards. 

I was really nervous about the day. When we left the house it was raining and really started to come down as we were traveling. The weather report didn’t mention anything about rain in the morning. I decided to put my rain gear on so when we got to the drop off point,  John wouldn’t have to wait on me. Shortly after putting on my rain gear the rain stopped. Just my luck! 

I had a river to ford first thing this morning that I wasn’t looking forward to. I just knew that the water was going to be freezing, but luckily there was a board stretched across a couple of rocks to walk across the rest I just rock hopped. 

It was pretty cool going southbound today. I got to see many of the hikers that I have been hiking near but never really see that much of. 

So Thankful! 

Monday July 17, 2017 

Woods Road @ 1982.9 13.5 miles slackpacking 

Total mileage 959.3 

I’m so thankful. I’m slackpacking today. I climbed over 4 summits with just a day pack. I was really enjoying the day with the light pack. There was also a chance of thunderstorms this afternoon and it gave me the opportunity to move faster and safer. I was above tree line for a few miles and didn’t want to be stuck up there if thunderstorms were going to roll through. 

I started my 5 mile climb up Saddleback Mountain at 7 am and reached the summit at 10 am. Then I was on the summit of The Horn by 11:15 am and the summit of Saddleback Jr by 12:30.

The views were amazing! I had sunshine until about 1 pm. I could see dark clouds rolling in behind me so I didn’t dally on the open ridgeline that I was hiking on. 

This photo is looking up at the ridgeline that I would be crossing. 

This is looking back at the ridgeline that I just came down from with clouds rolling in. It was really clear when I was up there. 

Me taking a selfie with dark clouds in the back ground. I’m not sure how my hat got so lopsided!