Day 114 – 23rd July (Posted Thursday 24th July)

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Started at stealth camp spot by stream – mile 2045.6 Finished in Monson – mile 2070.8
25.6 miles covered.
Total days hiked 112
18.48 Av miles / days

My plan today was to try and get into Monson. And as you might of guessed it was mission accomplished. It’s been a while since I smoked a marathon day like this. There was one big climb to Moxie Bald mountain after about 5 miles and then the terrain looked flatter than a whole load of pancakes with maple syrup. I understand how AWOL has worked out the elevation by presumably drawing a line of travel through the isolines on a map. This then allows him to plot a heart beat elevation profile. It was way off today or the scale needs to be revisited.

Today was also a day for river crossings. In fact I forded 3 rivers in total. 2 of which had ropes running across the river so you had something to hold onto. There were even warnings about crossing them after heavy rain and it warned against it. As I crossed Bald mountain stream a group of kids were filling up on water on the other side. It was knee deep in places and I just went straight through it. One kid watched as I emerged like an amphibious vehicle and his jaw dropped when he saw that I still had my trail runners on.

There is so much water up in Maine that it would be too much of a ball ache to have to keep changing into my crocs. Trail runners dry pretty quickly anyway. Moose and 2 other guys passed me as I was taking a break. One of the guys has a dirty Sanchez stash and the other a trail mohawk. I decided to smoke another cigarette to give enough time for them to get ahead. It didn’t go to plan as there was yet another river crossing round the next corner and I soon caught up. A guy was sitting by the river having lunch and I got him to do a movie of me crossing. Until Sarah is back I’m afraid that no pictures will be uploaded. I also have a load of movies that Dropbox won’t allow me to upload. So keep posted when I return as there will be some good material coming.

I quizzed the boys about their destination for this evening. And as to the whereabouts of the rest of the herd. They replied they weren’t doing big miles as the wanted to wait for the others to catch up. Great news I thought. If I could just get to Monson by this evening then I could get all ship shape with charging, laundry and calorie loading and head out tomorrow before they arrive. It’s a bit of a logistical nightmare trying to make sure you arrive at a town at the right time of day and mileage. My external battery pack needs 8 hours to charge. So it’s best to do this overnight. At least Monson will be the last town stop.

There are a number of companies in Monson that also do food drops into the 100 mile wilderness. That way you don’t have to carry a full 5 days worth of food. This is something I am keen to look into. Although I’m not sure about how secure a box of food will be with hungry bears and hikers about. The humidity this afternoon was stifling. I really hit the wall at one stage and was really struggling with the up hills that AWOL hadn’t pointed out. There was this one stretch which ran though a canyon. The trail kept sending you up 100 feet and then straight back down again. Again and again.

A girl I met this morning had said it was meant to rain. And for once my barometer on my watch was showing a strong drop in pressure. Then came the thunder. And then came the rain. I think they should rename Monson to monsoon. It poured for the last 9 miles of the day. Being British this was like water off of a ducks back. The temperature dropped and I was back in the game. I hiked fast and came to a side trail to Monson. It was a blue blaze trail of 2 miles. Whereas if I continued along the AT I could get to a highway and hitch in. This meant that I wouldn’t have to retrace my steps along the blue blaze tomorrow and waste 4 off trail miles (2 into Monson and 2 back to the trail). It was another 3.3 miles to ME15 and I booked it. I made it in 1 hour 10 minutes and a lot of it was up hill with slippery muddy conditions. When I arrived at the highway there was even a cooler box with Pepsi and Moxie soda drinks inside. It was meant to be.

Getting a ride into Monsoon turned out to be a little tricky. It took about 20 minutes and in the end I started walking the 3.6 miles. Finally a 4×4 pulled in. Hitching in the rain with dirty wet clothing and trainers is never a recipe for success. But I was surprised by this family. They just said jump in and didn’t even mind that I was dripping wet and filthy. They dropped me off at the Lakeshore House and Lodging Pub and it was bustling. James and Lyndsey and a few other familiar faces were there to match. After 2000 miles finally we all had a beer together. They said that they didn’t think they would have seen me again. I replied that they should never underestimate me.

The lady that ran the place was a strict Dutch woman with black hair. I enquired about a room. After leaving me hanging for a while she said there was an attic room that was not normally used, but it was mine for 45 bucks. The room is stifling hot even with the AC on full pelt. At least my wet pack will dry out though. The bed has also seen better days and the foot board collapses when I sit on the bed. It’s gonna be like sleeping on a slope in my tent, but at least I am out of the rain.

After showering I ventured to the restaurant. I ate scallops wrapped in bacon with maple syrup to start. Followed by a steak and cheese baguette with fries. My mood improved and the world was a good place again. It’s funny what a full belly and a few beers can do. Just my itching insect bites left to sort and a dodgy knee and I am good to go. Tomorrow I venture into the 100 mile wilderness. Although technically there are still 114.5 miles left to complete. Radio communication will be down from this point until after I had climbed Katahdin.

”Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day”

Prize awarded to anyone who knows where this poem comes from. And don’t panic mum it’s just a poem form a film I really liked. The guy that wrote it claims its meant to mean that you should put everything into each day, like it’s your last. And that’s exactly what I need to do to get through this final stretch.

Wish me luck!