Day 118 – 27th July (Posted Sat 2nd Aug)

posted in: Rich's Diary Entries | 0

Started at Antlers campsite – stealth. Mile 2133.5
Finished at private beech by Rainbow Lake – mile 2160.5
27 miles covered.
Total days hiked 116
18.63 Av miles / days

Problem Bear woke me up at 05:00 this morning and I am sure glad he did. He said that there was a good photo opportunity of a sunrise over the lake and he was not wrong. Excluding the winter sun rises I had experienced over the lake at home, this was a beauty. There were rocks jutting out of the lake which added drama to the pictures and I also lobbed a few large stones in to create a ripple effect. I experimented with auto bracketing on my camera to make sure that the exposure was right and am happy with the results.
What a great start to the day. In fact I was on trail earlier than ever at about 07:00. It was a fresh morning and getting up this early really made a difference, despite only having 5 hours sleep.
The first 10 miles of the day were easy and I hiked along sandy beaches that surrounded huge lakes as well as the usual woodland and mountains that I have become all too familiar with.
Just before Nahmakanta campsite I heard something large moving through the river that ran parallel with the trail. I had my headphones on but could still hear something large splashing about. I ducked down to look below the tree line and saw a male moose wading through the river. I must have disturbed his breakfast. He waded across the river and posed for some pictures on the other side. He seemed to be eating the weed off of the bottom of the river.
Hilly Billy had explained to me why there had been so much evidence of moose in the higher elevations. Apparently it’s because it is cooler and the insects are meant to be less concentrated. This moose must have been hungry as I was at a lower elevation.
Whilst I was taking pictures I was joined by an Australian South bounder. He was struggling and clearly not in good condition for the trail. He was wearing tennis shoes and complaining about blisters. He didn’t know whether he could handle much more of this and had only done about 40 miles!
South bounders have it hard as they have to tackle the hardest part of the trail soon after starting, but that’s not really until southern Maine or the Whites. They also have to carry a shit load of food through the 100 mile wilderness from the off.
Starting my hike from Georgia (which was no piece of cake) at least meant that I became conditioned early on. Fingers crossed for this dude but I don’t hold out too much hope.
There were lots of huge boulders dotted around the trail today. Lush moss and vegetation grew on the top of them almost like some form of floral hair piece.
I always find it amazing how these giant lumps of rock have been moved hundreds of miles as a result of the freeze thaw cycle of the glaciers.
Although Problem Bear had set off before me I past him at the Wadleigh Stream Lean-to. I had seen him 5 minutes earlier ambling along the trail as I was passing a lake. The sound of the water lapping against the bank made me stop and check it out. I was hoping for a great picture opportunity, but a couple were sun bathing on the beach which made taking a picture a little awkward.
When I saw PB pull into the shelter I whistled to him and then poked my head round the corner. There were a load of free water mussel shells in the fire pit at the shelter. PB asked me where I was heading and I said the world was my oyster and gave him a cheeky smile.
After lunch there was a 3 mile section that involved some steep climbs. Again my knee felt funny. Almost warm inside and quite painful. I was glad to summit Nesuntabunt Mountain which was a baby at 1520 ft. Although I had started climbing from 684ft. From the summit you could see a clear view of Katahdin, which was only 16 miles away in direct line of sight. Clouds shrouded the peak, but the climb still looked imposing.
I stopped to take a break and had lunch after checking out the view. I also applied some Bengay to my knee and had a few Ibuprofens for medicinal purposes.
PB appeared as I was snacking and stopped for a chat. It was great to know that we had already covered 15.5 miles and it was only 14:00.
On the descent I thought I heard thunder over the tunes I was listening to. It had got very dark. I passed a couple of day hikers and they were very worried about reaching the summit and asked whether it was exposed.
It started raining but this only helped me find another gear and where there were pine needles the trail almost felt bouncy underfoot.
I stopped to fill up my water bottle whilst it was pissing it down. I rock hopped down to the river and leant over placing my bottle in the river. The rain didn’t bother me for one second and I realised that this routine has become second nature. I felt that I had become wild and in tune with my surroundings. It’s gonna be very strange going to a tap for water back home and it will never taste quite as good as this.
In other places the trail turned to mud again and was a mess of roots and black sludge. It made it tough going, almost like running through sand.
My hiking could probably be closely compared to slalom skiing at the moment. The way you have to twist and turn to take the best line past rocks, roots and ankle deep black mud. Sometimes I even use my poles to support my weight as I bank the side of the trail. It feels very matrix.
I stopped at Rainbow Lake campsite after 25.5 miles to consider my options. The dilemma is as follows. You have to call to register at the rangers for a pass to climb Katahdin. This can be done from a place called Abol Bridge. And you can’t start your climb any later than 11:00. If there are places available and the weather is predicted to be good it’s game on. Abol bridge was another 11 miles away. There was also a shelter 8 miles away. If could get to Abol tonight or close, I could possibly cut my hike by a whole day. Where it is only 15 miles from Abol to the end of the trail. Decisions, decisions.
I have been trying to get my average up to a nice even 20 miles/day. After taking a zero and doing a handful of short days it has dropped it to around 18.5. I hoped that if I pushed and made it to Abol bridge I might be in luck. But after double checking it makes about 0.1 difference. I decided it would be stupid to bother and risk an injury. And boy I am glad I did.
PB appeared and we hiked on a mile or so. I didn’t want to stay at Rainbow Lake campsite as there were a load of noisy teenagers there.
We were struggling to find a spot for 2 tents then we came across a side trail. The guide book said it was a private trail that lead to the lake. We decided it would be worth checking out. The trail lead onto a beautiful secluded beach with a picnic bench. As it had been raining the sky was still full of dark moody looking clouds. Their outline etched in red and orange by the setting sun. The contrast was glorious. Probably the best spot of the trail.
Bear and I washed the dirt off of our legs in the aquamarine water and pitched our tents on the sandy beach. The Mosquitos have been bad tonight, but who cares with a spot like this. I have even managed to cook with my stove right next to my tent. This means that I can quickly unzip the bug mesh and tend to it without the bugs getting in. Sorted.
I was able to get a good picture of a Loon today. In case I haven’t explained a Loon is a water bird a bit like cormorant with a white speckled breast. They were all communicating with each other on the lake tonight and finally I have confirmation that what I have been hearing is definitely a Loon.
I can’t wait for the sunrise although I’m not sure anything can compete with this morning. Hopefully I might get a little more sleep tonight though.
And then there were 2 sleeps.