Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to to Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to
It was a warm, humid, noisy, windy, and rainy last night. Rain was peppering the aluminum roof all night long, shaken by the wind off the rapidly changing leaves above.
People were up early, silently packing their sleeping bags, and rolling their mats. I had to turn on my headlamp to make sure I had everything beside me for packing. My watch said 6:10 AM.
There were two true fords today, both requiring walking in the water.
I never saw another hiker until the second fording of the Piscataquis stream. The real measure of how wet things are here this year is that last year we rock hopped walked across both places.
My feet were wet enough from the trail this morning that I didn’t even change into my Crocs. I just plowed right across. One benefit from wearing the style of shoe I now favor is that the open mesh allows one to pump the water out of the shoe by just walking. I didn’t need to drain the shoes after I went across.
Reading this year’s Trailjournals I have noticed repeated references to the water and mud in the footpath. Today, I got a true picture of what those folks were talking about: wet feet, muck holes, and lubricated rock surfaces. I was totally focused on foot placement and balance today. Had to be.
The day’s hike started with an immediate 1250’ ascent of Moxie Bald Mountain (at 2629’), with a subsequent 1500’ descent down to a mid-morning snack break at Moxie Bald lean-to some 4 miles from the start point.
Then I had the relative pleasure of nine more miles of gradual descent of only 350’ to the end of my day at Horsehoe Canyon lean-to.
I toyed with the idea of continuing on another 8 miles to Monson, as I had reached the lean-to at 2:30 PM, but decided against it. I had to remind myself, I am NOT thru hiking any more, and that I didn’t really need to be in town so soon, eating and hanging out with hikers. I’d just be going home. Staying worked out well. Soon the skies cleared , sun broke through, and the empty shelter looked inviting, despite the copious trash that was littered around the shelter. I still even able to eat a decent amount of food ( everything I had left in my pack).
I immediately chomped my way through a double serving of deydrated corn chowder, with extra corn added. Then I cooked up the supper spaghetti, that I brought up to boiling, then insulated with my cozy, and double insulated with my Patagonia puffball jacket. I took a nap after reading a while, and when it was time for an early supper, the meal was still hot.
Stopping early was the right thing to do: nap, eat, read the register, get a big charge of water, wash up, and do all of it with no need to move quickly to avoid the dark and cold. Monson can wait.
I even got to hang out with hikers, namely Xenon and Cloudwalker, two men close to my age who were doing a long section south from Katahdin. Cloudwalker was headed to take out at Rangely, and Xenon was going even further. Turns out that Xenon has four years of sectional reports on Trailjournals, and hails from Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
Xenon has completed the Fundy Footpath, a 26 mile section of rugged unserviced trail along the Bay of Fundy, a trip that Rangoon, General Tso and I are set to do over Columbus Day weekend in a few weeks. He was more than willing to try and help us out and gave me his address and phone number. It has been difficult for me to find people who have done the whole 26 miles, as there are still puzzling questions about spotting cars, and negotiating tidal crossings of rivers and streams that can only be forded at low tide up there, due to the 40 foot tides in that part of the world.
One more technical point.
Right now I am satisfied with my gear, finding no reason to replace any of it. But there are numerous hikers who struggle with upgrade transitions, and we are fortunate enough to gain some important information about the wisdom of replacing trail gear from the Speedy Sisters, seasoned long distance hiking machines.
[ What follows is an actual audio recording from my visit to the AT in Virginia at 9:30 AM, Tuesday 20th of May. AM= Auntie Mame, V8=V8.]
AM“ When you are gonna replace your gear, you want to make sure, from experience, that you try to limit it to one thing at a time. One major item at a time. Do not, like, try out a new pack, new footwear, and a new sleeping bag at the same time.”
V8 “Or a new sleeping mat. Everybody is inclined to do this. It is getting warmer, so you don’t need all this heavy stuff. Let’s get a light weight air mat. Get rid of that heavy sleeping bag! Let’s get a light weight pack. The lighter stuff will fit fine in a smaller pack , so let’s be efficient and replace it all at one time.”
A.M. “ What happens as a result of that is you go nuts. You don’t know what or where anything is in your pack. Maybe that new pack doesn’t fit right after you have been carrying it for a few miles. So, you are hurting , for one thing. Then you don’t have your usual pack so you can’t find that Advil that you need and your shoulders are still hurting because it is buried somewhere. And add a little rain, so your pack cover is on, your shoulders are still hurting, and that Advil is somewhere in there. Ok, so we get to camp and, Oh! Jee whiz! I have only one wet jacket because I sent my other stuff home because it is warm. But now it is 37 degrees out, the rain is falling and it is blowing hard!”
V8: “And sleet!”
A.M.: “So , Lets’ get that chin up, shall we? Get that chin up and huddle in that 40 degree sleeping bag in this 37 degree weather. But you can put all your clothes on , but, wait! they are half damp!”
V8: “You get the gist of this discussion. Trade out just one thing at a time. Get used to it then trade out the next thing. “