Back on the AT in Maine

I’m humbled up by hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine last week.   My friend Paul invited me to join him in driving north for about two and a half hours where we the AT intersects at Grafton Notch. This was a day hike.  Paul is one of those rare people who don’t mind driving long distances to walk up wet, steep trails. We  saw only three other people , walking up Baldpate Mountain on a gray Saturday, in October.  Tater’s back in Maine after guiding in Alaska, out of big-time Skagway. I’ve been there, and can tell you there are glaciers in every direction up there. Tater thru-hiked the AT in 2007, the same year as me. I enjoyed talking with him for the mile or so that we climbed up the 3,812-foot  mountain together.  Tater was set for  21 miles today.  Paul and I had just 4 miles north, and then we’d double down. When we stepped out of the car at 9:15 AM, it was lightly snowing. The air was cold, like maybe 40 degree cold, with wind city to boot. Only two other cars in the lot, and a check of the trail register indicated those guys had headed south on the AT,  up toward Speck Pond.
In no time, Paul and I were stepping along the rough footpath characterizing the AT up here in Maine;  “wicked” steep, rocky, crisscrossed with slippery bare roots, mud pits, and perilous ice-covered bare logs. When we reached higher elevations, slippery ice flowage came to the front all the way up.

Paul heading up

I  should have packed my Stabilicers, those strap-on metal-studded Vibram soles that would have done a better job of avoiding destruction of some necessary part of my anatomy.  My thin gloves sucked.  Sub-freezing temperatures plus 30 mile per hour gusts around the summit resulted in significant pain in my fingers. I have to remember to pack thick mittens and chemical hand warmers for the next six months of  outside.  Paul and I took turns leading. We spent no time on top. It was too frigid and cold, but we did stop for a couple and downed some high calorie snacks as soon as we r

Paul on top
eached a sheltered place on the way down.  I gulped down a decent chunk of Bubba Craig’s #2 home-made pemmican bar.  If there ever was a pemmican-friendly environment that beats this, I don’t know.
Life passes along this last month. I hope to return to the trails in Maine when my feet settle down. Meanwhile, I’m riding my bike on the road several times a week, trying to retain some degree of fitness. We’re now in the dark time up here, clocks are turned back. It’s now dark by 4:30 PM.
I’m not sure there was anyone in America that was outside more than me these past six months, yet a blood test this week indicated significant vitamin D deficiency.  Didn’t Vitamin D achieve fame as the sunshine vitamin?

6 thoughts on “Back on the AT in Maine

  1. Catch-Up

    Hey Tom – terrific entry. i had unsubscribed from your adventures once the pCT was done but I see that I shold continue to check in ! keep up the good work!



  2. Chris Curren

    Tom…For future generations of your readers…at some point will you be characterizing the differences in your re-entry experiences post AT and post PCT?
    Seems smoother this time compared to what appeared to be an existential challenge last time.


  3. Craig "Bubba"

    Great post, sounds like fun. You’ll have to let me know which pemmican you liked better, #1 or #2. Here ya on the Vitamin D, started supplementing myself. Agree with Chris Curren comment, would be interesting to hear your take on the two different experiences.


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