Our five day adventure began by squeezing into Katahdin Air Service’s little float plane for a 50 mile flight, with pontoons touching down at Crawford Pond in the middle of the fabled One Hundred Mile Wilderness segment of the Appalachian Trail.
Jim, our pilot, flew low enough that we were able to see good detail right to the edges of the ponds and streams below as he pointed out the path of the Appalachian Trail that we’d walk some 50 miles back to my car around Abol Bridge on the Golden Road.
We thanked Jim for his skill in placing us here on this beach, and I told him that I’d be sure to fly with him again next season.
After departing the inviting sand beach at the southern end of the pond our band of four entered a dark slot in the dense forest and started walking north.
My clients came to Maine from Boston to sample the simpler life in the Great North Woods. I’m up here guiding a father and his two sons through their first backpacking experience. I secured my Registered Maine Guide credentials in November, and have had some luck in scoring up some customers. Dino, Nick, and Jake have purchased, borrowed, and rented gear that they have cobbled together for as they experience trail life for the next five days.
This family has actually listened to some of the suggestions that I made to them. Consequently, we had no issues with blisters today, and I was encouraged by strong hiking from all three.
We met our first three thru-hikers at Cooper Brook Falls lean-to three miles into our hike. We swam in a deep pool with two young women that had started the AT in Georgia.
They made it north as far as Harper’s Ferry, VA where they skipped all the way up to Maine to turn around and head south, hiking to Virginia where they hoped to complete their 2,200 mile hike. Also cooling his body was a young man from Norway who had just left the towering Katahdin on his own southbound journey, hoping to reach the southern terminus of the AT at Springer Mountain in Georgia.
On my fifth time through here, I still love this Cooper Brook Falls shelter. There is a broad rushing water fall to the right and a deep wide pool of water in front of the shelter. We jumped right into the slowly flowing water and rinsed off the copious sweat that drenched our shirts in just three miles.
I had originally planned to spend the night here at this shelter, but Dino and his boys pressed me to go a bit farther on the first afternoon so that they would not be faced with walking 12 miles on their second day. I gave in, which ended up being the right thing to do.
Tonight, we ended up camping “au sauvage” at Cooper Pond, 0.2 miles down a blue blazed (side) trail off the AT, turning my original 3 mile plan to an 8.2 mile accomplishment.
In the end, we pushed an extra 5 miles, and walked late enough so that we were using our headlamps before we had the campsite settled, our dinners done, and the tents up.
When you reach Cooper Plond, the path ends at an old dam. I crossed the shaky , wet rocks at the top of the falls and explored past it, where the path went no further. I noticed a fresh dump area with open clam shells visible beneath the water near shore, where I suspected that an otter had been engaged in some kitchen prep of his own.
The terrain around our campsite is fully punctuated with rocks and hummocks but we were eventually able to find two flat spaces that held the one three-man ( them) and single 1 person (me) tents.
The humidity and heat were unrelenting. We later learned that it reached 90 degrees today, with close to 100% humidity, in Maine ! It was so hot that I laid out on top of my sleeping mat. The humidity and heat were the worst that I’ve ever remembered hiking in my home state. Thankfully, we were headed past numerous ponds, lakes, and streams, which we’d put to good use tomorrow.
At least I slept. Dino told me he was tossing and turning all night. I listened to the sound of the pond water rushing over the dam nearby and the strange cry of a single loon wailing out on Cooper Pond.
Here’s the map of our first 8 miles in The Hundred: