I mentally conjure the image of a bundt cake when I encounter the steepest climb in the northern half of The Wilderness- well maybe the steep sloping sides. Just west of Nahmakanta Lake, at a mere 1,550 feet in elevation, Nesuntabunt challenges the hiker in that area, mostly due to jolting us out of our complacency in walking over the relatively flat AT in that region.
Today, we all met the uphill challenge, and all completed it in a strong manner, especially Bugdawg. Collecting ourselves at the base of the climb, we drank up, and nibbled snacks. Then I saw Bugdawg fiddling with his iPhone. I heard music coming from the tiny external speaker.
“Uncle Tom told us that music helps on the uphills,” he told us.
I then gave Bugdawg my earphones, so that his listening would not affect anyone else’s wilderness experience. We quickly spread out as the uphill route enfolded. I consider Nesuntabunt one of my favorite uphill hikes.
We all agreed that terms like primal, and Jurassic Park-like fit this situation perfectly. It’s a narrow shady groove in the forest here, surrounded by ancient mossy boulders covered with polypody ferns and mosses- and today humidity, as well.
Despite the grueling nature of the steep unrelenting walk, we were pumped about the whole situation, and barely contained our encouragement and excitement about new vistas as the trail twisted and turned its way to the top.
I moved from the back up past Gaspedal and Rok Rabbit in order to join Bugdawg, who was first on top.
He had a deep look of satisfaction on his face, as I told him, ” You will forever have a connection to the song you were listening to as you hit the top. It will link you to the deep feeling of power in your chest that you are feeling right now.” We both teared up right then and there and I knew that at that moment Bugdawg had crossed over to experience the power and deep satisfaction that sometimes may come to us as we move through the ancient forest.
We came down the other side and continued North, stopping for a snack and break on the shore of Crescent Pond. I felt that we should be looking for a campsite soon after that, and we eventually stopped to cook our dinners by the bridge that crossed Pollywog Stream.
It was here that we experienced a true low point in energy and outright exhaustion due to the 98% humidity and heat of the day. But somehow, after laying down, eating, and talking out our feelings, Rokrabbit and Bugdawg wanted to try and keep going.
We walked along the stunning cascades and pools of Rainbow Stream where we eventually made it to the campsites behind Rainbow Stream lean-to.
These neophyte hikers from the streets around Boston had just surprised by completing a 14 mile day.
There were several thru-hikers staying in the lean-to and camping around us. They listened to me as I stood on my soapbox for a while and spoke to them about understanding the rules of Baxter State Park, why those rules are there, and to be respectful to the rangers there.
We need to do all we can as hikers right now to maintain Katahdin as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.