Day 5: speck pond shelter to tentsite
I’m writing this as I sit next to a fire, drying my clothes after a quick, cold dip in a swimming hole under a waterfall. We are sharing this tent site with Sunshine, a SOBO who is very nice.
So, this morning. We woke up to a morning. It was unremarkable, really. We slowly got around and made coffee and stuffed everything in our bags, then headed out.
We had a climb, I think. We must have, because here’s a picture.
We had a VERY long descent down, but it ended at a looooong waterfall, so we took advantage of that for a little self care.
And then, at the ACTUAL bottom, we got trail magic! That was good, because I was almost out of food.
Another way too long climb gave us TWO snakes (only the first one pictured).
It also gave us Baldpate West and East. Let me tell you…. this was a climb. Also, I was already sunburnt and now I’m more so. The backwards hat is my attempt at protecting my very red neck.
We hiked down to Frye Notch Lean To and had an extended break. I was kind of over it. Maine is hard, it’s hot, the bugs are awful, why am I doing this instead of, idk, sitting in an air conditioned house?
We all have our bad days and this was likely mine.
But after a good meal and a lot of rest and some chatting with Stinkles (LASHer finishing up her thru from last year), we finally headed out. Again. For another long descent.
We made our way to “Brook,” mile 1935.1. It’s a beautiful area, with big trees and a gorgeous brook and water fall.
Tomorrow we got into Andover, and I think that will be good. I wish there was a little more wiggle room in the schedule, but apparently I’m just going to have to suck it up.
MVP: trail magic
LVP: black flies
Day 6: Tentsite to Human Nature Hostel
We woke up late. Well, I woke up earlier but just turned over and went back to sleep.
When I finally did get up, it was breakfast and packing and hitting the trail. So, to give you some context, this was our day.
We started at the little waterfalls on the left. We went up and up to Wyman Mountain. That wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I don’t know what’s been going on but I’ve been super dehydrated recently. My camp nurse always had the “3 by 3” rule (pee 3 times by 3pm) and I’ve been SUPER failing. Because of that, I feel sick and sweaty and low energy and it’s just rough.
Anyways. We went up. Apparently I took no pictures. We spent a long lunch at a lean-to (Maine for shelter) and went down, then we went up and down again.
By the time we got… well, barely any amount up the last mountain (Moody Mountain, supposedly named for Mr Moody who jumped off, presumably because the climb is so terrible), we were tossing around the idea of a town day. We had a package in Andover, so we had to go in, but hadn’t planned on staying.
Well, frankly, when you can’t go 10 steps without needing a break and when you drink 3 liters of water and STILL don’t have to pee, it’s time for a town day.
We stopped at South Arm road and prepared for a long wait. Happily, a truck drove by soon after we got there, I stuck out my thumb, they said sorry no room, but then pulled over and rearranged their truck to give us a ride.
We got to Andover, grabbed our boxes, and went down to Little Red Hen. This restaurant offers free tenting, $5 showers, and $5 laundry. We showered and headed in to eat.
No sooner were we done than it was time to meet our shuttle for the hostel. Human Nature is a new hostel, built pretty far out of town, and is a giant dome. It’s kind of a lot. I was a little overwhelmed but things calmed down.
So. Now I’m in my bunk, ready to sleep, and ready to make up some miles tomorrow. Hooray!
MVP: salad bar
LVP: moody mountain
Day 7: human Nature to Bemis Mountain Lean To
The day started when other people started waking up. I was already awake, but I was unwilling to be the first up. Heaven forbid I have to actually MAKE coffee in a regular pot??
Anyways, I packed up, had some pancakes, and eventually we loaded way too many people in an SUV and drove to the trail head. The trail immediately went UP. This was the last “arm” of the treacherous W that Wilson Wilson warmed me about. It was no easier than the rest of the W, really. It was still SO humid and miserable, but at some point we started getting some wind.
And then I fell. We were discussing our ideal hostel when a toot grabbed my toe. My knees hit, my shoulder hit, and my triceps saved me enough that my head only barely hit (thanks, Rich, for all the tricep work!!). I sat for a minute and then eventually managed to pull myself together.
The wind turned into thunder and more wind. And then that turned into rain, which turned into a downpour.
We were drenched by the time we made it to the shelter. There were already some people here — two SOBOs, Cruise and Alpaca, two LASHers from the hostel, Friendly Ghost and Beetle (or Beatle? Both Danish) and more SOBOs arrived soon after.
We looked at the elevation profile, looked at our plan, and decided we could stay here. The terrain is supposedly easier coming up, the weather will be beautiful tomorrow, and the shelter had a lot of really cool people. SOBOs and LASHers are very fun to talk to, and we had a cool group.
So anyways, there are 8 of us crammed in here. There’s moose poop all over the area, so I’m hopeful that I may get to see one tomorrow.
And frankly, I’d better see a massive bruise on my shoulder or I’ll be annoyed at the pain I’m enduring with absolutely no physical manifestation to impress people.
Miles: 8.7 (Hahahah)
MVP: having chips again!!
LVP: falling 😦
Day 8: Bemis Mountain Lean To to Piazza Rock Lean To
FD and I finally got a morning to drink our coffee in the shelter. Hallelujah! The day broke cool and fresh, so cool we could see our breath.
We enjoyed the cool air and the warm sun. The hiking was pleasant and fast, and the day sort of sped by.
We took a long break at this view, on a bench next to a road. I dried my socks.
After that, the trail sort of stayed a regular forest/mud blend. Nothing too exciting. The only real exciting bit was the mileage. Somehow we managed a 19.5, which only leaves us a couple of miles short of our original plan. I think we can make it up tomorrow.
We’re at the shelter now with a SOBO and a NOBO we met last night. My feet and knees are aching. I have a wide variety of bruises blooming all over. I’m incredibly dirty — I keep stepping in the mud! I’m craving coleslaw and a giant salad with mountains of blue cheese. Tomorrow we climb Saddleback, though. I can’t wait to see that view!
LVP: mud that looks like a rock
Day 9: piazza Lean To to Spaulding Mountain Lean To
Ok, today has been great.
We woke up and immediately went up Saddleback. The view was incredible.
We went over the horn and saddleback junior.
It was good hiking.
We sat in Poplar Ridge Lean To for lunch and read the EXTENSIVE FAQ from a maintainer who has been working on the AT for over 50 years. I learned a lot! A lot of the trail in this section just follows old moose trails. Which explains all the poop.
From there it was downhill to Orbeton Stream, then up to Lone Mountain. That climb wasn’t bad but it was long.
We made it to the shelter. I built a quick fire, we ate dinner, and then a SOBO came in.
So. This SOBO is like my dream dinner companion. She is a huge gear nerd, like me. She knows all the same weird gear makers that I do. She has so much experience. She is so chill. So basically we’ve just nerded out all night and it’s been SO MUCH FUN.
MVP: Shelter fun!
LVP: knees 😦