June 29, 2018
Destination: Stealth Campsite at Mile 1934 Today's Miles: 14.90
Start Location: Speck Pond Shelter Trip Miles: 1934
I call this the first real Maine day because yesterday was too hard to be a normal day! I got up a little late today because I was so tired.
Snuggs was gone early, headed into Andover. The weather was still ugly in the morning with mist, fog and light rain. It cleared up later on and got quite warm out, with a few sun showers on the peaks. Everything was muggy and wet!
The morning started with a tough climb up Old Speck Mountain. I didn’t get any views at the top because of the weather. As I got closer to Grafton Notch I saw a sign warning me of a dead moose up ahead. That’s so Maine! I started to climb up to see the moose body, but she. I saw some grey flesh I decided against it. The bugs were so bad already - who knew how many flies and whatnot would be on that thing! It smelled pretty bad.... Anyway, I climbed down into Grafton Notch and was pretty shell shocked. The climbing was tough and slow going, and I was very tired from the day before. Actually, I was very tired in general. The Whites and Maine were wiping me out! It was time to switch to my last set of Guthook maps and I was excited about that. I plopped down in the Grafton Botch parking lot and just took a moment to collect myself in a parking spot. A young guy shouted over asking if I was a thru hiker. I wearily shook my head in affirmation. He then asked if I wanted food. I shot up to attention! It’s not hard to get my attention with food, and I was quite hungry. He gave me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and an apple. He was from Pennsylvania visiting Maine to do some hiking and had some extra food. Lucky for me he was kind enough to share it! I hiked out of Grafton Notch feeling better. The AT signage at the road there was cool, so I took a picture. Here we go - the last leg of the Guthook maps!
It didn’t take me long to feel beaten down again as I started to climb Baldpate Mountain. The bugs, specifically, were driving me insane. The mosquitos and black flies were incessant. I was wearing big spray, but it is quick to sweat off and even with it on they still hovered around me in a cloud. I tried to move faster but the terrain was tough. I kept going.
I climbed up West Baldpate and stopped with three older ladies to take a break, enjoy the view, and have a snack. They were locals, very nice, and gave me two apple slices. My feet were so wet and pruney that I had to take my shoes and socks off for a while. Maine mountains feel like boggy rainforests. There is so much water on them, and the summits frequently have log bridges over bogs. Many of these are broken, and so you never known when it will be time to play Indiana Jones and run up a bridge as the side you’re on is sinking. Some of the bigs are frighteningly deep. Some will suck your shoes off. To sum it up, my feet are always wet in Maine, rain or shine. It is not ideal. That wetness though does bring a particular beauty to the mountains though, even as it wears me down.
I climbed up east Baldpate and got some great views and a small rain shower. Getting down was tiring. I was going to hike to Hall Mountain Shelter but just couldn’t make it. I stealth camped by a nice stream and was happy to be done. Cooking dinner I used the rest of my fuel, so I guess I will be cold soaking my Knorr rice side tomorrow. I got frustrated today by the weather, how tired I was, how wet and uncomfortable my feet were, and how I haven’t had a cell signal in days. I finally got a text to my wife somewhere crossing Baldpate, and I felt bad because I vented a little. I’m just feeling beaten down, and I think the bugs are making it that much harder. But I’m sooooooo close!! The finish is indeed finally truly in sight. By evening I felt better because I had come up with a plan for getting to Katahdin, a true day-by-day plan. I also decided that I would zero in Rangeley. It would be my first zero since Damascus. I knew I needed it. The Maine ladies on Baldpate said Rangeley was a cute town. They have an ice cream shop.... This plan gave me something to look forward to. I would be dry soon!
I was grateful for my patient and understanding wife today, for the kindness of others, and for the great views today. Hopefully the terrain tomorrow will be less wet!
I’m working on catching up! Thanks for bearing with me. I may have to do these in batches as I get to towns to resupply. I will post as I get caught up and have signal!