July 11, 2018
Destination: Rainbow Stream Lean-to Today's Miles: 29.60
Start Location: Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to Trip Miles: 2160.80
Today I played Goldilocks. I meant to hike to Wadleigh Stream Lean-to 21.5 miles away, but I got there at 2 and it was a pretty poor place to camp.
The Wilderness has so many ponds and streams to camp by, but Wadleigh stream was just a dry, mosquito-infested creek bed. I signed the shelter log, but with no water and no view, I wanted to move on. I ended up pushing to Rainbow Stream, the next Lean-to, and I still got there by 5:15pm, so not bad for an almost 30 mile day! The Rainbow shelter had a lovely stream right out front and plenty of tent space on the hill behind it. I was happy with my decision, but this also meant one thing - I would be far enough along that I would hike to the Birches tomorrow now instead of Friday. The Birches is the shelter where incoming NOBOs stay at Baxter State Park prior to summiting Katahdin. It’s the Park’s answer to our unpredictable schedules. No one else stays there - only northbounders who have at minimum hiked the hundred mile wilderness. This meant I would summit Katahdin on Friday instead of Saturday, because we can only stay at The Birches one night. I was ok with this though, partially because we have had great weather lately, so I feel like the longer I wait the more likely it is that the weather could turn. And so that was that. I would walk to the Birches tomorrow and summit Katahdin on Friday the 13th. Hmmmmm.... nothing can go wrong there right? Good thing I’m not superstitious!
The hiking today was great. Lots of the usual Maine roots and rocks, but interspersed with rivers and ponds. I caught a great view of Katahdin over Pemadumcook Lake, and then again later after a short climb up Nesuntabunt Mountain from a viewpoint there. It was a beautiful day of hiking and full of water and views. I also came across a lot of wild blueberries today, though not ripe yet, particularly along the trail by Cooper Pond.
It was a hot day, and the terrain was pretty easy up until after Wadleigh lean-to. When I got to Rainbow Stream I was impressed with the cascades, and the trail followed it for a while before branching away and then rejoining to cross the stream just in front of the lean-to. I saw Ultra Runner in the shelter, and a new SOBO was there with his dad. I chatted with them while I ate my dinner, and then another pack of SOBOs arrived, looking shiny and new. It was like watching the cycle of life on the trail. I was tired and thin and winding down my hike. They still were clean, had tons of gear and their legs hadn’t eaten all of their upper body muscle yet. They asked me about the Whites, already seeming worried about them. I tried to reassure them and told them they would love the beautiful views, that the my could just go slowly and get food at huts and approach it in bite size pieces. I am not sure if that helped them feel better. Hopefully it did. Of course, they were listening to this from a guy who looked like he had been pooped out of a dumpster and thrown into a tornado, so maybe my appearance didn’t lend credibility to my reassuring tales of how great the Whites are.
There was nothing left to do but go to bed. This was the last night I would choose where I slept. Tomorrow would be the Birches, and then Friday I would end the day in Millinocket. Just like that.
I was grateful for all of the views, the continued good weather, and that I could hike a long day and still enjoy my time at camp. In a broader sense, I was grateful that I didn’t have to think too much - I just had to keep walking to the end.