Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ferry - Sept 17

Been hiking by indescribable scenery these days. Maine is the best. Ponds, lakes, rivers, sunsets, sunrises... they are all so so good.

The Kennebec River is all the talk up and down the trail. Some say it is dangerous to ford because the power company up river releases water from time to time which could sweep a person downstream if they were half way across when a slug of water hit them. To solve the problem the Appalachian Trail Conservancy pays a guy to ferry hikers across the river in a canoe.

In the last three pictures the ferry is taking us across with my help paddling up front. When we got there nobody else was around. We had heard the day before there were 15 hikers waiting in line for there turn.

In Caratunk tonight for a resupply, shower and washing clothes.

Had amazing pulled pork with root beer this morning.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Multiple U-Turners? - Sept 15

Could it be there are multiple U-Turners on the AT? Didn't meet Ice Axe but the story goes that he had just finished a short climb, maybe half a mile or so, stopped on top for lunch and then started back down the other side. Trouble was he couldn't figure out which way he had come up so he didn't know which side to go down. He checked out both trails going down either side of the hill but could find no identifying clues to know which trail was northbound and which was southbound.

Ice Axe finally made his best guess and started down the hill. Of course when he made his way to the bottom he came across a road or a sign or a footbridge, something that he had definitely seen before and knew he had not chosen wisely. I'm sure he was spittin' nails with every step back up that hill. Glad I have a good sense of direction.

Part of my daily routine is to always have a good plan in place to resupply food before we run out. This means every time we are in town buying food I have to know how many miles we are going to hike to the next town and how many days we will need to hike those miles to be able to estimate how many meals we need to buy. If we buy too much food we will be carrying unnecessary weight. Not enough food we starve to death.

When we left Gorham, NH my food bag was so big the lid on the top of my pack couldn't cover some of the bag. As we left town that morning, all the hikers were laughing at me for carrying so much food. One guy said my pack looked like it was giving birth to a food bag. Real funny.

We will be in Monson, Maine in two days. North of Monson is about 100 miles of wilderness, no towns. There is no way we would carry 8 days of food to make it across this 100 mile stretch. Way too heavy. Instead I'm going to check into a guy who has figured out a way to take whatever food you give him, he packages it in some kind of animal proof container (maybe a five gallon bucket) and drops it off at where a logging road crosses the trail. If I trust this guys plan we will carry four days of food and give him the other four days of food to deliver it ahead where we will hopefully find it. Always an adventure.

In the 11th picture, Best Wife and Pappy 12 were eating lunch on a 30 foot sandy beach on East Carry Pond. The entire pond was surrounded by rock except for this stretch of sand. As we started eating this family approached in a canoe from way across the pond.

They joined us on the beach and when they found out we had been hiking for five months they gave us four clementines. Four clementines may not sound like a big deal, but to us they were manna from heaven. Thank you Sperrys for the gift.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wrong Way, Man - Sept 11

We've had some awesome hiking days lately. 8 miles today, 10 yesterday, 8 the day before that, all in great weather. Less than 200 miles left to Mt Katahdin. We are getting more excited every minute. And clear skies are forecast for the next several days. We are blessed people. 

During lunch today I looked ahead in the trail guide and counted only six climbs to go over 1000 vertical feet, and one of those is Katahdin. Comin' down the home stretch. With some relatively flat stretches coming up we ought to get in some 12 and 13 miles days. 

We expect on October 2 or 3 our daughter will meet us in Millinocket, Maine to make the final climb with us and then drive us to Boston. It's going to be wild. 

The other day we were hiking northbound as is our normal direction when we saw a solo hiker approaching. I asked Ho Chi Minh if he was a SOBO (Southbound thru hiker). He said, no, why do you ask? Because you look like a thru hiker, and you are hiking south. No, he said, I'm hiking north. Well, I'm hiking north which means one of us is going the wrong way. I'll bet you $100 right now it's not me. 

Ho Chi Minh started cussing when he came around to the fact that he had gotten disoriented at his last rest  stop and started hiking the wrong way. The three of us started hiking north together and within a minute or two came across a spectacular view. He started to say how great the view was but then said never mind, I've already seen this one. We are still laughing about this Ho Chi Minh. 

The Maine Appalachian Trail Club does a better job than any other club identifying the summits of their mountains. Plenty of great signs. 

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Above Alpine - Sept 9

217 miles to Katahdin. This is really getting us stoked. At 10 miles a day, we should summit in 22 days. For the first time last night we talked with our daughter about what day she might plan on arriving in Millinocket, Maine to summit Katahdin with us and then drive us to Boston. Weird. 

Best Wife and Pappy 12 have had a lot of fun, and a couple not so fun times hiking above treeline, what is referred to around here as the "alpine". Our first hike in the alpine was across Franconia Ridge. Many say Franconia Ridge is hands down the most beautiful, stunning, and breathtaking spot in the Eastern U.S. We didn't get started hiking that day until 11:00 or so, so we didn't make it up above treeline (alpine) until 4:00 in the afternoon.

Best Wife and I had opposite experiences that afternoon. I loved the endless views, the very rugged terrain, the feeling of being in this vast openness totally vulnerable to Mother Nature. 

Best Wife, on the other hand was nervous as a cat. The wind was a little stiff for her. Of course there is no tenting in the alpine because there is no dirt. Best Wife was worried all the way across the ridge that we wouldn't make it back into the wood before dark (she was correct on that one, I had to erect our tent by flashlight that night). While I had the experience of a lifetime, Best Wife was glad to get it over with. 

Another day we hiked in the Alpine up Baldpate Mt in strong winds and steep, steep slabs of rock. Best Wife was terrified. These slabs of rock are pitched at 35 and 40 degrees. Don't look behind you or you will see how far you will roll if you take a spill. Best Wife was justified that day as she did slip once slamming her already bruised and swollen knee on the rock face. Exhilarating for me, terrifying for her. 

Then there was the hike in the Alpine across East Goose, West Goose, and North Goose in 50 mph winds. I loved the challenge and feeling of withstanding the elements. But that day I did feel awful for subjecting my bride to such a difficult and scary experience. As I told her above the howl of the wind how sorry I was that she was so scared we hugged and cried together. 

First picture below is a dozen hikers chowing down hot dogs thanks to nice folks who show up and just feed us. 

The second picture has me laughing. We were hiking along one day minding our own business when Best Wife said she needed to look for a good place to dig a cat hole. Not 5 seconds later do we see this sign in the middle of nowhere. That timing will never happen again. 

Sent from my iPhone