Sunday, 9/20

AT Miles = 15.1 / 2078.9
Other Miles = 0 / 63.0
Total Miles = 15.1 / 2141.9

Miles to Katahdin = 99.4

Hey folks, look at that! Less than 100 miles to go! I can remember how thrilled I was when I reached the first 100 miles of this trek, and now here I am at the last 100 miles. It’s all starting to feel a bit surreal.

Today was a great day; just perfect hiking weather. Clear skies, cool temps, a mild breeze. And instead of laboring under my ridiculously heavy pack (43 pounds with 7 days of food aboard), I semi-slackpacked most of today. A former threu-hiker named Paddyo has been in the area ofering hikers shuttles and providing trail magic. I hadn’t mat Paddyo before last night, but Rookie, who I’ve been hiking with the last couple of days, knew him and arranged to have Paddy shuttle us to the trailhead this morning, then we put a bunch of our heavier gear — hammock, tarp, sleeping bag, most of my food — in Paddyo’s truck and hiked with a very light pack. Paddyo met us at a dirt road at mile 14. When I got there he pulled out the gas grill and fired it up to cook hamburgers and hotdogs. So after hiking 14 miles I had two cheeseburgers, two hot dogs, two cans of root beer, some potatoe chips, and three brownies. Paddyo is a big Johnny Cash fan and he showed us a DVD he has that includes some footage of a very young and very nervous Bob Dylan recording with Johnny Cash. It was awesome.

Once I tore myself away from all the food, I repacked my backpack with all the gear that Paddyo had shuttled for me and hefted my now very heavy pack to hike the one remaining mile up here to Long Pond Stream Lean-to.

As I am sure I mentioned before, my brother Dana and I hiked this section southbound years ago. It was great fun reminiscing about that trip along the way today. I forded Big Wilson Stream today and remembered that when we forded it on that previous trip, Dana stepped in a big hole and went in nearly to his waist. And just north of Big Wilson Stream the trail crosses the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad tracks. When Dana and I hiked through here a small work car with two men aboard came down the tracks, and if I remnember correctly, Dana had a short, shouted conversation with the two men as they went by.

I had entertained vague hopes of pushing 4 more miles today to reach Cloud Pond Lean-to, but that four miles includes a 2000 foot climb, and there just weren’t enough daylight hours left to make it. I hope to be able to get through most of the Barren-Chairback Range tomorrow. It all depends on how my knees hold up to all the climbing and descending. I would really like to get over White Cap by Tuesday evening. That’s the last significant climb until Katahdin. From where I am tonight it is 29 miles to Logan Brook Lean-to, on the north side of White Cap. The mileage is certainly doable, it’s just the climbing that has me worried. Also, the forecast calls for a 40% chance of rain on Tuesday afternoon, and 50% Tuesday night. Rain up on the bald peaks would make for dicey going on the rocks. Well, we’ll see what happens.

“Home is where I hang my food bag”

Allen Freeman