Stealthing… oh… I have no clue. Let’s call it mile 1161.4 (SOBO 143)
Is it possible that mosquitoes can be like vampires, and suck so much blood out of you that you’re exhausted? Yesterday the bugs were fierce and plentiful. I didn’t wear the bug pants because of the heat and the fords and th bushwacking, and I paid. Oh, did I pay. I have dozens of bites that are red and itchy. Vampires!
This morning they were at my tent early, banging at the mesh like hikers waiting for an All You Can Eat to open. And I was so tired I just could not motivate. At one point I had my quilt packed up and actually unpacked it to cuddle up some more. I’d half decided I was going to just zero in the tent and sleep—my food supply can handle one extra day—but I’d like to get past the Kennenec River tomorrow if possible. The Kennebec’s too dangerous to ford so the ATC provides a canoe shuttle service, but the hours are limited. I’d like to get that bit of logistical headache out of the way. And some miles are better than no miles, right? So I finally managed to pack up and hit the trail at about 8:15.
But the day went downhill. The trail, alas, did not.
Oh! I should do the quick injury report first. The knee thing is just some sort of bone bruise—that bone right under your knee and slightly to the outside. I must have banged it when I fell. It’s a little swollen and hurts to the touch, but it doesn’t hurt when I walk on it. The rest of me is generally covered in bruises, scratches, and bug bites. Maine is stressing both knees, and they complain a lot. The recurring issue seems to be the right ankle (and the Achilles tendons, which have been problematic since Georgia). Next time I’m in a town with an actual drugstore, I’ll pick up an ankle brace to add to my contingency pile. And that’s it for injuries, knock wood. Not bad!
I did fall once today; I slipped on a sliding board of rock. There are two kinds of rock on the trail; my highly technical terms for them are ‘nonskid’ and ‘skid.’ I’m not any kind of geologist, so I don’t know what types of rock they really are. I’m guessing the difference is some sort of porosity issue, but what do I know? All I do know is that the skid rocks are slippery as hell, and the nonskid rocks aren’t. Virgina has a lot of skid rocks. Katahdin, thank all the gods that ever lived, has a lot of nonskid rocks. Yesterday I was on a mountain made of nonskid rocks, so I felt solid and balanced and unslippery as I marched along. This morning was mostly skid rocks… and of course, my feet slid out from under me and I went sliding down a slab. No harm done, though… and I left the rock a little cleaner than I found it.
So where was I? Oh, yeah. The day going downhill. I felt actually sick today: headachy and really exhausted. I just couldn’t get moving. Wherever I am, it took me six hours to get here—and I don’t think it’s six miles. I was cresting this last (I hope) bit of mountain, hot and dragging and with my head throbbing, when I spotted this stealth site. Before I knew it, I was pitching my tent. I have about a liter of water, which should get me to the next source. And it’s early, but what I think I need is about twelve hours of sleep. So here I am. It destroys my itinerary, but there’s one upside, sort of. I’d wanted to stop by Pierce Pond to pay my respects to Parkside, the young hiker who died there last year. It looks like I’ll actually be staying at that shelter now, if tomorrow’s terrain is Jeckyll Maine instead of Hyde Maine (Hyde was the monster, right?).
But here’s my dilemma. When the tent was nearly up, I realized I’d pitched it four feet from a load of moose poop. What do you do? Who wants to sleep four feet from poop? But then I rationalized it by saying that out here, whenever you pitch your tent the odds are high that you’re pitching on some poop or other. At least moose are vegetarians. And maybe I’ll see one tonight, if it needs to take a crap! (I’ll stick a picture of moose poop down below for my citified friends. Don’t say I never did anything for you!)
In more somber news, hiker Inchworm has apparently gone missing in this area. I met her in Georgia. We’d corresponded a bit before starting. I knew she was having issues back then; she must have flipflopped. Anyway, I hope hope hope she’s OK and is found soon. It’s easy to get lost up here if you’re not super vigilant about the blazes and cairns, and sometimes even if you are. [Edited to add: I’m told the missing hiker is a different Inchworm! I’ll still be watching for her.]
And that’s it. Toads 2, Snakes 1! And I saw another one of those fat birds, this time on the ground.
Tomorrow, I hope, the Kennebec.
Edited to add: I forgot! Two reunions today!
When I woke up I heard voices down at the shelter, so I stepped down to see who was there. One of them was Gard! He was one of the two buddies back in the Smokies. I can’t remember the other guy’s name. Freight Train? Anyway, the buddy was leaving the trail with Achilles tendinitis, and the two guys shared the cigar they’d been planning to smoke at Katahdin. Very poignant.
The second reunion was with Stumbles! I met her back in Tennessee. She was the first young woman I met who was speed-hiking as fast as the speediest guys. She still is, apparently; she’s with a group of them.
Good luck to both Gard and Stumbles on their finishes!