Stealth camping near Rainbow Lake [mile 1042.4?; SOBO 24?]
I don’t have my mojo back, that’s for sure. Missing: One mojo. If found, please maildrop to the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.
Before I get to the fun stuff, let me put the big issue right out there: I’m going to run out of Aqua Mira long before I get out of the Hundred. And to make matters worse, I’m told that not only is there no real outfitter in Monson, there’s no longer a grocery store. But the water? Big problem. Maine may have more water than any other state, but it seems to be in the form of brown lake water and standing ponds full of moose shit, and sloppy puddles of brown muck. My Aqua Mira seems to be leaking. It may run out as early as tomorrow. After that, I’ve got tablets as a backup, but only 25 liters’ worth. Which means I’m going to have to ration water fairly seriously—something I don’t want to do, because it’s been in the 90s with a high heat index. Even at that, I’m probably looking at drinking untreated water for three or four days. I don’t really know what to do about it, aside from suck it up. If I had a stove, I could boil. The only upside is that the water here has been so unappealing that I don’t even want to drink it.
Maybe I’ll have to bite the bullet and go to Whitehouse Landing at the halfway point. I want to avoid that, though, if They don’t have an outfitter there, anyway, but I bet I could buy a couple of liters of water.
So, enough of that! I didn’t sleep well, but I woke up early—about 5:30. Mojo-less, I had to repack my pack twice to get things where I wanted them. It was already uncomfortably hot by 7 AM. The SOBO newlyweds were still in their tent when I headed out. I stopped at the Abol store to see if they had any picaridin bug spray, but they didn’t; so it’s DEET and the bug suit for the rest of the Hundred.
The sun was beating as I crossed Abol Bridge. Two grizzled NOBOs passed me; one of them grinned and said, “We saved a couple of bugs for you in there! I’m sure you’ll find ’em!” And he was right. The HMW was bug central. The mosquitoes were on me immediately. I had my bug pants on, but it was too hot for the shirt, so I broke down and DEETed my arms. You know, I watched one of the little bastards land in an actual puddle of DEET and bite me? But overall, it was a good strategy. I’ve got maybe twenty bites, and I suspect most of those came from the maneaters on Katahdin.
The trail in Maine! It’s tricksy, my preciouss. No long, straight road, but a constantly curving snake of a trail, full of roots and rocks and mud. (I finally found the mud; only got mired in it once, though.) The trees are pines, straight and tall, the the forest floor is ruddy with their needles. It reminds me of Roan Mountain. Oddly, it’s very quiet up here. Down south the birds were so loud that their cheer could deafen you; here, not many birds. I’m guessing it’s because of the pine trees? I don’t know, but it makes the forest feel old and somehow sacred.
Midmorning I stopped at the Hurd Brook lean-to for second breakfast and water, and guess who showed up? Yonder! Remember him? The German hiker, Jon, who bunked with me and Jordana and Big Ed on the night of March 6 at the Hiker Hostel? We started our hike together! I posted a picture of him, I think, at Neels Gap right at the beginning.
I was thrilled to see him again. I haven’t seen him since Hiawassee, and he was already two days ahead of me. So here we are… he’s finishing and I’m halfway home. Sounds about right. He’ll be summitting Katahdin tomorrow. What a perfect closing of that particular circle. He won’t be the last friend I get to say goodbye to, but seeing him the day before his summit was perfect poetry.
After that, the trail turned uphill. I was roasting; eventually I decided it was safe to take off the bug pants. There were a ton of hikers out, but most off them weren’t thrus; just people out hiking the HMW. Some of them gave me the low-down on Monson. Resupply’s going to require a shuttle and maybe a zero I wasn’t planning on. You know, I’d actually do my first real maildrop (of food) there if I had phone service now to arrange it!
Oh, and Yonder said that resupplying is hard all through Maine. That sucks! I find resupply hard even when it’s easy.
The day wore on, and it got hotter and hotter. Eventually after eight hours of hiking, I simply reached my limit. Not many miles; I’m up to my old tricks again. Maine isn’t great for stealth camping, either—too many rocks, too many roots. But I found what’s probably the worst stealth site ever, just a flat little corner tucked among rocks and trees, right near Rainbow Lake. I can hear the water lapping at the stones.
Water. How do you ration water when the heat index is a hundred degrees?
I guess that’ll work itself out. Right now, there’s a slate-gray lake ten feet from my tent, and the waves are singing me to sleep. How could I be anything but grateful to be here? 🙂