Pierce Pond Lean-to [mile 1173.6; SOBO 155.2]
It rained overnight. But I slept for about twelve hours, so yay! No moose or ninja came upon me in the night, and I managed to do a fair imitation of popping out of bed (slowishly) when the alarm went off. I felt infinitely better. I’d let my tiredness quotient rise way too high. Not sure I’ll be able to fix that if i continue to resupply on a nero instead of a zero, but I’ll watch it for a while.
I hit the trail before 6 AM; the bad news was that I hadn’t gotten as far as I thought last night. I thought I’d stopped just before the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain, but it was a false summit, and it took me an hour or so to get to the real one. The morning was thick with fog, and the roots and rocks were treacherously wet. I knew early that I wouldn’t be making the 9-to-11 ferry shift. So I was aiming for the 2-to-4 shift.
By the way, I think Floss passed my tent around dinnertime last night, and I think he was on the earlier ferry. If so, he’s a half day or a day ahead of me now.
Earlier the terrain was very much Hyde Maine: a steep vertical downhill, or a series of them. False bottomsl.
The drizzle had stopped by the time I got to the first lean-to for water. I had a semi-reunion there! I’d met a hiker named Sundance, I think, or Butch. The pair of them, young Brits, were staying (I believe) at the shelter where RiskIt first got sick. That would have been right after the NOC. I stopped in to use the privy and met one of them. I think I mentioned it here, back in the day.
After that, the trail was more like Jeckyll Maine: rocky and boggy and rooty, but flat. I can usually do 1.5 mph in Jeckyll Maine, but Hyde Maine drops me down to 1 mph or less. So I trundled along, hoping hard that the trail wasn’t going to take a turn toward the Hyde. Eventually there was a long climb, as straight and steep as a Georgia mountain without switchbacks, then a long descent to the Kennebec.
I got to the ferry at 1 PM. The sun was out then, so I spread my wet gear and ate lunch. For the record, you know that old commercial about two great tastes that taste great together? Those two great tastes are not, in fact, tuna and Snickers.
The ferryman was terrific, and I didn’t even have to give him two pennies. He gave me some very inferesting information. He uses the release forms to collect data for the ATC as part of his contract. The Kennebec is the only place on the trail that everybody has to visit if they’re thru-hiking. I’ll be classified as ‘thru-hike: flip-flop.’
The other piece of info is that apparently most of the southbounders quit or jumped ahead three weeks ago because of the weather. It had rained for three or four solid weeks, and all the fords were six feet higher than they are now. That one with the rope? That would have been over my head! And with the current, the ferryman said, it was impassable. That explains the piles of gear on both sides. People must have just said, “The hell with this” and walked to the nearest road crossing for a bailout.
Luck. I wanted to flip on June 27 but couldn’t get a reservation at Katahdin until July 14, so I sat on my hands and growled. If I’d flipped when I wanted to, I would have had to deal with weeks of rain, and I couldn’t have done the fords. I would have been off the trail. Instead, I had nearly perfect weather for Katahdin and the Hundred… and I’m still here.
Here, by the way, is Pierce Pond. Such a sad story. If you haven’t heard it, last year a 19-year-old NOBO named Parkside was staying here with his hiking buddies. He went for a swim in the pond, which is vast. All of a sudden his friends heard him crying for help. They ran down and jumped in, but couldn’t find Parkside anywhere. Searchers eventually found his body, drowned.
That would be enough, right there, with the moral being to go out and hug someone you love. But Parkside’s story got miraculous after that. His friends carried his ashes for the rest of the trail and all the way up Katahdin, so he could finish his journey. The ATC posthumously awarded him his certificate. It gives me chills when I think about it.
Those are special friends. He must have been remarkable.
So here I am, and guess what? It’s raining! Which is fine, but I’ve managed to achieve the worst pitch in 40 years of sleeping in tents! I thought the tent would fit between these boulders, but it doesn’t, and I didn’t realize it until the rain was coming down torrentially and I’d dived inside. So I went out and did a little half-assed magic with some rocks. Hopefully the thing will stay up through the night.
Tomorrow: Oh, I have no freaking clue. The big mountains are getting ready to start again, though… all Hyde all the way!
Oh, and yeah! Toads 3, Snakes 0.