West Carry Pond Lean-to [mile 1183.6; SOBO 165.2]
The tent held up through the night! If it had rained harder, or even if a strong wind had blown up, it would have been a different story.
Still, I woke up cold and damp. I’ve been on the trail for as long as the NOBOs I’m meeting, and in many cases longer. My gear is filthy and grubby and taped and repaired… and so am I. It’s all getting just a little old, and it’s hard to wake up in the dirty tent and put on the same filthy wet cold clothes morning after morning. Lucky I don’t have another thousand miles of trail to do! 😉
Speaking of NOBOs: Last night at the shelter there were three in the actual shelter, and two tenting. They were happy and boisterous, obviously excited and more than a little punchy to be within 200 miles of the end. I was in a more solemn state of mind, thinking about Parkside… and I have many more miles to trudge (including the frightening Whites!) before I reach that level of celebration. Besides, I needed sleep. So I left them alone. They were mostly gone when I packed out, zooming on to the finale.
The morning was chilly; it feels like fall, to tell you the truth. I kept putting my wind shirt on and taking it off. The sun wasn’t out steadily until around noon, and it’s been in and out since then. The wind’s picked up, too; this morning’s light breeze has turned into a steady blow that’s rattling up waves on the big pond down there. It feels like the weather’s trying to change… but into what? Back into summer might be nice, but I don’t want to jinx the cool.
This terrain is really an ankle buster! Maine is boots territory if I ever saw it. I’m about sick of the bogs and mudslicks. The first hundred were interesting, but now I hate having to watch every slippery step on the rocks and roots. It’s slow going. I think today was my last flat day in Maine, though. Tomorrow I start the Bigelows—a mountain chain I know nothing about, but the elevation profile looks nasty, and I’m sensing a lot of rock work in my immediate future. I’m ready to be out of the mud—although I imagine at this time tomorrow I’ll be thinking, ‘Oh, flat and muddy… how I miss you.’ Such is life on the trail!
I should be in Stratton the day after tomorrow… or maybe not. I’m not sure yet how I’ll work it. It looks like I could get into town late after a 15-mile day (including the 5 miles into town if I can’t get a shuttle), but that won’t leave me enough time to do everything. I may decide not to spend the money; in that case, I’ll get there early the next day and get everything done and head out again after one night, just like in Monson. Time or money, time or money; which is the priority? They’re both important now if I actually hope to finish.
I only saw one other hiker today, a NOBO stopped at a pond for lunch. Tonight (so far) it’s just me and an older section hiker in the shelter. These empty shelters feel so strange! It still feels like every shelter should have fifteen hikers in it, with six or eight tents scattered around. There was some trail magic here, though, which was lovely. Thank you, trail angel! I thought the trail magic was over. Also, it looks like Floss was here last night, and Billy and NotYet (I think you’re a day ahead of me, guys!)
And that’s about it. Some beautiful ponds today, great flat bowls of blue water fringed by pines. And Toads 5, Snakes 2, which tells you how wet Maine is. Their license plates should say Maine: The slimy state!
Tomorrow: Heavy climbing into the Bigelows.