Little Bigelow Lean-to [mile 1191.3; SOBO 172.9]
I may have screwed up the mileage math in some of the earlier entries. I swear I’m losing IQ points out here. The SOBO mileage numbers are correct; those are right out of the book. And Harpers Ferry was at 1018.4.
So, mediocre news first? Or fun stuff? I know! I’ll do the mediocre stuff first, then it’s out of the way.
I think I’m having my official first Maine meltdown! Sort of.
Why? I have no idea. But the last two days I’ve only managed to go shelter to shelter, which is insanely low mileage. My grandmother could do that, and she died in 1971. I just get ridiculously fussy and tired and uncomfortable after six or seven hours, which translates to six to eight miles, and I’m done. I’m so exhausted by that point that it takes me three hours to get the tent set up and my clothes changed and the journaling started—and believe me, there’s not three hours of work there. Everything I currently own could fit in a grocery bag.
So what is it? What’s going on? I think it’s a motivation issue: I’m sick of walking. I don’t want to walk anymore. I don’t want to walk and walk and walk and walk, day in and day out. And you know what that means, it seems to me? Not enough zeroes. If you do your job for days on end, eventually you get sick of it and need a break. Plus the days are hot.
Anyway, I’ll be in Stratton eventually. I don’t know if I’ll take a full zero there, but one’s coming, for sure. It doesn’t even affect my outcome. If I don’t take the zeroes then I go so slowly that it would have been better if I had.
Coming up on 1200 miles. That’s simply a lot of walking.
The good news is that I don’t actually feel as bad as I did in Virginia, moodwise. I’m just pooped. I think I’m eating enough. I may not be drinking enough, because last night I got a ferocious leg cramp. Ever since that dayhiker sent my water bottle spinning off Katahdin, my water system has been screwed up—and it’ll probably continue to be screwed up until I can replace that bottle. They’re not easy to find. Then I ran out of AquaMira, and the tablets made the water brown, and all the Maine water tastes disgusting. Drinking is a bit of a chore. But I’ll keep a better eye on it.
So enough of that! On to the juice of the day!
The weather did take a turn overnight: It turned to winter! It was gray and cold when I woke up, with a blustery wind blowing hard off the lake.
But get this. An animal invaded my camp during the night! I could hear it making these beastly ungodly snorting noises. It kept waking me up. I wasn’t scared, but I wanted to keep an ear on it, as it were, so I took my earplugs out. Was it a boar, I was thinking? Does Maine have boars? Was it a moose? I didn’t think it was a bear because of the way it was snuffling.
Then after a while, I realized it wasn’t moving. It was staying in the same location.
Holy crap! It was that section hiker in his tent, snoring like a demented buzzsaw.
I laughed. I’m just happy it wasn’t some crazy Maine boar thing.
I started out at 7:15 (after the snorer, by the way) in long pants and a jacket. Eventually it warmed up and the bugs started to come out. So I went for my trusty bug headnet and oh, noes! It wasn’t in its pocket.
I lost my bug headnet! I had it over my hat last night when I went for water. It must have slipped off amid the wind and the crouching. Grrr. Not critical gear, but convenient; if I had to lose an ounce, there were other candidates I would have chucked first. At a certain point all the ballast is gone, and every loss of something is significant. I do have a permethrin-treated buff, and the bug shirt has a hood, so there are alternatives if the world should explode into bugs. They’re both uncomfortably hot, though. With the higher elevations coming, I might not even try to replace it (not that I could; I got it online, Peter’s Headnets, and it was an excellent piece of equipment). We’ll see. I don’t hit an outfitter for a good long while anyway.
The day got downright hot and sunny, but the wind stayed stiff. When I’d stop (which has been every half-hour lately because of shoulder pain, despite the fact that my pack is at its lightest), I’d get cold again. But I had a quick lunch on the shore of a beautiful lake. These lakes and ponds never get old!
Then the most frustrating thing of the day happened: I lost the trail. I wasn’t really lost because I knew where the last blaze was; I just couldn’t find the next one. It was at a road, and the guide said the trail picked up a tenth mile to the east. So I trudged and trudged and actually gave it two tenths (because the mileages are sometimes off). No trail. I was practically in tears. I didn’t know what to do. The last white blaze had faced west, not east, so I headed in that direction… and damn, the trail was there. I’m having a hard time with the west versus east directions in the SOBO guide, but I thought I’d figured it out. Apparently not. (Going SOBO, sometimes it seems like I have to flop the directions in the book; but sometimes it seems like I don’t. I find it very confusing, despite the directions in the beginning of the guide.)
I didn’t make it much farther than that—just a mile or two up to this shelter. It was easy walking, too; felt like Georgia. Minimal roots and rocks, just an uphill slog.
And here I am. Tomorrow it’s 15 or 16 miles to town, plus another five if the hostel doesn’t shuttle. So I won’t get there tomorrow. This is starting to feel like Erwin and Waynesboro: the towns that just wouldn’t arrive!
Edited to add: I forgot! Some enterprising soul had tagged the road that marks 2000 miles for the NOBOs. Maybe that’s what gave me the meltdown; the subtle reminder that if I make it, now my 2000-mile mark will be somewhere in Pennsylvania. Right past the Eagles Nest Shelter, in fact. Gotta get there first—which isn’t at all assured. But congrats, NOBOs who are finishing! Nice job! 🙂
Also, in the Where’s Waldo department, here’s a toad picture. Toads 2, Snakes 0! And also pictures of the privy at this shelter… in case you and your significant other just can’t get enough of each other, a double seater!