Day 143: Maine wants shoes

Bemis Mountain Lean-to [mile 1256.5; SOBO 238.1]

Short day today. I was bewitched by something. I don’t know what. I made a few miles, though, and hopefully I can get a shuttle into town tomorrow afternoon. If not, the ten miles after that are going to be hungry.

I actually don’t feel well. Being so wet and cold for so many days has just sapped me. It’s a sunny day today (although not so bright, here in the green tunnel), with a wind that rips right through my clothes. My shoes are so wet that I squelch with every step, and that may have been the deal breaker today. I’m just frozen. (Not that it’s anywhere near freezing; but temps in the 50s with that wind… brrrr.)

I’ll set an alarm and try for an early start tomorrow. Which reminds me: This is how off my game I am today, mentally. I inadvertently left my phone off battery mode for an hour or two. Up here, that’s the kiss of death. I just wasted about 20% of my battery life, and the charger’s used up, too. I have to conserve the remaining battery so I can make calls tomorrow.

So. I didn’t try to get up super early today; I wanted to have enough light that I could see the stream clearly. And it was so wet yesterday that I figured every hour would help the water level go down. I guess it was about 6:30 when I finally got up.

Everything in the tent was some degree of damp or outright wet, so packing was a challenge. But I hit the river at about 7:45. I wore my sandals and waded in. It was deeper on my side, and with a stronger current, but it only came to a couple inches over my knees. Then it got shallow on the other side. For the first time, this stream had nonskid rocks at the bottom! I have no idea why. The rocks on the bottom of the ford streams are usually slick as ice.

On the other bank I changed into my soaking wet cold socks and shoes. (Did I mention putting on my soaking wet cold underwear and shorts and tee shirt and wind shirt in the tent? What fun!) Then I climbed the first part of Bemis Mountain.

Bemis is interesting. The climb up was typical Maine—mostly wet sliding boards today, and I was happy to be going up instead of coming down. But the top was like a lunar landscape—mottled rock punctuated by stubby pines and blanketed in lichen and moss. It went on for a while and it’s still going; I’ll see more of it tomorrow. There were plenty of dragonflies, as there have been at most of these elevations, but the wind blasting through the wet clothes kept me from enjoying them.

The number of bogs and boglike puddles on top of this mountain is insane. My shoes kept getting wet over and over and over. In places the trail was like a swollen river; I couldn’t believe I was actually on the trail.

One good thing: Blueberries grow in abundance up on the mountains, and I ate a handful today. Delicious! I try not to eat too many. First of all, I like to leave them for the environment and the critters who depend on them. Second, you just never know where a hiker or a moose has peed. But my food supply is very low, and it dragged my standards down with it.

Then I came to the shelter and looked at my book and decided to get warm and dry. My feet feel frozen solid even after a half-hour in dry socks and my quilt. Outside I strung a clothesline and put my socks over it. My bog socks are almost dry! You know you’re in trouble when your best sock options are the ones that were covered in stinking black mud a couple of days ago.

And here I am. I hope I get to town soon! Not that there’s anything in town but a convenience store. (The diner is likely to be closed on the days I’ll be there.) But believe me, I’d be happy with 7/11 food right about now! I just hope one of the hostels picks up at the first road crossing.







Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Day 143: Maine wants shoes

  1. Lisa Milstead

    Hang in there Karma! You have been through worse- SNOW! And you keep walking toward warmer!

  2. Judy

    Karma, Lisa is right — you ARE hiking toward warmer! You have been through a lot. But it is all temporary. Please hang in there. Things will get better! Hope you can stop and see Earl and Marjorie at The Cabin. Billy and NotYet loved them and their hospitality! Please would you let me know when you expect to arrive in Gorham, since I didn’t know when you’d be in Andover? We really do have a trail magic pkg to ship out to you! Safe journeys, and just keep hiking, just keep hiking…. and smile.

  3. Hang in there. You are so close.

  4. It seems silly now, but I always imagined the Appalachian Trial as, you know, a trial. Like a path that you walked on for 2000 mikes. Not going straight up and down and thru rivers, and past Karl Malden with an axe. Gawd! Hope you’re dried out and resting. Xo

    • Somebody way back at the beginning described it as a 2100-mile obstacle course. I’d say that’s a fair description. πŸ˜‰

  5. Love the glacial striations on the granite. BTW, everyone’s right. You’ve been through worse.

    • I did think my shoes were frozen this morning. Then I remembered it’s August.

      • Blackbird

        Yeah, the WARMEST time of the year up there, right? Pretty funny.

        I’d say the AT is 1,700 miles of relatively easy walking. Then, from the Whites northward, it’s another. ball. game. altogether.
        No worries.

      • I’m not even sure it’s using a ball! Or maybe it’s still a ballgame, bit with a spiked mace.

  6. Blackbird

    From Chew’s book on AT geology: “The summit of Bemis Mountain is a roof pendant of Silurian rock, which was once the uneven roof of a mass of molten rock. Originally clay, the summit rock was greatly heated by the molten rock below, causing garnet, staurolite, and sillimanite to form as crystals. When rocks such as these are heated by hot granite, they tend to be more resistant to erosion than those subjected to the more common heat and pressure of metamorphism. Overriding glaciers smoothed the bare rock of the top.”

    “Bemis Mountain is on drainage to the north. At each end of the mountain, the Trail crosses the Bemis Stream, which parallels the ridge and flows north to Mooselookmeguntic Lake. … Several glacial ponds and and bogs are along the Trail in this area. Bogs are poorly drained areas where decaying vegetation [and hikers] formed a deep organic muck.”

    I only read it in a book, but you lived it!

  7. Val

    Karma… Gosh I can feel every step (and you are saying ..”Oh…..REALLY????) ha ha Seriously I applaud you for making a miserable, rugged, section of the trail ‘doable’ …… since I will be doing it next year I now ‘believe’ I can do it!! Keep on enduring. NH is truly gorgeous, although hard. I wish you the best!! Kokopelli 2014

    • You’re going to have an awesome time! I think this is just a miserably wet, cold year. I’m crossing my fingers for all my 2014 buddies that you have the best weather EVER. πŸ™‚

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