Andover, Maine [some mileage or other]
Today was IT. I woke up and could see my breath, and I was done for good. I figured I’d hit some mountain or other, hopefully find a signal, call the hostel, and see how I could start the process of getting home.
Done. The Appalachian adventure was over. But there were 9 miles to go before that could happen.
I packed up and kept thinking ‘That was it. That was the last night on the trail. Today is the last day on the trail.’ And I was fine with it. More than fine. I was so angry at Maine that I just wanted those last 9 to be done! Finis!
It was a cold morning, of course—hat, gloves, long pants, long sleeves. The whole breath-seeing bit. And the mountain turned out to be a little more challenging than I’d anticipated.
First, though, the bogs! The bogs, the bogs, the bogs, the mud-tar-sewage pits of Maine! Miles of them today. Miles. Rivers of mud. Places where the mud had firmed up enough that it had a solid skin, then one step and splurch… in up to the ankles.
I used language today that shredded the bark off trees. Literally. I watched it happen. Rocks melted.
There’s nothing worse than having decided that your thru-hike is finished, then still having 9 miles of Maine to go through before you can actually be done. Torture! Also, on pretty much no food. I think I had a Spam Lite and a handful of almonds.
It eventually warmed up enough to switch to short sleeves. Almost balmy! But I growled every time the trees snagged my pack and everytime I had to bypass another mountain of moose shit and everytime the wind picked up again and everytime I came to a stretch of trail that was a lake, or a sea of mud, or a stream.
There were some beautiful spots. I came to a turn in the trail and some maintainer had built a bench. I had to go take a look; it faced a beautiful view of the mountains. ‘My last view,’ I thought, without any nostalgia at all, and snapped a picture.
The last mountain of the day turned out to be rough. Old Blue Mountain, I think it was called (my book is packed away): a steep climb up, a mile of sliding boards on the other side (steep enough that there were rebar handholds and railings in spots), then the piece de resistance—bogs, then a mile of downhill that was so steep you might as well just parachute off the edge! Except there wasn’t an edge. Just forest. At the top of one of the steepest sections, somebody had mounted a plaque on a tree: ‘Ole Bitch.’ I grabbed that one for the journal. 😉
So I made it to the hostel. David, the proprietor, told me to take a zero or two before deciding. And Emperor is here! He’s two days ahead of me (doing Mahoosuc tomorrow, bless him), and he’s urging me not to quit.
I went down to the only food source in town—the General Store. And I ate a half-pound cheeseburger with fries. I brought home about a pound of candy and two pints of ice cream, most of which I’ve eaten. HUNGRY. And now I’m rethinking the whole quitting thing. Go figure. I’ll decide tomorrow or the next day. It’s all so… nebulous.
My socks were so muddy that I had to run them through the washer twice to get the caked filth off.
And guess what? David’s hobby is to make moose poop jewelry! Like he says, Maine has long winters.