Gentian Pond Shelter [mile 1304.9; SOBO 286.5]
Lookit, lookit! I’m outta Maine! No matter what else happens on this hike or how far I get, I can cross off both the longest and the second-longest states on the AT, and that’s huge.
And how was it, crossing into New Hampshire? Well, there was this brown ribbon winding through the forest… a trail, yes! That’s what you call it! It’s been so long since I’ve seen one that I forgot! 😉
I know it’s going to be horrible in about three days, or maybe even tomorrow. I’m just going to go ahead and enjoy tonight.
So I woke up on my tent platform and nothing had collapsed. I have mixed feelings about the platforms. I can’t really guy out the tent properly, so I worry about the wind and the rain. On the other hand, the flatness underneath is a blessing; the footprint doesn’t get so wet; and I don’t have to pull slugs off the tent before I pack it up. That’s always a bonus!
I hit the trail at 6:45. Oh, last night at the shelter I ran into someone I’d met briefly back at the Captain’s in Virginia: Why Not, from Sacramento. Also, Magic Scout; he recognized me, rather than vice versa. That happens sometimes; right here at this shelter is somebody I met in passing way down in Tennessee: Barbarosa. I remembered his sharp blue eyes and his red hair and his kilt; he didn’t remember me at all, lol. I also remembered his old hiking buddy Misery; ironically they’d separated and Barbarosa just ran into Misery again at his last town stop. Trail synchronicity!
So it was my last day in Maine. It was terrifically windy all day; the gusts were so fierce on the mountaintops that they kept snatching my pack and pushing me off the trail. My pants were like giant air balloons, and I was afraid I was going to take off and be blown back deeper into Maine. The horror! (This wind feels like it’s hauling weather; I suspect it’ll be raining when I hit the Whites.)
Right out of the shelter there was a climb, then a gorgeous mountain view, my last sunrise in Maine. And after that, the trail turned… well, is hideous too strong a word? Hell, no! The trail turned hideous. Basically it treated us to a round of Maine’s Greatest Hits. There were rock scrambles like Mahoosuc and climbs like Katahdin. There were steep, finger-clawing ascents up moon-topped mountains. There were bogs so deep that they’d actually swallowed the bog bridging.
It made for an interesting morning! But around noon came the long-awaited signpost.
I leapfrogged all day with SOBOs Herc and Hobbit. They’d stopped at the border for a celebratory lunch, and they were kind enough to take a picture.
Oh, and shoot! I almost forgot! Two tenths of a mile before the border, I passed the 1300-mile mark. I’ve gone through three pairs of shoes (this pair here was destroyed by Maine; if I didn’t have shoes waiting in Gorham, I’d be duct-taping them together). I’ve seen snakes (two today!) and toads and bears and moose and deer and squirrels and chipmunks. And I’ve learned so much so far. I’ve got a long way to go before I could claim any expertise, but I think I’ve reached the journeyman stage as a backpacker. Literally.
The first few miles of New Hampshire were relatively easy walking. Oh, there were ups and downs, but they had less… malign intent than the climbs of Maine. Or maybe I was just excited.
There were some reunions today, and some new inteoductions to people I’d heard of but never met. The reunion: Slim Jim! I met him with ODAAT back before Trail Days, and we stayed together at the Wapiti (woppity, lol!) Shelter. That’s interesting, that I ran into him and Iced Tea within a few days of each other. I also finally met the infamous Double D. I don’t know why I knew his name; the registers, maybe. I stumbled across him and he had everything in his pack spread out on the ground. He’s got a great trail dog with him—Dixie. I have no idea how she’s going to handle the massive rebar cliff walls in the early Maine section.
I met a great pair of NOBOs: Paisley and Mr. Gigglepants. 🙂 How can you not love that trail name? We exchanged some skinny. Apparently water is a big problem in Pennsylvania. They had to hitch into town twice because they were out and couldn’t find any. Note to self: two full liters through the home territory.
The leaves are starting to change and fall up here.
But who cares? It’s not Maine!
Tomorrow: A long day into Gorham. Pray for easy hiking!