Stealthing near Brackett Brook [mile 1428.6; SOBO 410.2]
On the road again… Oh, drat. I just don’t know enough Willie Nelson to be able to sing any more than that.
Great day! A great, great day—one that didn’t seem at all inclined to be great from the beginning.
At the Hikers Welcome Hostel, the morning was terrible. I was the first one up, so I sat in the common room drinking coffee and shivering, listening to the rain tap-tap on the windows. There was a trail dog with me to keep me company; only he was asleep by the stairs like a dog-shaped rug.
The sky eventually paled into daylight, but it was grim gray. The clouds were low and hanging overhead like colorblind cotton candy, visibly blowing to the left. That gave me a little hope, actually, because where I needed to be was to the right. So I decided to try to wait it out.
Hikers started stumbling into the common room. The dog moved. Legion made pancakes. The clouds drip-dripped, then it started to pour. But the weather radar said clear skies were coming. At 9 AM I saw a crack of blue, and I hit the road.
Windy! But the rain had stopped. The trail was gorgeous stuff: minimal roots and rocks, and only gradual uphills. I actually was over two little mountains before I knew it.
So there I am, swinging along at a healthy clip, when at 11:37 a freaking bear dashes across the trail right in front of me.
It scared the poop out of me! I think I scared it more, though, which is good. No, it wasn’t Cheddar. Cheddar’s been doing a circuit of the shelters on the other side of Moosilauke. Cheddar, by all accounts, is huge. Cheddar hates daylight. And Cheddar isn’t at all afraid of people. This was a littlish one, and I think what happened is that it was so insanely windy (I mean, branches were snapping off trees) that he didn’t smell me before he saw me. I was downwind of him.
I confess, I was a little spooked after that. No more bears, though—although I did see quite a few dayhikers and a surprising number of NOBOs. Some of the NOBOs seemed a little grim, poles stabbing at the ground, faces downturned as they peered at the trail. Time crunch, I’m guessing. Or fear of one.
The afternoon was beautiful, despite that persistent chilly breeze. Blue skies, easy trail, gentle ups, rock-free downs. Seriously, if it were that easy all the time, everybody would be hiking the AT! 🙂 I’m not naive enough to think that it’ll last. But how joyous to get this one perfect day.
Highlight: the privy at Ore Hill Shelter. Don’t laugh! I’ve been hearing about this privy for a few days now. I love it when the privy makers have a sense of humor—the two seaters, the cribbage board, the little curtains. This one took the prize, though.
The Ore Hill Shelter was burned down in 2011. It wasn’t rebuilt; instead, the area is just a tent site. But the privy is… get this… brand new! Brand new, virgin privy that still smells of lumber. How could I pass that by, when people have been gossiping about it for days? (They were joking at the hostel that if there were an AT ‘Must Poop’ list, the Ore Hill Privy would be at the top.) I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. I did leave a little Latin for them in the register, quid pro quo: ‘Veni, vidi, poopy.’ Thanks for the laugh, Ore Hill people!
I couldn’t quite make it to the next shelter, so I’m holed up at an obviously well used stealth site. It’s gorgeous here! I’m tucked next to a lovely little brook. There’s a frost warning for tonight, I heard. But I’ve got leaves underneath me and hillsides protecting me from the wind.
Tomorrow: I’m not sure. I’m thinking walking may be involved.