Moving on in Maine: Days 79-86

Mile 946.6 – 1052.5, 7/1919 – 7/26/19

Day 79: 8 miles

ME 4 to Reddington Campsite

We walked around the town of Rangley in the morning. Great breakfast and then on to the grocery store for resupply. Stacy gave us a ride back to the trailhead, and we were on trail around 11. We knew that we were going up and over Saddleback Mtn and The Horn, both above treeline, and I at least was a little worried because there were storms in the forecast. When we got to the top of Saddleback, we could see the rain in the valley, but we never got any on top of the mountain!

In the saddle between Saddleback and the Horn, we met a Maine Appalachian Trail Conservancy ridge runner, someone who gets paid to hike a certain section of trail over and over and talk to people and do light trail work. He told us some great info about Baxter State Park, and told us to make sure to stop at the ATC center in Monson, which we’d be reaching in a few days.

Then in was downhill to Reddington Campsite, which according to our guide is haunted… We didn’t notice anything though.

Day 80: 15.8 miles

Reddington Campsite to stealth site

More mountains today! Southern Maine sometimes feels like it never ends. I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, but I do want to get across that I was just exhausted for most of New Hampshire and Southern Maine.

Heading up one of the mountains today, I had my head down, paying attention to the rocks, as usual, when I heard “hey Valkyrie!” I looked up and there was Beanpole, a guy I hiked with for a few days in Pennsylvania. He had made it to Katahdin, then turned around headed south. He sympathized with me about the mountains in Maine, and then told me that after the Bigelows, the mountains we’d be hitting in a few days, it would be easy sailing all the way to Katahdin. Always nice to see old friends, especially when they give you such cheerful news!

I caught up with Hotman and Salty around 5. They were taking a break at a river. We all looked at each other and decided as a group we didn’t want to hike the 1.5 more miles we had to where we had planned on staying, so we just set up our tents in some previously used stealth spots near the river.

Day 81: 13.3 miles

Stealth Site to Cowboy Camping site

Got on trail nice and early. Up and over Crocker Mtn, which wasn’t too bad, but wasn’t easy either. Then downnn, for a long way. Hotman and I had lunch about halfway down, and we talked about how we probably wouldn’t get any more trail magic. Then, when we got to the road crossing at the bottom of the mountain, we met a lady who was friends with Buckwild. She had Mtn Dews (which Hotman had just been talking about craving) and bananas!

Then we headed up to the Horns. I got to a viewpoint overlooking a lake. Hotman and Salty were already there, having a snack. Hotman casually mentioned how this would be a cool spot to cowboy camp. We all looked at each other for a few moments before deciding to just do it. It would make for a long day the next day, but you gotta take these chances when they come!

We had a brief rain scare whe we saw the clouds moving in, but they passed us by.

As we looked up at the stars, we talked about how nice the sunrise would be the next morning.

Day 82: 18.1 miles

Cowboy Camping site to West Carry Pond Lean-to

Well, we woke up the next morning to fog all around. Couldn’t even see the trees that were farther than 20 feet away, let alone the sunrise. We headed up the Horn, which wasn’t a bad climb, and then on to the Bigelows.

For most of West Bigelow, didn’t get any god views, but on Bigelow’s Avery Peak, the clouds opened up and gave amazing views.

By the time I got to Little Bigelow, the clouds had burned off, so I got views, but Little Bigelow is an annoying mountain. The trail goes up the ridge so the topo map looks like it should be a pretty easy climb, but it was little ups and downs all the way to top. Once we got down off the mountain, it was easy terrain for the last 8 or so miles into camp.

Day 83: 19.7 miles

West Carry Pond Lean-to to Pleasant Pond Lean-to

Our plan today was to go into Caratunk, resupply, and then head out. To do that, we first had to cross the Kennebec River. Because of the potential danger due to a dam upstream, the official way to cross the Kennebec is by a ferry, run by the ATC. The ferry had hours from 9 to 2, and because of this time constraint I was very anxious about being there on time. So, we got on trail very early. Hotman and I were on trail at about 6:30 and made it to the ferry, 13.5 miles away, by 11:30. Salty was only a little ways behind us.

We resupplied at the Caratunk House, where we also got some amazing milkshakes! We hung around there for quite awhile, talking with Just Greg and Grandpa and the hostel owners.

Then it was an easy 6 miles to the shelter, where we had a nice swim in the lake. Beanpole was right: after the Bigelows things have been easier.

Day 84: 22 miles

Pleasant Pond Lean-to to Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to

Easy but long day today. None of the mountains were that bad, and one had good views and blueberries. What else do you need?

Then it was flat and easy terrain, with a couple of river fords to get my feet wet.

Day 85: 9 miles

Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to to ME 15

Slept in and so got a late start on trail, but that’s alright since it was easy 9 miles to ME Rt 15, where we got a ride into town from Shaw’s Hiker Hostel, an AT landmark. Got into town in time for a late lunch. We went to the ATC center and registered our tentative Katahdin summit date of Aug 2, and then BBQ for dinner.

Day 86: 0 miles

I woke up today thinking about how many miles we were going to do today, only to hear a groan from across the bunkroom. Salty had gotten food poisoning from one of the two establishments we had eaten at, and was obviously not feeling much up for hiking. None of us wanted to split up the group this close to Katahdin, so Hotman and I decided to take an unexpected zero, hoping Salty would be ready to hike the next day. We spent the day finding Gatorades for Salty and eating junk food. We also went back over to the ATC center and switched our summit date to the 3rd.

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