Miles from Springer Mountain: 2049.0
Miles to Mount Katahdin: 143.0
I’m under 150 miles! The last 3 days have been a large transition period in the Maine section of my Appalachian Trail hike. ME is considered one of the toughest states on the AT- the elevation change can be drastic, towns can be few and far in between, roots and ruts become more abundant, weather can be erratic, and the bugs are relentless. This portion has consisted of a large shift from high altitude and some serious ascents to mainly flatland and the “pine needle highway”.
On the 7th I conquered the Bigelows! From the top of Bigelow Mountain I could see in the distance both Mt. Washington and Mt. Katahdin – it was a day of perfect visibility, conditions were just right. I made it to the Little Bigelow Lean-to where I was joined by some friends: Scoutmaster, Scepter, Sneaks, Fireball, and Lumpy – we all relaxed, hung out around the fire as we ate dinner, and reminisced on how far we had walked. It was a great ending to my day, Crossing the Bigelows only leaves about 2 or 3 major ridges until Mt. Katahdin!
Sometimes I can tell if it’s going to be a good day just by looking at the altitude maps – the 8th was going to be a good day. These parts of the trail move from “pond to pond” (Maine ponds are Indiana lakes), they were crafted that way ages ago when the waterways were the primary form of transportation, Benedict Arnold even led a small army over what’s now the AT. The “Pine Needle Highway” is mile after mile of flatland trail carved out amongst the Pine trees, the roots are abundant, but it’s smooth and easy walking.
I made it that night to the Pierce Pond Lean-to, about .3 miles away was Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps, some friends were relaxing there so I headed over to meet them. The owner was working with all of his retired friends on building a new bridge, so he let us hikers relax in the lodge with some cold lemonade. There was three of us there, after the locals finished work they sat and talked with us about Maine and the trail. We even got some trail magic! Trail magic in Maine tends to be green, grown from the earth, and illegal in Indiana.
Only a short jut away from the Pond was the famous Kennebec River Ferry! I woke up early on the 9th to reach the ferry as soon as it opened, I was rewarded by being the first ride. The ferry is only a small canoe operated by volunteers, but it’s a necessary part of the trail. The Kennebec River is about half a football field wide and is unfordable, the dam upstream operates on an irregular schedule and workers will change water-flow without warning. A hiker died last year by not heeding the warnings, drowning as a result.
The ferry dropped me off on the other side, about .3 miles from Caratunk, ME. I stopped in at the Caratunk Bed and Breakfast to relax, resupply for two days, and have one of their trail famous milkshakes. They have a milkshake blender from the 50’s and it made a mighty good milkshake, I had two! I hung about for a few hours, talking with hiker friends and relaxing, I left in the early afternoon and set out towards Pleasant Pond Mountain. I made it up and over, getting my tent set up only 30 minutes before sunset.
After 2000+ miles Maine has finally rewarded me with some flat miles to relax and enjoy myself. There are still a few more rough patches and the glorious Mt. Katahdin to conquer, but I’m going to enjoy these last few days on trail. The trail will always be here, I won’t, now is my time to enjoy it.