Nostalgia for Summer

October 29, 2008

Today I received a surprise e-mail from a through-hiker who watched (and documented) Oscar and me back in August as we forded the deepest of those Maine rivers - Big Wilson Stream. Here we are, in transit, thanks to "Boat."

It's great to look back on those warm long days of mid-summer and to know that I've crossed every one of those fords. Any river-fording that I do in future will be purely optional.

Yay Phillies, 2008 Champs!

The Last of 281 Miles

October 10-11, 2008

After enjoying the luxury of the Norseman Inn in Bethel for several nights (and breakfasts of warm muffins by a cheery fire at the inn) I concluded my traverse of the rugged Maine mountains by spending one last night outdoors at 3000 feet on the Trail. The route was a loop starting with a pleasant steady 6-mile walk up Bemis Stream Trail (former route of the AT until 1958). Logging is ongoing outside the stream corrider, but around the stream you're hardly aware of it.

Here's a view of lumpy Bemis Mountain, my destination for the second day, from a stream crossing.

I reached the AT near the ridge top, and found a tiny primitive campsite along the Trail where I cooked my Annie's macaroni and spent the night.

Next day, I walked the AT along the ridge north for 8 miles, with the constant ups and downs that are so typical of Maine, plus a few miles of ridge top views.

Then a wicked plunge down hill, a final stream ford, and an uphill through maple woods back to the road, where I arrived just as the sun set over Lake Mooselookmeguntic.

All the most strenuous elements of the Maine mountains rolled into this final section!

That's all for the Appalachian Trail in Maine - now I'm home for the winter, having walked 2,030 miles of the Trail so far. I'll be planning to finish up the Tennessee-North Carolina section next spring - only 145 to go.

Backcountry Challenge

October 4-6, 2008

Saddleback and the Horn - aside from Katahdin it's the longest walk above treeline in Maine. And on my day it was blowing a major gale. I enjoyed the approach up the AT past several ponds; then I reached the treeline and felt the full force of the wind - every step required planning to keep from falling over. You can see by the frozen trees that winter has arrived up here. Well, I trudged along and got over the Horn, the rightmost peak in the distance there.

Luckily down the other side I found a brand-new campsite being built (by the MATC) at Redington Stream, just as I was running out of daylight and worried about how I'd get to the shelter that was still a couple of miles away. That was Trail Magic - I stayed two nights and had an easy day trip north to my "tag up" spot (where I had ended on my hike in from the north) near Orbeton Stream.

Here's the north side of the Horn on the way back over. This day was sunnier and less windy, but still freezing on top. It was a relief to get back across the exposed tops and return to the lakes at the lower elevations.

Here's Eddy Pond and
Piazza Rock, a famous landmark cantilevered piece of gigantic talus.

Fall Foliage Maine-style

October 3, 2008

The weather's been gray, but the foliage is colorful.

Here is Sabbathday Pond, where Louisa and Li Zhuang hiked with me in August. Now I've been in there from the opposite direction.

This is the view of the S Branch of the Carrabassett River as I'm climbing a rocky slope on the back side of Sugarloaf Mountain.

More & More Water - Rivers and Bogs

October 2, 2008

The last few days have featured lots of water, mostly underfoot but also from the skies. Here are a few samples of what the Maine Woods are dishing out:

Crossing the S Branch of Carrabassett River on a single plank laid across the rushing torrent. I was lucky - after the rain from Kyle, the plank was under water and people couldn't cross for days.

Fording the Orbeton Stream (not nearly as scary as the above) - cool relief for sore toes!

Slipping and sliding through swamps and bogs - note the spruce grouse in the trail - where there were bog bridges, many of them were submerged. After a half hour my feet were soaked and the rest of the day was wading.

A stream cutting across the slate bedrock - this one was an easy rock-hop

Here's one that I could admire from the bank - a flume in Sluice Brook, plunging down into Orbeton Stream.