Date: July 21 2000
Trail Day: 51
Miles Today: 17
Location: Chair back Gap Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 88
ECT Mile: 768
Last night was cold. I had to sleep in my thermal underwear. The terrain is also becoming more hilly. Went up White Cap Mountain. Decent views. You can see Katahdin quite clearly from here. Then the trail descended to a valley and there was a 5 mile section that was almost flat. This led to the Hermitage. Saw a lot of tourists and families out for a day hike. I crossed the west branch of the Pleasant River. It is a broad shallow river. I then watched a family cross. It was fun watching the little girl cross. The water reached upto her thigh and she was slipping and almost about to fall. Their dog crossed the river without even worrying about the water.
Met thru-hiker Pixy and two others. Pixy is the first female thru-hiker I have met. Very good looking young girl.
I also lost/misplaced my current set of maps. So I will be hiking by guess work till Monson. Also ran out of water and did not get any till I got to the shelter. I was thirsty.
At the shelter was Marlboro man. He is doing a section hike from Vermont. We were joined by Mark and another guy, both doing a thru south bound.
It has now started raining heavily. I was originally planning on doing another 5 miles but am glad I did not, or I would be soaking wet. Tonight promises to be chilly also.
Date: July 22 2000
Trail Day: 52
Miles Today: 11
Location: Long Pond - Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 99
ECT Mile: 779
I talked to Marlboro man - he is a very interesting and informed guy. Told me where I could get a tarp. I am thinking of switching to a tarp and it looks like someone left one at Long Pond shelter.
Today's hike was quite wet and slippery due to last night's rain. I slipped quite a few times. Bill Irvine, the author of Blind Courage was slightly ahead of me. He is blind and walked the entire AT with the help of his seeing eye dog a few years ago. But as I kept hiking, the dog's tracks disappeared near a lean-to and I think I passed him by.
Also got disoriented at one of the places where the trail split in two for a short distance. I did a loop and headed back in the wrong direction. I did not realize it till some of the rock climbs started to look familiar. Rock climbs have a mathematical or logical solution to them. You hold here, step there, pull yourself up, etc. Looking at one such climb, I knew I was headed in the wrong direction. But just to confirm using an AT sign I continued. Saw a sign on top of Third Mountain, realized that I was indeed headed in the wrong direction and turned back. This must have added about 4 miles today. It was also ironic that I had to get lost with Bill Irvine so close.
Also met and talked to Best Man. He is planning on hiking the IAT after he is done with the AT. I gave all the information I could.
Came to Wilson Valley lean-to and met Old Ridgerunner and two students - Jeremy and Katie. Ridgerunner had hiked in 1986 and was now completing a section thru-hike. Jeremy and Katie are sophomores in Computer Science and English at the University of Maine. I was about to continue further but it started raining. Also I was under the impression that Monson was about 20 miles away but actually it was 15. So I decided to stay there. It rained most of the night and it was chilly.
Date: July 23 2000
Trail Day: 53
Miles Today: 19
Location: Pie Lady Boarding
Section Mile: AT 118
ECT Mile: 798
Today was again wet and slippery. I also had a pretty good fall. The trail moved from hills to lakes and was slightly flatter. Got to SR 15 and was picked up by the Pie Lady. She is quite famous in AT circles. I decided to board at her place. Did laundry, and a shower, ate and talked to Nimblewill Nomad who is also here. Also met Caveman who is also doing a south bound thru hike.
Date: July 24 2000
Trail Day: 54
Miles Today: 10
Location: Beside Bald Mountain Stream
Section Mile: AT 128
ECT Mile: 808
When I got into Monson yesterday, I was almost in shell shock. The transition to town was quite jarring. Today, however, things were better. Last night I had not gotten enough to eat although it was supposed to be an "all you can eat" at Pie Lady's. I could have eaten twice what I actually got. The food just ran out. I bought some cheese curls, drank beer and was up till about 4 AM.
I got up slightly late and had breakfast. Things were different at breakfast. I ate till I was full. Pie lady is a good cook and cooks a lot of vegetables which is quite rare. I sent my tent to Vivek. I will now be a tarp man. I bought some grocery and got a lift back to the trail.
Today was a beautiful day - sunny and clear. Quite rare in my hike so far. The terrain was flat but the going was slow at first. I was sluggish from too much breakfast. I picked up speed later on though. Met Gypsy who was slack packing today. She is attractive. Also saw other hikers who seemed to be slack packing.
I was hoping to get to Moxie Bald Lean-to but could not due to the late start. Set up my tarp and cooked supper. The tarp looks pathetic. I have to learn how to set up one. Today is actually a good day for a test - no rain !
I had also checked my email and guestbook from Pie Lady's. Good to hear from people I know. Hi to Sunil, Mike Moore, Dave Farley and Marcel.
Date: July 25 2000
Trail Day: 55
Miles Today: 23
Location: Caratunk House
Section Mile: AT 151
ECT Mile: 831
Well, tarp is a phenomenon all its own. I had to be very careful how I rolled around while sleeping to avoid collapsing the whole thing. The advantage is - you are very close to nature. I watched a worm that is shaped like a "sigma" walking through. I did not realize it but it has a lot of difficulty on dirt and very small twigs. If it gets on a very small twig, the twig turns and the worm falls with it. For some reason it was attracted towards me. It was either the smell of food that I was eating or the blue of the tarp. At one point I built a little bridge for it using pine cones and a stick. As you can well see I have a lot of time on my hands :).
Today was again a beautiful day. No rain. I also did some good mileage - remarkable considering there were 2 hill climbs. Moxie Bald had beautiful views. I have heard the name Moxie Bald a lot but did not know why. I think its because the views are good on all sides and you can see Katahdin from here. I think I have been seeing Katahdin for some 12 days now. Nimblewill Nomad joined me along with Big Ring, Granny Gear and some others. The next hill was Pleasant Pond Hill. It is a long slow up and down climb terminating in a sharp down. Nomad passed me here. He is a real tough guy and carries an ultra-light bag and is fast.
I had heard a lot of good things about a B+B called Caratunk Home and decided to hike the extra miles to get there. I recommend this place to all hikers. One of the owners has thru-hiked the AT and PCT and has a good idea of hiker's needs. Nimblewill Nomad had also made it here. It was about 23 miles for me and about 28 miles for him. Also met Lurch. He is a University student and a real nice guy. Did my laundry, took a shower, ate pizza and drank beer.
Tomorrow we cross the Kennebec river.
Date: July 26 2000
Trail Day: 56
Miles Today: 14
Location: West Carry Pond Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 165
ECT Mile: 846
Had a good breakfast and left at about 11 AM. The Kennebec river has a ferry service for AT hikers. You had to wade it several years ago. Then a thru-hiker drowned and they introduced the ferry service. I talked to Steve who operates the ferry for a while and took a photo. The terrain today was a little hilly and went by streams, water falls and ponds. Also had a lot of bogs.
I passed two north bound thru-hikers, and one south bound hiker called Houdini. I got to the shelter and was joined by Lurch, Nomad and Houdini.
Date: July 27 2000
Trail Day: 57
Miles Today: 18
Location: Horn's Pond Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 183
ECT Mile: 864
Today we start probably the toughest 200 mile section in the AT. All four of us started hiking about 8 AM. We got to Little Bigelow Mountain at about 11 AM. The views were terrific. The next climb was Bigelow mountain. After numerous false summits I finally reached the peak. It had started raining by then. It was very windy, cold and foggy. It was almost surreal. I could also understand why so many people die in the mountains. The weather is unpredictable and severe. There is also no place to hide in case of lightning. I crossed Avery peak very quickly. Bigelow is M shaped. The second peak was West peak. There were some scouts there, so I asked them to take a photo of me.
On the way down the rocks were slippery and wet. I slowed down quite a bit. Reached Horn's pond Lean-to and was joined by Houdini. Nomad has most probably continued another 6 miles to Stratton while Lurch is camped on the other side of Bigelow. I may not see him again.
We are at an elevation of 3500 feet and you can see the clouds go by. There is a caretaker here by the name of Sonya - pretty young girl. Says she lives in her car.