Day 130. Had a great day today. It was a short day, as I decided not to alter my original plan of stopping in Andover, even though I just had a hostel stay 2 nights ago. But I had to come in either way to get my resupply box, so I made it a casual 8-mile Nero Day and took my time both getting up and hiking.
There were some rough mountains today though, as Maine continues to show off it’s treacherous climbs and steep summits. Baldpate Mountain’s West and East peaks were way up there. Following yesterday’s crazy climbs, this was not too hard, but it was seemingly non-stop for miles. I felt like I was climbing up the largest rock in America. Not rocks, rock. It was like one giant rock 3,800 feet high and smooth as a baby’s bottom on both sides. Not the easiest hiking, as that makes for more of the sheer/steep trail I rue, but it was at least above alpine line for a long stretch that gave breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.
After the summits, the trail followed a stream down towards Dunn Notch, which created some excellent waterfalls and swimming holes. I arranged for a ride to town from a dayhiker I met early in the day, and knew I had a couple hours to kill before she would reach the parking lot at the bottom. So I decided to take a short side trail (0.2 miles) to Upper Dunn Falls, a hidden gem of a swimming hole that resembles something you’d see in the movies. I hadn’t seen many people today, so was looking forward to a private dip in the cool water while basking in the hot sun. As I approached the hidden falls though, I heard the most disheartening sound a 37 year old man could hear in this setting … teenage girls. A troop of 15 or so middle school aged girls had all dropped their backpacks and had taken over the creek with their screams and giggles.
Being wise enough to avoid that scenario at all costs, I made an immediate u-turn and went back to the AT’s familiar white blazes. I followed the creek a mile further to the road, and was pleased to find another awesome swimming spot waiting for me just before the end … and this one was empty. Score! I dropped my back and sat in the cool water for a spell, letting the day’s pain wash away with a huge smile on my face. Here’s a pic of my special place.
After drying off, I went up the parking lot and road. While waiting for the dayhiker to arrive, a truck drove by and offered me a lift to town. Preferring not to wait another couple hours, I hopped in and thanked the driver for the offer. He took me to downtown Andover 8 miles away, which is a 1/2 block stretch of 4 or 5 buildings, but ripe with good food offerings. I had lunch at a really nice place called the Red Hen, then walked to the hostel down the road.
The Pine Ellis Hostel in Andover is an interesting place. Not bad, per se, but I’m also not sure I would recommend this to too many other hikers either. The house is old, with a lot of old signs and rules, but the bedrooms and beds are nice, clean and comfortable. However … if they tell you that the only available beds are in the rear overflow bunkhouse, keep walking. That is a converted garage that smells like mildew and looks like a murderer’s workshop. You can do worse (The Dungeon), but you can DEFINITELY do better.
Other than that, the hostel is fine. They charge a lot for shuttle rides to Walmart or the trailheads, and the 4 elderly people jointly managing it are a bit odd, but also very friendly. There is a nice porch out front where we all sat, enjoyed a few beers, and compared strategies for the next few days. I am a bit behind schedule, but think I can make up a day easily before the 100-Mile Wilderness (assuming I don’t lose a day for storms or other unplanned reasons). #fingerscrossed
A big group of us are all in town, most here with me, but others also tenting for free behind the Red Hen restaurant. About 8 of us in total. We all went to dinner together at the small diner inside the General Store, taking up the whole bar area available, then all retreated back to our alerting quarters. After doing laundry and organizing my resupply box, I’m going to get to bed early now. I want to try for at least 20 miles tomorrow, so scheduled a 7am shuttle in the morning.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1926.0
- Start Time: 07:45
- End Mile: 1934.0
- End Time: 12:05
- Miles Hiked: 8.0
- Miles to Go: 256.9
- Lodging: Pine Ellis Hiker Hostel