Day 132. I awoke this morning very rested. I usually have a good night of sleep when in my hammock, but last night was especially comfortable. It may have been the hot dogs last night, it may have been the soothing river sounds, but I slept like a baby. I did hear something big clomping around the campsite just before bed though … moose again!
In the morning, I had a quick, cold breakfast and then headed out for the day. I only had to get to the town of Rangeley by 4pm, 14 miles away, so it wasn’t going to be tough. After a mile or so, I got a nice glimpse of Rangeley on its lakes in the distance and took a photo (below). The next 4 miles were very easy, as a soft and wide trail wove around the massive Moxie and Sabbath Ponds to a lean-to on the other side. At the shelter, I had my typical morning snack (trail mix, snickers, fruit leathers), filled up on some water from the lake and then headed out again.
The rest of the day was equally nice terrain. I traversed a couple hills so small that they didn’t have names, and eventually made it to another big lake called South Pond. I noticed a few cabins sprinkled along the edge of the ponds today, which I thought would be nice to own for someone who lived up here. If I could drive to a house on a secluded lake, I may appreciate Maine a bit more.
The only real problem today was the bugs. Although not terrible, I combatted mosquitos and horseflies most of the day that were attempting to harvest their winter blood stores from me, and most were successful. It was a hot day again so my DEET kept sweating off, but I managed to survive with the help of my head net and arm sleeves. With all the stagnant lakes and creeks in this part of Maine, that may become daily wardrobe going forward.
I arrived at the highway to Rangeley at 2:30, with plenty of time to spare. It’s 20 miles to town, and not a great location to attempt to hitch, but about 1/5 of a mile up the road is a hostel called The Hiker Hut. Besides being a way to get a ride to town, this hostel is also a very unique place to stay. As they describe themselves, the Hiker Hut is a “restful sanctuary along the Sandy River with flower gardens, hummingbirds, and pet chipmunks”. It is more like a tiny community than a hostel. They have a property of land with gardens and decorations all over, a bunk house, a couple private cabins, an outhouse, and an outdoor propane-heated shower … but not much else. No plumbing, no electricity, no cell service, nada. I assume the two caretaker/owners have a house on the property somewhere too, but I did not see it. I did see a tent at the entryway … perhaps they live in nylon year round? I’ll have to ask tomorrow. I arranged for a bed in the bunkhouse at $25, which also gets me a free shuttle to town, shower, and laundry. Then I hopped on the 3pm shuttle to downtown Rangeley.
Rangeley is a “big” tourist town, and it was crowded. They have a couple outfitters, restaurants, ice cream shops, and gift shops to accommodate all the hikers, skiers, bikers, and kayakers that come through each weekend, and all were packed today. I grabbed an early dinner with Much Obliged at a sports bar, enjoyed an ice cream shake (below), then watched some ducks floating on the lake. It was peaceful and relaxing, even if in a bustling trail town.
The shuttle came back for us at 7pm, which was much later than I would have liked. But without cell service, there’s no way to call and ask for an earlier pickup. I suppose I could have hitched back, but didn’t see a strong need. I took a late shower, hopped in bed and called it a night. The next 3-4 days are supposed to be tough, with some steep 4k peaks to get over (Saddleback, Spaulding, Crawford, Bigelow). But after that it should be smooth sailing. I’m on a tight schedule now, so no more Zero days or Nero days if I want to make it to Katahdin by the 24th.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1956.5
- Start Time: 07:35
- End Mile: 1970.5
- End Time: 14:30
- Miles Hiked: 14.0
- Miles to Go: 220.4
- Lodging: The Hiker Hut