Day 134. Big day today! As you can tell in the enthusiastic photo above, someone has reached a big milestone on their Appalachian Trail journey. Spoiler alert, it’s me. Your humble and obedient blogger, Sharkbait, has officially put 2,000 miles under his feet on his way from Springer Mountain to Katahdin.
Ok, so that photo was actually closer to the 2015 mile mark, but no one had put sticks on the ground at the real place, and I forgot to do it too. So a few miles later, an old signpost did just fine to commemorate the moment for me.
Today was a nice hike. Not as good as yesterday, as the open ridgeline walks were gone again, but still very pleasant. With a few exceptions, today’s trail was very well groomed. Wide, soft, and sans obstruction. There were a few steep areas on Crocker’s south and north peaks, and again coming up from the Highway 27 crossing into the Bigelow mountains, but nothing as bad as Maine gave me a few days ago (screw you, Moody Mountain!). Oh and the mosquitos were bad, but manageable.
Overall it was a pleasant day hiking. I opted not to go into the town of Stratton at the Highway, and instead hiked the 5 more miles up Bigelow Mountains to the Horns Pond Lean-tos. I didn’t need a hotel again so soon, and I’m good on food supply for a couple more days … but it was a hard temptation to pass up nonetheless.
I arrived at the shelter area pretty early and was impressed with the condition. This campsite is huge, complete with 3 shelters structures, 2 brand new privies, and a half dozen tent areas next to a gorgeous pond. A caretaker stays here during peak season, and he/she has done a wonderful job with the whole area. There are even big plastic buckets with secure lids at each tent site for your food. No need to hang my food bag tonight, nice.
A few other weekend campers are here with me, and I sat at the Pond with them for a while when I first arrived. The 3 of them were very nice, and asked me many questions about my experience over the next hour. While chatting, I took a dip in the cool water, gave myself a much needed bath, then sun bathed on the rocks. It was, simply put, a GREAT way to end the day.
We then all ate dinner together, where I learned that they are part of a volunteer group that helps maintain the AT and it’s wilderness conservation in Maine. They had plenty of stories to share as well, and I enjoyed hearing about their passionate work to maintain these hiking lands as I ate. We also swapped animal stories. They liked my late night bobcat encounter back in PA.
I never did see the caretaker, but if I do tomorrow, I will commend him/her on the fine privy craftsmanship. These two pig toilets are immaculate. Shiny, odor-free, and overlooking an incredible view. Who knew a toilet could be so impressive!
As it was still early, I worked on last week’s video after dinner. I know this one may be confusing to follow for those who didn’t follow along on the blog during the week … but hey, that’s not my fault. Sure I was in Gorham, then the AT, then back in Gorham, then back on the AT where the pictures left off the day before … but viewers will just have to read my story to learn why. (Answer: Appalachian Trail 1, My loyal Friends 0). I’ll try to post it tomorrow.
Tomorrow also brings the South Horn, Bigelow, and Avery Mountains. They look steep in my guidebook, but I already climbed up most of the elevation today. And I hear it is a lot of fine ridge walking again, so that sounds nice.
Oh, and no, I didn’t pee on that awful family last night. But in chatting with the other guy who tented in the area too … he agreed I should have.
… Ok, sorry to end on a scary note, but just as I finished typing this up, a search and rescue team walked into camp. It’s about 9:30pm, and apparently a hiker named Jennifer activated her SPOT device (emergency locator beacon) just north of here, near the top of South Horn. They were hoping for information from SOBOs, who may have last seen her. I stepped out to talk and help, but didn’t have much to offer. They thanked me for what information I could share (mainly that she wasn’t here and I hadn’t seen her), and continued on. It’s late and dark, and that’s a scary situation for an emergency in the woods, but I hope this hiker is found quickly and safely.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1989.2
- Start Time: 07:40
- End Mile: 2007.8
- End Time: 17:10
- Miles Hiked: 18.6
- Miles to Go: 183.1
- Lodging: Horns Pond Lean-tos