Day 138: Monson, ME

Day 138. I wish I would have taken a photo of my shelter setup last night. I didn’t think of it until I had already packed up, but it was quite the sight. Picture this: me warmly nestled into my quilt in the far corner of the Lean-to, two ropes hanging above my feet with everything hung up to dry. socks, short, pants, underwear, shoes, rain gear, backpack … everything. It’s a good thing I put my gear inside a dry bag within my backpack, because that was soaked through as well. A backpack rain cover can only do so much in a storm of that magnitude.

But all is well! My extra clothes were dry, as was my quilt, so I slept great. Though, funny story … So, apparently I move around a lot while I sleep. I toss and turn often throughout the night, and doing so somehow causes my pad to shift down and to the left throughout the night. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to find I am literally hanging a foot off the edge of the raised shelter floor, and gently rubbing up against the sleeping hiker next to me. I don’t understand how my rolling over can move me (and my bed) in the same direction every time, but it definitely does … constantly while I sleep. I’m usually able to reposition myself before any spooning happens with a neighbor, usually.

Last night was a packed shelter, so I warned Traveler not to be surprised, and to push me away if he wakes to find me invading his personal space. And not to get any romantic ideas! It’s a funny phenomenon that I can’t explain, though it does strengthen my reasoning for hammocking as often as possible. I woke up and moved myself back to the corner about 6 times throughout the night.

In the morning, i took my time getting ready. Everyone else was gone by 7am, but with such an easy day ahead of me, I casually packed and ate until 8. It was going to be a beautiful sunny day, and flat as a pancake as I followed a river to the town of Monson. I figured I would likely average over 3mph the whole way, so had no need to rush out early, and I was right.

The trail was as easy as I had seen the last couple day’s, but now with almost no elevation change. Maybe a 30 foot climb here or there, but that was really it. I did have to ford the river a couple times, but given the day’s heat, I did not mind at all. The cool water was refreshing on my bare feet and calves as I walked across, and they quickly dried again in the hot sun. There were supposed to be many of these river crossings in Maine, but the water has been so low thus far that I really haven’t had to walk across anything deep until now. There was one other ford crossing, and that was pretty much the excitement for the day. I had lunch at a shelter, then reached the highway to Monson around 2:30.

Monson is a small but heavily hiker-supported town. There are s few hostels, a general store/deli, gas station, and a couple restaurants (though both were closed today). I am staying at a huge hostel called Shaw’s, which can hold a couple dozen hikers indoors, and more in an overflow tenting area. And it’s full. I called yesterday to make a reservation and I’m glad I did, or I’d be tenting outside under my tarp.

Since this is the first town and resupply stop for SOBO hikers, Shaw’s is also a makeshift outfitter. Their barn is converted to a storefront, with every hiker food imaginable for sale inside. They also sell every piece of gear you could need, including backpacks, pads, bags, poles and more. I’m guessing they make a killing from the SOBO crowd wanting to swap out poorly chosen gear for lighter (more expensive) alternatives. Similar to Mountain Crossings back at Neels Gap in Georgia, where I eagerly dropped $160 for hiking poles (best purchase decision ever).

My bunkmates from last night’s shelter are also enjoying Shaw’s tonight, as well as some old familiar faces. We sat discussing the 100-mile Wilderness plan with each other and decided to all go through together. To finish this thing out as a group. Some of the group have been hiking together for most of the journey already, but me and some others decided to join in as well. In total, it will be me, Traveler, Honey, Moon, Candy, Mr. Perfect, and No Need. In addition, it seems likely Treefall, Stumbles, and Candyman will join as well, though they haven’t decided yet.

In addition, we are taking a Zero tomorrow. Besides it being our last trail town to rest in and enjoy, it’s going to thunderstorm all day. No thanks on that one, I’ve learned my lesson. We routed out the last 115 miles and realized that we can easily arrive at and summit Katahdin on July 23rd. If weather is bad that day, the 24th.

I’m looking forward to finishing with a group, as it was how I started this journey and it feels right to end it that way too. They are all very nice hikers, similar in style and age to me, so I’m glad to join them. I will likely still hike alone, unless our paces match, but there will at least be shelter company. We also agreed every dry night will be a campfire night … another thing I haven’t done too much since the start of this adventure. I feel good, I’m happy to be on the verge of finishing, but am very much looking forward to a last rest day tomorrow out of the rain.

Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!

  • Start Mile: 2058.5
  • Start Time: 08:00
  • End Mile: 2076.4
  • End Time: 14:35
  • Miles Hiked: 17.9
  • Miles to Go: 114.5
  • Lodging: Shaw’s Hiker Hostel

8 thoughts on “Day 138: Monson, ME

  1. Enjoy the campfire nights and the end of this wild journey. There is time for sleep when this is ended.

    “Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
    Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
    But don’t hurry the journey at all.
    Better if it lasts for years,
    so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
    wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
    not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You know when you come home and something delicious is in the oven, maybe fresh baked bread. Or your with friends and you walk by a bakery on a cool summers evening. It’s like that when you get close to the end of your journey. So close you can smell it. Every cell in your body starts to tingle and vibrate. Your close and your with friends could your life get any better? Happy Trails

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Although I don’t know the details of your last day hiking into Baxter, I’d recommend spending the night before the climb up Katahdin, in Katahdin Springs campsite and starting the climb fresh next morning. Take a nero, if you get in early. Why push it?

    Start the climb up Katahdin at daylight, and enjoy it. Up top, rest and relax… lots to see. Explore the Knife’s Edge, take some pictures besides those at the Summit sign. Bring a lunch. You get the idea, it’s a pretty cool place up there. Check the views around other cirques and the various other trails up and down. The trip down is much faster, and lots of ‘new’ views..

    If you’ve got someone picking you up, you should be able to get down and drive to Bangor for dinner (only 75 mi from Millinocket) or even Bar Harbor (another 50 mi).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sharkbait,
    Happy here,
    Sounds like you had quite the adventure, but at least the trail is relatively flat & easy.
    Yes, it’s “friends along the way” that can make such a difference (Jim Stoltz had it right).
    I’m glad the terrain is finally more friendly to you and that you can breeze through it.
    Hmmm… I smell the bread baking in the oven 🙂
    Keep on truckin’
    xxx
    mom & Happy

    Liked by 1 person

    • I posted a good blog with my White Mountain recommendations on your Facebook page, check that out for sure (Day 122). As for southern Maine … it’s worse. Slow, steep, and grueling. Rest in as many trail towns as you can would be my advice 🤗

      Like

  5. Bruce and I are going to have to find something new to talk about – your hike and blog have kept us entertained and intrigued for months. Wishing you all the best on the last part of your journey – stay safe!

    Liked by 1 person

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