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