Day 141. It was peaceful and pleasant at our stealth site last night. For one thing, it was just us and no other sound. No creek, no roads/rails/cars/trains, and no other hikers. I pass a lot of SOBO hikers every day out here now, and they tend to be a bit loud around camp at night. Nothing to blame them for, as I remember when I was green and eager on the trail back in March. These first few weeks are so exciting and new, and i recall the desire to share it with new friends at night. I’m happy for them at the start of their own adventure, but the silence was also nice.
In comparison, some kid tonight spent an hour setting up traps for mice and squirrels around the shelter. I didn’t have the patience to explain why this was inappropriate, nor the desire to ask what he’d do if he caught one. It was just loud and annoying and I did my best to ignore him. Hike Your Own Hike, I guess.
Most SOBOs are very nice though. It is fun to pass them on the trail, as they are excited to chat and hear of what’s coming up. As Happy pointed out weeks ago, most NOBO hikers want nothing to do with friendly conversationalists on the trail … but not me. I still like to stop and talk, crack a joke, or ask about their first week. It’s just part of my personality, so it’s hard to turn it off.
My hike today was tough but rewarding. I was warned this would be the most difficult day between Monson and Baxter State Park, and it didn’t disappoint. The morning consisted of climbing up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down the 4 Chairback Mountain peaks. They had some pretty rocky sections, sending painful memories of the Whites to my mind, but they were small and easily manageable in comparison.
My feet and back were still beat up by lunch though, so I dropped my bag on the ground at Carl E. Newhall Lean-to and laid down exhausted. A quick 10 minutes of shut-eye, followed by a big calorie intake got me moving again around 3pm. Then it was up the quadruple peaks of White Cap Mountain. Not to be outdone by the Chairback range, they too offered impressively steep ascents and descents. However, this time the Maine ATC club had helped out, building some nice rock steps for most of the would-be difficult areas.
Side note, most of the trail today was extremely well groomed. For most of the non-summit walking, it felt like easily the the best trail conditions in all of Maine. The 100-mile Wilderness … not really so wild after all.
At the final summit of White Cap, we were greeted with a momentous view – the first up-close and clear view of Katahdin. We weren’t exactly sure if the giant peak in from of us was her, as it’s still 65 miles away by trail … but a group vote agreed it was too big not to be. Google maps swayed the vote by telling us it was only 25 miles away as the crow flies. So, if that’s true, it looks monstrous and beautiful. I tried pointing it out in the cover photo above.
There was also another surprise atop most of today’s summits … blueberries! And lots of them. This time I filled up my cup and enjoyed a sweet afternoon snack in the sun. Man do I love me some mountain berries. Especially since I’m a bit light on snacks in my food bag this time.
From here on out it is pretty flat and manageable, like gliding a plane in for landing. The last of the big challenges are behind me and only one more important one remains ahead. Over the next 3 days, I’ll get many more views of Katahdin from the small hills or lakes I traverse, as it comes closer and closer into view. Then, to the top!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 2097.0
- Start Time: 07:15
- End Mile: 2119.5
- End Time: 18:30
- Miles Hiked: 22.5
- Miles to Go: 71.4
- Lodging: Logan Brook Lean-to