Day 166 9/23/15
Start: Caratunk, ME
Finish: Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-To
Miles Hiked: 18.8
To Go: 132.4
Overall Miles Hiked: 2056.8
I stayed at the Sterling Inn in Carutunk and definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the area. It’s very clean and has several room options ranging from simple bunks to larger rooms with King beds. The Inn houses hikers, rafters and fisherman year round and is run by a friendly man named Eric. After eating my complimentary breakfast, Eric drove me back to the trailhead just a few miles away. A fog had settled in overnight and the woods were damp and quiet. The trail followed a series of streams for the first few miles before finally taking me up Pleasant Pond Mountain. By the time I reached it’s summit, the fog had dissipated and the sky was crystal clear.
For once I had no where to be or goal to reach so I sat down and enjoyed my view. There was just a slight breeze and the temperature was in the upper 60’s, life was good. I only have a few more days out here so I am trying to savor every second. I know I complained a lot during the last 5 months of hiking but overall this has been an amazing experience and I actually think I will miss it. The trail has been a little easier as of late and I’ve been able to make pretty good miles. My only other climb of the day was up Moxie Bald Mountain. The top of the mountain isn’t a true bald like those in VA but there weren’t many trees and I was able to score an amazing 360 degree view.
I climbed down from the bald and arrived at my shelter for the evening. The shelter is on the edge of Bald Mountain Pond and it made for a great setting. After dinner I walked down to the lake’s edge to watch the sun set over the surrounding mountains. A beaver was swimming nearby and there were several loons in the lake making their various crazy sounds. I wanted to bottle the moment, Maine keeps getting better and better!
Day 167 9/24/15
Start: Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-To
Finish: Monson, ME
Miles Hiked: 17.6
To Go: 114.5
Overall Miles Hiked: 2074.7
I woke up early just as the sun was coming up over the lake. It was a beautiful setting for a sunrise and I let the moment set my mood for the day.
The trail was pretty level today and I made really good time; with beautiful weather and good trail I was feeling great. After a few hours I came to the Piscataquis River. In order to get across, I had to take my boots off and walk through calf deep frigid water. It was actually quite refreshing and I ate an early lunch on the other side.
I was feeling great and didn’t think anything could possibly make me feel better but a few hours later I was proved wrong. I was walking down a hill when I heard something heavy moving quickly away for me. I looked up and saw a mother moose and her calf looking back at me not 40 yards away. I slowly took off my pack and got out my camera. I was fortunate enough to get one picture of them before they moved off. I’ve been seeing moose sign since Massachusetts but had given up hope of seeing one. What an awesome day!
I made it to the highway to Monson and got a hitch to Shaws hostel. It is run by Poet who thru-hiked in 2008. He went back to his high school teaching job after his hike but knew one day he would be back in one capacity or another; now he runs one of the better hostels on the trail with his wife and young children. I absolutely recommend Shaws to any future hikers. I’ll be entering the hundred mile wilderness tomorrow and will need to carry about five days worth of food. The wilderness is regarded as one of the most remote sections of the trail but I don’t care because as soon as I am out of it I’ll be staring up at Katahdin!
Day 168 9/25/15
Start: Monson, ME
Finish: Long Pond Stream Lean-To
Miles Hiked: 15.1
To Go: 114.5
Overall Miles Hiked: 2074.7
I got a ride back to the trailhead and said goodbye to Poet. Shaws is the longest running hostel on the A.T. and after eating their famous hiker breakfast I see why. As soon as I entered the woods I saw a sign cautioning hikers about the remoteness of the area I was about to enter called The Hundred Mile Wilderness. It usually takes thru-hikers 6 days to get through it and, due to it’s lack of cell signals and roads, there aren’t many options for help.
The trail today is what I refer to as “sawtooth trail” because the trail profile in my guidebook looks like the ridges on a saw blade. These up,down, up, down stretches of trail give me the most trouble because it’s hard to get in any kind of rythm. After a few more miles I came to Big Wilson Stream and was forced to take off my boots in order to ford it.
Day 169 9/26/15
Start: Long Pond Stream Lean-To
Finish: Carl A Newhall Lean To
Miles Hiked: 20.8
To Go: 78.6
Overall Miles Hiked: 2110.6
Temperatures got really cold overnight and there was frost on the ground when I woke up. As soon as I left the frozen shelter, I started hiking up Barren Mountain. Barren mountain is one of two big climbs in the wilderness and it is regarded as the harder of the two. It was 1600 feet and not too steep so I actually made short work of it. There is not much of a view from the top unless you have the courage to climb the old rusty fire tower on top. I decided to pass and sit down below to eat my leftover pizza slices from a few nights ago instead. Trail pizza is the best pizza!
After Barren Mountain came Fourth Mountain, Mount Three and a Half, Columbus Mountain and finally Chairback Mountain. I’m not sure what the deal is with the funny names of them but they were pretty tough. My favorite of the day was chairback because you were hiking along it’s open Ridgeline for about half a mile and the views are great the entire way. Unfortunately, the descent off Chairback is seriously steep and very rocky, it took forever. I finally made it off Chairback and had six more miles of gently rising trail. I was able to get in a good hiking rhythm and knock out the remaining miles in short order. Just before reaching the shelter I heard something moving away from me in the woods. It was a huge bull moose; I tried to get a picture but it was moving away faster than I could walk. Really cool!