Thanks, Dot! There must have been twenty "stream" crossings today, and
fortunately they were all manageable.
Well, except for the one where I slid off a slick rock and banged up my shin.
At least I didn't fall in any farther than that one leg. I usually just wade
through the water instead of trying to rock-hop. Back to that strategy for the
That was one of four or five falls today. A couple were from slick roots. One
was off a slippery bog board after it started raining this morning. My Montrail
Highlines drain quite fast but even their grippy soles can't get a complete grip
on slick roots and bog boards. My trekking
poles saved me from several other slides. I was quite the klutz today!
This was a section full of water: besides the streams I had to cross,
the Trail followed the Nahmakanta and Pollywog rivers several miles and went by
three good-sized ponds (Cooper, Mud, and Crescent) and three huge lakes (Lower
Jo-Mary, Pemadumcook, and Nahmakanta).
Cody and Tater were in Labrador retriever heaven! Cody went with me the first
20.9 miles until I met Jim at the truck, then Tater took over the last 2.6
miles. Both were tuckered out at the end of each "shift" from all the swimming
I can summarize this long section pretty succinctly: not very
runnable. The scenery was great - pretty woods most of the way, interesting rock
formations, beautiful, clear lakes that are great for swimming and fishing, and
some good views of Katahdin and other mountains. But when the Trail follows this much water so closely for so long, you've got
a lot of rocks and roots and muddy areas that just can't be walked fast, let
alone run. I was able to run more in yesterday's short seven-mile
Jim and I both had preconceived notions about the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.
Neither of us expected so many trees or mountains. My impression from reading
hikers' journals was that it is more of a swamp/marsh/bog than it is. I've gone
through a total of only a couple of miles of swamps or bogs so far.
Considering how hard it is for me to stay on narrow, slippery bog boards,
that is a Good Thing!
MORE NATIVE AMERICAN NAMES
I need to update my list of Native American names again. There were several
new ones recently that are interesting:
Jo-Mary: Abenaki Chief renowned for his hunting and swimming
abilities. This is a photo of Lower Jo-Mary Lake early this morning:
Katahdin: "greatest mountain"
Kokadjo: "kettle mountains"
Millinocket: "dotted with many mountains," or "lake with many
irregularities, i.e. points, coves, ledges, islands" (Millinocket is
the largest town near Baxter
Nahmakanta: "plenty of fish" or "lake of the largest fish"
Nesuntabunt: "three heads" (summits) (mountain in today's
Pemadumcook: "extended sandbar place"
Potaywadjo: "wind blows over mountain" or "whale mountain" (name of
ridge, spring, and lean-to in today's section)
FEATURES ON THE TRAIL TODAY
Besides the beautiful, inviting lakes, my favorite spots today were
Nesuntabunt Mountain and the Antlers Campsite.
Nesuntabunt was the only real climb and descent in this section. The
elevation isn't so high (only 1,520 feet) but the steep climb up through a
rocky gorge filled with bright green moss was memorable. Large old-growth red
spruce and white pines are protected here, some at least 140 years old.
And the view of Katahdin from the ledges overlooking Nahmankanta Lake was
nice (photo above). From this point on the Trail, Katahdin is only
sixteen miles away "as the crow flies" but still thirty-five miles to hike.
What interested me at the Antlers Campground in a scenic cove of Lower
Jo-Mary Lake was not the tent sites but the privy. Yes, the privy. I'd read
about it in other hikers' journals, so had to see it for myself.
It's a little log cabin with "Fort Relief" on the placard outside.
Inside are two windows with curtains, a potty with a lid (the place still
stunk, though), and a wash basin - but no running water. The Trail register was
inside. I took it outside to read and sign!!
IS "49er" LOST IN THE WILDERNESS??
One of my new hiker friends, "49er," whose photo was in yesterday's journal,
may have gotten seriously lost today. When I stopped at the Wadleigh Stream
Lean-to eighteen miles in, I met his hiking companion, "Just John." John asked
me if I'd seen 49er today. Nope.
Seems the two of them lost the blazes at Tumbledown Dick Stream. (No, I'm not
kidding. That's the name of the creek!) They thought they were following the
Nahmakanta River, but they weren't. John decided to go back to the last blaze
they'd seen (the proper thing to do) but 49er kept on going up the tributary.
If he doesn't show up at the Birches Campsite at the base of Katahdin by
Saturday, John will contact search and rescue.
Maine has been one of the best-marked states on the AT but there are still places
like the Barren-Chairback Range and around one of the lakes today (I forget
which one) that are woefully under-marked. Although I didn't have problems where
these fellas did today, it doesn't surprise me that someone may be lost. It's
pretty scary, too, because there are so few roads and no homes or businesses in
the Hundred-Mile Wilderness except the far-flung logging operations.
That's why it's called a wilderness!
"Just John" is a section-hiker who is completing his thru-hike on Sunday.
It's taken him three years, which is less than most sectioners take to do the
AT. "49er" is doing the whole thing this year - if he ever resurfaces!
John says many of the hikers near and just ahead of us will be summitting
Katahdin on Saturday the 24th.
The only other thru-hiker I talked with today is "Hopeful Hiker," who
flip-flopped recently to be sure he could get Katahdin done before the snow
flies. He's going south now. I forgot to ask him how far he has to go before
I barely missed seeing Godspeed, Aslan, Goat, and Buffet. I saw their
register entries two places and Jim saw them coming through our rendezvous point
a few minutes before I arrived. Godspeed and Aslan plan to summit Saturday; Goat
and Buffet may wait until Sunday. The weather forecast is good for both days.
(Rain is expected tomorrow, Friday.)
Jim offered all four hikers Trail Magic again, the last time he'll be able to
do that. He's moving the camper to Abol Bridge tomorrow, just outside Baxter
State Park. There's a store at the campground where hikers can re-supply so
they won't need our goodies any more after that.
WHEN TO SUMMIT?
I finished my originally-planned 20.9 miles before 3 PM today, and decided to
do another 2.6 to make tomorrow's run/hike shorter in the rain that's predicted
in the morning.
I have a decision to make tonight: hustle tomorrow and do 27+
miles to the base of Katahdin, summitting on Saturday, or take it easier and do
the remaining mileage in three days so I can enjoy it.
I'm so tired, I'm leaning toward the latter. I'd really like to enjoy these
last three days on the Trail.
The pressure I feel is powerful Hurricane Rita, poised to strike the Gulf
Coast oil refineries tomorrow or Saturday. We aren't concerned about the rain
that may eventually find its way to Maine. We'll probably be gone by then. We
do have concerns, though, about finding
enough diesel fuel to make it home next week, a distance of almost 1,100 miles.
I'm not sure that leaving Maine on Sunday versus leaving on Monday will make any
Might take us as long to get home as it did to run/hike from Georgia to
In all seriousness, we hope Hurricane Rita becomes less powerful before
hitting land so storm damage is minimal. So many lives were devastated by
Hurricane Katrina; we hope that doesn't happen again. To our friends and readers
in the Gulf, we are thinking of you and wish you the best. Stay safe!