On Top of the World



Today’s Weather Forecast

244 AM EDT WED AUG 20 2014

244 AM EDT WED AUG 20 2014



National Weather Service

photo from KatahdinCam (updates every 15 minutes)

Day 152

Day 152

For having slept for 13 hours, I was exhausted. I woke up a dozen times due to snoring from beside me (not Tandem), bathroom needs, and heavy rain on the tin roof. I learned later that the rain had been really heavy across Maine overnight.

Due to the rain, we weren’t motivated to pack and leave. We ate first on our sleeping bags while chatting about the weather. The southbound section hiker had left already, and the three of us ignored the father and son northbound section hikers. We eventually packed and threw on our rain gear tops. Tandem had a big, cheap poncho that was too long for her liking, but she didn’t cut it.

We started out from the shelter at 7:30, saying hello to One A Day on the way by his tent. The hiking order this morning was Mio, me, and then Tandem, though we were hundreds of feet apart at times. We climbed for a while before dropping to our first creek to ford of the morning, though it wasn’t marked in the AT Guide as a ford. That was concerning. We were surprised at how high and swift the water level was, and we monitored each other during the crossing.

We hiked on to the next stream and were shocked at the volume of water there. This was also not listed as a stream that needs to be forded. We wandered upstream and found a log laying two-thirds of the way across the creek, which we used to keep us from washing downstream. At times, the water was above my knees. Once the log ended, we were able to slowly rock-walk the creek over to the shore.

It had been three hours, and we had hiked only four miles. We hiked one more mile to the gravel Bodfish Farm Tote Road, after which was the Long Pond Stream. It was also not listed as one that needs to be forded, but the stream was a raging class three rapid at the AT crossing point.

Halfway across the river was a blue rope for holding on and steadying your rock walk. We struggled against the strong current to cross the first half of the river. Once to the rope, Mio tested going through the raging water without his pack, and the water was up to his chest!

We decided to not go that way and struggled back to the east side of the river. Mio checked his Guthook app and found that Bodfish Farm Tote Road heads north along the stream and gets within a quarter of a mile of the Long Pond Stream Lean-to. To get there, however, would require bushwhacking and still crossing the swollen stream. After hiking the gravel road for a mile, the bushwhacking to the lean-to didn’t look feasible.

We decided that we would have to be driven to the other side and needed to research our options back at the Lake Shore Hostel in a Monson. Mio had also injured his problem knee against a rock during the last stream crossing attempt.

Mio had some cell coverage, so he called the hostel; they said that they would pick us up for $35 but that we needed to be a mile south of the AT on the gravel road. We were a mile north. We started hoofing it in a rainy drizzle back down the road to the AT. We did a quick look for any hikers stuck at the stream crossing but saw none. We hiked the last mike through puddles, larger puddles, and overflowing creeks onto the road.

We were soaking wet when we reached the pickup spot. Tim was there five minutes later and we loaded up while joking about how short a time Week_22_Day_152ait had been since we had last seen each other. We drove many miles back to the hostel in Monson.

We researched our options against the local flooding, future rainfall, and waterways remaining to ford. We looked at blogs, checked weather apps, and watched the local news. They said that our area received three inches of rain and Portland had six, which flooded roads and tied up traffic.

Tandem preferred to skip the future fords and jump ahead 20 miles. I wanted to wait for the record rainfall to flush out on the creeks and go back to the other side of the Long Pond Stream. Mio needed to nurse and rest his knee, but agreed with returning to the other side of Long Pond Stream in the morning. We told the hostel that we’d like to leave at 7:00 in the morning for the return to trail.

The hostel manager offered us a $15 lodging deal on mattresses on the floor of the finished attic where Tim has his living space. We showered out the chill and dried our wet clothes then discussed our options thoroughly. The weather looked like the rain was ending overnight with 30% chances of rain through Saturday.

We opted to take advantage of the lodging deal and grabbed a bite to eat and restocked from the convenience store. I found my first Maine Geocache in town and took a picture of the lake after the sun had set. We watched typical television and went to bed at 22:00.

Today was a 5 mile day, and we have 99 miles remaining to Mount Katahdin! We have updated our Katahdin summit date to 8/21.

Day 151

Day 151

We woke early in our private room at the Lakeshore House Hostel in order to hitch to Greenvillle for my new shoes and restocking. Tandem, Mio, and I grabbed our empty packs and went across Greenville Road from the hostel, where got picked up after ten minutes by a contractor in a pickup truck. We had to cram into the front seat together due to the law in ME that prohibits riding in the bed of a truck.

We got dropped off at Indian Hill Trading Post and thanked our driver. I went straight to the hiking shoe department and grabbed a few size 13’s to try on, both Keens and Merrills. I found a Merrill Moab, but it was a wide. However, I tried it on and it felt good when tied tightly, I bought them for hiking the last 115 miles to Mount Katahdin.

We also shopped for the final food we needed for the next week. Half of it will be put in a five gallon bucket and placed halfway through the 100 Mile Wilderness for us to restock from later. After shopping, we headed across Greenville Road to hitch back to Monson. One of the customers from the store pulled out and picked us up. She was so cool! She and her husband live in Monson on the lake and enjoy helping hikers. We were dropped off at the hostel and thanked her.

We had to be out of our rooms by 10:00, so we organized our food into four-day and three-day supplies. We packed the four day supply and bagged the three days for the five gallon bucket. The bucket costs $25, and we are splitting it three ways with Mio.

After packing and paying, we headed down to load into the car shuttling us to the trailhead. I tried extending my hiking poles only to find one of them was jammed. I got an extra aluminum pole from the hostel, and we were on our way to the trailhead on Greenville Road/ME 15. It was 11:30.

The hike ahead of us was basically flat but had many uphills and downhills. We stopped at the Leeman Brook Lean-to for lunch. It was overcast and blowing like rain was coming. We hiked on seven more miles. It started to sprinkle.

I pulled into the Wilson Valley Lean-to and found Tandem and Mio in the shelter with three other hikers. They made room for me, and I slid in my air mattress, then we made dinner as the rain fell. One A Day came in to see who was there but headed up the hill behind the shelter to set up his tent. We cleaned up after dinner and were in our sleeping bags by 18:00. I listened to the newly downloaded Podcacher podcast and fell asleep to it.

Today was an 11 mile day, and we have 104 miles remaining to Mount Katahdin!


The summit date is back to August 20 — in fewer than 48 hours they’ll finish what they started five months ago. Well, the physical part. The mental part has been in the works for many years.

Work commitments keep me from being there. I am disappointed for myself but grateful that my parents are making the trip, so Tandem and Buzz will have some family helping them celebrate at the end.

“I need you to do something.” My mother, at 6:00 pm Monday. “I need you to overnight their passports so we can go to Canada for a few days.”

Eventually my parents will drive them to Boston, where the flights will be cheaper than out of Bangor or Portland, but apparently a few days’ sightseeing is on the agenda. My mother wasn’t sure they’d want anything but to come straight home, but Bennett enthusiastically agreed to any side trip that involved a vehicle, a decent bed, real restaurants, and no mud.

Ah, but what to wear? As long as I was overnighting, I might as well send them some clothes they haven’t worn every day for months. Nothing synthetic, nothing that feels like hiking clothes. Just lots and lots of cotton — heavy cotton. UPS, of course, had already done all its pickups for the day, so I spent an exorbitant amount mailing jeans and t-shirts and real bras and boxers with an actual fly. My last support package.

I haven’t had a blog post since Thursday, but did get a quick text from Bennett this afternoon:

Have close to no service but finally see KATAHDIN! 21 miles away. Please call grandma and tell her we will see her at Katahdin stream campground (that’s where the parking is) on the 20th at 7am. Also would ask her to pretty please bring something for breakfast because we may not have enough food. And dad says coke.

Basically going to throw stuff in her car & see them, take 3 hours to climb up & 3 to climb down & some time I between. They will have a few hours then to either explore Baxter state park, hang at the Abol Bridge restraint, or go back to the town & hang there I guess?

Just because I’d emailed her and she hadn’t gotten a definite day or location. Love you!

Love you, too, B. I’m looking forward to having you home!




Day 150

Day 150

We woke on the wrong side of Moxie Bald Mountain this morning, but we had a plan to get going early. We ate quickly, packed, and were on the trail by 6:45. We were hiking 22 miles today to Monson. I wished that it were a slackpacking day! The cloud cover was very low again today, but burning off.

We hiked together for the first four miles over Moxie Bald Mountain, where we enjoyed the view and I posed in my Captain Morgan stance for the picture. Since we finally had cell signal, Tandem made a call to the Lakeshore House Lodging and Pub to change our two $30 bunkhouse reservations to a $60 private room.

We hiked down to Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to where we snacked before hiking on. Tandem moved ahead, and I cranked up the tunes. The AWOL A.T. Guide book showed the terrain as flat. What it didn’t show was how rooty, muddy, and rocky the trail was. This terrain was really making the front flap of my left Merrill Moab sole even more loose. I did pass an interesting rock formation with an enormous rock that looked like a Chia Pet Week_22_Day_150bperched on a narrow rock supporting it.

I was averaging 25 minute miles and finished the nine miles to the Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to by 12:30. I was surprised by a note waiting for me at the trail to the lean-to with a mini Mountain Dew on it! I grabbed both and headed up to the lean-to for lunch. From there, it was nine miles to ME 15 and Monson. I ate quickly, enjoyed the soda, signed the last page of the very full logbook, and got going north. This afternoon, I really started feeling like the end of this hike is coming, since after Monson is the start of the 100 Mile Wilderness.

There were three river crossings today, which required fording the river with water sometimes up to my knees. After spending fifteen minutes changing shoes on both side of the first river, I just walked across the second and third in my socks and failing Merrill Moabs. It saved time, and they dried fairly quickly.

After six miles, I reached the intersection of the historic AT route and Monson roads, which would have put me in town in two miles. My left shoe said to turn right, but my purist thru hiking mind said go straight for 3.3 more miles, miles that included a couple of steep climbs and descents.Week_22_Day_150c

I finally reached ME 15 at 16:30 and started hitching. After twenty or so vehicles and fifteen minutes, a pickup truck stopped for me. The driver was going into Monson to pick up his son from his parent’s house, so he dropped me and my pack at the Lakeshore House Lodging and Pub. I went up the back stairs to the private room that Tandem had reserved, which had a full bed and access to a separate kitchen.

We hung out with Mombo, Mio, Handsome Dan, and a couple of other hikers, watching TV and doing laundry. I showered and decided to go to Greenville to replace my shoes and restock. Mio, Tandem, and I grabbed our empty packs and went out to hitch. We waited fifteen minutes and a dozen cars before giving up.

We went with Mombo to the convenience store and bought some food for restocking and some for dinner. We ate and moved laundry. Mombo and I determined that we had accidentally swapped socks the last time that we did laundry, so we fixed that.

Tandem turned in early, and we plan to try to hitch again to Greenville starting at 7:30 in the morning.

Today was a 22 mile day, and we have 115 miles remaining to Mount Katahdin!

Day 149

Day 149

I woke early today, around 5:30, and reached for my watch to verify the time. The watch wasn’t there. I immediately recalled leaving it on the sink counter at Northern Outdoors after we showered there last night during dinner. I packed quickly, let the sleeping Tandem know that I was leaving, and went up to US 201 to hitch two miles west. The weather was low clouds and wetness from the foliage leaves.

I got lucky, and a truck stopped for me and took me there. I went straight to the men’s room and found my watch sitting right where I’d left it. After that, I filled up my water from a spigot and emptied my trash in their trash can. I used their wifi to send a couple of blog updates then headed back to US 201 to hitch the two miles east back to the trailhead.

I tried hitching while I walked but never got picked up, so I hiked back with my pack. It was now 7:30. I saw Mombo heading across the road to the AT NOBO, and when I went got to the campsite, Tandem and Mio were just leaving. We hiked up to “downtown” Caratunk  to use the public phone since we had no cell coverage. We had to wait until 9:00 for Merrill and the outfitters in Greenville to open, so Mio headed down to the trailhead while Tandem and I sat on the porch of the post office and watched the town activities.

At 9:00, I called Merrill and they gave me the answer that I didn’t want to hear — it would take nine days to get new Moabs to me, and they had to be sent to a post office. In nine days I would be summiting Mount Katahdin, and the last post office I pass will be mid-week in Monson, so that plan certainly would not work for me. I’ll still reply to the Merrill email, however, so that a replacement pair of Moabs go to Atlanta.

Both outfitters had the same area code but the numbers weren’t local, so I couldn’t call either one. We needed to get to The Sterling Inn to use their phone and computer. We got lucky, and the Northern Outdoors van came by and offered us a ride there. The only outfitter with size 13 shoes was Indian Hill Trading Post. I told them I would be by for new hiking shoes mid-week.

It was 10:30 by the time we left The Sterling Inn and started a six mile, slow hike up Pleasant Pond Mountain. There was a steep rocky climb at the end. The top of the mountain was bald where we stopped and enjoyed the great There were section hikers also enjoying the summit and view. One of the hikers there, Philip Koch, was very friendly and from the coast of Maine where Lobsta is from. Tandem got his email address. A pair of women that included a NOBO through hiker offered us trail magic beverages that were waiting at the gravel road at the bottom of the mountain.

The descent off Pleasant Pond Mountain was a series of ups and downs over rocky hills. We passed a small trio of Scouts and an adult leader who asked how far it was to the next lean-to. The youngest Scout was very dejected to hear that it was four more miles.

We reached the road at the bottom and found the cooler. I skipped the beer and had Minutemaid Lemonade and mini Mountain Dews. Who invented such ridiculous sized sodas?

When I went to check out the ability to ford the south end of Moxie Pond River, I was just in time to watch Coach come south across the river during his section hike, so I knew the route on the rocks. I put a couple of mini Mountain Dews in my pack, and the trail angels came down the road from the trail. We all thanked them and talked and joked about hiking.

Tandem and I loaded up at 18:30 and headed over to ford the river. We both made it across the rocks without changing our shoes. By now, our original target of Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to was out of reach at seven miles over Moxie Bald Mountain, so we opted for the Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to at three miles.

Along the way, Tandem pulled Chanterelle mushrooms for dinner. We arrived at the shelter by 20:00 and picked a tent site. While Tandem set up her hammock, I filtered four liters of water for us then set up my tent. We each had pasta for dinner, and I cooked the mushrooms over a combination of the rest of our oils. They were great! We were going to get up early, so we went to bed by 21:30.

Today was a 14 mile day, and we have 137 miles remaining to Mount Katahdin!