Hard rain awoke me in the middle of the night. At daylight a steady drizzle continued. Young Padawan walked away from the shelter as the rain’s intensity increased. With a 9.6 day planned, which included going over potentially dangerous, slippery rock slabs on Success and Goose Eye Mountains, we hesitatingly changed our plans. Pilgrim has been experiencing troubling back pain for almost a week. Molar Man, Slim, and I agreed with him that hiking today bordered on insanity. Our two options were to zero at the shelter or hike the 3.5 mile Austin Brook Trail to a road where we could get a shuttle to Andover, ME. We opted for the second.
So in a light rain we bailed for today to the alternate trail. Earl from the Cabin said he could pick us up at North Rd. around 10:00. Over some slick rock faces, on a trail that had overnight transformed into a stream, we headed to the road and safety. Fortunately the rain subsided for the most part during the two hour walk. The trail eventually became a very agreeable woods road for about the final two miles. Despite the slippery roots and standing water, we hiked rather quickly.
The only difficulty with the alternate trail was the water crossings. Due to the heavy rains, stepping stone rocks had become submerged. At one stream I slipped from a rock into the water. Since my feet were already wet I didn’t worry about the other streams. When I didn’t feel like I could plant my foot safely on a rock, I just stepped in the water. This occurred three times. I think we all got our feet wet before we reached North Rd. When we did get there we had to wait for Earl.
Just before another hard downpour he arrived to shuttle us to the Cabin in Andover. Earl and Marge have been welcoming hikers for nineteen years. Both hikers themselves, they also are more than willing to share a wealth of trail knowledge with anyone who cares to listen. Honey and Bear, their trail identities, are some of the most genuinely kind and sincere folks I have met since I started the hike. They open their main home to hikers and even offer breakfast and supper for extremely modest prices. The bunk house, which is attached to the home, sleeps eight. Susquehanna Slim, Pilgrim, and I got the last three bunks. Molar Man and Sweet Tooth were able to land the one private room.
After cleaning up we all drove to The Red Hen for lunch. The continued hard rain didn’t deter us from an enjoyable meal. I topped mine off with a piece of homemade blueberry pie. For the rest of the afternoon I just rested. I took a nap and chatted with other hikers. Now I’m about to join the others for supper. Then it’s off to bed. So tomorrow and the next few days are predicted to be sunny. I’ll arise at 3:30. Molar man wants to get an early start. We’ll have another extremely challenging day over Mt. Success and Goose Eye Mountain as I keep working my way north up the Appalachian Trail.