I first met Susquehanna Slim in Erwin, Tennessee when we shared a shuttle with Tom “10K” Bradford. I wouldn’t see him again until near Race Mountain in Massachusetts. He was hiking southbound that day, so we chatted briefly on the trail. Then our paths crossed in Salisbury later that evening. On trailjournals Slim posted an entry talking about my method of hiking. So when he sounded somewhat despondent in a post, I sent him an email inviting him to join me to Katahdin. He sent a response accepting the invitation. From just south of Hanover until today we hiked every mile together until we parted ways at Pleasant Pond Rd. From there Slim headed on up the trail as Molar Man and I joined Sweet Tooth for the ride into Caratunk and rooms at the Sterling Inn. I’ll miss my good hiking buddy, Susquehanna Slim.
The day started with a remarkable breakfast served up by Tim at Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps. Molar Man, Slim, Sweet Tooth and I had been given the 7:00 time slot. Tim is a one man operation, so he serves breakfast in shifts when he is especially busy. Today there were seventeen hikers scheduled to dine. The standard breakfast includes 12 pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice, and coffee. The pancakes contained blueberries, raspberries, and apples. I opted for the half order of six. They were delicious. After our meal we walked across the shaky wooden bridge back to the trail.
It was important that we covered the 3.2 miles to the Kennebec River quickly in order to beat the large group of hikers behind us to the ferry. The Kennebec is the only river on the AT in Maine where fording is prohibited. A canoe transport is provided between 9:00 and 11:00AM and 2:00 and 4:00 PM across the Kennebec. When we reached the rendezvous point two hikers were already waiting. One was Fancy Pants. The other was the young man whose trail name I can never remember or pronounce when I see it. OB just calls him “Boy.” They rode over together while MM, Slim, and I waited our turn.
Since the ferryman could only carry two hikers at a time, Slim and I went together. We first had to sign a waiver and put on life vests before the transport. Slim sat in front and paddled. I sat in the middle and watched. Due to the currents the ferryman paddled north before veering the canoe toward the landing area. Molar Man took the next ride along with Torch. A troop of Boy Scouts waited to be shuttled across southbound. Once MM reached the bank the three of us continued our hike up a very agreeable trail for the remainder of the morning. We eventually reached Pleasant Pond Rd. where Sweet Tooth was waiting. After bidding farewell to Slim, Molar Man and I headed towards Caratunk and the Sterling Inn.
Later in the afternoon we drove to Bingham for lunch at Thompson’s Restaurant and then into Monson for some reconnoissance work. We talked with Phil at 100 Mile Wilderness Adventures and Outfitters about accessible roads in the wilderness. Currently Phil is constructing a hostel like series of cabins for hikers. The information Phil provided should prove extremely helpful as we negotiate the 100 miles between Monson and Millinocket. After our meeting with Phil we also drove into Greenville to look for a lodging base for the next few days.
Then it was back to Caratunk. Despite hiking only an 8.8 mile day, we accomplished a good deal. In fact, we discovered that there’s a good possibility that Molar Man and I can hike the entire Wilderness without staying in the woods. That is of course with Sweet Tooth’s assistance. Tomorrow night, however, we will be back in the woods for what could be one final time as we continue to make our way north up the Appalachian Trail.