Five months ago today I signed in at Springer Mountain and began my walk north to Maine. At times it feels more like five years. I’ve said before that time is irrelevant on the AT. Sometimes I don’t even know what day of the week it is. At others the whole experience seems more like a dream. Have I actually hiked 2071.4 miles? Do I only need to hike 114.5 more miles to complete a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail? The answer is “yes” to both questions and I’m getting pretty excited about it. Still, there’s hiking yet to be done, and to be perfectly honest, I’m tired. So tomorrow I’m going to take one final day off to rest up for the 100 mile wilderness and Katahdin.
Today started like most when I’ve spent the night in a shelter. At first light I packed up quickly and started up the trail with Molar Man at 6:20. Due to last night’s rain, mud made its presence known again today. And in addition to the mud, streams and rivers were at higher levels. As a result of these higher levels of water, I got the opportunity to do my first fording today. One took place at a stream while the other two occurred at the West Branch and the East Branch of the Piscataquis River. All went smoothly.
I must admit that I have been somewhat apprehensive over fording for some time. Today’s events, however, alleviated any fears. When I arrived at the first stream I removed my trail runners and socks and the put on my Vivobarefoot camp shoes. The flexibility of the plastic shoes made the crossings seem easy. At the West Branch of the Piscataquis, Goose and All the Way had arrived just before Molar Man and me, so I watched as they made their way across the wider river. A rope was affixed to trees on each side for balance. The water only came up to mid calf at the deepest part.
The third and final ford occurred at the East Branch of the Piscataquis River. Even though the river was wider, the depth of water was about the same as the second crossing. Again I easily made my way across. On the other side MM and I sat on a couple of rocks and had lunch. While dining we watched Sleeping Beauty and Jesse cross using the rock hop approach. They only got a little wet. Since we were ready to move on, they took our rocks for their lunch. We would see no other north bounders throughout the afternoon; however, we did meet Fifteen who was walking south on a flip flop.
As the afternoon waned Molar Man and I both struggled to keep any momentum. I believe I felt sluggish due to poor nutrition. I never eat well when I sleep in the woods. So for the final 3.3 miles we pushed as best as we could. I also think the cumulative miles are getting to both of us. I know that my body is ready for a rest. Even with a slower pace we finished the 17.9 day over very agreeable terrain in less than nine hours. Considering we took three breaks and had to change shoes to ford three water crossings, we made good time. When we reached the parking lot off ME 15 we chatted briefly with Bane’s dad. He has driven up from Arkansas to support his son and his buddies over the last one hundred or so miles.
So tonight I’m once again out of the woods and at a motel in Greenville, ME. A picturesque lake sits to the rear. I relaxed in an adirondack chair by the lake for a while in the afternoon. Relaxation is something I hope I’ll have more time for soon. Tomorrow, however, will be a day of scouting as Molar Man, Sweet Tooth, and I go looking for roads in the 100 Mile Wilderness on the Appalachian Trail.