Thursday, August 22: I’m sitting on a boulder overlooking Bald Mountain Pond. Molar Man and I arrived at the Moxie Bald Mountain Lean-to at 2:00. Now I have to find something to do until dark. Watching the calm waters of the pond and listening to the silence are options. The rain that was predicted for 3:00 has not arrived. It’s very warm and humid for Maine. A frog sits near my feet. I believe that I’ve seen more frogs in Maine than the other thirteen AT states combined. This one blends in with the crumpled leaves on which he is perched. Only a foot away from the pond, he appears to be pondering whether or not to leap. I look up occasionally, hoping to spot a moose in the distance.
Several hikers have gathered at the shelter about fifty yards away. Besides Molar Man, All the Way, Goose, Tracker, Bane, Heart Rock and two sectioners without trail names relax. Some will move on; others will stay the night. The shelter supposedly sleeps eight. It looks crowded with five sleeping pads already laid out. I secured a spot next to the wall which gives me a little more room. If the rain comes, the shelter could get busy. Hikers walk the path to the pond for water and then return to the shelter. Sleeping Beauty was here earlier. He decided to hike on with Jesse, a section hiker from Boston.
This morning the more challenging AT of Maine returned for awhile. When Molar Man and I hit the trail at 6:40 we walked almost a mile on a flat surface before being confronted with Pleasant Pond Mountain. The 1000 foot ascent brought out the sweat on our brows quickly due to the humid conditions. In fact we both struggled to reach the summit. Maybe it was because we hadn’t been faced with a climb in a couple of days, or maybe it was the early hour, but for whatever reason, I was beat at the top. Fortunately a long, less severe descent followed.
When MM and I reached Moxie Pond we were expecting our first ford. Alas, no fording was needed again today. Even though the pond was considerably wider than most streams, a lengthy rock hop brought us to the other side. After Moxie Pond the trail leveled again until Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to. We decided to forgo the 200 yard walk to the shelter. Instead we walked on up the trail and found a spot to stop for lunch. I told Molar Man that I missed Slim as we dined sitting on rocks in the middle of the trail. Despite the added weight I was glad I had brought myself a root beer.
From the lunch spot the trail again ascended up Moxie Bald Mountain. Like the earlier climb today, this one offered somewhat of a challenge, at least near its end. We weren’t sure why but this mountain offered a summit bypass trail. Since I only hike the AT’s white blazes we chose the tougher route. About 0.1 mile before the summit angled rock slabs began to appear. Because they were dry we were able to walk up the center without any problems. The trail dipped back into the woods shortly after the summit which the trail missed crossing by about thirty yards. Since clouds indicated approaching rain, Molar Man and I chose not to take the blue blazed trail up to the top. As we started the descent a light rain forced us to affix our rain covers. The shower was short- lived. We continued to hike a very agreeable trail for two miles to the shelter.
The highlight of today’s 13.6 mile hike was meeting a southbound hiker who sported a sign on his pack declaring, “Save Olympic Wresting.” I asked CT Medic if I could take his picture which resulted in a spirited conversation. In a couple of minutes CT Medic and I discovered that we had much in common. He had run the Boston Marathon, was wearing Brooks Cascadias, and more coincidentally, had recently lost his brother at an early age. CT said his last birthday (37) was the first he had experienced without his twin. We shared about our brothers in the middle of the Appalachian Trail. I continue to believe that I have crossed the paths of many for a reason. I hope I’ll see CT Medic again when he gets to Georgia.
Well, it’s now 6:20 and bedtime is approaching in the woods. All the Way and Molar Man have already been snoring. Goose is tenting near the pond. Tracker, Heart Rock, and Bane have set up hammocks under a tarp. Dag, their dog, is jumping between the hammocks. He became my friend this afternoon when I gave him the broth from some Vienna Sausages. The section hikers, Allen and Alex, have returned from the lake and are getting in their bags as well. The rain has temporarily subsided. Another day is winding down in a shelter near a pond out in the woods on the Appalachian Trail.