I’m in the back seat of the white Volvo station wagon with Ohio plates. On a beautiful 50 degree sunny Maine morning Molar Man, Sweet Tooth, and I are on a scouting expedition of sorts. It would have been a perfect day to hike; however, we both needed a day off. It’s the first for me in three weeks. For Molar Man it has been over a month. Our bodies are grateful for the respite. We need fresh legs for the final push. Strangely, I’m starting to feel a little sad that the adventure is about to come to an end. Did I really just write that?
From Monson, ME to Millinocket is referred to as the 100 Mile Wilderness mainly because there are no towns between the two. Roads do exist in the wilderness; however, they are remote. If one hopes to navigate them effectively it helps to have a reliable atlas and a GPS. Molar Man has both, so we not only found all the roads today, but we devised a strategy to hike the entire wilderness with only one night in the woods. The DBM (or maybe it should be changed to the MMM) is in full swing for the remainder of Maine.
The three of us first located a road that leads to the Otter Pond parking area where we plan to end a 15.3 mile day tomorrow. From there we moved on to the more easily accessible Katahdin Ironworks Rd. where the AT also crosses. The downside to this route is that a $12 fee per person is charged for access to the logging road. Folks using this road must stop and pay at a checkpoint where an old iron smelting community existed in the 1800’s. $12 a person seemed kind of exorbitant, but then again, it is private land. The fee also allowed us into the other logging road, Joe-Mary, so at least we got two for one. When Sweet Tooth picks us up on these roads, only she will have to pay.
When lunch time rolled around we stopped at a small town America general store for a burger. The establishment sported an inventory that included everything from bread to homemade canned goods to fishing lures. A wide assortment of adult beverages were arranged nicely behind the counter. The lady at the check out called every customer who entered while we were there by first name. I’ve been very impressed with all the friendly folks in Maine. It truly seems that their sincerity is genuine. That is a trait this southern man appreciates.
After the lunch stop we began the trek up Jo-Mary in search of two additional AT access points. The lady at the Jo-Mary gate offered highlighted maps and solid information regarding our destination. Still, the gravel roads with crudely constructed signs posed some difficulty in finding the AT crossings. Nevertheless, displaying a goodly amount of patience, we managed to locate the trail in two strategic places. After the successful reconnoissance, we headed back to Greenville.
So with a plan in place for the 100 Mile Wilderness, Molar Man and I hope to reach Baxter next Sunday after spending only one more night in the woods. If all goes according to plans, we will summit on Labor Day. Our backup plan is a Tuesday climb. Either way, as my grandmama used to say, “Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise,” there’s only a little over a week remaining on the Appalachian Trail.