Molar Man and I just rolled into the Logan Brook Lean-to after another day filled with ups and downs. We had thought about moving on to the next shelter; however, we are both tired. So after only 12.8 miles we have called it a day. As I sit on a mossy rock about three feet off the trail heading north from the shelter, I am being serenaded by Logan Brook. Running only about twenty yards from the front of the shelter, the brook will provide my water source as well as offer a pleasing sound throughout the evening. This setting is quite nice in all respects.
Our day began at 7:20 with an immediate ford of the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Molar Man and I both managed to get across without a problem even though the ford is listed in the AT Guide as having a slick, rocky bottom. It was the widest ford that we’ve encountered. After the river we began a long gradual ascent of over 1600 feet up Gulf Hagas Mountain. About the final half mile was steep. From there we briefly descended before climbing up to West Peak at 3178 feet. Neither of these mountains offered a view. After another descent we next climbed Hay Mountain with the same result.
From the beginning of the hike today, I promised myself that I would attempt to hike with a more positive attitude. Even though I fell three times on slippery rocks, none resulted in any blood loss. I apologized to the trail and promised not to be too critical of what it throws at me. That was just before one of the falls. It didn’t matter. I wanted to at least try to befriend the trail again. Hopefully the old guy has forgiven me for hating him yesterday.
The highlight of the day definitely came at the summit of White Cap Mountain. Panoramic views on a beautiful afternoon made the tough climb worthwhile. Then on the rocky descent we were greeted with our first view of Katahdin, majestically appearing 72 miles in the distance. As I descended I alternated looking down in an effort not to fall and staring at the Big K, transfixed against a blue sky surrounded by puffy white clouds. I looked in awe at the mountain I’ll be confronted with in a few days.
So tonight should be the last I spend in the woods. Molar Man and I plan to move into Millinocket tomorrow afternoon and slackpack the remainder of the trail with Sweet Tooth’s assistance. I’m definitely ready for the hike to end. I’m about as physically and mentally depleted as I can ever remember being at any time in my life. This journey has challenged me in so many ways. The mental aspect has by far been my greatest challenge.
So as I prepare to spend my last night in a shelter, I’m thinking about one year ago tonight. That was my brother’s last night on Earth. Don knew, like I knew, that his death was near. Lisa and I tried to make him comfortable, but our efforts were to little avail. The Braves game was on in the background, but in his depleted state, Don couldn’t even enjoy his beloved team.
This trail has been hard, but my difficulties pale exponentially to how hard Don’s existence was over those last few weeks and at its end. So as I lie in the shelter tonight, in the woods that Don loved, I’ll remember my brother. I’ll think about our last night together, but more importantly, I’ll think about all the good times we shared. Tomorrow there’s a hike to be continued. 71.4 miles remaining on the Appalachian Trail.
Donald has been on our minds all week and I know tomorrow will be a bittersweet day for you and the rest of your family. You are all in our thoughts and prayers. You are almost to the finish line. What an achievement. Donald, I am sure, is watching and is very proud!