With the four day countdown officially underway, Molar Man and I started today’s hike with a mere 8.7 miles planned. When one is slack packing the 100 Mile Wilderness, there are obviously limitations regarding the availability of roads. So today’s hike turned out to be a half day hike since we finished around noon. That gave us, along with Sweet Tooth, the remainder of the day to drive into Baxter State Park to check out the Katahdin Stream Campground. Now with all logistics in place, we just have to hike the final 27.2 leading up to summit day.
From the logging road where we ended yesterday, Molar Man and I started up a pretty level trail for the first mile. At Prentiss Brook we were able to rock hop across since yesterday’s raging waters had subsided. In fact, there would be no perilous water crossings today. Most of the water we saw was in Nahmakanta Lake early and later in Crescent Pond. Part of the trail along Namakanta Lake travelled along a sandy beach. Some pebbles mixed in with the sand, but it still made for fast walking.
After passing the lake we stopped briefly at the Wadleigh Stream Lean-to. Then we crossed another unnamed stream before beginning a climb of Nesuntabunt Mountain. Even though the ascent covered only 700 feet, it was steep. I told Molar Man that I supposed the trail was offering us one final practice climb before Katahdin. Unfortunately we were unable to see the Big K from the summit due to cloud cover. We did get a nice view of another pond. I’m not sure which it was.
As we descended the mountain there were a couple of other places where the lake was visible. After leveling off the trail almost circled Crescent Pond. At one point a small boat had been tied to a tree. At another a few other boats and a canoe lay near the bank. Still moose were not to be seen even though this pond looked like the perfect habitation. I paused by the boats for a few minutes to watch, listen, and reflect in the stillness of the picturesque setting. Quiet prevailed. From the pond we made our way along another body of water, Pollywog Stream, toward the logging road where Sweet Tooth was waiting.
At the car Double Nickel and Rich were enjoying some trail magic in the wilderness. Birdman also arrived to join us. I told Rich that I hoped we were on the summit together because I wanted to hear him play his trumpet. He said he definitely planned to play. As we drove up the logging road we also saw Bane’s dad, who had parked near a rushing, boulder-filled stream to take some photos. This may be called the 100 Mile Wilderness, but we sure have seen a lot of traffic over the past few days.
After a quick stop in Millinocket the three of us headed up to Baxter. All the rangers we spoke with were extremely helpful. They exhibited great patience since I imagine they have been asked the same questions many times. From the first ranger station we drove back into the campground and saw where the AT crosses on its way up Katahdin. I felt the excitement, knowing that I’m only three days away from walking up that path.
When we got back to the motel in Millinocket, I spotted Barking Spider and Stretch getting out of a car. Stretch introduced me to her dad, Peter, who had come to pick them up from Baltimore. Peter thoughtfully mentioned Don when he told me he had been reading my journal. Stretch and Barking Spider are two of the nicest young folks I’ve met on the trail. I congratulated both for summiting today. I have also seen others at the motel, that I had hiked with or around, who have now summited. Burning Man and Acunamatata were here Wednesday and I spoke with Torch and his dad yesterday. All were excited with their accomplishment and just to be finished. For me, however, there are still a few miles to be hiked. Early tomorrow Molar Man and I plan to hike our last big mileage day as we put ourselves in position for the last big climb on the Appalachian Trail.