Mark and I staggered off Speck and onto the road in Grafton Notch. The packs were stashed and the thumbs where extended. We hitched 12 miles for beer. ME 26 was quite the scenic road especially with the foliage full of color. The trip took far too long but we made it back before it got too dark. The Tortiose Trekkers looked on as we transformed into white trash gorging on junk food and swilling cheap beer in the Grafton Notch Shelter.
It was raining in the morning as we headed north toward Baldpate Mountain. We walked through clouds as we scaled the summit. The exposed rock at the top was smooth like pavement where the Trail parted the alpine vegetation. After a brief stay on the West Peak and an equally brief stay on the East Peak, we descended Baldpate and into Dunn Notch. We found a great spot at Surplus Pond after an 11 mile day.
Mark and I decided to go into Rangeley afterall, which meant I had to go into town, call the postmaster at Stratton and have our maildrop forwarded to Rangeley. What a hassle. I did steal a mess of real tasty apples! The weather was getting worse as the rain pounded our little tarp. The next morning the rain was relentless and we stayed under out tarp until 2:00! We finally dragged our asses out from under the nylon and hiked a wopping 3.5 miles to Hall Mountain Shelter.
Figgy Newton, Lido Bandito and an orientation group from some college were all at the shelter. Actually, the college students where behind the shelter but there were so many of them that it felt crowded! It was still raining and we were soaked. Mark and I were glad to be out of the wet and we didn’t care how crowded the shelter was.
Just before sunrise, the moist woods echoed with the sound of thrashing as if a dinosaur was roaming the forest. A minute later a moose nonchalantly strolls by the shelter passing within feet of the open front. It was an awesome sight.
Another day of slogging through the rain soaked Maine wilderness and I was getting pretty darn sick of it. The blueberry bushes that choked the Trail would fill our boots with water when we brushed against them. At times the Trail was more like a river as the rain came down in a torrent. The views of the day where obscured by clouds and the grey skies were doing a number on my mood. Despite an all day soaking, we hiked 9 miles to Elephant Mountain Shelter and wrung ourselves out.
We got to the road crossing and extended our thumbs once again. We had a double maildrop in Rangeley to pick-up and we planned to do some laundry, too. Of course a few beers would have to be consumed for tradition’s sake! We actually got all of that done and still managed to make it to Sabbath Day Pond Shelter. Still walking the wet, we had to do a couple of miles in the dark and the slick roots made for some fancy footwork.
So we roll into the shelter after dark, stumbling about on the wet roots. Another case of “small world syndrome”… a woman from Framingham, the town next to my home town, was already settled in the shelter. It was an idyllic spot on a mist covered woodland pond. The first loon cry that evening cut through to the bone, chilling me the way unknown-but-sensed danger chills. The woeful cries shattered the silence of the night but they are a delight once you get used to them. I reclined in my sleeping bag listening to all the night sounds and picking at the floor of the shelter. Like a fossil in the dirt, I extricated a mini Maglight out of a crack in the shelter floor boards. And the batteries still worked! Score!
It was so damn wet in the morning, Mark and I decided to stay at the shelter for another day. I couldn’t believe the amount of rain we’ve seen. We were going stir crazy in that shelter waiting for the weather to change. We played as many games of Blisters we could stand. We ate, napped, read, ate some more, picked our toes and ate a little more. A good deal of our time also was spent reading the walls; Debi Earet loves some guy named Toad, Jesus saves, U. Obonko was here in ’77, Goober Lecours showed up in ’81. That wall also told us to “get bent”, “get stoned” (3 or 4 times), “have a nice day”, “fuck you” (at least 5 times), “repent”, “eat shit” and “fuck off and die”. Yep… I was ready to get out of here and HIKE!
…continue the expedition, read: A Ride In The Gravy Boat [link]