Monson to Caratunk

June 23 Mile 118

I was planning to take a zero day today (zero day means zero miles hiked) but by noon it was time to leave the hostel and I figured I’d get a few miles is just for good measure. I hiked about 4 miles to the western bank of Lake Hebron and found a lovely little spot to relax for the rest of the day. Town days are nice but it’s always a relief to get back on the trail and eat some miles. Miles are hard won on the AT in Maine and any chance to put away “easy” miles is not to be passed up. 

This morning several of us walked down to Shaw’s, another hostel for AYCE (all you can eat) breakfast with coffee, bacon, eggs, potatoes and blueberry pancakes. I sat with Shredder, a young woman who I met on the day of the leech, also known as the day of the fireflies. Shredder and I went skinny dipping in a river and I emerged from the water with a 4 inch leech on my foot. Visions of horror films flashed before my eyes and I tried to keep my cool while trying to will it off my foot. That didn’t work so I just pulled that sucker off. Yikes! It was nice to see her again.

After breakfast we perused Shaw’s gear shop and I found nothing that I needed. I walked over to Pete’s Bakery and got a few items for the next stretch and got my AT passport stamped. So exciting! I love stuff like that. I was also able to fill my .5oz hot sauce bottle for only .25 cents, which was exciting too. It is not good to run out of hot sauce. Ever. 

With that in mind it’s almost time to start thinking about cooking up some dinner, eating a homemade brownie and reading some Edward Abbey before I fall asleep around 7:30pm. 

June 24 Mile 132.4

When I got to Bald Mountain Pond (which is really more like a lake) the sun was out and once I pitched my tent I went for a swim and sat on a flat granite slab to warm up. The sun felt wonderful and it has been raining quite a bit so this respite was welcome. I did about 14 miles in just under seven hours. I want to say that’s slow but miles are different on this trail than the PCT. I get slowed down by wet rocks, creeks running down the middle of the trail and boggy muddy messes of trail that suck at my shoes. Today there were three river crossings; various branches of the Piscataquis, which were not scary so that is good. Every time I cross a river the water feels exquisite on my feet; as I slowly make my way across the rivers I sigh and go extra slow to be safe and to savor the luxurious feeling of cool water running between my toes and over my feet. It is extraordinary.

Maine continues to blow my mind with amazing landscapes; most of the time I don’t mind when the trail turns into an obstacle course. When I was laying on my hot rock I felt like I was the only person on this lake. It’s a nice feeling. 

Tomorrow I will climb a couple of mountains and I’m looking forward to the views. Maybe it will even be sunny. 

June 25 Mile 145.5

I’m usually awake at 4:45am. This morning when I got out of my tent to pee I was greeted with pink, clear sky reflected on a motionless lake. Stellar. The sky was clear as I got back into my tent and ate breakfast which today was a Clif Bar. As I packed up my stuff I could hear Lays in his tent nearby starting to get up. We’ve been hiking together more or less since I started and it’s nice to have the company. We don’t always hike together but we end up at the same spot in the evenings. Today I had my things packed up quickly so I could sit and enjoy a cup of cold coffee and I decided to wait for him. I found a spot in the early morning sun and watched polywogs in the water. It’s not easy for me to wait sometimes. The trail teaches me patience. 

When we arrived at the appropriately named Pleasant Pond (again, more lake sized than pond sized). I set up my tent and headed down to the pond. I sat on a dock and soaked my achy hiker feet for a good 20 minutes. There are several cabins around the lake and someone was blasting Johnny Cash. Perfect.

It’s 6pm, I have a full belly, a light pack to carry into Caratunk tomorrow and that lovely feeling of a tired body and light heart. I’ll pull Edward Abbey out, read and once again be asleep by 7:30 or earlier. 

Life, she is good. 

June 26 Mile 151.4 Caratunk

Lays and I walked into Caratunk this morning and now we’re showered and sorting our resupply at the Sterling Inn, a sweet little BnB on the edge of town. We met Mama Bear, a NOBO who has a lovely dog. So nice to be around a fur friend. I really miss animals on the trail so it’s nice to spend a little time with a sweetie like Beaver. 

Paul at the BnB next to the trail told me about some places to stealth camp on the Kennebec river; it’s a big river and we have to wait until tomorrow morning to catch the ferry (a 2 person canoe) to cross it. The ferry is the official AT route and almost everyone uses it. So, we’re taking a Nearo day; nearly a zero day but not quite, just a few miles hiked. I could use the rest. 

Trail life is treating me very well and I am tickled pink with the progress I’m making. Again, my heart swells with the kindness of the people I have met; strangers that go out of their way to help me. My life is richer for it, and gratitude is once again the theme for my hike.

Much love to you all!

Until Stratton,

Cougar

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