I woke at 7 to fair weather and pack my things. Wallie and Grocer are leaving just as I’m eating breakfast. The forecast calls for rain this afternoon so I want to plan my breaks or even the end of the day with access to a shelter to keep dry. I settle on Pierce Pond Shelter 15 miles away. I set out at about 8. The forest was a vibrant September green but with bright orange and yellow leaves scattered sparsely along the trail. Fall starts much earlier than we realize I think. The trail was gloriously flat from the start. about an hour in I managed to scare up about 8 turkeys roosting in the trees just ahead of me. It gave me quite a scare when they all came flying toward me and if anyone had been around, they might have thought I had hurt myself by the tone of my scream. I took a breath and walked on.
At about 10 I stop at the West Carry Pond lean to. Wallie and Grocer are there too for a stop at the privy. I eat a snack and look at the weather. I can barely get a signal and when I do I see the heavy rain is due about 3pm. It starts to drizzle and so I whip out my umbrella and lock it down to my pack with the addition of my rain coat to keep the chill off. I walk around large ponds with stormy waters and grayed over skies. The trail skirts the perimeter of these “ponds” for miles. To me, a pond that big is a lake. I put my camera away and use my iPhone for the occasional photo. The ponds have nice beach access and I imagine it would be a lovely place to sit and swim on a sunny day.
I cross over swamps on wooden boardwalks keeping a sharp eye out for moose. I’ve been told they’ve been spotted here. None today. As the trail turned inward toward the forest, I came across a sign that informed me that a troop of white colonizers carrying their bateaux boats traveled this route in 1775 on their way from Cambridge, Massachusetts to Quebec City to attack it in hopes of gaining control from the British. After some research I learned that four Abenaki indigenous people accompanied the expedition as scouts and guides. If there’s a sign for these white dudes from 1775 there should definitely be a sign marking the territories of the indigenous people along the AT or everywhere for that matter. Who’s stolen land are your feet walking right now?
More flat, wet, muddy trail proceeded until my destination of Pierce Pond Lean To. This is the place where Checklist and I hiked into in 2017 when they broke their elbow. There was no one there when I arrived. It was 3 o’clock and I was impressed with the ground I had covered so early in the day. I decided to try and get out of the rain and go check out a place I read about in the trail guide called Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camp. The guide says the place offers a pancake breakfast for hikers and you need to sign up the night before. I crossed a bridge made of small wooden logs to a compound of old buildings. I saw what looked like a little kids play house and a memorial plaque attached to the side. There was a photo of a young military man with his birth and death date which was 2018. I walked around the lodge’s wrap around deck and peered in the windows to see large taxidermied animal heads on the walls.
I dock on the screen door to the kitchen but no answer. I say hello in a somewhat confident tone. I man in his late 50s comes to the door and invites me in for some lemonade and to fill up my water bottle. His name was Tim. He’s been running this hunting and fishing camp for 35 years mostly on his own. He has no landline, just a satellite phone and a weather radio. He heats with wood and powers the lodge by generator. The cabins use kerosene lanterns. It’s a 20 mile drive to the nearest town on dirt logging roads and in the winter he uses a snowmobile to reach his truck parked on the logging road a few miles from his lodge. Tim goes to town every week for supplies. He also cooks all the meals for his guests of which he brags about. Tim doesn’t have any companions there besides his transient guests.
I tell Tim I’m a musician and he says he is too. I tell him I’ve been playing harmonica on the trail but it broke back in Gorham, NH. He brings me out a few asks me to play and so I play Bury Me Not On the Lone Prairie. Tim goes over to the piano and starts pounding away on Eric Clapton’s “Lola”. He asks me if I think his style of playing enters a new dimension of music which is his intention. I say, “Sure”. Then he plays me a piece he wrote for his son, the Marine who is pictured outside. He stops about 3/4ths of the way embarrassed that he made a mistake, claiming he can’t play anymore. I’m not sure how to react to this, but I tell him it sounded really good. After an hour, Tim shoos me back to camp and I set up my tent above the shelter under some pine trees back at the shelter. There are 5 hikers when I arrive. Barking Dog, Leaves, Ember and Blue Jay and a new hiker I hadn’t met yet named Buffy. A downpour dumps buckets shortly after I walk down to the shelter to cook dinner. We all cook and eat dinner together about 6p. Buffy and Barking Dog are staying in the shelter. The pond provides a scenic view for dinner. I walk up to my tent to find everything stayed dry and I perform my bedtime chores.
Miles: 2021.7 – 2036.8 (15.1)