I dragged myself out of the shelter (plot twist!) at 6:15 after hitting the snooze more than once. I needed to be back to Tim’s place by 6:45 to be served at 7. I hurriedly stuffed my pack with my things stomach aching with hunger. I hopped across the creek to the wooden foot bridge to the lodge. Tim greets me as I walk in the door and take my seat by the window. He serves me hot tea and juice of unknown flavor. He begins making the pancakes I signed up for and brings them out steaming hot. “13 patriotic pancakes.” he says. He had only advertised 12. He joins me at the table since there were no other hikers that morning and asks about my night.
The later the night got the worse the winds got, I told him. It was so loud and violent I finally felt unsafe in my tent. I gathered my sleeping kit and looked upward toward the tree tops with my headlamp. The trees were whipping back and forth with such force it scared me. I ran to the shelter at about midnight. I apologized profusely when I entered the shelter but Buffy was dead to the world and Barking Dog was still up. I pulled my sleeping bag over my head to keep the wind out and try to sleep.
The pancakes were delicious with blueberries, apples and strawberries plus maple syrup. I ate half of them and packed them away in a ziplock for later. Tim and I talked about the trail experince and how he believes it makes someone a better person and the hikers get to learn and experience small town rural America. I told him I noticed the woods were so quiet with no birds. Tim commented that the birds leave in late July in Maine. I felt sad to hear this. The birds were good company. I signed the log book and walked on. It was about 8 by this point and I knew I had plenty of time to walk 4 miles to the Kennebec River to catch the canoe ferry before they shut down at 2pm. I remember this section of the trail very well and it has become one of my favorites. Checklist and I walked this stretch together back in 2017 and rode the ferry across the Kennebec to Caratunk where we were staying at the bed and breakfast there. The forest and the mossy roots looked like a different planet to me. This place exudes magic. I enjoyed every mile of this section.
At about 10 I arrived at the Kennebec to see Wallie and Grocer waiting to catch the canoe ferry. I rode over with Wallie and headed to the Caratunk House in the extra tiny town of Caratunk. The bed and breakfast is owned and operated by AT and PCT thru hiker Paul and his husband. In 1998, Paul walked the entire length of Maine to show his support for an anti-discrimination law that that was defeated in a referendum. for a coffee milkshake and bbq. Buffy, Barking Dog, and Leaves were there. I had hoped my food supply package would have arrived by now but I’m moving faster than I thought. I asked the innkeeper Paul if he could forward it to Monson and he agreed. I spent about an hour at the Inn eating bbq filled pancakes stressing about my plan. I wanted to make it to Monson before the next rainy day. That was in 2 days. 37 miles in 2 days. It was getting to be 11 and I needed to walk 15 miles that day. I decided there was no way I could do a 19 mile day so I asked for a shuttle around the section of trail Checklist and I walked in 2017. It was about 6 miles uphill but it really helped push my progress after a sleepless night and a late start.
After I caught a shuttle to Pleasant Pond Road, I started climbing up Pleasant Pond Mountain. I was feeling pretty sluggish and did not have much fun. The view was fine.
Buffy caught up to me and was confused since they had left Caratunk before I did. I told them I had skipped a section because I had done it a while back and they passed no judgment. Buffy asked my pronouns and I said she/her and Buffy said they/them identifying as non-binary. We commented about how few queer people there were on the trail and the abundance of hiker bros. Buffy is an excellent writer and you can read about their experience on the trail here. Buffy was headed to the shelter 4 miles passed the one I was stopping at so they walked on. I wished had met them earlier or could keep up with them. I think I would have enjoyed their company.
I pushed onward to my first river to ford: Baker Stream. There was a cooler of trail magic just before the crossing and I had a cream soda and an apple. It turned out that the water was low enough I could rock hop across. I dragged into camp by 6p and Wallie and Grocer were already there. I walked up to the shelter to check it out but there was a southbounder there that gave me some weird vibes so I decided to camp down the trail with Grocer and Wallie. As the sun went down we built a fire and the boys played some card game with galactic characters or something. It was chilly. I crawled in my sleeping bag and cinched the bottom and top hoping to keep as much warmth in as possible. I was so tired.
2036.8 – 2040.8 – 2046 – 2055.5 (13.5)