Sunday, September 17, 2017

Trail Magic on the Appalachian Trail in Maine

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As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a week in Maine while my friend Lynn finished the Appalachian trail. I wanted to be there at the end because I had been there at the beginning and it only seemed fitting. Lynn and her hiking buddy, Crystal, were just finishing the 100 mile wilderness where you are advised to take TEN DAYS worth of food with you because there is nowhere to buy food in that area. Lynn and Crystal hiked it in 5 days. It's not wilderness like you might think because there are a large number of logging roads going through it. I planned on meeting them at the end of their 4th night in that area and bringing them some trail magic - FOOD. I had to pay to drive on a dirt logging road called Jo Mary Road - $28 for a 24 mile dirt road.

See the painted white blaze on the tree - that marks the Appalachian trail. 
Very soggy underfoot.

Somehow the map function worked on my phone (even though I was in the wilderness) until I was almost to the intersection with the Appalachian trail (AT) and I saw a US forestry worker who got me to the correct place. I loaded up my pack with food and hiked to the intersection with the AT. The plan really was for me to hike about 3 more miles with them, camp with them that night and then hike back 3 miles to the car the next morning.

When I finally ran into Lynn and Crystal, I spread out the food and they devoured it. I had Chocolate croissants covered with icing, crackers, 2-3 types of cheeses, yogurt, and fruit. After they ate, they flat out told me that this was not fun and I should go back to the car, get a hotel room for the night and meet them tomorrow at the Abol Bridge Campground. It was rainy and cold and really pretty grim so I agreed. I was afraid that I might slow them down and since they'd already gone 18 miles  the last thing they needed was someone slowing them down for the final 3 miles.

I drove back down the 24 miles of dirt road in the rain and went to Millinocket to get a hotel room. As I drove back I formulated a plan because I knew it was going to rain all night and into tomorrow. Remember that they'd already done 21 miles in the rain and they had 24 miles for the next day. I called Mike, Lynn's husband, and asked him what he thought of me keeping the hotel room the next night so they could dry out and wash clothes. The hike the day after from Abol Bridge Campground to Baxter State Park is a relatively flat, nicely maintained trail of 10 miles - a very easy day to Lynn and Crystal so they could start later. He thought it was a great idea. So I added another night to my hotel room.

Hiking near the Abol Bridge Campground. The sky is trying to clear.
Ok, so I wanted to provide them with trail magic on the 24 mile day as well. That means I had to hike on the AT a few miles at least to be on the trail. It's not trail magic unless you are ON the trail. Well, I got lost trying to find the trail. I hiked down a road for about a mile and totally missed where the trail started at Abol Bridge. This ate up my time in hiking towards them. Since I was a little late getting on the trail, I ran and hustled up the trail, trying to get far enough that the trail magic would mean something to them.

According to Lynn and Crystal, this is a very smooth trail in comparison. 
I was just cresting a hill when I saw Crystal and she yelled out "Lucy". She said she was so tired and wet and her feet were blistered and she was dreading the hill so she was very happy to see me. Lynn was wondering why Crystal was yelling my name. She was surprised to see me on the trail as well. I met them about 2 miles from the end for the day. I laid out the spread - Apple Fritters, cookies, yogurt, apples and pears, Brie, Crackers, Guacamole dip, chips. They were thinking that they'd never had trail magic like that. Lynn's husband, Mike says that the only trail magic he ever got was a soft drink or a beer. We also met up with someone they had been hiking with "Jarhead" is his trail name - a very nice guy. He also appreciated the food.

Fragile looking mushroom on the trail. It was somewhat translucent which I've never seen in a mushroom before.
Mushrooms on a tree log. Beautiful.
Then we hiked to the Abol Bridge Campground and where they were delighted to be going to a hotel for the evening. We washed clothes and I read my iPad in the bathroom while I used the blow dryer to dry out their shoes. All 3 of them had blisters from hiking in the rain for almost 45 miles. Jarhead came along and got a room as well so he could dry out.

Another view of Mount Katahdin
The next morning I drove them back to Baxter State Park so they could do their 10 mile hike before summiting Mount Katahdin to complete the entire AT. We camped at Katahdin stream campground the night before summiting.

I was honored to be there for the finish of the AT. It will be interesting to see what is next for these super hikers.

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