Twig Adventures

AT Day 13: The 4 R’s

Friday August 6th, 2021, 0540-1740
South Pond to South Arm Road, SOBO AT mm 246.8
24.3 miles
6083 gain, 6850 loss

It was so peaceful on the pond. Bullfrogs sang me to sleep. A little mouse tried to come in my tent while I ate breakfast…I had to gently brush it away with my hand. A problem arose with my stove as I tried to make coffee…for some reason the fuel was not coming out properly. It was making a weird anemic hiss, nothing like the regular sound. I was able to heat water at least.

I hit the trail early, stopping to use the privy a few miles south. It was only yards away from the trail, very convenient. Brown blazing is the term for using only the privies on the AT…I lost that honor in the first week, as I often prefer the woods. But this privy was pretty clean and didn’t smell. There was another warning sign about porcupines.

The trail was the quietest it’s been so far. I only saw about 14 hikers all day. By 9 am, I was cursing the lack of hikers because I was going insane eating all the cobwebs across the trail. I’ve dealt with this a lot given my early starts, but today was the worst. I think I actually gained some weight from all the little streamers I was dragging along. I was also flicking spiders off every few minutes. I could have kissed the first 2 ladies that finally came along. They were equally happy to see me.

I passed by tons of great moose habitat but still no luck seeing one. I even saw some fresh prints. Moving solo and silently, I should be able to sneak up on one. Then again, these woods are so dense, a moose could be standing 5 feet from the trail and I wouldn’t even see it. I have to keep my eyes on the rugged trail 99 percent of the time, so I can really only look around if I’m stopped.

Ohhh this trail…if you can call it that. For nearly all the long, tiring miles today it was what I’m calling the 4 R’s: roots, rocks, runs (as in boggy mud), repeat. It’s so hard to make the miles in such terrain. I just can’t ever find my stride. I’m only able to go the distance by just constantly plugging away at it. For the same amount of effort on the PCT, I would easily be covering 30 to 35 miles a day. But it’s all about accepting the trail for the way it is, not what I want it to be, and that’s a slow roll here on the AT.

The morning was relatively flat and I stopped around 10 am to enjoy a bench at an overlook. The view was of Mooselookmegintoc Lake…glad I don’t live on that lake to have to write that as my address. The afternoon held many big climbs: the Bemis mts and Old Blue. There was little reward view-wise but at least there were tons of blueberries! I even ate a few cranberries…or at least that’s what I thought they were. A lady in Rangely said to eat them because they’re full of vitamin C. Eating random red berries, sure go ahead, what could go wrong?

It was very hazy due to the western wildfire smoke, so I could barely see the nearest mtns, the Saddlebacks. But the sun was shining and it was a hot and humid summer day. I sweated a ton, smelling pretty bad by the end. I was caught and passed by someone for the first time…a trail runner. It annoyed me to see him go flying by at a pace I wished I could do. Still, I pushed the miles to be able to get to a decent campsite. There was not really anything feasible between 18 and 24 miles hence the long, tiring day.

The last descent from Old Blue mt was wicked steep with lots of built-in rock stairs. Thank goodness for the volunteers that maintain the trail! The original trail just couldn’t handle the traffic it sees now, so these volunteers are constantly working to control erosion and fortify the sketchy spots. Ideally the original trail would have incorporated switchbacks but they have to work with what they’ve got. This means some really heavy-duty work breaking, cutting and moving rocks. I’ve seen a presentation on what’s involved and it’s incredibly complex, with rigging, blocks and tackle to move the rocks. They also install rebar and ladders in many places. As well as all the bog bridges… I’ve managed to not get too muddy of feet yet. Thanks for all the hard work MATC!

Camp was next to a nice stream near a road with little traffic. I was able to go for dip in my clothes, washing off some of the stink. Too bad they didn’t have time to dry in the sun. There were only 2 guys tenting there, Sling and Tin Man. I was able to use their stove and canister to diagnose my stove troubles, ruling out canister malfunction. My stove just went bad for some reason. Pretty disappointed. I can still warm up water to make meals and coffee but will need to get a new one. This one was a gift so not a big loss, just an inconvenience.

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