Tuesday July 27th, 2021, 0600-1650
Rainbow Lake Dam to Antlers Campsite, SOBO AT mm 51.7
3140 gain, 3700 loss
The bullfrogs sang all night, chanting me to sleep. It was so peaceful and quiet. There was surprisingly little condensation in the morning, a big plus considering my proximity to the lake. Then the most amazing thing happened…the sun rose right behind Katahdin, making it appear as though it was a volcano erupting. I’ve seen a lot of mountains and sunset\sunrises but this had to be in my top ten best of all time. I even woke up the other 2 ladies because I didn’t think they’d want to miss it. It was at 5:30 am.
So I didn’t get as early of a start as the day before but I had a good excuse to hang around camp. Wish I could have stayed longer. Once on the trail, I started running into NOBOs from the nearby shelter…at least they scraped all the cobwebs off the trail. There was a steady stream of people all day…I counted over 80. Some were just day hiking and some were slackpacking. Wilderness is a funny description for this segment because there are actually several dirt roads that I crossed today. In the peak of the summer, shuttle services run daily dropping off section hikers, school groups, boy scouts, food drops, you name it. I even heard several vehicles.
Given the roads and number of people on the trail, it didn’t feel very remote. My western hiking has been much more of a “wilderness” experience, especially parts of New Mexico, Arizona, Wyoming, and Montana. But this is the east coast, so I guess it’s silly to compare.
The theme for the trail today was to follow a lake, then a stream, go over a hill or mountain, then repeat. There were a lot of rocks and roots in places, making for a slow pace. I was very sore after the first 2 days and the trail felt very taxing. I started to question whether I could maintain my 22 mile averages, or even make the 23 miles I had planned for today on relatively flat terrain.
A steep climb to the top of Nesuntabunt mountain surprised me, followed by an equally steep descent. It hurt but was only a tidbit of what’s to come in the last 2 days of this stretch. At least my food would be mostly gone and hopefully the soreness subsided.
I talked to a few NOBOs throughout the day. It’s fun to see how excited they were to finish. But it would be impossible to stop to talk to everyone. Some of the day hikers were in large groups of 10 or more and weren’t too keen on pulling over to let me go by. It takes a few minutes to wait for a big group to pass, which adds up over the day. Boy scout and school groups had at least been coached on this and almost always moved to the side. They sometimes yelled “make a hole!” when they saw me coming. Thanks kids, I appreciate it!
I took my lunch break near Nahmakanta stream, finding some great duff to lay my tarp over and stretch out. I even took my shoes and socks off, to air some hotspots on my toes. All things considered, my feet felt pretty good. I ran into a guy I met yesterday, Zack. He started at Abol Bridge and was keeping pace with me. We chatted for awhile both today and the day before. He’s section hiking the 100mw and lives in Maine. It’s nice to at least be hopscotching one other person. I had yet to catch any other SOBOs.
I made it to another beautiful lake for the end of the day, with plenty of time left to enjoy camp. It wasn’t nearly as humid and a nice breeze was present all day. The lake spot was fantastic, with a single secluded tent site at the end of a small peninsula. I had views of both sunrise and sunset… that’s 2 nights in a row of phenomenal camping!
Animals: lots of bird song, some large dark figure crashed through the woods before I could get a good look…deer, moose, bear?