Saturday, September 5th: Bemis Brook to Piazza Rock- 16.0 miles
Pictures: Height of the land
Sabbath Day Pond
Today was exactly the kind of day that people dream of on the AT. It was the romantic notion of a day out in nature; seeing gorgeous views, coming across various forms of wildlife, and wading out into a hidden mountain pond. Today had it all.
I began by giving myself the grace to take a slow start. I got up and ate breakfast, but then read for a while in my hammock. In spite of that dalliance, I still managed to start hiking before 8 and I had a very calm and relaxed spirit. To further lift my mood, I came across a viewpoint only about a mile from camp and was greeted with a breathtaking scene of morning sunlight casting the mountains in gold, while a sea of fluffy white clouds cloaked the valleys.
The whole morning I saw an abundance of wildlife; squirrels and chipmunks seemed especially playful, birds sung cheerfully, a very bold grouse let me take its picture, and several snakes slithered off the path ahead of me. I felt in my spirit that today I might see a moose, but alas not all wishes were granted. I walked at a relaxed pace and drank in the wooded beauty. I came to Sabbath Day Pond about mid-morning and waded out into it. I contemplated swimming but the morning chill hadn’t worn off yet, so I simply enjoyed bathing my feet.
Just after noon, I was delighted to reach another pond and at this one sat a pair of canoes. They were in disrepair but still pond worthy, and so I jumped in one and paddled around for a time. I brought it back and ate lunch, then took it out a second time thinking how I might jump in. In the end I backed down from the idea again, unsure of how I would do getting the boat back to shore after jumping in and concerned about swamping the boat. A part of me still regrets not jumping.
After lunch the hiking was less eventful, though still relaxed and I arrived at the shelter shortly after 4. At first I was concerned that it might be a tough night as the camping area was crowded with a college orientation group. My concerns were ill founded however, as the group was very polite, fun, and considerate. There was also a grandmother and grandson at the shelter and together we talked and laughed around a bonfire. The grandmother (who I want to say had the trail name “stick”) was fascinating to talk with. She’s lived in Maine since the 70’s and she and her husband built their own log cabin on their land and, up until five years ago, had no electricity. It was a fun way to spend the evening; friendly conversation and story sharing. It’s been a true joy of a day on the AT.
Sunday, September 6th: Piazza Rock to Spaulding Mountain-16.9 miles
Pictures:Maine CCC Plaque
Today was not quite the idyllic wonderland of yesterday. The terrain was a little tougher and so demanded a more focused day, but I still managed to retain some of that relaxed nature of yesterday. While I didn’t take the extended breaks, I felt in no rush and was able to enjoy much of the walking. I got a good start and immediately began climbing. The morning consisted of three consecutive mountains, Saddleback, The Horn, and Saddleback Jr, and each offered both strenuous climbing and then gorgeous views. From each summit you could look ahead to the next or behind to the last, a cool way to set a goal and then acknowledge progress.
More and more I am itching to get done. I find myself looking to push miles and likely would have done more today if another water source had been within five miles. It wasn’t however, which is good, because it allowed me to enjoy another early evening in camp, taking in the small luxuries of a slow dinner and a large pot of tea.
I head into Stratton tomorrow, from where I should set my itinerary to the end. It may be as little as eleven days remaining. The end is so close.