August 23rd 2018
ME route 27 / Stratton – West Carry Pond Lean-to (mile 2025.7)
23 miles
Total miles: 2051.6


We packed up, aiming to leave around 7am, but Professor is back so of course we left at around 7:45! We decided to walk up to the gas station and try to hitch from there. We weren’t having much success, not that many cars were coming through but a lot of trucks. Eventually a lady stopped by and said she just had to drop off her kids but she would come back and get us. Great! 

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So we went into the convenience store and got some snacks. I saw there was pizza sold by the slice there. I could go for that. So I got one and didn’t realise it was breakfast pizza! I didn’t know breakfast pizza was a thing. It was pizza crust topped with scrambled egg and cheese with sausage. It was alright just not what I was expecting. 

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The lady picked us up and took us back to the trail head. I’m pleased we waited out the rain, the forecast for today was clear and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The first couple of miles were flat and I was able to keep up, just. Peaches was out in front. That’s why I can never keep up, because the fastest hiker always has to be in the front! As soon as we started to climb I fell behind. 

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The soles of my feet hurt and my knees were in more pain than they had been for a long time. Zero days really do play havoc with your body. I’m not sure if they actually do them any good. But the build up of lactic acid had improved. 

The trail was so nice this morning. Smooth and not too full of obstacles. But that soon changed and the big rocks made a comeback. The climb up to the Bigelows would be the last of the 4000ft peaks until Katahdin. It was a tough climb and slow going but not anywhere as near as difficult as some of our previous climbs. 

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I weirdly could smell chocolate all morning. I had no idea where it was coming from and no one in front of me was eating anything. When I caught up to the others they spotted I had chocolate on my neck and then I noticed a big lump of it on my collar of my top. That explained why I had been smelling chocolate all morning, but I have no idea how it got there! The top was clean on from the laundry this morning! 

From Bigelow West Peak on a clear day you can see Katahdin. Lucky for us it was a clear day and someone pointed out which peak it was to the others. When I got there Peaches tried to point it out to me. I don’t know if I was looking at the right one, but if I was it was the faintest most barely visible one, and as I don’t have my glasses it is even harder for me to see. I figured we will have plenty of opportunity to see Katahdin close up.

The others were a lot more excited about it than I was. They asked me how I was feeling about finishing given that this was my fourth experience. It’s difficult to describe. I understand how they are feeling. The anticipation of being so close to the end was the same for me on my first hike. It feels like you are getting a reward for everything you’ve worked so hard for. But for me this time, the goal is different. I want to walk 10,000 miles and this trail is a step towards getting there. It’s also a step towards the triple crown so I guess I’m looking at the bigger picture. When I get to Katahdin I won’t have really ‘finished’ yet. It’s like the second lord of the rings movie. It doesn’t have a proper ending but you have to get through it to get to the next movie.

The wind was blowing and it was really cold. It had been cold all morning. Even though we were climbing and we were sweating the wind cut right through any heat and caused an instant chill. We found a little nook in the rocks on the not windy side to take some shelter and eat lunch.

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After hiking over to the second Bigelow peak it was time to make the long descent before the gentle climb up to Little Bigelow. Peaches and I stopped to get some water from this wonderful spring which was seeping straight out of the ground. I managed to catch up to Professor and Jukebox and I stayed behind them for a bit until the trail started to climb again. We went through this cool area where the boulders were huge, the size of houses. Jukebox stopped to have a wee and Professor took off. 

I was hiking along maintaining a decent pace and Peaches caught up to me. She has never said it but I get the impression she hates hiking behind me. I’m too slow. But she never really got close enough behind me for me to ask if she wanted to pass. When I looked behind again she wasn’t there. I guess she stopped. Stopped so she didn’t have to be behind me? Stopped to wait for Jukebox? Probably both. 

I carried on, the way to the top was a wiggly series of up and downs and there were a couple of points where I didn’t think I was going to make it up a big slab of rock because I have no grip left on my shoes and I just kept sliding down. I somehow managed to drag myself up and eventually made it to the top of Little Bigelow and started on the second long descent. A little way down I saw a hiker up ahead and it was Pony Boy! I hadn’t seen him for ages and we knew he was right behind us for a few weeks. 

We hiked together for an hour or so. There were so many days when we were at the same place at the same day, just at different times. He is having problems with the grip on his shoes too and he is having knee pain so he wasn’t planning to go as far as us today. 

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Katahdin is over there somewhere!

I had to stop to get water and have a wee. I have wee’d excessively today, especially compared to how little I have drunk, and they have all been clear which is unusual. This has happened before and I tend to struggle on days like these. Today I had a headache, all day. It was a weird one because it felt like I had a headache, took painkillers and it was masked, so it was more of a weird sensation in my head rather than pain. I waited a little while to see if Jukebox and Peaches would catch up. They didn’t. 

The second half of the downhill was so nice. A nice pine needle cushioned trail and few trip hazards. I was actually able to walk properly for the first time in a long time! I was feeling tired and realised that I had done 10 miles straight without stopping. There was still 5 miles to go and it was getting late and I wanted to get to the shelter before dark. It gets dark early now, about 7:30pm. 

I hiked as quickly as I could. I hadn’t seen Professor and assumed he was still ahead of me and on a mission to get to the shelter. I hadn’t seen anything of Peaches and Jukebox. The trail follows the edge of Flagstaff lake for a while and with the wind today the lake was rough and choppy and it sounded like I was next to the ocean with the waves breaking on the beach. 

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I passed an old 2000 mile marker. Someone had sprayed it onto the road crossing and someone else had crossed it out and resprayed the correct mileage. 

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The last mile to the shelter was frustratingly rocky and muddy. Everything was sore and all I wanted to do was get to the shelter as quickly as I could and the faster I went the more I was slipping and sliding around. I was walking next to West Carry lake and the sunset looked absolutely beautiful. The sky went from pink to orange as I walked by but there were too many trees in the way to see properly. 

At the shelter I found professor who had set up his tent. I set up mine too. I have missed sleeping in my tent. I assumed the others would sleep in the shelter. They arrived just as it was getting dark. They had hiked together the whole way I think. I mentioned having hiked with Pony Boy and I got some backchat form Peaches. I’m getting a weird vibe off her. I feel that everything I do and say pisses her off. So I kept my mouth shut for the rest of the night and zipped myself up in my tent and ate my garlic rolls with cheese for dinner. 

As I lay here I feel quite sad. I don’t have the energy to confront the issue. I don’t think I’m imagining the situation, I’ve noticed it for the last few days on and off. I can’t break away without saying anything. With so little of the trail left it would be a shame to break up now but I can’t keep feeling like this and hiding away in my tent at night not wanting to say anything. I don’t know what to do. 

I’m planning an early start tomorrow because we have to cross the Kennebec river which doesn’t have a bridge and is too major to ford, so between 9am-2pm a man canoes you across. 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 107

 

 


 

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