August 25th 2018
Pleasant Pond Lean-to – Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to (mile 2067.4)
22 miles
Total miles: 2093.3


Can anyone hear that? Jukebox said not long after we had all got in our tents and settled down to sleep. Professor had his earplugs in and Peaches was asleep, so Pony Boy and I responded. Yes of course we could hear that. It was a loud screeching and I was pretty sure it was a bird. Probably an owl. Jukebox and Pony Boy were freaking out with mentions of a ‘vicious animal coming to attack’ and ‘not wanting to die so close to the end’. 

I shone my light outside, but the creature didn’t like the light and shut up whenever it was shone on it. I did establish that it was in the trees so 99% confirmed it was a bird. It started to move around the trees and sounded louder and at times like it was sat on top of the tent. There was nothing we could do about it so I ignored it and went to sleep. 

Apparently it was screeching for a lot of the night and the others were kept awake. We found out through Peaches bird app that it was a short eared owl. Other than that I slept really well and I didn’t want to get up. 

When I did move I had a really sore back and my neck has been painful for a few days. Everything feels very tight and there is so much tension in my neck. It’s probably from catching myself on my trekking poles before I fall over so often. 

We were packed up and left just before 7am. We had a climb first thing up to Pleasant Pond Mountain. I’m not keen at climbing at the best of times, first thing in the morning is the worst. It was just over a thousand feet of uphill and I was going slow so I made the others all go ahead of me. The climb wasn’t that hard and I made it to the top in ok time and the others were there waiting and Pony Boy was just behind me. There were a few views at the top and some of the crew picked a few blueberries. I think they were more abundant a couple of weeks ago but there were still a few around. 

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Next up was 8 miles of down with a few flatish bits and a few small uphills thrown in. We all hiked together and it was nice to chat. With Peaches speaker we also listened to a couple of podcasts. I enjoy listening to podcasts communally because they give you good discussion topics afterwards. We listened to a podcast about thru-hiking, while we were hiking and it was people sharing the low points of their hikes. It’s amazing how people get stuck in this little bubble world and when you listen to their low points – it’s hard to get up in the morning, for example – it makes you think, get a grip!! (yes, I realise I do it too!)

The trail was the usual rocky and rooty trail and there were a couple of boggy parts to avoid, but mostly it wasn’t too bad. We stopped to get some more water and have a snack and decided to push on the the top of Bald mountain to have lunch there. I managed to stick with the group for most of the way, as we started to climb I was getting really hot and super sweaty and I could feel myself getting slower. We crossed paths with a ridge runner, the first one I have seen for the whole trail. He gave us some good advice about summiting Katahdin and where to camp and all that stuff, so I was grateful for the information and really grateful for the break. 

When we got moving again I realised that I wasn’t able to maintain their pace so I let the others pass me and with just 0.6 to the top I continued to crawl up. About halfway there were a couple of caves which were really cool, and they were really cool, there was a huge difference in temperature and I stood for a moment to cool down. The way to the top was a huge slab of rock with the way marked by cairns. We sat at the summit and at lunch. 

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It was beautiful up there, there were some views but it was so hazy, which we assume it because of the humidity, you couldn’t see far. I ate a meat stick, which was a ‘posh’ slim Jim, which to be honest wasn’t that great, and a handful of Pringles, plus a mini Milky Way. I could have eaten about three times that amount but I didn’t have three times the amount to eat. We ended up staying up there for nearly 2 hours. It was only 12pm when we arrived and there was only 11 miles to go so we had time. We took naps, although I didn’t fall asleep because there were too many bugs. I constantly felt like there was something crawling on me. 

When we finally got up and started moving again we just had 2 miles of downhill and then it looked pretty flat all the way to the shelter. The downhill wasn’t too bad. We stopped to try and find water but there didn’t seem to be any so we carried on. We also ran into Amazonian and Chumbawumba. They knew Peaches pretty well, I had met them once in the Shenandoah but I don’t think they remembered me. They had got to New Jersey and then flipped up and are hiking south from Katahdin. We chatted with them for about 10 minutes before moving on. 

In the flat section there were some really nice really cruisy parts where the trail was smooth and wonderful. There were also a few cheeky uphills that we weren’t expecting, but really they were tiny. We had a couple of river crossings. One we were able to hop across on logs and rocks without getting our feet wet and one much bigger one where we had no choice but to ford it. We had been warned of a hornets nest in the area but we weren’t effected by it thankfully. 

We chose to take our shoes off and wade across. The rocks were super slippy but it was fine to cross. It actually felt quite nice to have some cold water on my feet. It wasn’t deep, only to around mid calf at most. I didn’t want to get my shoes wet because they are already falling apart. I fear they will disintegrate if they get too wet. 

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The mosquitoes are really bad at the lower elevations and I have a bunch of bites from yesterday that are itching and a bunch of new ones I picked up today. 

We listened to a couple more podcasts which sparked discussions about the moon landings, aliens, the curve of space time, trophy hunting and ghosts. All pretty interesting conversations. We also spent a lot of time talking about food and discussing our ‘death-row meals’. Mine is always the same. A baked Camembert, with cranberry sauce and a selection of artisan breads. A great British roast chicken dinner, with all the trimmings, for main. And a selection of cheesecakes and ice cream for dessert. 

With 5 miles left we were all getting pretty tired and just ready to be at the shelter. I managed to fall over in slow motion and land softly so I didn’t hurt anything. I think I just tripped on a tree root. I put some music on for the last couple of miles which really helped because we got to the shelter in what felt like no time at all. I was determined not to look at the gps to see how far there was left and just as I was about to crack we arrived. 

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There were more people there than we expected there to be but we then realised it was a Saturday. Jukebox and I decided to pitch our tents, but the only space was right next to the shelter and Peaches and Professor are in the shelter. We were told the water is kinda difficult to get so peaches asked if she could use my bottle if she brought water back for me. Sounded like a good deal to me. The water isn’t the greatest and does have a bit of a weird twang to it. 

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For dinner I ate a packet of tuna flavoured with some sweet relish packets that I picked up in a hiker box yesterday with the rest of my Pringles. I also ate my m&ms so I don’t have them to eat tomorrow. I will be rolling into town with a totally empty food bag tomorrow and I will be looking forward to town food more than ever because I am hungry! I just have three snacks left for the 9 miles we have to do in the morning to get to Monson. A cliff bar, a cereal bar and some fruit snacks. 

My bag is going to be so light, I really don’t want to have to carry 5 days of food! 


Watch the video!

For this trip I made a daily video diary which you can watch here: DAY 109

 

 


 

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