July 29, 2013
Today’s mileage: 18.8
Total mileage: 1947.8
We were up by 6:00 and then walked down to the general store for breakfast. We got a shuttle back to the trail and were hiking by 7:35. Little did we know that our early start would not be early enough.
The first 6 miles to Hall Mountain Lean-to weren’t too spectacular, but the hiking was fairly easy. Unfortunately for us, the trail was very overgrown in this section and our clothes were soaked from the rain water on the trees and plants that we crossed paths with. The MATC needs to do some serious trimming in that area! While we were taking a break at the lean-to, we met Foxi, a thru-hiker from Bavaria who was slack-packing for the day. You’ll notice that I call the shelters, lean-tos now. In Maine, they are called lean-tos instead of shelters, but they’re generally the same thing.
We descended steeply into Sawyer Notch and then immediately began the even steeper climb up Moody Mountain. We climbed up metal ladders, wooden stairs, and stone steps. We hoisted ourselves up rocks and grabbed ahold of metal railings. Moody was a versatile climb and didn’t look nearly as bad as our guidebook made it out to be.
After descending the mountain, we came upon a game warden in his truck at the road crossing. He was there of intercept hikers to give information on the missing hiker, Inchworm, and to find out if anyone passing through knew anything. We haven’t passed through the area where she disappeared yet, but we helped as much as we could. We gave him some information on a couple of the hikers that we knew that were on the list of people they are trying to find and we gave him our contact info as well. We are coming up on the area in two days, so we’ll have to keep our eyes open while we head through there.
I greatly underestimated the climb up Old Blue Mountain. It was longer than I thought and not to mention that we climbed up yet another mountain in a thunderstorm. My favorite hiking weather! I love climbing up a waterfall trail with thunder clapping overhead and lightning bolts touching down just ahead of us.
After taking our second break, the last five miles of the day seemed to take forever. Miles was having a really rough day today. I hiked in the lead, something that I don’t do unless Miles is really feeling slow. At first, his left knee was really bothering him. Sharp pains would extend through his knee cap at random. I’ve never seen him hike so slowly. It was hard to get used to. Usually he’s the one waiting up for me, but today our roles were reversed. Later on, he started to have other physical issues and he was really slowing down. We had both agreed to hiking a big day today, but I didn’t realize that it was going to be so painful for him. He said he feels like his body is breaking down. He’s ready to stop hiking everyday so that his body can heal itself. He really is in rough shape though. Sores from his shorts and hip belt can’t heal, he has a huge, pus-excreting cut on his knee, his knees are killing him, and not to mention major chafing. I worry that he won’t make it all the way and whether he’s joking or not, he has admitted it too. It’s hard to watch him suffer through the day, but he insists that we keep on going. I told him that if he needed to go home to rest, then we could do it, but he won’t go. He’s been insistent that we not go back to Bucksport until we finish. I think it would be a good idea for him, but I’m not so sure that it would be good for me. I may not want to leave. We still have some longer days planned, but nothing over 20 miles for the rest of our hike. As amazing as our thru-hike has been for both of us, we are ready to be home. Our bodies and minds are in serious need of a break that lasts more than one day.
We didn’t get into camp until 9:00, and we were surprised to find it packed. The shelter was full and tents were set-up everywhere. The last fifteen minutes on the trail were pretty dark and slick. I fell because of both elements and I was reaching the end of my rope. We got lucky and found a flat tent spot. We didn’t cook dinner or filter water tonight. We were just too tired. We ate some snacks and Miles is already asleep. I can only hope that things will improve for him tomorrow.