July 30, 2013
Today’s mileage: 19.5
Total mileage: 1967.3
Despite our late night into camp yesterday, we still managed to wake up early and get going by 8:30. We had another big day planned, so we hoped that we had left early enough.
Some of the granite on the second peak of Bemis Mountain had dried out from the morning sun, but we had to be careful traversing the rock faces and to avoid the slippery sections as best as we could. The climb down the mountain was similar to a lot of the hiking that we’ve done in Maine so far. It was mostly a steep, slippery descent where grabbing trees for leverage and butt-sliding were my hiking methods of choice. At the bottom, we were prepared to ford Bemis Stream as our guidebook had warned us. Come to find out when we get there however, that the water is only ankle-deep and there are two logs that can be used to cross. Miles casually crossed on the larger and higher of the two, while I chose to cross on the smaller and lower log while holding onto the other one. When I find myself in doubt of traversing a part of the trail safely, I lower my center of gravity. It has saved me countless times in New Hampshire and Maine.
At the road crossing up from the stream, we said goodbye to Pelican and Clifty, two section hikers that we met in Vermont. They plan to finish the last 200ish miles next year. We took a break near Moxie Pond before continuing on our way. While Miles filtered water, I headed down to the Sabbath Day Pond beach. A small, sandy beach, it was the perfect place to enjoy the beautiful day. The sky was clear, a slight breeze was blowing, and the temperature remained cooler. It really couldn’t have been any better of a day.
Later in the afternoon, as we were continuing on the trail like we normally do, all of a sudden I found myself being attacked by a fierce insect. In an instant, it stung the back of my ear and my hand. Without even realizing it, I’m on the ground, my buff flung off into the brush, and crying. I thought I might have come across a wasp’s nest, but there was only one pest around. My ear and hand stinging with pain, I got up and booked it out of the area and farther down the trail. I stopped to take a look at the damage. Still crying because of the shock and pain, I held my ear and then my hand, and then my ear again and my hand again. A few minutes later, a raised bump appeared on my hand and I felt my ear burning. Once I calmed down and Miles made sure that I was okay, we kept hiking. There was nothing that I could do really except hike on. My ear was killing me, but these weren’t stings that would inhibit my hiking abilities, so I tried not to think about the pain and keep walking. Just when you think you’re going to have a perfect day, a wasp flies out of nowhere and cuts you down.
When we took our second break at a campsite not long after, we knew that we had enough daylight and strength to finish out our 19.5 mile day. The terrain wasn’t flat, but full of small ups and downs and void of endless rock climbing and slippery descents, so we were able to move at our normal pace of about 2.5 to 3 miles per hour. Miles was still having some knee pain, but he was moving a lot faster than yesterday. He was hiking faster than me again, so that was a good sign.
We dominated the last few miles of the day and we found a nice tent spot near the shelter. We leap-frogged throughout the day with Rabbit, Wiki, ZZ Topless, and Kit Kat, who are all staying here as well. We also saw Hooker again, who we met during our first day in the Whites. I would classify today as a great day, with the exception of the wasp (or whatever it was) attack this afternoon. Putting in big miles in Maine isn’t always easy, but if we were going to do it, then we knew today was the day. We did it. And now we’re that much closer to home. We can now say that we have completed 90% of the trail!