Day 143: West Carry Pond Lean-To to Pleasant Pond Lean-To

August 4, 2013

Today’s mileage: 19.7
Total mileage: 2040.4

I woke up this morning wishing that I could sleep in. I can’t wait for that first day back home when I can do just that. There was no time for sleeping in today however. We had our a big mileage day ahead of us. We knew from our guidebook that the terrain was going to be relatively flat all day, so we took advantage of the knowledge and planned to put in some big miles.

I wasn’t sure if we would be slowed down by the rocks, roots, and mud of the flat trail, but thankfully we were not. We were hiking at our normal speed again and expertly traversing the obstacles that lay in our path. Some of the bog bridges were very slippery, some were leaning a bit too far one way, and others would sink down into the mud when we stepped on them or rock back and forth as we made our way across. It was nice to see that some of them had been recently replaced.

A few miles from where we stayed last night was a small, sandy beach on East Carry Pond. We ran into the Over The Hill Gang, the four guys we met at the shelter last night. It was beautiful this morning on the beach. The calm surface of the pond shimmered in the morning light, its silver hue a reflection from the passing clouds. I never knew that the trail passed over sandy beaches until recently. Everyday, I find more and more reasons as to why Maine is the best state on the AT.

Later in the morning as we were hiking along, I hear Miles yell in excruciating pain. I can’t see him, so I run up ahead to see what happened. I see him holding his leg and I fear the worst: a twisted knee or ankle or a ligament tear. When he can finally speak again, he tells me that he got stung on his lower leg. I was relieved that it wasn’t more serious, but I knew how much pain he was in since it appeared to be the same type of sting that I got on my ear and hand last week. At least he didn’t cry.

We took a break at Pierce Pond Lean-To, which was right near the pond. After spending about an hour there this afternoon, I consider it the best shelter location on the entire trail. I wish we could have stayed there for the night, but we couldn’t justify stopping at noon after only hiking an easy ten miles. At least we live not too far from there, so we have plenty of opportunities to go back.

We finally made it to the Kennebec River! Most rivers in Maine require fording, but the Kennebec is way too dangerous to ford, so the MATC provides a ferry service across the river. Craig rowed over in the bright red Old Town Canoe and had us sign a waiver and put on life jackets. He put in our packs and off we went! Miles helped Craig with the rowing, while I sat in the middle. The ferry is the official route to take and there’s even a white blaze on the canoe. The hydroelectric company nearby releases the dam upstream with no warning, so it would be life threatening to try to ford. Not to mention the strong current and the average six feet deep water. Craig was a really nice guy and glad to hear that we were from Bucksport. He thru-hiked in 2005 as Shadow. He was kind enough to take our trash for us and inform us about the trail ahead.

It was mostly uphill for the last few miles of the day, but we played the thru-hiker version of Twenty Questions to pass the time. We made it to the shelter at 6:00 to find it empty. We are the only ones here tonight hanging out in the dumpy shelter near a logging road. It’s rained off and on, so I’m glad that we’re staying dry tonight. We met two NOBOs and two SOBOs today. I think that we have passed the majority of south-bounders now, but I’m sure that we’ll see a few more before the end. It’s amazing to think that people that we met months ago have now finished their thru-hike, only mere days ahead of us.

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