Day 1: We were all smiles and giggles when the old man dropped the three of us off at the trail head near Abol bridge. Momentarily all three of us were packed up and off we went. The first half mile was blissful. I had thought about this journey for years, I had thought about the adventure for years; now, it was here, here at last.
We were starting in the 100 mile wilderness. There are no towns or cities until you get to the other side. But, hell, that wasn’t going to be a problem for us; we were in wonderland. The forest smelled incredible, everything was green and plush, even the trail was soft for Stryker’s feet. After that half mile, wonderland became difficult.
The trail turned to bog and we began skipping along the rocks, jumping from one to another in a ‘hopscotch’ fashion. Also, bugs, tiny black flies and mosquitos began swarming us. Thank God for our face net. The ‘Ol Man told us, “don’t have it in your pack, have it in you pocket.” When the trail wasn’t bog, it was rocky and completely covered with large roots. As we went along, the trail became easier for a bit and then got bad again. We came across ‘Giggles’ a Forest Ninja that suddenly appeared in the woods and then disappeared just as quickly. She called herself a trail runner or something to that affect. She said it was her summer job to walk portions of the trail, educate people, and check on camp, Lean to sites.
At about the six mile mark, we stopped for lunch (it took us about three and half hours to get here) by a lake and, although the bugs were somewhat annoying, had a really nice meal and replenished our water supply.
We arrived at Rainbow Springs campsite about 430 that afternoon, 11.2 miles. We were all very tired from our first day of hiking. Okay, so, let’s back up. In Colorado, hell, in the Army, we do 12 miles in about 4 hours, that’s the ‘Army’ standard. It took us nearly eight hours to accomplish a similar task, now of course we took breaks, had lunch, but still. After day one, I knew that this wilderness was not going to be just a walk in the woods. When we walked into our camp sight we were immediately swarmed w/ flies and mosquitos. We put our tents up as fast as we could providing a mini sanctuary. Stryker couldn’t wait to get into the tent.
Day 2: It started raining about midnight, when we woke up we had to pack up a wet tents, but luckily the rain had stopped. This day’s hike was exasperated by the rains. We played hopscotch for miles in an effort to stay dry. When we weren’t going through bogs we were forced to pick our footing wisely on, between, beside rocks or roots. At one point, I thought, “This isn’t the AT, it’s the ACT for Appalachian Creek Trail. It very much felt like we were walking along a creek bed or up a creek bed for miles. We ended the day with our first elevation climb as we climbed up a small hill (probably about 3 miles or so). By the end of the day, we had knocked out 12.1 miles.
Day 3: Our easiest hike yet, not a lot of elevation gain and several places where the trail was actually a trail. Tons of fun water crossings. One in particular was at a creek about fifteen feet wide or so with three logs and a big rock. The logs teeter-tottered to the rock. This one was particularly fun as Stryker is becoming more agile and learning to overcome all the obstacles on the trail even with his pack on. Oh’ we saw our first warm blooded animal today on the trail, a duck. We finished the day having hiked another 10.1 miles. We stopped at a lean to that started with a ‘P’ and had a bunch of other letters that nobody could pronounce. We all think it’s a made up name. Our easiest hike, very little elevation gain, and I got my first blister. Go figure.
Day 4: We logged another 11.4 miles in today-a pretty easy day, really. Mostly flat with a slight upgrade towards the end. We all had a wonderful lunch on a bridge overlooking a pretty sweet river and this evening we’re staying at Cooper Brook Falls. Its a pretty sweet set up, the best we’ve encountered so far. Stryker and I are camping out right by the river and just up the hill there’s a lean to with a giant fire pit, pretty sweet. Not sure if you’ve been doing the math, but we’ve logged in about 44 miles in four days. Tomorrow we start climbing and it just keeps going up for the next few days, except when it goes down so we can go up again! 🙂
Overall, my impression of Maine is that there are a ton of lakes and a ton of roots and rocks. Every step is a possible ankle-turner. It’s very pretty, but the hiking is rough. As far as wildlife, we’ve seen a duck and a snake and LOTS of moose poop. Tomorrow we’ll hit the halfway mark through the 100 mile wilderness. Cheers