Disaster struck sometime during the night. Although I was on the top bunk bed, there was another mattress platform turned perpendicular to me in the rafters above. I placed several items on that mattress having not seen anyone up there before, but when the boys outside came in to go to sleep, someone started climbing up to the rafters so I quickly moved my stuff from the mattress to the plywood platform on which the mattress was lying. A short time later, I heard the rattling noise of something falling down the wall, but I went back to sleep deciding that it would be best to investigate in the light of morning.
When I woke up this morning, I sat up and reached for my glasses on the platform above me, and they were not there. Also missing was my long-handled titanium spoon. Upon further investigation, I discovered that the platform, on which I had laid my possessions, ended at a space between the inner and outer paneling of the room and the noise I heard last night was the sound of my glasses falling to the floor inside the wall. This really sucks. When the owner’s son Frank arrived, I showed him what happened and asked him if there was anything that could be done to retrieve my glasses. He told me that, absent dismantling all the bunks and the wall in that room, there was nothing he could do.
On the shuttle ride back to the trailhead on South Arm Road, I’m thinking, “I’m already one of the slowest hikers on the trail, so how is walking blindly going to affect that?” I was soon going to find out as the trail started in the morning with a 1,200-foot climb to the very steep summit of Old Blue Mountain. I wear progressive lenses which means that my eyes need assistance both far and near. Negotiating the trail hazards was not that difficult, but I noticed a marked decrease in depth perception that became straining to my eyes over time. Of more concern was that it was only with great difficulty that I could read anything on my smartphone.
As you might imagine, I was moving slowly and carefully to the top of the mountain as I adjusted to my new reality. On the way up, I came to an opening in the trees that gave me an interesting shot between the cloud layers. I can only hope that my camera is doing a good job of auto-focusing because I can’t tell if the pictures are in focus or not. Nearing the summit, the trail became very steep and I was appreciative, once again, for the rebar assistance installed by the trail builders.
At the summit of Old Blue Mountain, I had a good cell signal so I called my wife and we discussed my options regarding glasses. As best I could tell, there wasn’t an optometrist within hundreds of miles, so I was going to have to rely on glasses coming from the outside. After some discussion about alternatives, my wife and I decided on a preferred course of action and I told her I will call her back to follow up when I reach the next mountain peak.
The descent from Old Blue Mountain is just as steep as the climb up, but it eventually started to level off at the bottom and go through some mud. Along the ridgeline, someone had placed a bench by the trail and it looked so inviting. It is an ideal place to rest for a moment because the view is fantastic, but I didn’t have time to stay longer.
Soon I began the climb up Bemis Mountain and found a place at the viewless summit to call my wife. Although there is a lot more drama that I will omit, she managed to strong-arm my optometrist into making her a set of emergency replacement glasses off an old prescription of mine and they will be waiting on me in Stratton, ME. My wife is my favorite trail angel and I couldn’t do this without her help.
About a half mile down from Bemis Mountain I came to a view of Rangeley Lakes that turned out to be one of my favorite pictures that I took in Maine. From there, the trail went gently downhill passing through a variety of forest and trail types. To help illustrate how quickly the environment can change as you walk down the trail, the following four pictures were all taken within a 40-minute period.
It was late in the afternoon when I pulled into the area around the Bemis Mountain Lean-to and called it a day. I laughed inside at the thought that the next shelter 8.3 miles away was not only the destination for today in my original itinerary but my destination for tomorrow at my current pace. I’m also beating myself up for my carelessness in where I put my glasses last night that resulted in my current situation. The strain of trying to see was giving me a headache by this afternoon, but I hope that my eyes will soon adjust. Thanks to my loving wife, I will be able to see again soon but I still have six days remaining on the trail without good vision.
Date: August 19, 2017
Starting Location: South Arm Road
Ending Location: Bemis Mountain Lean-to
AT Miles Today: 8.7
AT Miles To Date: 1,951.7