The sun shined brightly when it rose over the Sabbath Day Pond and I really didn’t want to leave my campsite. It was a beautiful spot to camp and the thought of spending a week there greatly appealed to me. But my mission is to climb to the summit of Mount Katahdin and the miles between me and that mountain won’t hike themselves. So, I reluctantly packed everything up and continued on my way.
In my last blog post, I wrote about the mental games that I am playing in my head resulting from my inability to cover the miles in the time that I expected, and the possible reasons that hiking no longer seems fun to me. The second thing that I thought about that might be slowing me down is that I am feeling lonely. That is not something that I thought would bother me because, in general, I’m comfortable by myself. But except for Boo Boo, all my friends that I have met along the way are days ahead of me on the trail. The SOBO bubble has passed, so I don’t see nearly as many people passing me from the opposite direction and the remaining NOBOs that pass me have their sights firmly fixed on Katahdin and have no interest in forming new relationships. A hiker passed me once and said hello and when I responded, having not spoken to another human for hours, the words that came out of my mouth were unintelligible. I love sharing my story through my blog posts, but sharing it with a friend in real time would make this hike much more enjoyable.
The elevation profile in the A.T. Guide showed a relatively flat trail ahead that descended 1,000-feet over the next nine miles. It was nice to have a break from the climbing, but it was still slow going due to the constant battle of passing over roots, rocks, and mud. The absences of peaks also meant that there were no views, but the forest was very pretty in its own right.
At one point I stopped by a creek to filter some water when I was surprised to see Taos coming down the trail. I asked him how he was doing, and his response was so perfect that I’m going to adopt it for the remainder of my hike. He said, “Good enough.”
It took me almost six hours to hike the 9.4-miles to the trailhead parking lot at ME 4, which is remarkably fast for this terrain. Rangeley, ME, is nine miles west of the trailhead and while I had no real plan to go there (Piazza Rock Lean-to was just 1.6-miles away), the thought of a hot meal made a half-hearted attempt at hitching seem like a reasonable endeavor. But when I got to the parking lot, there was a lady there in a van that asked me if I was THE hiker that called for a ride to town. I told her that I had not called, but that I would happily accept a ride, and she told me to jump in the van. THE hiker that she was looking for turned out to be Taos and we found him sitting at the parking lot entrance and he climbed onboard before we took off for Rangeley.
The lady with the van, Stacey, turned out to be the owner of the Farmhouse Inn and when she told me that she had bunks available, I rewrote my plan for the day. Stacey and her husband Shane bought the Farmhouse four years ago and, after a lot of money and labor, they have transformed the 1903 structure into a beautiful and inviting Bed & Breakfast. After checking in and showering, Stacey gave several of us a ride to town where I ate a caesar salad and some yummy fish tacos. The town of Rangeley is located on the shore of the stunning Rangeley Lakes and its claim to fame is that it is also located at the latitude that is halfway between the equator and the north pole. While I was in town, I went to the surprising well-equipped outfitters named Ecopelagicon and purchased some much-needed fuel for my stove and a replacement spoon for the one that I left in the wall with my glasses at the Pine Ellis Hostel.
Back at the Farmhouse Inn, I spent some time using the decent cell service to upload some pictures. The hiker bunkhouse includes the use of a very large kitchen and a living room where several folks were watching movies. Access to the actual bunkroom is via some stairs that are as steep as a ladder, but if you climb slowly, your ears won’t pop. I’m pleased to have made the diversion to Rangeley and I have scheduled a 7:00 am shuttle to return me to the trail.
Date: August 21, 2017
Starting Location: Sabbath Day Lean-to
Ending Location: ME 4, Rangeley, ME
AT Miles Today: 9.4
AT Miles To Date: 1,969.4