I suppose that I am the only hiker that wanted (or needed) an early start this morning because, on the way back to the trailhead, I had the shuttle to myself. No sooner did I start walking down the trail when I discovered that I didn’t have my hat on my head. I would have returned to the Farmhouse Inn to retrieve it, but I couldn’t call the shuttle driver due to the lack of cell service. Feeling totally exposed to the elements without my hat and glasses, I moved on.
After crossing Sandy River, I began the root covered climb to the Piazza Rock Lean-to. I had planned to spend the night here last night but, since I didn’t, I had to stop by just to take a picture of its famous privy. I cannot imagine any scenario where I would sit in this privy while playing cribbage with someone, but the tools and opportunity awaits those who might find that appealing. At the least, it is humorous to consider the possibility.
Shortly after leaving the privy at Piazza Rock, I continued climbing to Ethel Pond where I clambered down an embankment to take a picture. While climbing back to the trail, I heard a noise off to my right and thought to myself, “At least I didn’t have to worry about alligators around here,” as I climbed back down to investigate the sound. Much to my amazement, there stood a cow moose and her calf happily munching on breakfast! See a moose in Maine? Check!
A short distance later, I arrived at the Eddy Pond and started the 1,500-foot climb to the summit of Saddleback Mountain. The trail became very steep and the rebar assistance that was provided was very much appreciated. There were many places, however, where the rebar was not installed that required some serious climbing. The trail soon climbed above the treeline where it offered gorgeous views all the way to the summit.
When leaving the summit, the trail remains above the treeline as it descends for 500-feet only to climb 500-feet to the top of The Horn. From The Horn, there was a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains before the trail once again descended below the treeline. Following the 1,000-foot descent from The Horn, I started climbing to the summit of Saddleback Junior which was open enough for me to once again enjoy a spectacular vista.
After descending from Saddleback Junior, I crossed a large bog filled saddle on the way to the Popular Ridge Lean-to. The Popular Ridge Lean-to has a sad history that made the place seem more than a little creepy. A 66-year old woman named Geraldine “Inchworm” Largay started a flip-flop thru-hike from West Virginia in April of 2013. On July 21st, she spent the night at the Popular Ridge Lean-to and it was the last place she was seen alive. While hiking to the next shelter, Inchworm got lost after leaving the trail for a “nature call” and was unable to call for help because of the lack of cell phone coverage. Despite a massive but unsuccessful search and rescue effort, her body wasn’t found until two years later on October 14th, 2015. She had died while she slept in her sleeping bag inside her tent, from exposure and a lack of food and water, after surviving for 26 days.
Date: August 22, 2017
Starting Location: ME 4, Rangeley, ME
Ending Location: Popular Ridge Lean-to
AT Miles Today: 10.7
AT Miles To Date: 1,980.1