The Spaulding Mountain Lean-to was vacated by the time I decided to get up and get moving. I knew that first thing this morning I was facing a steep 750-foot climb to the summit of the viewless Spaulding Mountain and it was difficult to motivate myself to get up and get dressed. But get up and get dressed I did, and the trail didn’t disappoint me with its steepness.
After descending an equally steep 350-feet, I arrived at an awesome plaque honoring the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) for their contribution towards the completion of the A.T. At a spot near the marker, the CCC completed the last section of trail in 1937, making the A.T. contiguous from Georgia to Maine. I am forever grateful to all the people, both paid and volunteer, whose vision brought the A.T. into existence and whose continuing efforts keep the A.T. vision alive.
Further along the ridge, I took a short side trail to a jaw-dropping view of the Rapid Stream Valley. Skipping the steep 0.5-mile side trail to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain (I’ve seen enough gondolas), I followed the trail down the mountain’s west shoulder as it curved around the edge of an ancient volcano. After turning for almost 180-degrees, the trail followed a rocky ledge for half a mile giving me amazing views of where I had hiked from and the Carrabassett River Valley towards which I was hiking. The views ended abruptly when it was time to play “Fall Off the Mountain” again with a rocky 1,500-foot drop over a mile and a half.
I’ve stepped on hundreds of wet granite rocks without incident, but during my descent, I stood on one that resulted in fall number five as my feet came out from under me. I always keep my weight slightly back when descending so I fell backward on my backpack as intended. Instinctively, however, I reached back to break my fall and cut my hand as a result. The deep cut in the pad just below my pinky was bleeding rather well, so I wrapped my bandana around the wound and kept a tight grip on my trekking pole to stop the bleeding.
When I arrived at the South Branch of the Carrabassett River, I was pleased to see that someone had installed a large plank over the worst part of the river crossing making it an easy rock hop to cross. Less pleasing, however, was that just after crossing the river it started to rain, so I diverted to the nearby Crocker Cirque Campsite, set up my tent on a wooden platform, and ducked inside to escape the shower. The showers didn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon, so I spent some time cleaning and taping the cut on my hand. Now I’m tired and wet, I can’t see well, and my hand hurts like hell. I would characterize this as one of my down days on the trail.
Although it was only 1:00 pm, the three miles ahead of me included a 2,000-foot climb and there was no camping for the next seven miles, so it was an easy decision to stay put for the night. This delay will put me another half day behind schedule, but that is starting to feel like my new normal. Unfortunately, the idea of taking a “zero” anytime soon is starting to feel like a far-off dream.
Date: August 24, 2017
Starting Location: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to
Ending Location: Crocker Cirque Campsite
AT Miles Today: 6.2
AT Miles To Date: 1,984.3