It got a bit cool last night (I’m estimating the low forties) and I slept like a log. Now I’m well rested and looking forward to finishing the Bigelow Range before being delivered to the promised land. After a hot breakfast (I wanted to give this filtered water an extra boil), I broke camp and reluctantly left this gorgeous campsite. It was a short but steep climb to the summit of Avery Peak and I quickly warmed up in the morning sunshine.
Myron H Avery Peak was, of course, named after Myron Avery, who brought the Appalachian Trail through Maine during his 21-year tenure as chairman of the Appalachian Trail Conference. He is generally considered the “architect” of the A.T., and having a peak on the trail named after him is a fitting tribute to his legacy. The views from the top were amazing and I especially enjoyed the view ahead to Little Bigelow Mountain and the promised flat land beyond.
The trail from Avery Peak quickly descends to Stafford Notch where it began to wind its way among huge house-sized boulders. If only Mahoosuc Notch had been like this! It was an easy hike through a unique section of the A.T. that was made especially pleasing because everything was covered with moss. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy it very long before I started the gentle climb to Little Bigelow Mountain.
Little Bigelow Mountain is a long flat ridge with multiple viewing opportunities in every direction. From the West Ledges, I got a view back towards the main portion of the Bigelow Range, including the Bigelow Col nestled between Bigelow Mountain West Peak and Avery Peak. From the Little Bigelow Ledges was a spectacular view of Flagstaff Lake.
After descending from Little Bigelow for a mile and a half, I arrived at the Little Bigelow Lean-to where I decided to stop for lunch. It was late afternoon and it sounded like a pool party was in progress as I approached the lean-to. It turned out to be one of those Tufts University Orientation groups and they were enjoying themselves at a water feature known as The Tubs. There is a brook that flows in front of the lean-to that forms a series of cascading pools that are ideal swimming holes, but I hesitated to take a picture of the frolicking students out of the fear of being thought of as a creeper. So, I walked back to one of the wood tent pads and started eating. After the kids returned to the lean-to, a leader looking guy walked by me on the way to the privy and asked me about my hat. I told him the story about finding it and, after checking the inside, asked him if he knew anyone with the initials R.H. “Robert Humphries!” he exclaimed, and I handed him the hat as he was telling me how excited Robert will be to have it back.
As I was leaving, I snapped a picture of the, now vacated, Tubs and continued down the trail to Flagstaff Lake. The trail soon became very smooth and flat and I couldn’t believe that I was finally out of the mountains. Would the trail remain like this for a while? I kept pinching myself to make sure that I was awake. The trail soon came out on the picturesque rocky shore of Flagstaff Lake and continued to follow around the shoreline for a mile to the campsite located on the eastern shore.
The East Flagstaff Lake Campground looked like heaven on earth as I sat up my tent on a flat spot overlooking the lake. When I switched my phone out of airplane mode, I had a bar or so of cell signal and received a text from Scar, sent around noon, that simply said: “Done.” A big smile came across my face as I thought about how happy he must feel having summited Katahdin and to be heading home to those grandchildren that he missed so much. Congratulations Scar!!!
Last night I carefully went over my planning notes and decided that I could finish the A.T. in 14-days, which included a couple days of fluff for a “zero” and a contingency day. But I was already six days past the completion date I had originally targeted, so it was going to be difficult to tell my wife that I needed 14 more days. Earlier in the day, she had sent me a text stating that Google said it would only take 2 days and 1 hour of walking to get to Katahdin from Flagstaff Lake (we had a good laugh), so I sent her a message that I had arrived at the lake. She texted back, “Two weeks?” I could have hugged her through the phone but settled for sending a text to confirm the two weeks. She texted back “Sunday the 10th maybe 😊” She understood!!! Yes, I said. You cannot possibly imagine the weight that was lifted from me by this simple text conversation. My loving and supportive wife had just given me permission to complete this hike on my own terms and on a timetable, that wouldn’t kill me.
Meanwhile, while all this texting is going on, I’m sitting on a beach a few yards from my tent watching a gorgeous sunset evolve in front of me. After everything that has transpired, it was a perfect way to end the day. I told my wife about the scene around me and told her that I would send her a picture of the sunset as soon as I had a strong enough cell signal. Tomorrow I have a new 14-day plan to execute and I’m feeling great.
Date: August 27, 2017
Starting Location Avery Memorial Campsite
Ending Location: East Flagstaff Lake
AT Miles Today: 9.8
AT Miles To Date: 2,019.5