For some reason, I tossed and turned for most of the night and got up feeling tired. Maybe I was excited by the prospect of a shower and a real meal in town today. Whatever the reason, I got out of camp earlier than usual this morning and began my attempt to cover more miles in a day than I had hiked for many weeks.
By design, my morning hike started with me knocking out my only climb for the day. The 1,100-foot climb to the top of Moxie Bald Mountain was not that difficult because it was spread out over two miles, and the cooler temperatures made the hike comfortable. Prior to reaching the summit I encountered a bypass trail. In the past, the presence of a bypass trail usually signals difficult terrain ahead, but the difficult terrain, thankfully, never materialized. Instead, I got to walk through a fascinating rock garden with multiple caves and huge slabs of rock overhanging the trail.
The summit of Moxie Bald is comprised of an unusual matrix of undulating granite which made it a challenge to navigate. A hiker named Spitfire had taken a few pictures of me during the climb and she was kind enough to AirDrop (an iPhone feature that allows you to easily share pictures via Bluetooth) them to my phone. The views from the top were stunning, and we wandered around the summit for a while taking it all in before finding the cairn that marked the trail leading us down.
My goal for the day was to hike 22-miles to ME 15 and get a ride to Monson, Maine. I know you are thinking that I haven’t done a 20+ mile day since hiking in Pennsylvania, so what made me think that I was going to hike that far today? Well, after Moxie Bald Mountain, the elevation profile in the A.T. Guide showed a flat trail for the next 15-miles. That and the fact that real food and cold beer are personally powerful motivators made this goal look achievable to me.
When I reached the bottom of the mountain, I took off hiking for all I was worth. My only real concern was that this section of the trail has around twenty stream crossings. But those concerns turned out to be unfounded because the recent lack of rain turned all the crossings into easy rock hops. For the most part, it was easy going and it felt good to once again stretch out my stride and crush some miles.
There are really only two places to stay in Monson, Shaw’s or the Lakeshore House Lodge and Pub located on Lake Hebron. I chose the Lakeshore House simply because it has an attached pub and restaurant, but both places have great reputations among hikers, so you can’t go wrong either way. Around 18-miles into my day, I decided that enough was enough and called to see if I could get a ride into town from the parking area at the Pleasant Street trailhead. The lady on the phone said that she would be there in 10-minutes, so I hustled down the side trail that used to be part of the original A.T. Shortly after I arrived, the van from the Lakeshore House pulled up and I climbed aboard for the short trip to Munson.
The driver of the van turned out to be Rebekah Anderson, the owner of the Lakeshore House. A self-described Hostel Mother for the past twelve years, Rebekah turned out to be one of the nicest and most caring hostel owners that I have met. She checked me in, gave me the grand tour of the hostel, pointed out the loaner clothing, showed me my room, and made sure that I was totally comfortable with my new surroundings before disappearing downstairs to her main job of running the restaurant. After taking a quick shower and changing in to clean loaner clothes, I also disappeared downstairs.
When I walked into the packed restaurant, it became a reunion of sorts. I saw Peanut Pan and Shiver at one of the tables and walked over to say hello having not seen them for many days. When I turned around, I saw Limpin’ Eagle sitting at another table and I went over to visit with him for a while. He had followed the crowd to Maine to make some money doing food drops in the 100-Mile Wilderness and he shared a funny story about how he had to MacGyver (yes, I’m using a name as a verb) his transmission in the backcountry.
As good as it was to see these people again, I was starving and moved on to find a place in the restaurant to sit. The only seat available was at the bar (unlucky me), so I ordered a beer and a huge salad to get started. The house band, ironically named Half Way Home, was playing when I arrived, and they proved that you haven’t really heard “Hotel California” until you hear it played by a band featuring an accordion. All kidding aside, the band was actually quite good, which is more than I can say for some of the following acts that came to take advantage of open mike night.
When the sun went down, so did the temperature and, combined with the breeze coming off the lake, it was feeling very chilly outside. When I left the restaurant after eating dinner, I rushed around the side of the hostel to get inside and out of the cold. After arranging for a shuttle back to the trailhead parking lot for the morning, I was feeling tired from the lack of rest last night followed by a long day, so I returned to my room for a well-deserved, and long overdue, good night’s sleep.
Date: August 31, 2017
Starting Location Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to
Ending Location: Historic AT Route near Lake Hebron
AT Miles Today: 18.7
AT Miles To Date: 2,072.0