Hikers often take “neros” where they hike a short distance to town, rest most of the day, and after spending the night, hike out the next morning. Today, I’m doing a “nero” with a twist. Because I stopped short yesterday, I’m planning to return to the A.T. and hike the 3.3-miles between where I got off the trail and where I had intended to get off the trail and then return to town for the rest of the day.
Next door to the Lakeshore House is a restaurant called Pete’s Place which is open for breakfast and lunch. Pete’s Place has an unusual fixed price “build your own” breakfast menu where you select choices from four different categories of food. To ensure that I had enough strength to make it through the day, I enjoyed scrambled eggs, sausage, home fries, and coffee. Pete’s Place is also a bakery and, while eating, I watch a woman glazing freshly baked donuts that looked positively divine. For hikers needing to resupply with food, there is also a separate room at the restaurant that is loaded with a wide variety of hiker friendly food and supplies.
It was a cold and blustery morning when the shuttle driver (a member of the restaurant staff) dropped me off at the trailhead parking lot on Pleasant Street. I considered wearing my puffy jacket but quickly dismissed that idea knowing that I would soon warm up while hiking. It is hard to describe the pure joy of hiking when you know you are only going a short distance and you have all day to do it. The feeling was quite exhilarating as I leisurely made my way down the trail on this beautiful morning. During the 300-foot climb up Buck Hill, there is a great view of the 100-Mile Wilderness. I also came across a nice bog bridge that crossed a lovely bog full of blooming wildflowers.
A little after noontime, I reached ME 15 and called for the shuttle to return me to the hostel. The driver, the same driver from this morning, mentioned to me that she had spent the morning making homemade ice cream sandwiches and that I owed it to myself to try one. After returning to the Lakeshore House, I relaxed for a while and did my laundry along with a section hiker that was also staying at the hostel. I had heard that Shaw’s had a store with a decent assortment of gear, so after finishing the laundry chores the section hiker and I walked over to check out their selection.
Shaw’s has been around for years and has become an iconic stop on the trail, but it was recently purchased by 2008 thru-hikers Jarrod “Poet” Hester and his wife Kimberly “Hippie Chick” Hester who are carrying on the tradition. After a short wait, Hippie Chick opened the gear store where I was primarily interested in a fuel canister for my stove and a new hat. The fuel canister was an easy find but the only hat they had was a Kavu Chillba Hat (think of a pointy hat worn in the rice paddies) and, while it would have made an interesting conversation piece, I passed on it.
Across the street from the Lakeshore House is an Appalachian Trail Visitor Center operated by the ATC. I had heard that you could register there to climb Mount Katahdin and print out your park pass, so I stopped by to see what they had to offer. It turns out that park registration is no longer available there, but the center is staffed by a volunteer who has a wealth of information about Baxter State Park and the end of hike procedures. I know she is just trying to help but, bless her heart, she proceeded to tell me every detail that she knew from water availability to summit weather. To be fair, I did learn about Baxter’s unbelievably difficult parking rules and the easiest trail to take to descend from Katahdin. After an hour of data download, though, I had to tell her that I was meeting someone and that I would return later (I lied).
I went back to Pete’s Place to get one of those glazed donuts, but they had already sold out. Settling for a consolation prize, I purchased a Frisbee-sized cinnamon roll and took it back to my room for tomorrow’s breakfast. I spent what was left of the afternoon writing my journals and processing my resupply box. It seemed both strange and sad that this was the last food resupply that I would need before finishing the A.T. The box contained the largest food drop that I had ever received because it needed to last for eight days. I smiled when I opened the box, thinking about what I was feeling and thinking at the time I packed it ten months ago, and it seems surreal that I was now going to carry that food for the final assault.
Once everything was packed and ready to go (every compartment of my backpack was strained to the bursting point as it tried to contain the load), I returned to the restaurant for my last in-town beer and meal on the trail. Since there is no live music tonight, the restaurant is considerably less crowded than it was yesterday. I sat down at an empty table and treated myself to a craft beer and a mesquite grilled ribeye steak with all the trimmings. Of course, I also had to have one of those homemade ice cream sandwiches for dessert! It will be over a week before I get to enjoy sleeping in a bed again because tomorrow I will enter (cue the dramatic music – dum dum dum dummm) the 100-Mile Wilderness.
Date: September 1, 2017
Starting Location: Historic AT Route near Lake Hebron
Ending Location: ME 15, Monson, ME
AT Miles Today: 3.3
AT Miles To Date: 2,075.3