Pierce Pond Lean-to(2030.1)-Moxie Bald Mtn Lean-to(2052.9)Maine
Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook’s AT Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT and CDT.
I got some pretty good sleep last night after the early evening thunderstorm rolled through. It was nice and quiet where we camped with a light breeze going through the trees. I needed to catch up on sleep and woke up just before 5am feeling fairly refreshed. We didn’t need to leave camp until 7:15am to catch the ferry over a river crossing, so it was a very relaxed morning. Before 6am, we decided to head over to the pond as the sun rose and had breakfast. It was a nice way to start the day and definitely needed after the foggy rainy day yesterday. As a side note, this is also the pond where Sweetfish got his trail name when he hiked the AT southbound and caught what another hiker kept saying was a “sweet” fish.
So we got to hiking at 7:15am to catch the canoe ferry across the Kennebec River. The good news today was that it didn’t rain. The bad news was that the trail was covered in water so we had to put on muddy soaked shoes and socks and they pretty much stayed that way the whole day. Hiking on wet soaked feet like that for multiple days isn’t fun. I’m fortunate that my feet don’t react to it as badly as most hikers. Here are a couple dry feet crossings on slick moss covered wood.
But most of the trail was more like this…
This ferry is a point that causes a bit of a traffic jam in hikers so we met some new north bounders who had also stayed where we camped. The reaction north bounders have had lately to meeting us has been pretty entertaining. When they find out we are going NOBO, they ask how they’ve never met us before and are really shocked to see someone new. Then they immediately ask our start dates (mine was 4/17 and Jett Cat was 4/5). Most people in this bubble started a month or more before us, so the reactions are usually shock and then comments/questions about our speed. Honestly, the main difference is that we’ve taken less zeros and have gone into less towns. That makes a big difference. For example, we’ve already broken out of the bubble we broke into a couple days ago because they either did less miles due to the rain or chose to go into the town option we passed by this morning to recover from the rain. We might see some of the same hikers again if they are able to make it into Monson tomorrow like we plan to do. Back to today, we got to take the canoe ferry over the Kennebec River. The ferry system is provided by the AT and someone is there full time to shuttle hikers across. He takes two hikers at a time and one gets to help paddle, so Jett Cat paddled while I took photos. There is even a white blaze on the floor of the canoe too!
After the eventful morning, Jett Cat was having a low energy morning, so we agreed that I’d hike ahead a bit and then I’d stop to journal or email until she caught up. Everyone has days like this and the rain got to a lot of people yesterday and overnight. Plus, we have a week or less remaining and this is a time of reflection for most thrus. Especially those who are completing their first thru like Jett Cat. I have less of this time because I have little unknowns when I return home. I am fortunate to have a lifestyle in which I can easily come in and out of hiking with my job as a substitute teacher. Like many hikers, Jett Cat is on the verge of a major transition when she returns. She quit her job and is now homeless until she decides where she wants to live to go to college for a new profession that is still being decided. Lots to think about, so I want to make sure she gets that time to reflect. We hiked spread out until lunch which we had on top of Pleasant Pond Mtn. We chose to hike up to a view for lunch and it was worth it.
The trail is so drenched and now covered in mosquitoes that there’s nowhere to sit for a nice lunch down low. We did end up using DEET today as the mosquitoes were slightly annoying. I think that was just my 5th time using DEET this trail, so that’s not bad. After lunch, Jett Cat’s energy improved and she enjoyed the blueberries along the trail and happily caught a little snake.
We ran into some southbounders who warned us about a difficult ford coming in 5mi, so we chose to stick together through that. We got to talking and somehow it came up that Jett Cat didn’t pack in coffee this leg. We had a good laugh because she was just then realizing that it may be the cause in her lack of energy today. She seriously didn’t want to believe that her body was hooked after doing coffee every morning and the suddenly going cold turkey. Needless to say, we will be sure to get Jett Cat some coffee for the final leg when we hit town tomorrow. We were glad to have stuck together for the ford as it was a decent one that was quite wide and deep, but thankfully not too strong of a current.
After the crossing, we split again as I went on ahead for the final climb up and over Moxie Bald Mtn. I was feeling great as practically ran up and over it. The view was great up top too. I made it to the Moxie Bald Lean-to at 6:45am and had a great surprise waiting there. Only one person was at the shelter and it was someone I knew that lives in Portland(my hometown) and hiked the PCT the same year as me in 2011. What a great little hiker world. Chris and I had leap frogged a lot toward the end of the PCT and the final entry I have of him in my PCT journal was the heartbreaking day I saw him hiking southbound with a hike ending injury to his foot less than 300mi from the finish. He did go on to finish the PCT the next year and did the AT last year, but as luck would have it, he got a hike ending infection in the same foot just 300mi from the finish again. He is out here now completing those final 300mi to Katahdin. What a world!