L.L.Bean AT Relay Day 2
16 miles was today's agenda. We were not sure if if was going to happen or not but to stay on schedule that is what we needed to attempt. So we were up before the sun packing by the dim of our headlamps. Breakfast was a quick fix just to get sometime in to fuel us until better light.
September Maine mornings are supposed to be cool and crisp. The sun burned a hole through the dewy fog and within half a mile I was sweating buckets. It was going to be a long day.
Our 2.5 mile warm-up brought us to Long Falls Dam Road. At one point this was the 2,000 mile marker.
Our the years the Appalachian Trail distance has changed due to land acquisition and reroutes. A very small percentage of the original trail remains. But here at this road crossing someone keeps it up to date.
Being a through hiker it is so rewarding to see that 2,000 mile marker on the tree and on the road. As part of this AT Relay for L.L.Bean it also has its significance. As individuals we may not have put in the footsteps from Georgia to Maine but collectively as a team we did. You never should underestimate the value in a team working for a common goal. Great things can be accomplished when like minded people work together.
Up and over Rounttop Mountain and on to West Carry Pond Lean-to where we stopped for a real breakfast. On paper the terrain looks, flat especially compared to that of the Bigelow range for the team before us. But it was still difficult. It was like a rollercoaster up 500 feet, down 500 feet, up 300 feet, down 400, all morning long with added roots, rocks and mud thrown in to make it interesting. We were delighted to reach the pond where if we were not ambassadors for L.L.Bean we would have let our natural side take over and gone for a skinny dip in the water. A head soaking and wipe down was all we did.
As we were ready to hit the trail we met Spot, a northbound thru hiker who was excited to chat with us and share his story about meeting several L.L.Bean teams on his journey north. He had lots of compliments about his encounters with the relay members and was happy that L.L.Bean was doing this.
Spot was not your ordinary hiker. This was his 6th thru hike at age 67. WOW!!! I can understand why a second time, maybe even a third, but 6? There is someone out there nuttier than me.
Stacey and I had hiked only 6.5 miles on our section so far and we had met some inspiring people already. That is one of the joys or getting outside and meeting characters. In town, people are always busy rushing here, running there, doing this and doing that. If it isn't one thing, it's another, or eyes are glued to an electronic device. But out in the woods you tend to be more relaxed and there is no service so you can live in the moment.
We trudged on slowly in the heat. Normally Stacey and I hike about 2 miles an hour but we had to settle on 1 mile an hour. The heat and humidity were brutal. As much as we enjoyed the woods, sites, sounds, and smells we were getting beat down. Late in the afternoon we were searching for plan B, a stealth camp. We really wanted to make our destination but we were doubting it was going to happen. At one point we sat on a log, sweating, exhausted, too tired to go on but there was no place to pitch a tent. As we rested a chipper thru hiker comes bouncing up the trail. We exchanged pleasantries and as encouraging as he could, said, "You only have 2 miles". We knew we only had two miles but at a mile an hour that meant two hours and that was about sunset. Not to mention he had just shared how he was going to a hostel a little past our lean-to for a hot meal, shower, and a bed. And he was only carrying a light day pack. I wanted to hit him sideways and into next week.
We made it to Pierce Pond just in time to set up camp without our headlamps. There we were reunited with Spot and a couple who was section hiking. This place is so delightful. It was hard to hike on, but so worth the effort. The pictures below were taken the next day in the morning.