On my last morning in Monson we bought about 40 eggs and a massive loaf of bread and we cooked scrambled eggs and toast for everyone in the restaurant kitchen downstairs from the hostel. You can bet we ate them all. I am learning that hikers are very hungry people. We eat anything we can get our hands on, and love to get free food.
In most towns there are these things called “Hiker Boxes” where either hikers or generous people can put food or gear that they don’t want or need so that someone else can use it. I love these boxes (as most of you know I go crazy for free stuff…). I found pop tarts, ramen noodles, pepto-bismol tablets and zip lock bags in one box at the hostel, and Q-tips in another box outside a post office. There are so many random things in these boxes, from extra fuel, water-proof matches, and duct tape to knee braces, mystery food in zip-locks, and bug spray. Its always a good day when I find something useful in a hiker box.
After my time off in Monson I had 5 days to hike approx. 70 miles to the next town to meet my Mom. At the second trail head after leaving town we came across our first “Trail Magic” which I was thrilled about. “Trail Magic” is when a random stranger does something nice for you on the trail or leaves something for the hikers, mainly food or drinks. This day we found a cooler of cold drinks! I had orange juice which was great because although I love to drink fresh mountain spring water, I miss juice when I am on the trail, plus it was a warm day and the cold drink was just the ticket.
At the first shelter I met another girl who is hiking by herself. I haven’t met many girls on the trail so far, and no others who are hiking alone. She was funny recounting her first experiences hitch hiking in the last town. A kid in the back seat of the car said to her “So… how do you like being a hitch hiker?” I also woke up in the middle of the night once with her feet in my face. Somehow she shifted 90 degrees in her sleep and booted me awake.
As I pass by shelters I usually stop in to see if anyone is there and to read the trail registers while I rest. At one shelter I stopped in at I met up with two friends, Apple Jack and The Count. They were really excited because someone had left a full jar of strawberry jam in the shelter. They had very jammy peanut butter sandwiches and I had jam on crackers. Free jam in the woods that we didn’t have to carry, what could be better? 😛
The terrain this week had some really flat sections compared the last week, and there were a lot less roots and rocks on the trail which was easier on my knees and made for faster hiking. But don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of ups and downs. One day I hiked up a mountain and found an older man sitting at the top, so I said hi and sat down beside him to enjoy the view. He offered me half his sandwich, to which I said “YES PLEASE!” and just as he handed it to me he said, “It’s Spam.” I have always avoided Spam, never wanting to eat it. But at that moment, I was too hungry to care and didn’t want to be rude, so I choked it down, a Spam and cheese wiz sandwich. It was ok in the moment, but I doubt you’ll ever catch me eating one of those again.
I had a slight miscalculation this week and packed food for 3 days, not the 5 it took me to get to Stratton. I was eating really small portions and was hungry all the time. When we crossed through a small town I hitched out to a outdoorsy type resort and bought about $10 worth of pop tarts and candy bars from a vending machine and hitched back to the trail. I would have gone to a grocery store but I had to be back at the Kennebec river before 11 am to catch the ferry across . Yes, I said ferry and its actually part of the trail. There’s this guy who’s job all summer is to ferry hikers across the Kennebec river in a canoe, he even has a white blaze painted on the bottom of his canoe.
The days are getting hotter and hotter and I had my first swim of the trip the other day on what felt like my own private beach in the wilderness. Good thing I wasn’t skinny dipping because 3 ladies passed by and said hi as I was getting out of the water. It was the day of the summer solstice and they said “Its hike naked day, but we could see that you were wearing clothes so we thought that we’d come over and say hi.” I swam twice that day because it was so dang hot out. I couldn’t even wear a shirt. I can’t imagine how hot it will be in July or August.
I hiked up to 4120 feet and all the way down into the next town on Thursday. The view at the top of Bigelow mountain was unbelievable. Long lakes winding around mountains, and mountains and mountains. I stopped and stared out at the beautiful view while I caught my breath, then I hiked down a few hundred feet and then suffered as I was forced to hike back up the west peak and see the same view from the same height just .9 miles away from the first peak. That was a really long and tiring day because I then hiked up and down peak after peak for 8 miles until I reached town at the bottom of all the mountains around 5 pm.
I can see why they say that Maine is the hardest state, but they also say “Its all down hill from Maine” so there is hope.
Happy Trails! 🙂