Day 152, Rattle River Hostel to Gentian Pond Shelter
Well I'll keep on moving, moving on
Hike with Gravity
Stick and I were out the door and on the trail before 7:30 this morning. We were the first hikers to leave.
The trail passed in front of Rattle River Hostel, so it only took a few steps to get back on it. As we left, I wondered if I would be back here again in a few weeks.
If I am going to hike every mile of the Appalachian Trail in the same year, which is the traditional definition of a thru-hike, I will need to come back and hike the 19.2 miles I skipped.
I didn’t want to think about that now. First, I needed to finish the remaining 300.2 miles to Mt. Katahdin, and that's what I was concentrating on.
Partly cloudy, turning to cloudy, with a high temperature in the upper 60s
A short section of road walking, followed by steep climbs and descents over rocky, rooty trail
From the hostel, the trail crossed U.S. Highway 2 and then followed a road for just over a half mile. The road took us over a dam on the Androscoggin River.
After turning on a gravel road and continuing for another two-tenths of a mile, the trail re-entered the forest. And finally, after being off the trail for two days, it felt good to return to it. I was glad to be walking amid fir trees and in the shadow of mountains.
The trail immediately began a climb up Mt. Hayes. Though steep in several spots, it was not difficult.
Certainly, it would have been easier if I weren’t carrying a pack loaded with five days of food, but I didn’t struggle.
The trail didn’t go to the summit of Mt. Hayes, but passed nearby. There was a two-tenths-of-a-mile side trail that would have taken us there. but the Guthooks app said there were no views to be seen from the top, so we didn’t bother to take the detour.
Views could be found elsewhere on the trail, anyway. There were a couple of false summits on the way up. At these spots, large slabs of exposed rock cleared away trees enough to offer a look at mountains to the south. Clouds obscured some of them, though.
From Mt. Hayes the trail went over a series of ups and downs. A few slippery spots made the ascents and descents challenging.
I felt good. There were no signs of trouble from my ankle. Though I continued to be cautious on rocky sections, I didn’t feel I was having any more difficulty than expected.
Saying “any more difficulty than expected” is not to say the trail wasn’t difficult. There were times when it was hard to tell where the trail went, except that it went over large boulders.
When presented with these situations, there was nothing to do but make a guess at the best way to go and find your way from there.
On the second climb I reached a rocky ledge, which offered a better view spot. Looking back from here I could see south to a long range of the White Mountains.
In a low spot, the trail became completely waterlogged. There wasn’t a good way to avoid getting my feet wet, so I just looked for the highest spots to keep from sinking to my ankles in mud.
I arrived at another rock ledge at noon. This one provided the best view of the day. Below me was the valley formed by the Androscoggin River, and in the distance, the Carter and Moriah Range. Those were the mountains I had skipped.
The descent from the ledge was difficult because it continued down a nearly-smooth rock slab. Walking down this was like walking down a playground slide.
As the trail began yet another climb, it passed Paga Pond.
This was a wide and pretty pond. The view of the pond was enhanced because the sun was finally beginning to push aside the clouds.
The farther I walked, the more enjoyable the trail became. I was feeling good about the day.
Then about a mile beyond the pond I passed another of the handmade markers that have been a familiar sight along the way. This one indicated I had walked 1900 miles since I left Springer Mountain, but because I skipped 19.2 miles, that wasn’t true.
I felt a pang of regret when I saw this. Still, it was true that I only had 289.8 miles to go to reach Mt. Katahdin, so I focused on that.
The trail next went by Dream Lake, which was large. There was no trail access to it, but there was a shallow stream that flowed into it.
A short distance farther was a marshy area. Puncheons were laid down to make it possible to walk through without getting wet feet.
I noticed the ferns that bordered the trail were turning bright orange, a sure sign that summer was coming to an end.
The trail passed Upper Gentian Pond on a descent toward a shelter of the same name. I arrived at the shelter at about 5 p.m.
Several other hikers who had been at Rattle River Hostel last night arrived later, including Frodo, Samwise, Gimli, Rambo, Dancing Bear, and Uncle Puck.
Dove was also there. Last night at the hostel, I talked to her about that bad day when we left Mt. Washington. I was glad to see her because I wanted to tell her I didn’t quit after all.
“I knew you wouldn’t,” she replied.
Well I'll keep on moving, moving on
Things are bound to be improving these days, one of these days
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them