18.8 miles, 1959 overall (Little Swift River Pond campsite)
I don’t sleep as well as I would have liked on the summit. I have a hard time regulating my temperature. I start out in my sleeping bag but get too hot. I get out and use the bag as a blanket but I’m still too hot. I try on top of the bag but get cold. It is a windy night too and each time the wind gusts it makes my tent fly flap. The noise, not a relaxing one like a babbling brook, tends to wake me up.
At 5:30 I’ve had enough and start packing up. I’m sure the others are still asleep so I try to be quiet. I eat my breakfast, throw everything in my pack, and I’m out by 7. I don’t see any signs of them stirring so I consider my stealth to be sufficient.
The trail this morning isn’t too tough but I have a hard time getting moving. My legs are feeling heavy again. I am beginning to think that this is less a terrain issue as much as it is a dietary issue. I picked up a few Clif Builder bars (20g of protein) in Andover and I plan to use one today to see if it helps. For now I tough it out though since it isn’t snack time yet.
I pass a ton of sobo’s this morning. They must all be coming from the shelter just up the way. As I climb Bemis mountain, only 4 miles from where I camped, it is already 9:30. I’m not making good time this morning. I pass Shortstop who is slackpacking again today going south. He informs me that the upcoming shelter is at the wrong mileage in the data book and that it is actually about 1.5 miles further.
Once I finally reach the shelter I decide to try the Builder bar. It tastes good but has lots of chocolate so I don’t figure it will last long in terms of energy boost, but that’s not why I got it. I leave the shelter hoping it will turn my day around a bit.
The trail for the next few miles follows the ridgeline. It is a pretty part of the trail because the ridge is mostly bedrock with patches of small alpine trees and shrubs. The trail winds between these patches, making it much more interesting than a straight path would be. It is well-blazed and the path isn’t hard to follow. As I hike I do feel like my legs start to feel better, although I can’t tell if it is actually due to the Builder bar, a psychological effect, or just my legs loosening up.
Eventually the trail drops off the ridgeline to a stream and then climbs back up to a new ridge where it crosses a highway with a view. As I climb up to the highway I feel much better than I did this morning and I start to think this protein hypothesis might have some merit. I resolve to be better about eating my fish tortilla lunch and consider replacing one of my snacks with Builder bars for the remainder of my trip, although this may be difficult because I only have two resupplies left and one is in a town that likely won’t have them available. Still, I can look for other protein-packed snack options.
A few miles more and I arrive at a shelter. I am considering staying here because I have done around 15 miles and it is supposed to start raining sometime this afternoon or evening. I planned to make a decision whether or not to hike the 4.5 miles further once I got here. The weather seems like it is holding off for now and there is a group of about 10 girls who seem to be around 13 years old tenting at the shelter. I figure chances are they will be giggly tonight. I decide to take my chances with the weather and hike on.
The first 2 miles go quickly but the last 2 seem to drag. As I hike it alternates between sunny and cloudy, keeping me guessing as to whether I will get rained on. Eventually though I reach a privy. The data book didn’t list a privy at the campsite so for a minute I’m confused and wonder if I’m in the right place. However I soon see Almost Awesome walking to the privy and she informs me the campsite is just ahead.
There are lots of people already here. The Noodleheads are here as well as Almost Awesome and Possum. Possum and Angel Hair have gotten over the bug but now Awesome has caught it. Actually it turns out that of everyone at the campsite only myself and Rigatoni have not been sick yet. We hypothesize why that might be. Philly Steve suggests my beard as an answer as the mustache can filter out any potential pathogens.
I set up, grab some water and start cooking. It starts to sprinkle several times while I cook and eat but never truly starts raining. I’m able to get everything done and into my tent early and dry. Everyone here plans to get into town early tomorrow for breakfast. I hadn’t planned to head in to Rangeley but the prospect of breakfast does sound nice. I suppose I’ll decide in the morning what to do on the Appalachian Trail.