The one with an unplanned town visit

August 6

12.8 miles, 1971.8 overall (Redington Campsite)
It rained heavily last night but I slept like a baby, only waking up once when they rain began. Everyone in camp is up early. There is a road only 6 miles away. That road leads to Rangeley. In Rangeley is a diner. That diner serves breakfast. We want to be at that diner. Soon after the Noodleheads leave I’m out of camp with Sparrow, Philly Steve and Frenchy. Philly and Sparrow hike fast and soon have left me behind. I had thought the Noodleheads were fast hikers but soon I catch up to them. It turns out they do big miles by hiking long hours – slow and steady. I tag along with them to the road, chatting along the way. Pretty soon the 5 miles have flown by and we catch up to Philly and Sparrow who are already working on getting a hitch. Not long after we arrive Sparrow catches one from a truck and the driver lets us all jump in the back. Easiest hitch ever!

The six of us are dropped off right in front of the diner in Rangeley. We head in and find a table. This diner makes a liar out of me by not having a “Hungry Hiker” special, however they do have a tasty sounding omelette special today and I discover while ordering that they make their own bread. Along with a side of home fries and a coffee I get a pretty good meal. When we’re all done the waitress asks I she can bring us anything else. We could eat more but don’t want to pay for it so we say no. Then she advises us that some anonymous person has picked up our bill! How wonderful! Sparrow half jokes that in that case he’ll have another breakfast sandwich.

I don’t need to resupply but the others do so we hike over to the IGA. I pick up a couple items including a Powerbar (more protein!), a Naked drink, a soda, and some tortillas. Outside I go to work on my drinks while snacking on some gorp. Everyone else has taken the opportunity to get lunch with their resupply, with most of them opting for ice cream too.

As we finish up I decide to go to work on getting back to the trail and figure I’ll try out this hitchhiking thing. I head out to the road and stick out my thumb. Not long after a man in the parking lot sees me and yells to ask if I’m heading to the trail. I run back in and while I’m on my way Angel Hair manages to finagle herself, Philly, and Rigatoni into the van too. We all head back to the trail, trying to make conversation with the man who obviously doesn’t hear well. When Rigatoni asks if there are lots of moose around the man responds, “Yes, we do have some fruit.”

Back on the trail Philly takes off. He hikes faster than the Noodleheads and I’m not hiking much faster than they are. They get ahead when I stop at the shelter for a break but I catch them on the way up Saddleback Mountain. The climb up the mountain turns out to be incredibly cold. It is windy and the trail is above treeline for several miles as we go over Saddleback’s peaks, down into a gap, and then up over The Horn. On the way down The Horn I stop for a break and Sparrow passes me. I catch up to him at the campsite at the bottom where he is trying to decide whether to stay or move on to the shelter 3 miles ahead. He has a deadline to be at Katahdin and needs to start making some miles soon in order to make it. Philly Steve seems to have pushed on. I stop to inspect the campsite, thinking I’ll stay here, but as I inspect it I’m not liking it much. I decide to wait to see what the Noodleheads will do. Sparrow decides to hike on.

After about 20 minutes the Noodleheads catch up. They are content staying here for the night so, with company to join me, I decide to stay too. They grab a tent platform while I set up on a flat piece of ground. We use the other tent platform for cooking.

We are in camp early and it is nice to be able to take our time cooking and heading to bed. While we cook and eat I ask them about their former “cubicle lives” and they ask me about what I do for a living. It is interesting to hear their perspectives as people who used to have a 9-5 life and gave it up for a more outdoors, granola kind of lifestyle. It isn’t exactly novel to find outdoorsy people on the trail but I haven’t run into many who I know have made that transition before.

We’re in our tents early, perhaps driven into them as much by the cold as by the time. My thermometer reads 55 in my tent so the wind chill must be below 50. I get cleaned up, climb into my sleeping bag, and zip it all the way up. I shouldn’t have a problem with being too warm tonight on the Appalachian Trail.

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