Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Day 151: Fording Rivers

August 5: I woke up early again to a nice and pleasant day. Shortly before leaving the shelter, I wandered over to Octo's hammock and saw him stirring around a bit.

"Hey, Octo!" I whispered urgently. "Can I borrow your stove? I caught a squirrel that I want to cook!"

Of course, I was completely joking. He's the same person who shared his stove with Natgeo the morning before that was used to cook a mouse, and he immediately knew I was joking.

"Yes," he told me, "but only if you share it with everyone!"

"No problem!" I assured him. "It's a big squirrel! Not one of those puny shelter mice!"


Another beautiful morning! Sunrise over Bald Mountain Pond.
Then I hit the trail and started going northbound, never to see any of these people in the shelter again because they were all southbounding.

The trail was incredibly muddy but largely flat and relatively easy so I made good time. The part that slowed me down the most were three knee-deep river crossings that needed to be forded. One of them even had a rope stretched out across the river for hikers to hold onto while crossing. My guidebook had listed a few other river fords during the past few days, but the creeks were low enough that I'd been able to rock hop across them. Not today, though. There was no way across these rivers without getting one's feet wet.

I will say that the rope across the river I found to be highly ineffective and possibly worse than useless. I'd never had a rope so conveniently stretched out and was happy to give it a try. When I arrived, a large group of about a dozen girls were using it heading southbound so I waited for them to finish then I slowly made my way across to the other side but the rope had two problems:

First, I'm not convinced it was at the best (i.e. shallowest) place to cross. It was strung up closest to where the trail came out on the river, but sometimes it's actually better to cross slightly upstream or downstream from the actual trail. And sometimes, not even to cross in an entirely straight line. I think the rope was set up nearest to where the trails disappeared into the water, and nearest to whatever trees were most readily available. I'm not at all convinced it was set up along the shallowest and safest place to cross the creek.

And my second issue with the rope was that it wasn't very sturdy. Given the width of the river, it would have to have been tied very tight to make it feel solid. Instead, it dangled over the river very loosely and could "wobble" by several feet. If I slipped or fell in the river, hanging onto the rope might help prevent me from getting washed downstream, but it wasn't going to keep me up on my feet. I'd get dunked and probably have to let go of the rope anyhow just to get back up. And anyhow, the river wasn't so deep or fast that I was at all concerned about getting carried downstream.

No, the rope, I ultimately decided, was completely worthless. I'd be better off just using my trekking pole as a third leg.


Early in the afternoon, I arrived at Pleasant Road, which ran nearly two miles off trail to the small town of Monson. I walked off trail and into Monson, soon checking into Shaws Lodging. It's a hostel I stayed at during my 2003 thru-hike, although the original owner (Mr. Shaw himself) had died about a year after I went through, but his family continued to run it until this year when it was purchased by former thru-hikers Poet and Hippie Chick, a youngish couple who were excited to be working so close to the trail they loved.

They told me that all of the beds were full, but if I didn't mind sleeping on the couch in the annex, that they'd love to have me. The couple turned out to be absolutely wonderful and immediately made me feel at home. Everyone who stays gets a free drink, although since I didn't like beer, they gave me a Coke instead. =)

About a half hour after I arrived, it started to rain so I took a shower and bummed around the hostel a bit killing time. I had my laptop sent directly to the hostel so it was already available when I arrived and I got on the Internet to catch up on email.

An hour or two later, Poet said that there was a bed available for me after all. One of the hikers had made a reservation earlier and when he arrived gave him a bed not releasing he'd already saved a bed for him.

"Who was it?" I asked.

"Sparrow."

Ah, yes... Sparrow. Which reminded me.... I still wanted to look up if Norway had a king and, if so, see a picture of him. It was a ridiculous long-shot, of course, but I'd feel pretty stupid if it turned out he was the King of Norway after joking about him being the King of Norway.

Anyhow, once that bed confusion was straightened out, it meant there was an extra bed and I no longer had to sleep on the couch. Awesome! =) (Whoever arrived after me would have to, however!)

The first of my two river fords--across Bald Mountain Stream.

Later in the afternoon after the rain had stopped (I was feel pretty good that despite all of the daily afternoon rains, I was managing to avoid being outside in in most of the time), I wandered out to see the rest of town and get some dinner. It's not a big town and choices are limited, but I went for Pete's Place where I ordered a pulled-pork sandwich an a slice of rhubarb-strawberry pie that was absolutely delicious. =)

Later in the evening, I ran into Sparrow chatting with a few other hikers and I walked up to him in a pretend kind of huff. "You sir," I said, pointing at his chest, "are no King of Norway."

I'd checked. Norway did, in fact, have a king, but the photo I found of him online was an older man who looked like he was in his 70s. Sparrow looked like he might have been in his 30s or 40s, and looked nothing like the King of Norway.

Just as I figured....

The trail was extremely muddy today! Large sections of the trail looked just like this!
But don't fret--we'll wash off all that mud crossing the Piscataquis River. The rope across the river, in my opinion, turned out to be more trouble than it was worth. It didn't really help me any!
Piscataquis River
At the Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to, I found more evidence of Natgeo's unusual breakfast in the shelter register.




Lake Hebron
Looks like the tailings of an old mine! Or....
...a quarry! This pond looked like an old, abandoned quarry that filled up with water. The vertical, sheer sides around the edges of the lake look more like a quarry than anything that might be natural.
Checking into Shaws
Lake Hebron, from downtown Monson.

1 comment:

Karolina Śmiech said...

Go, Ryan, go!
Are we close to Kathadin yet??