Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Day 145: Just call me Troublemaker

July 30: As much as I loved my time in Rangeley, it was time to move on. Katahdin wasn't going to walk to me! So I woke up early, took one last shower, ate a quick breakfast then caught the 7:00 AM shuttle back to the trailhead with Bearfish and Coyote.

The trail was rough. Not as rough as past days perhaps, but rough. I took a couple of short detours off the trail for some sightseeing. The first detour was Piazza Rock, which I affectionately called Pizza Rock. It was just a couple of minute detour off the trail and was an impressive rock sticking far out overhanging the ground below it.

Then I detoured to the Piazza Rock Lean-to. I almost always detour to shelters anyhow, but this time I made a special visit to the privy because my guidebook "warned" that it was a two-seater privy with a cribbage board between the two seats and I wanted to see for myself. And get photos, of course. =) That is a game, I suppose, where you must find a really good friend if you want to play!

The longest detour was my visit to the "caves" immediately after the shelter. It wasn't far, but crawling through the narrow openings was a lot like the trail through Mahoosic Notch--a full-bodied work out! After checking it out and going through, I turned around and repeated the route in reverse to get back to the trail.

I spent the better part of an hour on my off-trail wonderings before staying true to the trail which soon lead up to the top of Saddleback Mountain with its legendary views. I remember going over this region during my 2003 thru-hike and loved the incredible views, but it was considerably less impressive this time around. Fog completely enveloped one side of the ridge while it was very hazy and unclear on the other side.

I made it to the Poplar Ridge Lean-to after 10.7 miles of rough hiking before quitting at an early 2:30 in the afternoon. Rain was expected in the afternoon and the next shelter was over 8 miles away. I'm such a wuss. =)

In all, six hikers camped at the shelter, four of which were southbound thru-hikers and the other two were us northbound thru-hikers. The sheer number of southbounders was astounding to me. At this point along the trail, they regularly seemed to outnumber the northbounders! It was a definitely change since my 2003 thru-hike when I could count all of the southbound hikers I'd see in a day on one hand. They certainly never outnumbered the northbounders! So we swapped war stories--them telling us of the horrible mud and difficulties to the north and me telling them to, "Quit! Quit while you still can! SAVE YOURSELVES!!!!" =) One guy seemed particularly annoyed at that and bluntly told me, "Would you stop saying that!"

Yeah, okay.... =)

Speaking of "encouraging" the southbounders to quit the trail, I had written as such in one of the shelter registers. The horrors--the mud, the steepness, the wind and cold.... Pleading to the southbounders to SAVE YOURSELVES! (Wrote it in all caps as well.) It was too late for us--we were in it too deep and couldn't quit, but they still could.

It was meant very tongue-in-cheek--I was going for the "sky is falling" kind of feel and I was Chicken Little running around--but apparently after I left, someone who took my message a little too seriously (obviously, they didn't know me well!) wrote by my name that I was an "ass-hat." I had (unknowingly) hit a rather sensitive topic for southbounders who were tired of northbounders harassing them (which I hadn't even realized was a problem). Later, as other northbound hikers caught up with me, a few of them commented on the fuss I caused where people continued to write for several pages anti-southbounder or anti-northbounder rants. As one hiker later told me, "You lobbed a grenade in that shelter then quietly walked away before it exploded."

Piazza Rock was this large, overhanging rock.

I was stunned, really. When someone writes in ALL CAPS to "SAVE YOURSELVES!!!!!" can they not see sarcasm when it's right under their nose? Truth be told, I'm thankful for the southbounders. It relieves the crowds of northbounders that have hounded me since Springer Mountain. Flip-floppers too. Anything to spread out the crowds. There are a lot of people thru-hiking the trails nowdays, and the more they spread out, the better. I'd have wished for even more of the northbounders to have shook things up by going southbound or flip-flopping around the trail. And frankly, going southbound is probably more difficult than a northbound trek. I was in excellent shape when I arrived at the hardest part of the trail. The southbounders--they're still getting their trail legs. They're suffering from blisters and other ailments that come early in a hike that the northbounds had 2,000 miles to walk off.

No offense to northbounders, but darn it--there's just too many of them on the trail! Starting so early in the year help me get in front of the bulk of them, but I wouldn't have minded if the number of hikers I saw every day were cut in half. In all honestly, I wanted more people to have chosen a southbound or flip-flop hike! I certainly hadn't intended to offend them by joking to "save themselves."

So in honor of the ruffled feathers, I wrote another register entry apologizing for my derogatory talk about how horrible the trail ahead for them was. "I lied," I fessed up. "The trail is wonderful and I wanted it all to myself." I went on about how escalators had been installed on the steepest sections, creeks flowed with vodka, you'd get free massages at every shelter along with pizza delivery. Assuming, of course, you didn't want Gordon Ramsey himself to cook you a freshly prepared meal. The trail was SOOO easy!

Or something that effect. I didn't take a photo of the entry so I'm recreating it--but that was the gist of it. Over-the-top ridiculous. And I wrote that I was so sorry to any southbounder who took my writings about the mud and horror of the trails ahead so seriously. Obviously, it was all just made up, and good for them for seeing right through those malicious comments I wrote about the trail! I couldn't fool them! =)

I can be such a troublemaker. =)

The "Your Move" privy, a pun on words that isn't obvious until you open the door....
...where you'll find a two-seater privy with a cribbage board between the two so you can play a game while you're doing a number two!

The "caves" just off the trail.

Views on one side of Saddleback Mountain were hazy....

Views on the other side were just plain foggy! (This was a brief time when the fog "sort of" lifted for a few minutes--it had been a lot worse!)


wassamatta_u said...

What's it like to be a troublemaker?

Ryan said...

I think it's more enjoyable when you PLAN to be a troublemaker! I just did it by accident! =)