Friday, March 11, 2016

Day 155: Of Mice and Tribulations

August 9: I didn't sleep particularly well during the night because of rampaging mice. All shelters have mice, but the mice in this shelter were particularly bold and rampant! I usually hang my food on devices hanging in most shelters--a small length of rope with an upside-down can that supposed to thwart the mice, and I did that tonight as per usual. To date, no mouse has ever gotten into my food through the use of these simple devices--and that's still true. The mice failed to get into my food bag.

Wonderful views from the Barren Slide.

However, I had accidentally forgot to include a small bag of Wheat Thins and a Ziplock full of trash in my food bag. They were left at ground level, not far from my head. And the mice had a field day! I heard them scurrying around near my head and suddenly remembered the trash bag that I had overlooked. I whipped on my headlamp and the mouse merely turned his head to look at me. The fact that I could clearly see him was of no bother, and he proceeded digging into my trash. I grabbed one of my shoes and..., well, I guess you could say that I shoed him off. =)

I didn't even do a good job of that. The mouse scampered off to the edge of the shelter, beyond my reach. Then turned around and watched me. Waiting. "You're lucky I don't have a mouse trap," I told him.

Which is when I also realized that I had mistakenly left my Wheat Thins out of my hanging food bag as well. A good size hole was in both bags, and I got new Ziplocks to replace the contents. Stupid mice. Then I hung up the food and trash with the rest of my food and tried to go back to sleep, but I could hear the mice searching the shelter for anything else that they could get into. I kept a shoe nearby so I could attempt to hit them with it, like a batter aiming for the perfect pitch to whack the annoying creatures out of the shelter, but they were too fast. It was like playing whack-a-mole, and I was loosing badly.


So to say I didn't sleep well was an understatement. Eventually, after searching all of the gear that was laying around and finding nothing else that was edible, they called it a night and went home.

The trail was bad.... so very bad....

The day was, generally speaking, absolutely beautiful. Great visibility, pleasant temperatures, and no bugs to speak of. The trail was bloody awful, however.

The steepness, scrambling up and down steep rocks, horrid mud pots. It wore me down and slowed me down, and the whole time I was thinking, how do I not remember any of this?!

And it's true. I have fond memories of my previous time through the 100-Mile Wilderness. It was flat! It was easy! Which is the absolute, complete 100% opposite of what I experienced today. How did I forget how horrible this trail was? All I can imagine is that the experience was so painful, so horrible, it had been blocked from my memory. A natural defense mechanism my brain employed.

But, despite the difficulty of the trail, I still had to admit... the views were absolutely spectacular. The vistas, the ponds, the creeks.... gorgeous!

In the afternoon, I walked a bit off trail to check out West Chairback Pond and while standing at the shoreline, admiring the view, I heard a faint and distant call: "Tortuga!"

I looked around and saw nobody.

"Tortuga! On the island in the lake!"

That's when I saw them, Loon and Young Blood taking a break on the shore of a small island in the lake. There were a few canoes by the shore and they had "borrowed" one taking it for a joyride. It seemed like all of the larger lakes in Maine had canoes apparently abandoned at their shores, although most of them usually didn't appear to be usable. They obviously found on that was.

We waved and shouted back and forth at each other across the water and they said they'd come over and get me, but I waved them off. I didn't really feel like going for a canoe ride at the moment. I was running behind my self-imposed schedule already because of the trail's difficulty and wanted to keep moving hit my goal for the day before it got too dark.

Loon climbs the remnants of the lookout tower on Barren Mountain.

Late in the day, I ran into a face that I hadn't seen since back in Virginia. I saw him coming up toward me, in the wrong direction.

"Disciple!" I called out. "You're going the wrong way! Katahdin is that way!"

He knew that, of course, and said that he had summited five days earlier and was now hiking southbound because he'd never backpacked in the winter before and wanted to keep hiking south until he got a "winter experience."

Keeping in mind, it was August 9th now. Still solidly in my summer by my math.

"You'll reach Springer Mountain again by the time winter strikes!" I said.

"Yes, I might...."

Crazy SOB! =)

It had been a few months since I last saw Disciple and since he hadn't been seeing my entries in the register, he had assumed that I had quit the trail. Nope, just behind him. I knew he hadn't quit the trail since I'd been following his register entries for months, but he was always so far ahead that I assumed I'd never see him again. I certainly didn't expect him to turn around at the end and start hiking southbound again.

It was fun catching up with him. In hindsight, I wish I had gotten his contact information. I'm very curious how far south he made it before quitting--or if he actually hiked all the way back to Springer Mountain.

The shelters were badly spaced along this section of trail--at least for me, they were--but since weather forecasts overnight looked good, I decided to camp between shelters on the shore of the West Branch of the Pleasant River, along with Young Blood, Loon and Salty Dog.

Some day hikers, camped nearby, who had parked at the trailhead a minute or two walk away (wilderness my a##!) gave us some cheese, crackers, gorp and beers as trail magic. I took the beer, then after the trail angel had left, gave it to one of the other hikers. I just didn't like it, but I saw no reason to turn him down either. =)

The lookout tower really was just remnants--it has no top anymore! I'm not entirely sure if it considered safe for us to climb, but we did it anyhow. The structure seemed solid. =)
I hate this #*@&$ %@$*# trail. Just saying.... =)
Shrugged and Axon (the French-Canadians that I started the 100-Mile Wilderness with) coming down the steep and uneven slope.
I'm kind of surprised a sign like this is even needed. Why would anyone want to step off of the bog bridging? It's the only thing that's keeping us out of knee-deep water and mud! Why not just put up a sign asking people not to shoot themselves in the foot while they're at it?
Nothing looks particularly endangered to me, but I'll stay on the bog bridges anyhow! =) I wish there was a lot more of this, in fact!

As the day progressed, the sun came out more and more and it really turned into an absolutely gorgeous day!

I caught this crew building some new stone steps along the rugged terrain. I wanted to hug every last one of them. =)

Loon and Young Blood hijacked a canoe like this one to paddle across the pond.

Salty Dog briefly stops to admire the view.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful.

Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

I think that tree pictured right after the bog bridges is going to grow up to be another "Whomping Willow" as they have on the grounds of Hogworts!