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iling list is back in operation.  I tried to send this 
a week ago with no success.


My watch read 5:09 AM.  What was I still doing in the bag?  I had
a mountain to climb.

I had been shuttled in my own car to Daicey Pond Campground from
Monson, Maine the day before, Sunday, August 20, 1995, by one of
Keith Shaw's neighbors.  On arrival, I registered with the ranger
and paid $12 for two nights stay.  He loaned me a day-pack for use
in climbing Katahdin and told me to leave my pack in the library in
the morning where they could keep an eye on it.

That night I met four thru-hikers, Salamander, Two Aces, Fly, and
Holly (no trail name) and two young men right out of high school
who were starting on a south-bound thru-hike.  One of the men had
a 75 pound pack and spent most of the evening enlisting the advice
of the thru-hikers as to what gear was really necessary.  He
unloaded a lot of gear with the ranger who offered to mail it home
for him.  Later, I found that the one with the heavy pack also had
new heavy duty boots which he had not broken in, resulting in a
blister on the heel and forcing them to quit hiking after a week.

I left Daicey Pond Campground at 5:45 AM, passing a female moose
feeding in Elbow Pond on my way to Katahdin Stream Campground.  It
was my first sighting of a moose and was a real thrill. 
Salamander, Two Aces, and Fly had left around 4:00 AM, planning on
seeing the sunrise on their Katahdin accent.  Holly was still
eating her oatmeal when I left.  The first two miles up Katahdin
wasn't that difficult and reminded me of the trails in Georgia that
I had hiked two years earlier.  On the way I missed my hiking
stick, left back in the library because of the advice that you need
two hands to climb Katahdin.  But then I came to the tree line and
the trail turned into a mass of jumbled boulders and appeared to be
straight up.  And then I encountered a three steel reinforcement
rod bars installed in the boulders for hand and foot holds, and I
was introduced to the art of rock scrambling.  Up came Holly, who
had left a half-hour later than I did and skillfully worked her way
over the rocks passing me as I clutched a boulder.  The rock
scrambling seemed to be going on forever, when I reached a sign
painted on a boulder saying "Two Miles" with an arrow pointing in
the direction of Baxter Peak.  I wondered about the wiseness of
doing this if I still had two more miles to go.  However, after
about another half-mile I reached the Gateway, the entrance to the
Table Land.  A sign there says in effect, "Keep off the
vegetation," but it read "Heaven" to me.  The rest of the hike to
Baxter peak was a breeze.  As is my customary luck, it was foggy
that morning and I couldn't see much of a view.  The four thru-
hikers were there savoring the moment along with about eight
others.  The three who had gone up to experience the sunrise got a
small glimpse of it before the fog rolled in.  It took me a little
under five hours for the hike but the thru-hikers all did it in
about four.

I thought the hike down might be harder than the hike up but it
wasn't.  I was the first one to start down and got to tell the many
who were still climbing up when they were going to be through
scrambling over all the boulders, an event relished by all.  I made
my way back to Daicey Pond Campground, arriving again in a little
less than five hours, returned my day-pack, retrieved my pack and
hiking stick, and prepared to spend the next eight days hiking
south-bound through the Maine 100 mile wilderness.

One advantage of hiking the Maine wilderness during this time is
meeting all the thru-hikers nearing completion.  It doesn't take
long before you learn to spot a thru-hiker coming toward you.  They
move with grace down the path, sure-footed, with posture erect and
an appearance of self-confidence and satisfaction.  I met many on
my trip and forgot most of their trail names but a few that I
remember were, Leap Frog (a 15 year old man who did a 40 mile day),
Lucky Laura, Ex Fed Head, Flipper, Rusty Nail, Marlboro Man,
Wandering Bull, Fish Out of Water, 55, and the Original Buckeye. 
If you need advice on what gear works and what doesn't ask these
people and forget about book and magazine recommendations.

I pack lighter than most backpackers, starting with a pack weighing
less than 35 pounds (this could have been reduced to 30 pounds for
this trip if I knew the weather was going to be so warm) including
a ten day supply of food.  However, I've found that my appetite
does not increase during a hike lasting less than a two weeks so I
carry my normal intake of 2200 calories/day which amounts to about
1.2 pounds of food per day.  I typically lose about 5 pounds which
I recover fairly quickly after the hike is over.  I also don't
carry a tent but only a poncho which doubles as rain gear and a
tarp.  Thus, I depend on the AT shelters at night.  The trouble
with this in the Wilderness is that one shelter spacing is not long
enough for me but two shelter spacings is often too long.  Since I
start hiking around 6 A.M. I usually arrive at the first shelter
around 12 Noon (too early) or 6 P.M. (too late).  August hiking is
very popular in Maine.  Besides the thru-hikers there are many
section hikers and hikers that get on and off at the many logging
roads that cross the trail in the Wilderness.  Thus, unlike August
hiking in the South where you may be the only one in the shelter,
the Maine shelters often fill up by 5 P.M.  On two occasions when
I skipped shelters, and arrived late, I felt uncomfortable at
asking the temporary residents for a place in the shelter.  In both
instances the shelters were built to accommodate six and the
temporary residents had their gear spread all over the shelter.  At
the first one the residents were a group of three girl explorers
with two lady leaders, a young man who had joined them, and a
collie.  Upon requesting a space, they were very agreeable and
hospitable and eagerly made a space for me.  On the second occasion
a group of three men were at the shelter and they agreed to let me
have a spot but made sure I was by myself.  The shelters I stayed
at during my southbound hike included, Hurd Brook, Rainbow Stream,
Potaywadjo Spring, Cooper Brook Falls, Logan Brook, Chairback Gap,
and Long Pond Stream.

I'm use to the mice that have joint occupancy of the shelters but
have had no trouble with them in the past since I always hang my
small weekend pack with food on the ropes hanging from the shelter
ceilings with jar top or similar stoppers attached.  However, the
Maine Wilderness shelters have another rodent which attempts to get
to your food supply, the red squirrel.  I have never had rodent
chew on my pack, but a red squirrel chewed on my pack's rain-fly,
got into my pack, and chewed through a food bag to get to some
nuts.  On another occasion a red squirrel came in the shelter,
grabbed a bag of Oreos and was trying to haul them up a tree before
I got to him.  After several attempts he dropped them and made his

The southbound hike from Daicey Pond Campground is relatively easy
going for the first 62 miles, with Rainbow Ledges and Nesuntbunt
and Little Boardman Mountains presenting very difficulty.  Some of
the trail was wide and level with very few roots.  During this time
Maine was experiencing a record drought so the marshy area were
relatively dry and well place board walks made the going easy.  The
drought resulted in all streams being low so it was not necessary
to ford any waterway, just walk across on exposed rocks.  In some
areas the path was inundated with roots but overall my times during
this first 62 miles was well below my estimated values.

However, my times for hiking over the succeeding mountains on my
way to Monson tended to exceed my estimated times and got worse as
the days progressed.  The mountain trails in Maine tend to be
steeper and rougher than those I was used to in Georgia and North
Carolina, with very few switchbacks.  The trails appear to go over
mountains rather than around them and if a mountain has a rock
slide, there's a good chance the trail goes over it.  As a result,
my ankles tended to swell, a problem I didn't have in the southern

As in the southern states, the normal scenery that one views when
hiking the trail consists of individual trees, which can become
fairly boring.  Now and then this pattern is broken when one comes
upon an area like the Hermitage, a stand of towering white pines
north of the west branch of the Pleasant River, owned by the Nature
Conservancy.  But most of all, it's just one tree after another. 
However, the trail through the mountainous part of the Wilderness
takes you to more ledges and mountain tops where you can enjoy
panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes.  Views are
similar to that from Max Patch Mtn. in North Carolina sans wild
flowers, but with lakes.  Of course, views are only enjoyed when
fog is not thick as it was on Katahdin and again on White Cap
Mountain.  But then it was also thick when I reached Clingman's

My hike ended when I reached Maine Highway 15, 3.5 miles North of
Monson and with my pack on my back started to hitch-hike into
Monson.  Now, an older man hitch-hiking does not have the luck that
college students or couples have and I have stood on a highway for
over an hour waiting for a ride.  So, generally I start walking to
my destination and there's a good chance I can reach it before I
get a ride.  But trail magic and the Maine hospitality was there
that day and I had walked but 1/2 mile before a hiker stopped and
gave me a lift to Monson and the Shaws.

I wish all backpacking trips could end with a trip to the Shaws. 
Their hospitality is superb and they are recognized for it by all
hikers on the trail that I met who had stopped there on their way
north as well as Dan "Wingfoot" Bruce in "The Thru-Hiker's
Handbook."  (It's interesting that the Shaws are not listed in the
AT's "Appalachian Trail Shuttle Services" booklet even though they
provide most of the shuttle service in and around the Monson area
of Maine.)  I got a private room for $20, had a shower, and went
down to dinner.  What perfect timing.  The dinner, cooked by
Keith's wife, Pat, consisted of meatloaf, potatoes, green beans,
beets, bread, milk, and cake and was all you can eat.  And the six
hikers sitting at the table with Keith ate it all.  After dinner I
washed and dried my clothes, the price of which is included in the
price of the room.

The next morning I arose at 5:30 A.M. and prepared to leave to
return home.  But before I left I had to have one of Keith Shaw's
award-winning breakfasts that I had heard so much about on the
trail.  Comments included, "After you eat that breakfast you're so
full you can't hike" and "I didn't eat another thing the whole
day."  The menu is referred to as a 2 by 2 or 4 by 4 but it's
really all you can eat.  The numbers indicate the minimum quantity
of each type of food you will receive.  For example a 2 by 2
generally includes 2 eggs, 2 bacon strips, 2 ham slices, 2
sausages, 2 helpings home fries, 2 French toasts and/or 2 pancakes,
milk, juice, and coffee.  But Keith usually adds extra to your
plate so you may get 3 pancakes instead of 2.  The price is $4.50
but Keith will tell you that the price is doubled if you don't
clear your plate. :-)  Besides the great food, the table abounds
with sparkling AT hiking conversation.  It makes for a very fitting
way to end a hike.