[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: No Subject

Thanks for the story, Bruce. Enjoyed it.

I thought you might like to read about my version of pretty much the same
hike in reverse.

Jim Lemire

                   MONSON TO ABOL BRIDGE

On 8/10/91 I arrived at Shaws Boarding House and opened the back door where
five or six hikers
were sitting around the room. Ed, The Crafter, and I made eye contact and I
don't know who was
more surprised. We had met less than three weeks earlier at the Molly Denton
shelter in Virginia. He
was the first person I saw when I started that hike also. In my haste to
speak before thinking I asked
him if he had hiked this far. He sarcastically replied, "ya, I'm doing 60
miles a day. After laughing at
myself for asking such a stupid question, I realized that he was doing a flip
flop. A recent trend of
some thru hikers, a flip flop, is a way of completing the Trail in one trip
that is not the usual Georgia to
Maine. A hiker travels north from Georgia for several months and then gets
transportation off of the
Trail, heading for Mt. Katadin, Maine, to hike south to the point he had
stopped hiking north. The
purpose of this is to be able to hike well into October or November without
running into winter
weather. These people have a more open timetable than most hikers who are
always figuring and re-
figuring how many miles per day they must do to complete the Trail by a
certain date.
   My only purpose for stopping at Shaws' was to say hello to the family
because I had been a guest
here twice before. Others there were the famous, Bill Irwin, who did the
Trail a year earlier and is
blind, a girl that decided to shave her head, and a man calling himself
Roadrunner. I was only there
for about 10 minutes as I was anxious to hit the Trail.
   I started out in a steady rain for Leeman Brook shelter realizing how hard
it was going to be for me
to complete this section of trail known as "the wilderness." It is 108 miles
between public roads and I
had exactly 9 days vacation to do it in.
  I reached the lean-to at 1:00 PM and found three people sleeping in it,
George and his wife, Fumi,
and Ken. They completed about half of the Trail in 1990 and are finishing it
this year. Even knowing
this I did not think that I would see them again because they were in their
  On the following, after my forth stream ford, the clouds let loose and I
stood in the pouring rain with
my face up, eyes closed, and mouth open. I had all I could do to make it to
Long Pond Shelter. At
8:00 PM Roadrunner arrived all the way from Shaws' and his friend, Mark was
40 minutes behind
him. The high water mark on roadrunner's chest indicated that the last stream
crossing was more
difficult since the heavy rain fell. He was quite animated in describing it
and I was wondering how he
could have found it so dangerous and then not waited there for his friend.
   It took me 10 hours to hike from Long Pond Shelter to Chairback Mt.
Lean-to, a distance of only 11
miles. The terrain was rough and I learned the benefit of taking it slowly by
design. I felt good when I
arrived and rarely ever 
attempt to walk for 10 hours. Six to eight hours is comfortable for me. By
evening it was a full shelter.
George, Fumi, and Ken were there as well as Roadrunner and several flip
floppers going south. At
this point, I learned that George and Fumi are F Troop and Ken is Minnesota
Slow Foot. Also there
was a young man calling himself Highlander, who was hiking the entire trail
while missing one leg
below the knee. His prosthesis was free from the manufacturer for the test
results. I couldn't imagine
a better test for stress than 2000 miles of the Trail. Between Bill Irwin and
Highlander I believe that I
met two in a million on this trip. There are always people that come to mind
that I wish I had taken
hiking with me when I meet such inspirational people as these. They recognize
the struggle as having
more meaning than the goal.
   George was amused by my relatively elaborate cooking. He and I had hit it
off quite well. There are
a lot of things to like about George. He would rather listen than talk, but
when he talks he is very
interesting. He was basically saving his life by walking the Trail, because
his doctor told him that his
lifestyle was going to kill him. He met his wife in Japan while in the
Marines when they were both 19
and have been married ever since.
   Roadrunner's friend Mark didn't make it to the lean-to. Most of us are
guessing that he stopped at
the Cloud Pond Shelter. Most of the evening conversation was questions
directed at Highlander about
the difficulties of hiking with his artificial limb. There was also more than
the usual talk about food
because of this section being the longest one without possible re-supply.
They say that at either end
shelters of the 100 mile Wilderness there is usually food left there by
hikers who found their packs
too heavy on the first day. I also met two separate hikers that were without
food with 3 to 5 days of
hiking to go!
   The nine miles to the Carl Newhall Lean-to was uneventful. There were
moose tracks on the trail for
a mile or so on the Trail. If I had time I would have checked out the Gulf
Hagas trails. It looks as
though a lot of day hiking is done here. The dirt road in is much better than
average. I keep meaning
to check it out on my maps. Staying for the night here were Roadrunner,
myself, and Lil Red Rooster,
a college student from Washington, D.C.. The two of them seem to be trying to
impress each other
with their knowledge. Subjects just start out of nowhere and I sat there
eating my dinner with them as
   After several tough climbs, I had lunch at Logan Brook Lean-to and decided
that I would sleep out
between shelters despite having no tent. At Mountain View Pond, I was
surprised to find F Troop and
Slow Foot camped there. I thought about staying there, but I wanted to go to
the next spring that was
only a half a mile further and they were filtering the pond water. It was
worth it. The spring was ice
cold. I continued for a few miles and stopped when I noticed a cool breeze on
top of Little Boardman
Mt. that was keeping the bugs away. After fighting the breeze to light my
stove, I had dinner and
watched the sun set.
   In the morning I started early and without breakfast. By 8:30 I reached
Cooper Brook Lean-to and
saw from reading the register that Roadrunner had just left an hour before.
The swimming hole in
front of the lean-to was fantastic! It's about 30 feet in diameter and six
feet deep. I've never seen a
shelter with its own in ground pool. George, Fumi, and Ken arrived while I
was still swimming. This
time I was the entertainment as they were amused at how much I was enjoying
  I hated to leave Cooper Brook and the next 10 miles dragged as the
mosquitoes got worse. At Mary-
Jo Lake I went swimming again. I'd rather swim than hike at this point. What
a great area this would
be to spend time camping. Small planes landed on the lake probably bringing
in fisherman.
   A group of 5 boys and 4 men were at Potawadjo Spring Lean-to when I
approached. They were
from Braintree, Massachusetts. They were only stopped there for a meal but I
was sorry to see them
leave when they did. The kids were well mannered and the adults were able to
control them without
sounding like drill sargents. It all added up to every one of them having
fun. One of them gave me a
tube of insect repellent when I told them I didn't have any. He wouldn't
allow me to pay him for it.
    George and the gang must have decided to camp at the lake and it was just
me and this
outstanding spring staying here.
   Finally I had an easy hike to Wadleigh  Stream Lean-to. I was not at all
tired and went swimming
again at Nahmakanta Lake. I dove for fresh water clams and brought them back
to the lean-to to cook.
When I saw minnows in the stream near the lean-to I told George and the crew
I was going to have
myself a seafood platter. They looked at me as though I had gone crazy. The
clams turned out a little
on the rubbery side but I may have just overcooked them.
   Joining George, Fumi, Ken, and myself at Wadleigh Stream Lean-to were
three southbound hikers,
a father and son, and one lone hike. The son had recently married a Japanese
girl and was carrying a
Japanese language book as well as all Japanese food. I could not believe the
coincidence of this
meeting with George and Fumi here. Fumi helped them with their Japanese and
we were all
fascinated with their cooking. Ken is more like appalled. I couldn't stop
laughing at his comments and
expressions. I kept glancing at George and see that he was holding it in so
as not to insult Ken.
My idea of holding back was to resist telling him that he's a narrow minded
old goat. Because of his
experience, he thinks he carries the best and only things a backpacker should
   We all tried some dried squid. It is times like these that remind me of
why I stay at lean-tos. The
best of times often happen by chance.
   When I started out in the morning, I began to reflect as this was going to
be last day and night on
the Trail. I'm generally careful not to be over confident about completing my
hiking plan. In an instant
my body could fail me, a twist or a broken bone, and plans are out the
window. Bad weather for a
duration could slow me to a crawl. On this eighth day, now my longest
backpacking trip since 1973, I
was sure that God would allow me to finish at Abol Bridge. At Rainbow Stream
Lean-to, I was relaxed
and content to stay when George, Fumi, and Ken arrived. They reminded me that
this was the
location of the famous National Geographic photo of two hikers crossing the
stream. We all took
pictures of each other, trying to duplicate the scene.
   Some joker had installed an electrical outlet in a tree near the shelter.
I was thinking what fun it
would be to have a battery powered appliance with a fake cord attached to it
and fool some unwary
hikers into thinking there was electric power in the tree.
   George and Fumi were like old friends now, and we exchanged addresses.
George persuaded me
to continue and risk it under the stars and offers me an extra poncho. I
couldn't resist spending my
last night out camping with them. On a flat, grassy spot along Rainbow Lake
they pitched their tents
and I laid out my poncho. Nearby was yet another incredible spring. After a
swim, we cooked dinner
and I kept pressing all three of them for their feelings as they approached
their long awaited goal of
reaching Mt. Katadin.
After asking too many questions like, "Will you take a bottle of champagne to
the top," and the like,
Ken tells me that he thinks I have thought about it more than they have.
Maybe so. I had set my sights
on completing the Trail for a much longer time with my few weeks a year
   Shortly after dark it began to thunder and I prayed it wouldn't rain for
too long. I had two ponchos
covering me and didn't want to test it out on a downpour either. It rained
lightly and passed by in 30
minutes.  Later I heard a moose snort and thought it would step on me. I
think my mistake was
sleeping to close to the spring.
   I came out at Abol Bridge just in time to see two young men with a five
gallon bucket of water poised
to dump it over on the next raft to pass under the bridge. I took a picture
of 10 or 12 people getting
soaked as they paddled by. Apparently the take out point for the rafts is
just below the bridge and the
villains here were fellow rafters that had come through earlier.
   After hitting the nearby store for some junk food, I had no trouble
hitching a ride to the Baxter State
Park entrance and they radioed to locate Juanita and Jay who were waiting for
me at Daicey Pond.