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[at-l] Hundred Mile Wilderness, Day 4

8/5/99      Carl Newman Lean-To

    Things went from wet to wetter last night.  At  3 AM  we experienced a 
powerful thunderstorm complete with heavy rain.  We had planned to get up a 
5:30 AM but it was still raining.  So we waited until 6:30 AM.  I tried to 
light my stove with the cigarette lighter I accidently left out over night 
but the flint was soaked.  We managed to get Johnís lighter wet too.  So, we 
broke camp without breakfast.  We did eat some gorp and power bars.  We left 
camp before 8:30 AM and headed up Columbus Mountain.  We made great time over 
this rugged peak making down to Chairback Gap Lean-to by 9:45 AM.  WE made a 
breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate at the lean-to since the lighters had 
dried.  We filled our water bottles then repacked our bags heading out by 
10:30 AM.  The hike up Chairback mountain was steep but not difficult.  The 
trees were dropping water that in a short time I was soaked.  Water ran down 
my legs soaking my socks which in turn ran into my boots.  Water dripped from 
the trees running down the back of my neck.  We reached the summit by 11:00 
AM hoping to get  our first view of Katahdin but it was socked in with dense 
fog and clouds.  Then we had to decend.
    The trail start down following an old rock slide.  The MATC has been busy 
rearranging the rocks to form an elaborate staircase that twists and turns 
down for 200 feet or more of extremely steep mountain side.  It was fun to 
travel but exhausting.  At one point I took a scary fall slipping on the 
rocks but I was not injured.  
    We met three section hikers heading south doing part of the Hundred Mile 
Wilderness.  By 1:00 PM we had completed 12 miles and were back on schedule.  
We talked last night about our progress and determined that our long and 
frequent breaks, talking with other hikers,  and heavy packs had all 
conspired to slow our pace.  We needed to take fewer breaks and cut the 
gabbing.  It worked.
    The West Branch of the Pleasant river was flowing knee deep because of 
last nights rain.  We took off our boots and replaced them with sandles to 
ford 100 + feet of moving water.  We stopped for lunch on the far side - PB&J 
.  Several people showed up to day hike the Gulf Hagas.  The Sun was coming 
out.  John and I packed our raingear and put on dry socks.  While on our 
lunch break Serpico, a northbound thru hiker from Vermont, forded the river 
by  just plunging in boots and all.  He explained that his wife expected to 
pick him up in a few days so he could not afford to take the time to remove 
his boots.  She had put up with his hike since April so he did not want to 
keep her waiting.   
    The Carl Newman Lean-to was about 5 miles up the trail.  We figured if we 
made it to the Gulf Hagas cutt-off by 3:00 PM we could hit the lean-to by 
7:30 PM.  We arrived at Gulf Hagas by 2:45 and to the lean-to by 6:00 PM.  
But we did it in a thunderstorm that lasted 3 hours.  Unfortunately there 
were 4 boyscouts (including 1 adult leader) occupying the lean-to with the 
two boys we had met on our second day of hiking.  The scouts must have been 
caught in the T-storm and got settled into the lean-to.  Groups are not 
suppose to use the lean-to.  The leader seemed to be embarassed, he said he 
did not want to tent in the rain two nights in a row.  (Well we didnít either 
- I was not happy).  We had to return across the river to the alternate 
tentsites and set up our tent in the rain one more time.  The alternate site 
was also fille with hikers.  Our sight was in a patch of mud.
    While we were there  a young girl walked briskly into camp hunting for a 
good place to set up her tarp.   She was obviously a thru hiker.  Her trail 
name is Kafka.  She started north from Springer Mountain in January and had 
met all of the thru hikers I met in Va when the Outing Club hike in 
Shenandoah National Park las April.  It is now 8:47 PM.  I am exhausted.  
Time for sleep.

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