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[at-l] Hundred Mile Wilderness, Day 5

8/6/99 East Branch Lean-To

    Well it rained most of the night.  My clothing is soaked.  The tent is 
splashed with mud.  And our tentsite is a quagmire.  Kafka got up about 45 
minutes after John and I.  She moved her stove near where we were preparing 
Breakfast.  She worked very effciently cooked and ate some oatmeal, cleaned 
up, changed into her hiking clothes and was on the trail in less than 1/2 
    The hike up Gulf Hagas Mountain was tough but we did the 750 vertical 
feet in a little less than 1 hour.  On the way up we saw some Spruce Grouse.  
First we spotted a chick, then the mother paralleled us as we walked the 
trail.  Then we heard the peeps of the rest of the brood.
    We descended Gulf Hagas Mt. then had to climb 500 to the summit of West 
Peak followed by a descent  and climb 500 more feet to the top of Hay 
Mountain.  This was not technically difficult but it was steep and tedius.  
Another descent then a climb to the summit of White Cap Mountain.  We were 
finally rewarded with our first good view on this entire hike.  The Barren - 
Chairback range could be seen to the south west and around the corner we 
could finally see Mt Katahdin.  It was topped with clouds but still 
impresive.  We met 2 north bound thru hikers,  2 south bound thru hikers and 
two young ladies day hiking from one of the logging roads - (so much for 
wilderness.)  We spent about 1/2 hour enjoying the view.  The boy scouts that 
had commondeered the lean-to last night passed us.  From the camp to the 
summit of White Cap was 5 miles.  We made the hike by 12:00 noon.  We needed 
to complete 11 miles today and the next 6 miles were all down hill.  
    We hiked down rock stairways and soft pine needle trails, occasional 
roots and finally to Logan Brook Lean-To for a lunch break.   Several 
T-hikers (friends of Kafka) were at the lean-to taking a break.  We 
encouraged them to pass the boy scouts so they would not take over the next 
lean-to.  While we ate a snow shoe hair  hopped about the campsite not at all 
bothered by our presents.  
    After lunch we set a fast pace to complete the few remaining miles to 
East Branch Lean-To.  The trail was mostly flat or down hill.  We made very 
good time arriving in camp before 5:30 PM.  The camp was full of hiker.  The 
4 boy scouts had set up 3 tents in the best tentsites available.  They had 
used the camp shovel to dig trenches around their tents for rain run-off.  
(This was a common practice before tents came with waterproof bottoms but it 
is counter to LNT practices.)  There were 8 hikers in the lean-to.  Four 
north bound thru hikers we had met earlier.  Two south bound flip-floppers 
had hitched a ride from Pa to avoid the draught conditions in the mid 
atlantic states.  And the two boys we met on our second day hiking were well 
established in the lean-to.
    I set up a couple of lines to dry our clothes and the tent.  We hung 
everything we owned out to dry.  John went for water while I set the stove up 
to begin cooking dinner.  Now it started to rain.  Oh no!!!  The third night 
in a row we were going to be wet.  I hussled to retrieve the dryest of our 
wet clothing and headed for the cover of the Lean-to.  The Thru hikers 
invited us to put our sleeping bags in the porcupine pit.  It would be dry 
but not the nicest place to spend the evening.  We accepted the offer after 
cooking dinner in the pouring rain.  We left the tent hanging from the line 
hoping that the mud would was off.  Most of it did.  We hoped in to our 
s/bags by 8:00 PM.
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