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Week Twenty Three: On Baseball bats, Bad places to sleep, and thoughts of becoming a drag queen

Sunday September 11th, 1983
Nice hike into Andover today. Baldpate Mountain was beautiful; although, tough to climb. I remember a cairn at the summit of one of the peaks with a capped glass jug embedded among the stones comprising the stone monolith. There was a paper with some writing on it deep within the jug. Part of the trail "grapevine" of information I suspect, but I no longer remember what was written. We got rained on while at Frye Notch, but skies cleared by the time we reached Dunn Notch. Dunn Notch is one of those places that I'll have to come back to. I liked Dunn Notch because of its remoteness and its proximity to some other great hiking areas. This area is what I call "off the beaten path" where you are able to shed the tourists, and share the trails with serious hikers. You are definitely in "the wilderness" in this section - far from weekend warriors and plastic people. Years later, my nephew and I went back to Dunn Notch, slept in the shelter and climbed to the "pates" to check out the fall foliage. We also did Speck Pond, The Arm, and The Notch; however, that might have been a different trip. My nephew was quite young so I lowered him down into one of the crevasses, or caverns in the Notch and he proudly came out with a chunk of ice almost the size of a basketball - and that was in August!

Paul and I went into Andover together. I was surprised to find that the road that we took into town was more or less a large unpaved logging road. Usually a road crossing along the A.T. such as this was paved, but not this one. I remember hiking through some sort of a landing area where tree trunks were piled high as if they were giant matchsticks. There was no machinery nearby just row upon row of limb-less trees waiting for delivery to the saw mill.

We found Andover to be a friendly town. Addie's Place was the name of the diner where all of the loggers ate so we ate there too. Way too much ice cream and pie went down the tubes first, and then we pigged out on pizza and soda. Since there was a phone, I called home to tell them of my whereabouts. Sounds as though they are as psyched about me reaching the Big "K" as I am. Tonight we are sleeping in a field behind one of the stores. I restocked in town and plan on the next stop in Rangeley, Maine, a tourist town.

(East Peak of Baldpate from West Peak of Baldpate)

Monday September 12th, 1983
I couldn't sleep last night because the damn church bell rang every hour, and I heard all of them. I did have a good breakfast though; two egg sandwiches, milk and home fries. We met a lady at the diner that befriended us, and tried her best to get one of the loggers to give us a ride back to the trailhead, but once she left the man took off without us. He wasn't too friendly anyway. She told us that the locals didn't like A.T. hikers because there was some kind of tension between the logging industry and the AT conservation efforts in the area.

We got on the road to the A.T. early and hiked for a short time before accepting our first ride. That ride did not get us to the trailhead, so we hiked another half hour before we secured our second ride. The A.T. had been recently relocated in this area, which means that there is no trail head sign yet to indicate its intersection with the road. Well, our second ride dropped us off somewhere, but not at the trailhead because we could not find it. Turns out we had missed the damn trail by about five miles, so after another hour of walking back down the road we finally got another ride. The guy who gave us a ride this time knew where the trailhead was, and we finally started hiking on the new relocation about 10:30 am.

We stopped at Surplus Pond for lunch. While there we heard the forecast so we decided to stop at the next shelter, Hall Mountain Lean, due to a threat of rain this evening. This lean-to is pretty new, but the water supply was low. Today was a big six mile day, actual trail miles only counted, and I hope that we can pick up the pace soon!

Tuesday September 13th, 1983
We traveled good miles today, much more respectable, with twenty-one miles in fact. We all hooked into, and behind, another thru-hiker named Max Smith. Max had begun his thru-hike in March, then got a job with the Audubon Society for sixteen weeks during the summer months. Now he had returned to the trail, and will finish the A.T. from where he had left off.
He had done various flip flops due to his work schedule, so he was sometimes a northbounder and sometimes a southbounder. I guessed that at some point he would either quit his "thru-hike" during winter If he had not finished in time. Max was a true "Mainer" who had hiked these mountains since he was a kid. Like most people from Maine, he loved the outdoors. He had a thick Maine accent and was a strong hiker. Since he had hiked all of these trails before he would focus our attention to points of interest as we went along. It was like having our own Maine Guide, but without paying a guiding fee. Lucky us!! He stayed the night with Paul, and me at Sabbath Day Pond Shelter.

Tomorrow will be a nine miler to ME 4, and Rangeley, Maine for resupply.

(Maine Lake from Old Blue)

Wednesday September 14th, 1983
Woke up to a 38 degrees this morning. I took a reading from my trusty thermometer which was attached to one of my pack zippers. Perfect day for hiking as it was clear and cool all day. I stepped onto ME 4 just before 11:00 am, and bam!, got a ride within five minutes. The guy that stopped to pick us up had actually stopped due to an overheating engine, so we helped him relieved the pressure in the radiator and filled it with water.

Once in Rangeley, Maine, Paul and I pigged out at the "Red Onion", did laundry and bought groceries. I do not remember what I ate at the Red Onion, but all of the chairs were on
the tables when we arrived, so the business had either just opened up for the day, the lady opened it up just for us, or business was just really slow that day.

While in town, I wrote post cards to "The Robots" (Jim Hassan and Eric), Sister Spott (Diane Spot) and Fish. At the post office I sent back exposed film and the Vermont/New Hampshire guidebook, and a few things I would not need any longer. After getting finished with the town chores we went to Viola's, a local hostel, and paid a buck for a shower, the going rate for those not staying at the hostel. While there, we ran into Richard Kozon who decided to stay at the hostel for the night. We decided to move on, and the hitch back to the A.T. proved easy once again, and now I am at Piazza Rock Lean-to.

Did a total of eleven miles, which included a town stop, so not bad! Alan Savage is still ahead of us, and has been since Andover, Maine. I see his entry in the shelter register and hope to catch him.

(Mooselookmeguntic Lake from Rt. 17)

Thursday September 15th, 1983
Woke up to a cool crisp morning and it stayed cool all day. Fall is fantastic!!! No bugs!!! This weather helped us knock off another fifteen tough miles today. The guidebook says that this section is the hardest north of the Presidential Range in New Hampshire. I didn't find it too difficult, and the scenery was awesome! Saddleback was truly spectacular. I remember the Saddlebacks as being cold and windy on the summits, and with great views. I was also surprised at how easy these climbs were for me. I knew that the elevations were high, but the combination of cool weather and my decent muscle tone vaulted me over them with comparative ease. I had waited for months for cooler weather - and finally it was here.

With nothing better to think about while hiking today, I once again began thinking about the ascent up Katahdin. The hike up Katahdin was drifting in and out of my consciousness for days now, and I remembered Fuzzy Jim talking about how people were trying to find unique ways to stand out from the crowd. For instance, some were standing out by completing the trail in record time, or completing the trail twice in one year like, or some such thing. Fuzzy wanted to complete the trail in a mockingly unique way, so he thought up of the idea of finishing the hike in drag. Since he had to leave the trail and would not finish at all, I felt that I should fulfill his dream for him, mocking the whole idea of being special by doing something silly - but different. That would be wild. Who knows maybe I'll do it. Something to think about anyway.

Tonight I'm staying at Spaulding Mountain Lean-To, my first baseball bat shelter. They are called baseball bat shelters due to the floorboards being skinny logs placed one next to the other rather than having flat planed floorboards. As far as comfort, it doesn't seem too bad Once you find the right groove.

We had left Rich Kozon in Rangeley, Maine at the hostel with the expectation that maybe he'd catch up. We should also see Alan Savage in Stratton, Maine too, I hope. All others are but a few days away. The others being "The Trail Tribe" (Diane, Keystone Kid, and Fish), to whom I had sent post cards while in Rangeley. I knew they were ahead, and by just how much from reading their writings in the shelter registers along the way. At least we are back to decent mileage, and tomorrow I look forward to climbing Crocker Mountain. Max had told us that Crocker was a good climb, and that there were fantastic views from the summit.

(Paul Nichols climbing Saddleback Mtn) (Marcel on Saddleback Summit) (Rangeley from Saddleback Summit)

Friday September 16th, 1983
An easy thirteen mile day with Crocker Mountain being a piece of cake. Crocker did have great views with boreal forest dotted with ponds and lakes as far as the eye could see. Once I had satiated myself with the view, I began the descent. Once I was closer to the base of the mountain, I put on a mad dash to Maine highway 27 where I secured an easy hitch into Stratton, Maine. As always, I wanted to get into town ASAP. This time it was to secure a room at the Widow's Walk Inn.

I hit the post office first, and then checked into "The Widows Walk" where I could feel a sense of being around friendly people. This particular hotel is an old Victorian home converted into a guest house, and in itself is a beautiful piece of architecture. The lady who checked us in, one of the owners, was quite congenial with information about the town layout and tidbits about such things as the post office, laundry facilities, restaurants and all things that we thru-hikers look for during a town stop. She also told me that the very room that I was staying in for a pittance normally costs two hundred dollars a night during ski season.

At the post office, I received my spare pack frame from home because mine has been eaten through by body salt over the past few months on the trail. The pack frame had not given me a problem to date, but I knew that because of the isolation from the outside world it would be difficult to affect repairs should it break in the backcountry. Not to mention that the one hundred mile wilderness loomed ahead - where I would be the most vulnerable of any time of the trip. I was taking no chances!

There are many things that actually happens on an A.T. trip that never get full mention in any journal like they should. They are just things that happen,everyday routine things, and not the kind of things one remembers to include in the daily writings. But since we have breached the subject in the last paragraph, here goes: Sweat: Sweat is what I am all about. I just sweat profusely, and have done so since North Carolina. I must wear a sweat band to keep it from dripping down into and stinging my eyes. On at least one occasion, if you will remember, I had forgotten it at camp and had to backtrack miles to get it. This should give you a clear indication of just how important that piece of equipment is to me. Soon after beginning my days hike I am covered in it; making my body slick. On really warm days it rolls down my legs into my boots making them, my socks, and finally my feet a soggy mess by the end of the day. It coats my pack frame and disintegrates the crossbar as you just found out. I hike in nylon rafters' shorts because they absorb, but do not hold the sweat (evaporate quicker than cotton) and therefor can dry overnight allowing me the luxury of being dry for a short time before I sweat while hiking that day. Fortunately for me, I have an external frame pack which keeps the pack bag away from my back. If I had an internal pack, which few hikers during 1983 used, all my back would be drenched in sweat and the back padding as well. When hiking bareback I can sometimes feel the sweat rolling down my back only to accumulate on the elastic waist band of my shorts. Once saturated it continues down to my crack, and drips to the ground or follows down and pools in my boots. If I wear my shirt, it becomes soaked to the point of dripping, and I have to stop to ring it out. Because my shirt is cotton, which holds onto the moisture, at days end I hang it up and try to dry it, but on particularly hot humid days it never really dries completely. The following morning I cringe as I put on that same damp rag to begin my day. My shirt develops salt lines on the odd occasion when it does dry out. To make my nights more pleasant, I always keep a spare dry shirt for sleeping. This should give you an idea of what I dealt with concerning sweat each day. In this respect I have a great envy for Paul Nichols. I have noticed that he does the same hike - with the same mileage, in roughly the same amount of time, yet he never sweats. I have spoken to him about this and all he really had to say about his lack of problems was that he wears a loose shirt with a V-neck that ventilates with air from his forward momentum. Bullshit! - I don't believe that for a second. I think that he is an android!

We decided to eat supper at Cathy's Restaurant, which served good food, but had lousy service.

I finally caught up with Curt "The Runt" Anderson and A.T. his dog. Paul also stayed at the Widows Walk with me. Rooms were small, but available, so we each took separate ones.

Weather forecast says rain, rain, rain. I might influence my departure plans tomorrow while I stay in town another day.

(Sugarloaf Mtn from South Peak of Crocker Mtn) (Stratton from North Peak of Crocker Mtn)

Saturday September 17th, 1983
We woke up to the forecasted rain. I decided to stay dry and organize my pack today rather than continue on and get soaked. Rich Kozon pulled in about 10:00 am. With all that time on my hands I read books, packed my auxiliary pack, and checked out the trail ahead using the data book, philosophers guide and guide book. I also wrote letters home, and probably ate goodies sent to me from home.

Here we all stay.... Rich, Curt, Damien, Al, AT and I. No one moved on today. We may be dry, but we are all getting restless for the miles. We are so close now we can taste the end. Tomorrow, rain or shine, I'm outta here!! Can't wait to turn on the sweat machine!

Maine, what a great state.


Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983