Twenty Three: On Baseball bats, Bad places to sleep, and thoughts of becoming
a drag queen
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
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
Peak of Baldpate from West Peak of Baldpate)
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
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!
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
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
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
Lake from Rt. 17)
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.
Nichols climbing Saddleback Mtn)
on Saddleback Summit)
from Saddleback Summit)
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!
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!
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.
Mtn from South Peak of Crocker Mtn)
from North Peak of Crocker Mtn)
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.