Twenty Five: The hundred mile wilderness, intestinal distress, and finally
Baxter State Park!
September 25th, 1983
I felt so great today that I pulled out a nineteen miler with Pete
to Chairback Gap Lean-To. Pete and I happened to be ready at the
same time so we walked away from the Falls together. Even though
I felt great, I did another stupid thing today. Luckily, Pete as
not there to witness,I had pulled away from him not long after departing
from the Falls. I came to a stream early in the day that required
a fording so I decided to ford barefoot to have dry boots afterwards.
I threw the first boot across to the other side with no problem.
I aimed perfectly and the distance was not too great. Then came
the second boot. The laces caught around my arm as I released, causing
the boot to lose velocity much to rapidly and landing directly in
the middle of the stream. There I stood in horror, barefooted on
shore, watching my boot float downstream. Quickly snapping into
action, I bolted into the ice cold water and began wading downstream
after the thing while watching it submerge and disappear below the
surface. I continued to wade well downstream while frantically fishing
for it. Well, after almost giving up, it suddenly came floating
down the stream toward me so I snatched it up, kissed it, and walked
it to the other shore. Once I put my one dry, and one wet boot back
on, I heard some talking over a small rise. Upon investigation,
I discovered a staging area for horseback riders on the other side
of the ford. I was alone at the time, no one saw me, so still no
witnesses to my blunder. You would think that after a couple thousand
miles I wouldnt be doing such stupid things, but there it
that unforgettable incident, the rest of the day was uneventful,
but picturesque. The trail passed through several boggy areas, one
known to have carnivorous plants! The Pitcher Plants in the bogs
and this area were interesting, and the area felt like nymphs and
fairies lived here. Throughout all of Maine and especially in the
rugged Chairback Range I had to hike with my eyes focused on my
feet. There were many roots to trip and slip on, and a smattering
of stones between them. There were some areas that seemed perpetually
wet and dank with moss everywhere.
I caught up with Tracy, Curt and Albie Pokrob & company. It's
like grand central station here at Chairback Gap Lean-to tonight.
Albie was the topic of conversation. He had been a hutmaster in
various AMC huts and tent platforms in the Whites for many years.
He also ran The Perch, which is an RMC cabin around Mt. Washington.
One conversation was about the legendary thru-hiker appetite and
how he had brought a few thru hikers to his home to sleep there
for the night. His mother had always made plenty of food for her
family, but she did not know just how much thru-hikers could eat.
Even her generous helpings were nothing compared to what a hiker
could eat, and the thru-hikers devoured everything in sight. After
dinner Albie took them out to a restaurant for them to fill up.
(Long Pond from
(Pete headdon on
in the distance from from Barren Cliffs)
from Barren Mtn)
September 26th, 1983
We caught a glimpse of the big "K" today from one of the
peaks, and even forty miles away, as the crow flies, it was impressive.
I knew that there would be better shots of Katahdin as I got closer,
so refrained from photographing it.
and I are planning to arrive at Abol Bridge by early Friday morning.
Apple turnovers and coke are on my mind.
we once again crossed a river requiring a ford. I t was the Pleasant
River. As before, I took my shoes off just like the crossing yesterday,
but did not try to toss the boots across. I took off my boots because
by now they leaked when walking through anything more than a thimbleful
of water. As I was sitting on the south shore taking my boots off,
there were two southbounders that were walking through the final
bit of water on my side of Pleasant River with their boots on. Looking
over at their feet I saw that the water was beading up and rolling
off their boots. I asked one if his feet were wet. He laughed, and
said "no". His boots kept him perfectly dry. Intrigued,
I asked who made the boots because I saw no manufacturer logos on
the leather, and he told me that they were custom made by a man
named Peter Limmer who owned a shoe shop in Interval, NH. near the
White Mountains. (Years later I would find this man and make a special
trip to Intervale to have a pair custom built for me. My parents
bought them for me as congratulation present for completing the
after the river crossing I decided to make camp. I am staying at
The Hermitage, a patch of virgin forest, after a very short day
even though I am wired for The Big "K". The
Hermitage was an idyllic place to stay - with flat ground, water
and much to see, plus to me this was the quintessential adventure
experience that I had been looking for from my first steps in Georgia.
This place held me beyond all other considerations. It was a place
that in an earlier time I would have wanted to homestead. I believe
that I stayed here alone. Tracy took the picture of me Near the
junction of the Gulf Hagas Trail.
Runt" Anderson and A.T. fording the Pleasant River)
(Marcel at the
junction with the Gulf Hagas Trail)
September 27th, 1983
I woke up feeling lousy. I feel weak, tired and I developed a case
of the shits. I dont know what had happened to my GI tract,
but it was just like the trouble that I had down south. I dont
recall seeing anyone else on this day, and unfortunately may not
see my friends who hiked on farther yesterday. I did a "big"
eleven mile day over easy terrain, and almost died. I am staying
at Logan Brook Lean-To for the night, and hoping to recuperate.
September 28th, 1983
Another eleven mile day, and even at that almost didn't make it
the last three miles. I'm staying at Cooper Brook Lean-To tonight.
Unexpectedly, I caught up with Curt and Tracy. Concerned, they asked
if I wanted them to stay in the shelter with me that night, but
I told them to continue on their schedule. In the back of my mind
I knew that I had left Monson with several others staying on, so
I knew that the others were close behind and I had back up. I expect
Damien and Rich to be pulling in later on today.
gotten in around midafternoon, and once into camp I slept for the
most part. I was alone that night which I preferred. When I am ill
my body just wants to be left alone and quiet to recuperate.
I am having serious doubts about getting to Katahdin Campground
by October second, or if I can even climb "K" in this
condition. I was feeling depressed and stressed. Up until this time
I had several instances that I had scheduled rendezvous and had
padded enough time into all of them to successfully make those meetings.
This would be the first and most important and I was concerned that
I possibly would miss it. I could see my mother calling in multiple
search and rescue teams along with all law enforcement personnel
on the eastern seaboard to find me. Fear began to creep in. Why
couldnt this go well? Crap!! All I could do was push on.
I must average fourteen miles per day to be able to get to Katahdin
Campground on Saturday.
September 29th, 1983
Ya-hoo!! I felt great today and knocked off 19 miles. Dont
know what was wrong with me and could only speculate. I really don't
care, it is over and That makes me happy. I spotted a bear at Nahmakanta
Stream, but unfortunately he bolted off the second he saw me. Katahdin
showed its face twice today. My God what a monster!!
I got to the overlook in the middle of the deep wilderness and saw
a very expensive looking camera sitting on a rock and at first I
didnt know what to do. I yelled to see if anyone was within
earshot and was surprised when none answered. I dropped my pack
and pulled out my knife thinking that this might have been a scuffle
with a bear or a moose. The odd thing about it was that the camera
was clearly placed on a rock outcropping and not thrown so the likelihood
that an animal had chased someone or that it had dropped off of
a pack seemed slim. Once I had determined that there was nobody
in sight and there were no signs of a scuffle what to do with the
camera and who did it belong to? I was tempted to bring it with
me to Abol Bridge but what if the person that owned it came in from
other trail that I did not know existed? Abol Bridge was a long
way away so what are the chances that they would go there to look
for it? What if they went back to retrieve it and found it missing?
My good deed would have negative unintended consequences so I chose
to leave it there and made a mental note as to where I had found
later that day I ran into Albie hiking south and he asked me if
I had seen a camera. I answered in the affirmative and told him
exactly where he had left it. He was relieved that it was there
but of course was irritated that he had forgotten it. I felt stupid
for not have picked it up for it would have saved him some miles.
Rich and Alan caught up with me, and will be staying at the same
shelter tonight. Albie forgot his camera when he left a particular
overlook so he decided to backtrack to retrieve it, but will be
staying at Rainbow Stream Lean-To as well once he returns.
was a beautiful day. Only one small letdown: I remember a camp with
a road going to it. The road and the camp made this wilderness trip
seem less of a wilderness. Then, near one of the Ponds I came across
Old Antlers Camp, a small log camp that was all beat up and falling
down. Parts of the camp were located right next to the trail near
the pond. Wilderness at your doorstep.
the rocky shores of Pemadumcook Lake in the early morning. It was
shrouded in fog that clung tenaciously above the surface and the
quiet calmed my pace. I lingered there for a while wishing that
I could make my home there in the wilderness beside the quiet. This
place was quite different from The Hermitage yet they both shared
the same tranquility and remoteness. Reality intervened and my mind
realized that if I could live here, so could others, and that in
itself would ruin that which I would seek.
taking a break at Wadleigh Stream Shelter, I noticed a shelf fungus
with the writing on it as a decoration for the place, but cant
remember what it said on it.
One of the last "serious" climbs before Katahdin, Nesuntabunt
Mountain was a special place. While standing on the bluff, the hand
of man was not to be seen. Miles of forest, lakes and streams lie
before me in unspoiled magnificence.
at Rainbow Steams Shelter, I must say that this is a nice shelter
in a nice setting. I am baffled by the the light switch screwed
to a nearby tree and wonder what that is all about, but definitely
know it is surreal in this setting.
from Pemadumcook Lake)
on Pemadumcook Lake) (Katahdin
Range from Nesuntabunt Mtn)
from Nesuntabunt Mountain)
September 30th, 1983
easy fourtenn miles brought me to Abol Bridge where I am camping
tonight. When I came out onto the road at Abol Bridge I looked back
on the old worn 100 mile wilderness warning sign almost identical
to the one we passed just outside of Monson, and knew that I had
passed the test that began in Monson. The thought struck me that
it wasnt that difficult. I could have dug deeper if I had
to. Funny how once out of the fray optimism trumps pessimism - in
my mind at least. This section was one of my favourites. Vermont
and New Hampshire were beautiful, but they lacked the solitude that
only the primitive, unsullied vast forests of Maine can offer.
believe that it is Fall - it's 75 Degrees out!. The bugs are back
as a result and are driving me crazy!
I saw two moose early this morning, one bull on the trail, and one
cow feeding in a small pond. Now I feel complete. Moose and bear
are animals everyone hopes to see during their journey. I was hiking
alone when I rounded a corner and stopped dead in my tracks. It
was in a part of the forest that had many saplings only a few inches
in diameter. When I rounded the corner four of the saplings moved
in a very unnatural way each bending at one point rather than swaying.
My eyes followed the saplings up where they terminated into a massive
brown aggregation of flesh - a bull moose. I was about twenty five
feet away and he was massive with a huge rack. I froze for a moment
that seemed like an eternity. We stared at each other. I had never
seen a wild animal that big or that close, and I had no way to protect
myself if he decided to stomp on me. It was his house and I was
an unwanted guest. He broke the stare and began lazily feeding on
branches that I couldnt begin to reach. I wanted to keep going
but it was his house and he wasnt giving ground. There he
stood in the middle of the trail. He browsed, paying little attention
to me. Several minutes went by yet he made no attempt to move off
the trail so I would need to take the initiative. To my right was
a hill and I thought that going uphill would make it harder for
him to attack me should he decide that I was a threat. I slabbed
the side of the hill crashing through the brush and scratching myself
all over. Once I had successfully circled around his position I
dropped down on the trail to his north. Scratched, bleeding and
out of breath I looked one final time back at him and satisfied
that he had asserted his dominance he meandered off the trail and
disappeared into the bush. It was only a short time later that I
saw another male feeding in a nearby pond.
Now that I am out of it and reflecting upon it, I must say that
the the lakes region of Maine sure was pretty. Even though it's
warm, the trees colored in yellow, orange and deep crimson continue
to shed their leaves onto the waiting forest floor. Sure hate to
leave this beauty.
It's only ten miles to Katahdin Stream Campground where I will meet
everybody from home tomorrow.
are no other campers at Abol Bridge besides us thru-hikers. We stayed
at the AB campsite and bought a few things from the store.
in un-named pond)
on Rainbow Ledges)
sign for Southbound hikers going into 100 mile wilderness near Abol
October 1st, 1983
Last night the bugs stopped bothering me after dusk, and allowed
me to almost have a good night's sleep. It's too bad that the Raccoons
and Mr. Skunk didn't have the same consideration; they raised hell
This morning we had a breakfast of Sugar Crisps, and pancakes with
syrup. I dont remember if we ate in the store, or on the picnic
tables at our campsite. Eating a big breakfast was unusual for me.
Usually I ate a granola bar and would camel up on water before I
would tear into the trail ahead. Being near the store and only having
an easy ten mile slack pack I decided to award myself a full breakfast
preceding the short ten mile stroll.
After breakfast we slowly meandered into Baxter State Park toward
Katahdin Stream Campground. I figured that the people from home
would not be in until around 4:00pm so we hung out at Big Niagara
Falls for a while, and then hiked to Daicey Pond Campground. The
plan had been to meet at Katahdin Stream Campground, but somehow
they ended up at Daicey Pond Campground. I believe that the park
rangers told that I would pass by there first on the way to Katahdin
Stream Campground, so they took a chance and we met there first.
Just as I was ready to leave for Katahdin Stream Campground, Dia
ran up and gave me a welcome home kiss and hug. Mom and Dad followed
close behind. From Daicey Pond, we flew the next two miles in twenty
minutes. Wow!!! As Damien hiked the last half mile, which happened
to be a road walk, his mom and brother drove up to greet him. Alan
and I kept going to Katahdin Stream Campground.
We are all chipping in to rent a log cabin just outside of the park
this evening. When we got to the cabin, Harry (My brother) and Sonny
(My Cousin) were there waiting. Mom made a batch of "dynamite"
which is more or less an amped up sloppy joe, and all eleven of
us had a great time eating and talking. Trail tales were bandied
about - and of course plans were made for the morrow.
people that stayed at the cabin included hikers Paul (Damien) Nichols,
Alan Savage, Rich Kozon, and me. Others included Dia Black, Harry
(Harold) Montville (my brother), Eugene (Sonny) Berubemy cousin,
(who got me into hiking long ago), Francis Montville (Dad), Simone
Montville (Mom), and Pauls mother and brother (I dont
remember their names). Another surprise was, and I dont know
how they knew where we were, but Tracy and Curt stopped by and said
that they had summited the day before.
is the big "K".
(Baxter Park Tote Road)
(Little Niagara Falls inside Baxter State Park)
(Alan Savage at Little Niagara Falls)
(Marcel sunning near the falls)
(Marcel contemplating the completion of his journey)
(Katahdin from Daisey Pond)
(Katahdin from Perimeter Road)
(Richard Kozon fording Katahdin Stream)