AT 2022 – Day 15: 10.4 miles (165.6 miles total)

Some teenage boys were making a racket into the early hours last night. Kids!

I still felt rested when my body gave me the early morning wake up call, and I took advantage of the showers to scrub another layer of funk off.

The plan was breakfast, hitch to resupply, and then hitch to the trail. Over blueberry pancakes Hero suggested seeing if the Sterling Inn down the road could give us a ride (the have shuttles for guests) and once we saw they offered a full resupply too, I called and made the arrangements. We had 45 minutes to eat. Pack up camp and be back at the lodge for the van. Ok, go time!

And we made it with minutes to spare. Resuppy options at the Sterling Inn were perfect….some of these little hostels or hotels will create micro stores for hikers with everything they might need. It’s a win win. The hostel makes a lot more money off hikers who stay there and keep remembering things they need (or want). The hikers don’t have to hitch or move. These places also often feed you things like mass quantities of pancakes (I missed that feast at Shaws in Monson).

Then, the trail. We rode with Puddle Duck (one of the hikers I had been hiking around during the past week). She had gone into the Sterling Inn to resupply while Owl and their dog Smokey waited on the trail.

Then, ferry time! Fording the Kennebec River can be dangerous because un-timed dam releases upstream will unleash torrents that can raise the river 2-4 feet instantly. Hikers have died trying to cross, so there is a canoe ferry for hikers to get across in a sanctioned “aqua blaze.”

Hero and I loaded packs into a canoe, our oresman was a boater dude who mostly works as a raft guide in the summer and liftie at Sugarloaf Ski Area in the winter. We talked Oregon rivers as he paddled us across. I tipped him some PBR money when we got out, and he said it would probably be Modelo money instead (Modelo beer is better when warm).

The hiking was good. We followed a series of waterfalls up and when on top, ran into Bob, the trail maintainer for this section. We were near Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camp…which offers hikers lemonade during the day and some of those AT pancakes in the morning. A shelter on Pierce Pond (appropriately named Pierce Pond Shelter) was the ideal spot for hikers to camp at night, and then walk over for breakfast in the morning.

Bob took us up to the lodge, which offers cabin rentals…I want to come back!…for a look at the place. It was a rustic log cabin with the feel of history. We sipped ice water and got a tour of the place. The windows overlooked the bridge we had just walked over, and upstream, a waterfall. Just about as idelic as they come. The porch hung high off the forest floor and hummingbirds flitted about in the trees and flowers. Ahhhhh.

It was not a surprise when Hero said he wanted to camp here and eat pancakes in the morning. He actually said that later after we got to the shelter and he had gone swimming in the beautiful lake… I was eating my cold pizza at the time. I wanted to carry on, so we said our goodbyes. We will surely see each other again down the trail, for that is the way of the trail.

I lumbered through the forest, wearing my chacos again. They just feel so good and I like having my feet out.

I crossed paths with another new hiker, a retired nurse from Tennessee who was finally able to take the time for a long hike. She was hiking solo and I enjoyed talking with her as we continued to leap frong each other. (She stops for a break, I pass her. I stop for a break, she passes me, and so on).

I caught back up to her (completely spacing her trail name right now), and we walked along the shore of another pond (really the size of a lake). We talk and she finds a campsite, so decides to stop. I carry on and pass Puddle Duck, Owl and Smoky making camp, say my hellos, and keep going. When the trail turns into the forest I decide to try and find a spot too. There is a lake and views!

And then I am reminded that this is the land of the leech. I watch them poke around in the rocks after I took a carefree dip in the pond. Shudder. Hero and I googled leeches last night on wifi…they have sharp teeth and will drink from mammals, fish, birds, and even other leeches. Akkkkk!

Dinner is ramen.

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