Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Maine, Man

That's right. We are in Maine and it is outstanding here. The leaves are turning into the most intense reds and oranges I've ever seen them turn in my life. We don't really have season in the South. It's hot, hot, cold, and hot again. Not here. As a matter of fact, the highs here haven't gotten above 55 degrees the last couple days and may not the remainder of the trip. That's kinda scary. It's cold. Especially the nights. Fires are a must, which is nice because we want to soak up as much camping camaraderie as we can. We are currently in Rangeley, ME and will be going over SaddleBack tomorrow. If it's clear, it's supposed to be our first peak at Katahdin.
Not even 2 and a half weeks left as we are shooting for October 10th. 2 mail drops left, Caratunk and Monson. Then, we are there. What are we doing to get back? Renting a car and driving. First stop, NYC to get the compiled footage from Chesley. Next stop, Tennessee to get Belch home and see our sorely missed friends, Patch and Sully. Then, home. Then later on, maybe next year, kayak the Mississippi River. Time will tell.
We are excited to get home. We aren't excited to leave all this behind, but it'll be nice to get to sleep in a bed again. We can't wait to not have to unzip a tent to get up and pee in the middle of the night. We look forward to seeing our family and friends and telling them all the stories we've been apart of. And I know Chaser, as much as he loves hiking, is ready to lay down in his double doggy bed and sleep for weeks.
It'll be weird going back to warmer Louisiana. We've been through so many seasons out here. Winter in La, then the beginning of summer in La. Then spring in Georgia, then winter in the Smokies. Then summer in VA and NYC, now fall in ME. Then back to summer/fall in La. We have learned to just take what comes at us.
We got the new camera a week ago and it's working like a charm. We are feeling healed up and loving the Maine. Hiking is strenuous here. They say by the Whites, you are 80% done with the Trail but only used 20% of the effort. They were right. It's been some tough hiking.
After Lincoln, we made it to Gorham, NH to say by to Cavemom. Gorham was nice. It had an excellent free stealth camp spot that we took advantage of. From there the weather turned so we hiked out short to shelter. Our team was Belch, Caveman, D Flap, and us. Perfect. It was the next day we made it into Maine and things started really getting dicey.
Chaser has held up well on the Trail. People ask all the time and we are glad to say how awesome our dog is. However, not a half a mile after entering Maine, we got stuck at a steep, sharp spot. Fortunately, Belch was there to help. Throughout the day, there had been spots Chaser refused to try and hop down or was unable to climb up. But this spot was bad. It was tough for us. Belch and I basically forced him down and the poor thing shaved two claws down to the vessel and began spewing blood. Not good because there was a lot more of that to come. Fortunately, there was a shelter half a mile after that where we decided to stay to let him rest. We knew the next day we were going to be going up against the "hardest" mile on the AT. It's called the Mahoosic Notch and it's basically boulders thrown everywhere that you must climb up, over, and under. We initially thought it would be no problem for him but after that incident, we realized getting him out of tricky spots was gonna be tough.
It just so happened we stayed at the shelter with an old friend, Gluten Puff. It also happened that there was a road two miles from the shelter that led to the town of Berlin, NH. The same place Gluten Puff had stayed the night before with a very kind couple, Hugo and Lin. So, Reverie, in effort to not put Chaser through the Notch, opted to head to the road in the morning in hopes of staying with same couple. I was to go on and video the toughest mile on the Trail and meet her in Andover a day later. So, that she did. It was the first time we gone opposite ways. First time I was tent alone. First time for real separation.
After she left, Belch and I got going and right off the bat, it paid off, her taking Chaser. There was some wild rebar climbing up a mountain with some steep rock that we would have struggled figuring our how to handle Chaser. Later that day, we D Flap, Caveman, Belch, and I made it to the Notch and we were excited. It is also called the funnest mile of the AT. It depends on how you look at it. It takes many people two+ hours to complete it. It takes time, patience, balance, and skillful maneuvering. within the first 10 minutes, I fell pretty good, as did Belch, as did D Flap(all on video).  It was a fun challenge. Over, under, and through the loop we went though the obstacle course. It took us about an hour and a half including filming each other. I'd love to do it again WITHOUT a massive backpack. Afterwards, we climbed the hellish Mahoosic Arm. An intense 1600 ft ascent up a steep rock face.
It was uncomfortable and cold not sleeping with Chaser and Reverie. Lonely, really. I didn't like it. I went to bed early with a poor nights sleep. The next day I hiked into Grafton Notch which was a gorgeous hike. Finally, a comfortable downhill. Not just a jarring, knee-suffering, steep, carefully planned-stepping rocky decent. It was nice. Good weather, good filming. Nevertheless, it was time to get to Andover and get back to Rev and Chase. Special thanks to Hugo and Lin for awesome place to stay for Rev and the ride. Y'all are amazing!
We made it to The Cabin and enjoyed the country there. We slacked around until we got to Rangeley, where we've done more slacking. We hiked to a gorgeous Maine lake in the mountains yesterday where people donated some boats to go out on. So, we did. It was so pleasant, aside from being cold. We wish everyday had a lake in the middle of it.
Next step, off to Stratton for some more slacking. Carrying 55lbs is too much and my back hurts constantly. So, again, we slack when we can. People keep saying in 2 weeks the foliage here is going to blow our minds. And considering the fact that it already is, we are excited to see how much better it can get.
Home in 3 weeks. Maybe one more blog entry before then. We miss you guys. And congratulations to our friends who have already completed their hike: Purple Rain, Two Pair, Gerber, Onkles, Sling Blade, Tantrum, and soon, Suds and Bunny! Way to go guys! We miss y'all already!


Gotta keep Chase warm too

I'll Try!!!

The boys, High Life, Belch, Caveman, and D Flap playing wallball

Belch rolling a cig

Top of mountain bog walking


Caveman's map that got Rev and Chase to safety

Caveman and D Flap way up there


Where we were headed after first summit of Maine

Camera time

Belch climbing it

Mahoosic notch start

After the Arm


Lake of clouds

St. Benard on the Trail

Waterfalls we get to hike next to

Sketchy logs we must cross. This one is particularly dangerous

Loner clothes while washing


Hitchin' to and fromTrail

Height of the Land

Location:Manor Dr,Rangeley,United States

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