Fog socked in the mountains surrounding us as we checked out of the Royalty Inn. We loaded up and headed down the street to Welsh’s for breakfast. Tarzan met up with us for breakfast and even joined us as we made one last stop at Walmart for chips, tortillas and SmartWater bottles.
Garbelly met Tarzan in 2015 while wondering along the Pacific Crest Trail. After hiking a couple hundred miles together, Tarzan had to get off trail, but in 2016 they met back up to hike the Cumberland Trail in Tennessee.
The trail crossed over Hwy 2 leaving the Rattle River Trail becoming the Mahoosuc Trail. M.E.’s dad pulled into the parking lot. We packed our packs one last time before throwing them over our backs and extending our trekking poles. Milo suited up in his harness and pack and possibly then realized he was going with us, even though he still didn't know what that entailed. We said goodbye and started walking down the road. We came up on our first white blaze of trail, one of many we will see.
We walked the road for the first part allowing Tarzan to joke that us CDTers started with the longest AT road walk. We crossed over the Androscoggin river before heading left onto a dirt road. Milo was so excited and pulled tightly on his leash. Trail started to climb as it would for most of the day. On top of the ridge line, the trail began to follow a granite path cut through thick lichens and moss. As it descended, rotting boardwalks led through alpine bogs full of a large number of plants we couldn't identify. Of those we could, trillium, trout lilies and small weather twisted pines rose from the mossy marsh below. The familiar trees that made up this new-to-us world were cherry, birch, beech, pine and maple. We descended back into the dense forest. Trail was wet and muddy. A large boulder sat to the right of trail with flakey lichen covering the top. It appeared as if it would turn to moths and they would all fly away leaving bare, cold granite.
The climbs were steep and without trail legs, we moved slowed, navigating the steps and our balance under the weight of a pack. We had lunch on top of a granite bald, but the mosquitoes didn't let us sit there for very long. The mosquitoes were extremely bad and no matter how quickly you climbed they seemed to be there as soon as you stopped to catch your breath. It was easy to inhaled a few, so we tried to remember to breathe through our noses. The others stuck to dive bombing our eyes causing us to flinch. When we arrived at Gentian Pond, there was already a full shelter, so we tucked away on a tent site. We had a few hours before the rain was expected to set in. We cooked food enjoying a meal with Tarzan. Milo tucked under a small sapling with his feet curled up like a fawn and even though he tried to fight sleep it quickly set in.
Our tent neighbors laughed and yelled and even started to sing at some point during the night. Camping around people may be something we have to get used to having been rare to nonexistent on the CDT. We are looking forward to what tomorrow has in store for us.