We woke up early as usual and headed to the main house for breakfast. We walked to the back room and took a seat at an empty table by the windows. As hikers trickled in to eat, we met a hiker named “Over It,” who looked familiar. After he introduced himself, we realized he had come into Cumberland Transit and introduced himself early in the spring. Next to the table came Grizzly, Cold Chill and finally Hawk. We realized that besides Hawk, everyone seated at the table was from Tennessee. We talked about the last section of trail and a few remarks were aimed at us as we were about to head into the one hundred mile wilderness. We tried not to feel cocky or over confident, but the name did not invoke as much fear into us as it did most of the hikers staring it in the face. Most of our sections on the CDT were over one hundred miles. We each tried to imagine these sections with more roots, rocks and rain. It did not seem entirely fun, but we were excited to be heading out into it.
After Breakfast, we rushed outside to throw our packs into the truck for the shuttle. There was a big group of hikers heading back to trail and we wanted to make sure we were among them. Once everyone loaded up, there ended up being two trucks full of hikers. For the most part, they were all heading south. We were the only ones headed into the 100 Mile Wilderness. As we rode up the winding roads to where trail crossed over, Poet addressed the hikers heading south. He reminded them that the big food carry was behind them. Heading into southern Maine they needed to treat each step like a couple overnight trips, trying carefully not the carry too much. The terrain was hard, but they were capable. His words spoke volumes yet were simple. The southbounders weary eyed from being thrown into the wilderness, most of them were in their first thru-hike, sat quietly in the back. For us, the words felt needed. It was both reassuring and our first reminder that we were thru-hiking and to take each day as it comes.
We all lined up and got a picture before heading to our perspective entrances of trail. Not too far down trail were we greeted by a wooden sign airing us caution on the terrain we were entering. Warning us of the 100 mile stretch. We took a picture of Milo by the sign and continued on. Rollercoaster climbs led us by Little Wilson Falls and through three different fords. As we climbed up on to a granite shelf, the first of the day’s popcorn thunderstorm appeared. We simply got out our umbrellas out not caring too much about the light rain.
We walked for a couple hours over roller coaster trail, forded a couple streams and even passed waterfall. As we walked across a giant scree field, the sky opened up and began pouring again. We saw a sign marking trail magic 0.2 miles down an old Jeep rode. It was dinner time and we were already thinking about food so we figured why not. We walked up to an old hunting cabin sitting alone in the woods. Scout, Birdman and their big friendly dog, Chasky, welcomes us onto the porch. Birdman started up the grill and asked us what we would like. Hot dogs and hamburger for Garbelly and a heaping plate of grilled veggies and potatoes for Critter. Milo even got some snacks and treats in between playing with Chasky. After dinner, biscuits and strawberries and a large dollop of whip cream on top. Milo and Chasky were having a blast chasing each other around the property. Milo with a little bit more agility and Chasky with more weight to knock around. At one point Chasky walked up to Milo who was sitting at Critter’s side, and starting love biting on the fur around Milo’s neck. Soft little nips to show his affection for his new pal. Milo froze in bewilderment. He has never had this happen to him before. When Chasky finished he wandered off to lay down. We were so lucky- Scout and Birdman were leaving tomorrow to head back to town. Any other day and the cabin would have been empty and the grill cold. Fed and happy, we thanked them profusely and headed back to trail.
We made the climb up Barren, a steep slope with little trail as we followed mud and rocks straight up. We found the perfect tentsite on a flat earth spot just above the Barren Slide, a rocky clearing. Our view from camp was incredible.
We could still see the Bigelows behind us in the distance.
With the slight chirp of frogs in Lake Onawa down below, everything else was quiet. The sun was setting in front of us. Purples and reds consumed the sky. There was very little human construction as far as our eyes could see. No lights in the distance except for the tail lights of a car winding through the trees. We were tucked away from the wind, but the evening air was still crisp and clean.
Here are a few more photos from the day!