Today, the plan was for 13.2 miles from South Arm Rd to ME 17, joined by Papa Monkey and Pigeon Toe. Given the longer distance, we opted for our shuttle to leave at 7 am. Unfortunately, my alarm didn’t wake me up, so I rolled out of bed a little after 6. Fortunately, I didn’t have much to pack, so despite the late start, I was ready by the time the shuttle was.
Cell phone reception being somewhat lousy, we arranged for a 3 pm pickup, but we should have reception once we get to the last peak of the day, so we’ll be able to call with an updated ETA then.
Continuing the recent theme of “one” significant mountain per day, we began our hike up Old Blue Mountain. Initially somewhat steep, it leveled out a little before a more moderately steep up and down around the peak.
After about five miles today, we stopped for a break at a conveniently placed viewpoint with a bench, before continuing on. Our second break was just under five miles later, just short of the Bemis Mountain Second Peak, where we called with an updated ETA of 4 pm.
During our second break, which we took sitting on a rocky clearing surrounded by lichen and short trees, we chatted with a kid going south. He and his family (mother, two sisters, and two dogs) were doing a section hike as part of a long educational/home-schooling exercise. He was “scouting ahead” for a campsite.
From there, the trail descended the mountain, steeply as it approached a small stream requiring fording, and then steeply climbing back up towards ME 17.
Shortly before the road, there was a great cache of trail magic: water, cupcakes, apples and oranges, and snack bags with assorted candy.
The trail crosses ME 17 just south of Height of Land scenic overlook, which provides a fantasic view of Mooselookmeguntic Lake. I got there around 3:30, and so had some time to kill taking in the view (and hanging out with other thru-hikers) before Papa Monkey and Pigeon Toe (who took a break at the trail magic) arrived at the overlook just as our ride back to Pine Ellis arrived.
Rather than eating again at the general store, I instead opted for dinner at the Little Red Hen restaurant, which was having an all-you-can-eat Italian special, which was very nice.
Back at the hostel, I arranged to be able to leave my car on the property, which solves the problem of what to do with the car, but opens up a new problem: how to get back here from Millinocket. I’ll solve that problem when I get there, though.
I spent the rest of the evening re-packing my gear, stuffing most of everything into two trash bags that will get driven up to Farmhouse Inn in Rangely tomorrow. I’m not particularly looking forward to giving up slackpacking, but tomorrow’s probably the last day I’ll be able to manage it before it becomes prohibitively expensive.