I’m taking a full zero at the Sterling Inn. My pack has exploded all over the floor, onto the dresser, and the small nightstand in the corner. The scent of mold, mildew, and my own body odor have either dissipated in this ten by ten room, or I’ve become acclimated to it. More than likely the latter. At least everything is dry again.
I woke at 5am to say farewell to Jelly and her parents. They were kind enough to invite me to dinner last night. In the dining room down stairs we ate a simple meal of rice, beans and onions. I was quite grateful to be included in a small family dinner. Her dad kept the stories coming. Her mom, a fairly tightly wound woman, seemed to relax too. Her dad even showed me a “miserable while hiking” picture of Jelly, taken some five years previous. The thru-hiker equivalent of embarrassing baby photos!
Shortly afterwards Jelly and I wandered off to “check on the laundry.” Then we settled down for a little mission planning. She’s headed south across the Bigelows today, tackling the whole set in a single fifteen mile slackpack. We looked over the elevation profile together, and I pointed out some particularly technical stretches near Avery Peak and into Little Bigelow. The weather today isn’t stellar, but I hope she’ll get some views. It’s a beautiful section of trail.
When I woke this morning I felt anything but rested. With less than ten days to Katahdin, I decided to pack it in and regroup for a day. I might even be able shave the trip to seven days, and make up the lodging costs by needing three days less food. That old “rest to be your best” adage is true. The difficult parts of Maine are over though, with just 151.2 miles to the summit. Totally doable in a week.
Mentally, at this point, I am leaving the southern leg of the trip entirely open. Releasing the attachment to the full thru hike seems the best course for actually making it happen. When you think too hard about a massive endeavor, it often stifles the first step. Best to step first, and think later, even if that step is far in the future.
If I can find easy transit to the Long Trail northern terminus, I might swing over and finish the 177 miles I have left on that trail. If not, it’ll go on the bucket list. Maybe I can bag it next year?
Garrett, In A Day, Jelly, and Sage have all hiked most or all of the LT. Every LT alumni raves about it. I received hitches from two of them in Vermont, and most recently a proud papa in Maine. His son is currently half way through its 277 mile span.
For now, I have a date with a claw foot tub. Afterwards I am going to meticulously inspect, clean, and pack my gear. I’ll probably do my laundry again, then sleep. Glorious sleep.