2018-09-24 at 17:03 #6402Udar GromovKeymaster
2018-09-03 Monday – 5 miles hike + 27 miles bike ride back to my car
03:49 first look at the clock
06:51 wake up
07:21 first pictures of the day – large hammock next to mine
08:23 pictures by the shelter. Everyone already gone
09:13 reached appendix to climb 150 yards to Spaulding Mtn.
09:18 at the top of Spaulding Mtn – 3,988 ft.
09:56 historical plaque commemorating completion of AT on 1937-08-14
10:41 trail opens-up with many views into the valley
10:46 split to climb Sugarloaf Mtn – 2.3 miles remain to Caribou Pond (or Valley) Road
11:09 catch up with family of four – they move together and slower today
11:16 catch up with older couple – everyone in a great mood
11:52-12:24 I am at the river – 5 miles are behind me. Bathing and snacking here. What a wonderful life!
I am at Caribou Pond Road – 2,246′
12:29-12:51 (0 miles) Setting and loading the bike. Everything is in order. 27 miles are ahead of me. Can I do all these miles today?
13:30 (2.2 miles) First hour of the trip – after several miles of descent road there is a bridge (across Caribou Pond tributary) and the road pretty much ends
13:45 (2.5 miles) several minutes after the bridge I’ve seems reached the top point of the path – 2,802′. Road is down to a narrow path interrupted by frequent washouts. Bugs begin their attack. I use bug spray for the first time.
14:11 (3.2 miles) I am under a bug attack. Nevertheless, I took time to record in my notebook: Caribou Pond Road has ended very quickly and only memories remains now. It is sunny, but clouds are gathering for promised PM thunderstorms. They are now 80% likely. Bugs. Bike rear brakes screeching from a small debris trapped between rubber and rims. At this spot road makes a turn away from remains of Caribou Pond road into even more obscure unnamed fathom of a road.
Most difficult portion of the move – completely no road, just a hint. Large boulders on the ground prevent any meaningful movement forward with bike loaded with 30 lb. backpack. On this most horrible section my speed is down to 0.6 mph. My average speed here is 1.5 mph. Terrain overgrown with bush and small trees. Steep upward incline. Impassable washouts, not even a hint of a path. Bugs attacking from every angle, and my hands are occupied pushing the bike over vegetation and hidden boulders. Feet are completely wet, but that is hardly noticeable now. Should I turn back? And then what – another 40 miles of endless highway? Let’s try to push forward for just a bit longer. It should eventually end sometime.
14:59-15:08 (4 miles) true top of the path finally reached – 3,104′.
bike picture with backpack and walking stick still attached.
15:04-15:07 (note in the log) Seems absolute worst is over. I am now on a stretch that used to be Appalachian Trail (AT) at some distant past. Sky is covered with thick clouds. Cell signal can’t just get through. I am covered with bug spray. I practically carried my bike and my backpack here at this height 3,104′
15:38 (5 miles) Time take a breather and put on a dry pair of socks. I think I am through the worst – 3,038′. Good views. Slight rain. Road seems OK. Water is almost over. All is good.
16:08 (5.5 miles) Large open space. Time to drop my walking sticks. They are interfering with the progress. Farewell the sticks – you helped me a great deal.
Road is going steep down, so I must use breaks if I can ride at all. High pressure in bike tires make any bump on the road “memorable”, but my average speed grows to 3.8 mph.
16:35 (7 miles) old washed out bridge is reached. I was here around 1PM yesterday -2,316′. New hopes and dreams. Thunder is rolling from afar. Almost no rain. Per Google there are only 20 miles (or 1h 53 min) remain till car. Now I think I am on a marked snowmobile trail. Path is overgrown, but only with grass, not bushes.
16:59 – 17:08 (8.4 miles – 1,954′) Amazingly, I see a parked car from ME. I’ve reached a road that is drivable by a normal car. iPhone shows low battery, but I have a charger. Google tells that I can reach destination (19 miles) by 18:53 today.
~17:30 rain finally stars in earnest. I must stop and put on a poncho. Backpack already has a rain cover on.
18:07-18:39 (16.5 miles – average speed on the last section – 8 mph – below 1000′) I see a paved road. I see a street with a name (Reed Mill road), but I need to continue forward towards the highway. It is still unpaved and still bumpy. At least it is down. Here at the river I am taking a snack, start charging the phone, take pictures of freshly emerging sun. Life is good. Especially after terrible fast but very bumpy ride along the river. I was riding and yelling at the top of my lungs blaming the people for having such a terrible, such a gut-wrenching road here. [18:14 – last note in the log for that day; 18:39 – last picture before journey completion]
There were no open businesses, not cars, no activity on back roads all the way to route 4. Not a single moving car on the road.
19:00 reached the lowest elevation and begin slow ascent back up very close to junction of ME route 4 and Toothaker Pond Rd, Phillips, ME. About 7 miles remains to get to the car.
19:51 set a nameless way-point on the side of the road. I can’t find bike front light. This light is great and bright, but it is not in bike front bag. Did I lose it? Did I charge it and forget to pack it? Now I must improvise. For a front light I will use my head lamp from the hiking set. To utilize my back light, I need free bike blinking light from saddle post, untangle it from safety strings and attach somehow to the back of my bulging backpack. I have one more light: powerful iPhone charge battery has a built-in light. Ingenious! Attach that too. Now I will be visible to seldom cars in the dark. But can I actually do remaining 6.2 miles on the highway?
20:00 around this time (unannounced) heavy rain begins. I must get all my rain gear back. I need to cover backpack and myself. It is getting seriously dark now.
To protect my equipment, I remove poncho and cover my bike and stuff with it. Rain doesn’t matter to me, but equipment (like iPhone and camera) do not like the wet.
I can’t really check the time. Everything is wet. Often, I do not have enough energy to climb the road on the bike. I walk the bike, but I would not stop. Only forward, no matter how slow.
I am afraid to miss the car in the dark. I will check one more time. To check my location, I need to stop, dive under the rain cover and check my GPS location. It is 2.2 miles left. I figure, even if it is 20 minutes a mile, I still can make in 40 minutes now.
Last 0.6, 0.4, 0.2 miles are super hard. It is so dark that I am afraid to miss my AT parking lot. I must complete the last few hundred yards.
21:08 – 21:21 in a complete darkness, completely wet, but happy I roll the bike up into AT parking lot. There is no need to hurry now. Everything played out well. I will remove all my super wet clothes and put them in an empty cooler to prevent ruining the car. Car is like a home. There is no food, but there is dry clothes, brush, dry boots and plenty of gas. All right! +20.5°C
21:47 first pictures inside the car. I changed clothes, turn on the warmth and ready to drive over 200 miles back home. ETA – 01:37 AM. There is nothing to eat in the car. And unfortunately, Walmart in Mexico, ME closes too soon on Labor Day – at 10 PM.
23:10 – gas station is open in Canton, ME. I can buy some bars and even ice cream ($6.40). I can add some air for tires. Rain has stopped and is no longer a factor.
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