Home Forums Outside Places 2019-07-04 TH – From trail to bike and blinded by malfunction

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    Udar Gromov

    In the middle of a dark night I had to get out of the hammock for a “crawl in the darkness”.  Very unusual and vary inconvenient in complete darkness with 2 other tents nearby.

    05:12 woke up with a big plan to finish hike today in Monson some 13 miles away.  And to continue to the bike back towards car.

    Even if day is +30°C hot, early morning is still chilly with pants and jacket desirable.

    06:12 first notes taken – I am already on the trail – very important business meeting in the woods.  There is no signal in his area.

    06:41 first significant water crossing with a rope that is too high in the air.  Mosquitos are attacking while you are crossing the river, and they land everywhere including the rope, and walking stick, and your ears and nose.

    08:13 – two hours into the hike I’ve reached the next shelter – Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to.  It means yesterday I would have reached this shelter only about 19:30 or even 20:00.

    08:18 – 09:03 I did not go up the side trail to the shelter.  Instead I unpacked all my things right here on the main trail.  I would eat Grape Nuts with trail mix in cold water – simply great!  Too much food is extra this time.  I was planning for a much longer trip.   Travel distances on today’s trail logically got broken down into sections: 4 miles already accomplished, plus 3 miles till next road and river crossing, and 3 more mile till side trail to Monson with all its attractions and temptations, and finally another 3 miles to the car.

    10:05 cross the river that was also marked as difficult for in a high water.  I just took off my socks and crossed in my sandals – another perfect Keen performance.

    10:44 I am in a sparse pine forest. I am taking a break in non-discreet location up from the water after all the road and water crossings. 7 miles complete, 6 to go. I am sitting simply on the ground, mosquitos are swarming, but they must deal with clothes and bug-spray.  iPhone signal is 1x, but nothing gets through – too weak.

    11:16 last text exchange on the iPhone with Lira.  I mentioned that I am on the way to the bike.

    12:07 I ‘ve reached lake Hebron, took all my clothes off.  I was getting ready for a swim, and here iPhone slipped out of hiking shirt breast pocket right into the water.  I picked it up immediately and turned it off.  But “Why me!” question did cross my mind several times. I constructed a small support to iPhone to dry it on the sun.  I began to ask hikers what to do, and they all would recommend putting it a bag of rice to draw out the remaining moisture.  Interesting.

    While hiking further, I came up with an idea to use dry pack from my meals.  They are still with me in a garbage bag.  Now I am traveling without GPS.  I intend to keep iPhone off for many hours.

    13:34 I am at a viewpoint facing toward 100-mle wilderness stretch and there is nothing indicating closeness of the road.

    14:13 water refueling by the brook.  Water is excellent here. According to the bends on the map, I should be about 1 mile away from highway.  It is nice in woods now, but it will be hot on the road on the bike.

    15:02 I am at the parking lot!  There is no signal and no Google here, but an older gentleman had topo maps preloaded on his phone, and I was able to lookup part of the path I need to take to move into direction of the car.  That was incredible help.  Usually, signal is very unreliable in these woods, so I prepared a turn-by-turn directions and email it to myself.  By now phone is off, and I have very vague idea where to go and where to make turns.

    Now it is Nikon camera turn to break.  I hit a power button while camera was still in the pocket, and I heard clicking noise – lens had no room to extent.  Camera still works, but I know I should fail soon.  And, by the way, this model – Nikon COOLPIX S9900 – has a built-in GPS and very rudimentary maps.  Amazingly, I used these maps to navigate the bike on the Maine backroads.

    15:40 bike is ready, backpack is strapped to the bike.  Water is at ready.  Sun is bright and hot.  Direction is clear.  There is about 29 miles back to the car.  I will be traveling from Monson, ME in Piscataquis County to Caratunk, ME in Somerset County. I hope that road on the border of 2 counties is passable or simply in existence.

    Road is clear and quiet. Not a lot of vehicles. People are outside enjoying the weather. I refilled my water with fresh cold water and even took a shower from the garden hose – thank you Willy, Sara, and little Kaitlin and Kevin from Shirley Mills. It was a welcoming and refreshing gesture.

    Road quickly lost its pavement, then turned coarse, then got dusty with hordes of ATV(s) and finally got bumpy, punctuated with deep puddles and protruding boulders.  Here the road is sheer rock slightly smoothed by heavy machinery.  It doesn’t even look like a road.

    17:23 I crossed the county border.  Now I know several things: I will reach route 201 just by moving forward.  Thank to ATV(s) this road did not died down.  ATV(s) need roads like this.  And they drive on the very, very secondary roads like this, and kind of maintain them by using them.  Great! This road is on the ATV road map and it will be getting only better deeper into the county.

    17:44 Deep and wide pools of water on the road. I barely have place to step while walking my bike through it.

    Now, I am looking for a place to crash.  Preferable with a brook nearby.  But I have 2 bottles of water with me.  A can break camp anywhere.

    18:08 That is it.  I am tired, and I made a turn into a side alley. Apparently, it was a side road in the distant past but looks like no one took this alley lately.  I am tired but exited. My knees are performing well.  No pains or aches. An I still have couple of hours till darkness.

    After careful deliberation and selection process, I hang a hammock in a greenish nook.  I had to free backpack from the back of the bike.  I will reattach everything back tomorrow.

    19:43 Lentil soup is ready. I am spreading on a tarp in the middle of the former road or a small field. My back is really craving rest. No one is around.  I do not even hear any passing cars off a dirt road.  For dessert I have a TRUE vegan bar from cafeteria in Connecticut.

    20:49 I am inside the hammock and finishing my notes of the day. There are couple of black flies inside -snap, snap – and hordes of desperate mosquitos outside, but they will go to sleep soon.  It is warm in the wood.  Very warm. Unusually warm. But, in a few hours it will be chilly, and sleeping bag is still a very desirable thing at night.

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