Outside Monson

Monson, Maine

July 17. We woke up before 6 AM…we were heading into Monson today for a resupply. The hike was going to be a mostly flat 9 miles. We made it to another swollen stream and people were camped out on both sides because last night the water was moving fast and it was chest deep. They all jumped up when we arrived to see how the ford would go for us. JD started across first, and then Rafiki. They both made it and then I forded the stream. The water was moving quickly and I was waist deep again on slick rocks. It was another interesting crossing but I made it too. We hiked the rest of the way to town in the rain and made it to the road by 9:30 AM. In 23 hours we had hiked around 37 miles, that was great! We tried to hitch in the rain and finally a guy in a pickup truck stopped for us and it was a wet ride into town. We needed to resupply food, pick up mail drops, and Rafiki’s tent pole snapped last night. We had a lot to do, and it was raining…it would be easy to stay in town but we really needed to keep moving…I checked the weather and it showed severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and possible hail overnight…gezz. The three of us paid for a ride from Shaw’s Hostel to a nearby town with an outfitter. As we rode in the car the pouring rain outside made me think about was how nice it would be to be home, dry and out of the elements. I picked up food from the grocery store, it was nice to have a market selection rather than doing a resupply in the gas station in Monson. We headed to the outfitters and I found a Sea To Summit fleece thermal sleeping liner. My 15 degree sleeping bag is over 3 lbs, more than 50 ounces, and I am worried about the extra weight holding me back from pushing some good miles in the wilderness. The fleece liner, though not as warm, is only 20 ounces…so I will save a good 2 lbs by sending home my sleeping bag, the compression dry bag, and a few other loose items…hopefully that will lighten my pack load! I looked for a new pack as well, but there were no ultralight options. I am less than a week from the end but I still cannot stop thinking about dropping pack weight. We headed back to Monson and walked down to the Lakeshore House Hostel for JD’s resupply. I arranged my food, plugged in my electronics, and changed out my sleeping bag and made a pile to send home. I sent home my 15 degree sleeping bag, my cold weather gloves, my last pair of underwear, some straps and rope, some plastic bags, my journal, and the dry bag for my sleeping bag.  Rafiki and I walked to the post office while JD threw in the laundry. All in all, I sent a large flat rate box to my mom’s house.  It weighed 5 pounds 3 ounces. Let’s guess the stuff sack for my fleece liner weighed 2 ounces, and the post office worker weighed a large flat rate box for me, 9 ounces. That means that I sent home a good 4.5 pounds of gear I was carrying…and since my new fleece is 20 ounces that means I dropped 3.25 pounds here, not bad! That is well over 1 day’s food weight I don’t have to carry! We all have a lot of food for the 100 Mile Wilderness, but we are planning to work hard and get through it quickly. We ate lunch at the pub and packed in calories with burgers and fries. Normally I like hanging out in a pub relaxing, but today, even with the storms outside, I just really wanted to get back out on the trail and get it done! Unfortunately, the weather forecast was for severe thunderstorms from 4 PM to midnight and then by 6 AM there would be clear skies from now until we summit Katahdin. I didn’t want to take another night off, but if we left now we would most likely walk in rain, set up camp in rain, and only make it about 10 miles. If we stayed we could get another good meal for dinner and get a good start on the trail in the morning, dry and well rested. We decided to stay in town again…I have stayed in more towns in Maine than I visited from Pennsylania to New Hampshire! JD and I sat in the pub with some Shipyard beers and Rafiki got some ice cream. We met several other northbounders and southbound hikers. We caught up with the other Tarzan here as well as some other NoBo hikers I had been chasing. One asked me my name, I said Tarzan.  He looked at me with a condescending face and said “Why would you choose the same name as another hiker on the trail? The other guy has been Tarzan since the begining.”  Well, nice to meet you too. After that introduction I didn’t talk with him much. We ordered dinner in the pub and tried to get one last full meal in our systems before the wilderness. By 7 PM the rain hadn’t really started…and we were bummed about not being on the trail.  Everyone kept saying the tornado force winds would come in later in the evening. As we sat and waited for our food a group of hikers we had not seen since early in The Whites showed up…that made us feel very, very slow. Rafiki said if Master Splinter or August showed up next he was grabbing his pack and hiking out tonight in the tornados. We were all frustrated with the low miles we have been hiking on town days, so we were looking forward to pushing hard tomorrow. I had been sitting in the pub for the entire afternoon and my body was starting to hurt from sitting inside all day. We headed back to Shaw’s and I set up my air pad on the floor between the two beds.  At 9 PM when the daylight faded there was still no tornado…bummer. We were all pretty down about wasting most of a day in town, getting caught by lots of hikers we had last seen a week or two ago, and listening to the forecast about the weather. This has happenend to me several times, and time after time the storm is never as bad as predicted, I should have learned by now! We were planning to get up early, have coffee, and take a shuttle to the trail before everyone else wakes up for breakfast.  It had been a very short 9 mile day…we ended the day at mile 2,069.7, still 114.5 miles from Katahdin. We havve our work cut out for us in the next few days…

From Monson we hike through the 100 Mile Wilderness, then into Baxter State Park, and then up Katahdin. Once in the wilderness I may not be able to update my blog until I finish the trail. The tentative plan is to enter the park on Friday night or Saturday morning at the latest and summit Katahdin on Saturday. Only a few more days to go, we are getting excited!

Monson Packs

Monson Sign

Monson Hostel

Outside Monson

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

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