July 11. Woke up in our stealth camp around 7…I woke up earlier but I really didn’t want to move. I had slept for 10 hours but I felt like I needed to sleep more. Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up with a sharp pain in my big toes…is that bad? I don’t know, I think it is benitter than the first half of the trail when my big toes were numb! Rafiki finally made the call and we got up and started packing up camp. We headed out and a few miles down the trail I stopped at a small spring to get the trickle of water. If there is one thing I will miss from the trail it will be mountain spring water for sure! Once I hit an uphill I put on my music to take my mind off the hike. At the top we crossed a road with a bench that was looking out over a huge lake. We took a break and sat and watched a boat off in the distance. As we hiked on we passed another lake and from the hill I could see a few lake houses and it looked really nice to just sit and relax. By lunch I passed a sandy beach on a pond and found the shelter and took a break.There was a group of 13 boy scouts from Qubec setting up their tents at noon. They were all speaking French, we were getting really far north! Rafiki was there and we discussed plans and decided it had been a tough morning and that we should hike hard and get a ride into Rangeley for dinner. With that, I put my headphones in and pushed hard. Over the past 4 months I have passed a lot of different white blazes. Some have been on trees, some on wooden or metal posts, some painted, some metal strips nailed to trees, others painted on rocks. The AT is always changing and as the trees grow, so does the blaze. I have passed trees with brown or black paint covering extra large blazes, or trees where a top layer of bark had been cut out. Other trees with white blazes had fallen over, or some falled trees had been cut and white blazes were painted on the sliced section. No matter the style of blaze, my job is just to follow it! I stopped at the last lake campsite and got some prestine water from a spring. We hiked down to the road and put our thumbs up. What happened next changed my perceptions on hitching! A Subaru passed and slowed down…my first Subaru hitch! The lady brought us into town and dropped us off at the lake. We walked to the outfitter and asked several people about camping in town. We found out about a few places that were a mile walk to pay $10 to camp in someone’s yard and didn’t want to do that. We called the local hostel listed in Rafiki’s guide book…no answer, Google’d it, thd hostel was closed. Rafiki’s guide book is from last year, I think we will use mine from now on! We had an offer for free camping from our server, she said her family owned a museum in town…another mile walk. I am really getting sick of being homeless. In the woods it is ok, but in town is tough. We had to stealth camp at Pinkham Notch, here we considered stealth camping behind the post office or behind the tennis courts. It will be nice to finally have a place to call home again! We finally just called the Town and Lake Motel and got a hiker rate, picked up ice cream and beer, and checked in. It was an awesome room with a full kitchen setup, a real vacation rental. It backed up to the lake with great views. We settled in and got cleaned up before sleeping in real beds. Rangeley was an unplanned stop, but the mountains of Southern Maine were killing us and we really needed some more town time to recoup. It had been a 19 mile day, we hitched in from mile 1,963.8, with 220.4 miles to go.
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