Loons called and sang several times during the night. Lazarus and I were up early and on the trail at 6am. He passed me quickly. The trail climbed slightly for a bit then gently descended for 6 miles to the West Branch of the Piscataquis River. Many stretches of trail were smooth and free of rocks or roots. What a treat! After rock-hopping across the river, the trail followed the river downstream- going up over cliffs and down to tributaries. The small bumps in the guidebook elevation trace looked trivial but weren’t. Just before the Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to at mile 9, I ate lunch at 9:30 am because I felt weak and my stomach growled ferociously. I need to eat more in town and on the trail.
At 11 miles I rock-hopped the East Branch of the Piscataquis River and headed uphill, gaining 300 feet of elevation. The ups and downs moderated. In several miles, I chose to leave the official AT south of Monson in favor of the historic AT, which runs directly into town. This eliminated the need to hitch into town on ME 15. I arrived at Shaw’s Lodging (see photo) a lot more tired than I anticipated this morning. After getting a bed, I cleaned up and drank a quart of chocolate milk. Lazarus and I decided to take tomorrow off and arranged four slack packs in the Hundred Mile Wilderness starting the day after. At dinner, I ate 6 of 8 pieces of a large pizza and gave Lazarus the other two. A day of rest should help keep my swollen left ankle from getting any worse, plus I can eat a lot.