I planned today as a slack pack, going north to south along the AT. The idea was to take only a day pack, leaving the rest of my gear at the Stratton Motel. This approach would increase the likelihood that I could successfully negotiate the last of the very difficult sections of the AT in southern Maine. Chris, the motel manager, drove me and the three Alaskan hikers to our respective drop off locations. I started hiking at 7:30 am, which is late for me. I gained 800 feet of elevation hiking Little Bigelow Mountain, then the trail leveled for a mile, followed by an 800-foot drop to Safford Notch.
On the subsequent 1,800- foot climb to Avery Peak, I found a 15-year old boy sitting by the trail. He wasn’t lucid and said he didn’t feel good. I gathered that his sister had gone ahead, leaving him there. I hiked on hoping to catch up with the sister and tell her to get back down the mountain to her brother. I found her at the top of Avery Peak picking blueberries. She seemed indifferent to her brother’s plight. In any event, I enjoyed the view from the summit (see photo).
The AT dropped down 400 feet to an old cabin where I ate lunch. After lunch, my hike ascended up 400 feet to Bigelow Peak West, with more scenic views of huge lakes. Another drop and ascent took me to the Horn. On the way I ran into Space Rocket who was doing okay hiking with his full pack. From the Horn, the AT descended for 5 miles to ME 27. Some of the descent was steep, but my legs held up thanks to carrying my light day pack. I reached the highway in high spirits and found trail magic. I downed a cold soda and made a PBJ sandwich. Chris picked me up and soon I was in my motel room taking a shower. I passed the test of the Bigelows. Other hikers say that the going is less difficult ahead; I fervently hope so.
August 3rd : East Flagstaff Road to ME 27, 16.7 miles