We woke at 3:30am. We did it on purpose. Today we wanted to hike.
Nineteen miles ahead lay the Kennebec River and the road crossing for Caratunk, ME. We needed to reach the Kennebec before 4:00pm. The only way across this river is via canoe – and the ferry shuts down early in the afternoon.
We wanted to reach the Kennebec by noon – if we hiked hard, covering those nineteen miles shouldn’t be a problem. We quickly packed up – we didn’t have the same problem with dew that we had the night before.
We scoured the elevation profile extensively before we left – I’m pretty sure we haven’t seen this level an elevation profile since we started hiking together. We were on the trail at 4:10am, hiking in the dark.
I had cell service so we listened to music as we hiked. We stopped only twice for quick breaks – once at the West Carry Pond Lean-to to use the privy, then again at the Otter Pond stream. It wasn’t Greyhound that wanted the break – it was me. I was exhausted and thirsty. It was only 11:00am and we had already hiked sixteen miles.
We stopped for nearly an hour. I set up a makeshift “trail magic” station for hikers who may be behind us. A hiker, Lumberjack, finally came through. And he missed it!
I called out that he should turn around – as soon as he saw the gummy bears, he dove in and ate them right off the branch! It was pretty funny. He left – Greyhound and I kept relaxing. I can’t remember the last time I had done this many miles before noon.
After crossing a small footbridge, we finally reached the Kennebec River at 12:45pm. We walked down to the shore. We waited for the ferry (really just a guy in a conoe) to paddle over from the opposite back. He beached the canoe and, after signing our releases, Greyhound and I hopped aboard.
It only took a few minutes to cross the river – what a neat experience! Greyhound and I were officially “aqua-blazers”. We made our way up to the road crossing and, since it was so early in the day, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch. We stuck out our thumbs and started trying to hitch to an outdoor center a few miles away.
About 30 minutes later (we were determined), a van from the outdoor center picked us up. Greyhound and I walk inside only to find a hiker sitting at the bar. He didn’t look good. He had just completed a ridiculous food challenge – he ate a huge (and I mean HUGE) burger and fries in less than half an hour. I walked him outside – sweat was pouring down his face. He ended up puking in the bushes next to the center and promptly left. At least his meal was free!
Greyhound and I sat down and ordered regular-sized burgers, chips and guacamole, and fried pickles – the food was great! We were hoping to buy snacks at the outdoor center, but the available options were slim. After lunch, we walked outside, expecting a difficult time getting a hitch – instead, we were picked up right away by a local and her dogs.
We explain our desire to find a place that sold snacks – she ended up dropping us off at the Sterling Inn, a hiker-friendly inn/B&B/hostel that maintains a small hiker store. The building was beautiful! We bought an assortment of affordable snacks and were even given a ride back to the trailhead by the owner.
While our plan was to hike an additional six miles to the Pleasant Pond Lean-to, we decided to stealth camp in the woods near the Kennebec. We set up camp and waited for sunset.
Greyhound was updating her journal so I decided I’d hitch back to the outdoor center and buy dinner – the allure of a decent meal can be very strong.
Even though the sun was setting, I caught a quick hitch to the outdoor center and ordered a Cuban sandwich with fries and a meatloaf dinner to-go. As soon as the food was ready, I was out the door – it was getting dark and my chances of getting a hitch were looking slim. Luckily, a teenager quickly pulled over and scooped me up.
I finally got back to camp around 9:00pm – Greyhound was already asleep. I ate half of both dinners before crawling into my tent to go to sleep.