Saturday, September 23, 2017 (Day 144)
Again, I rose with my sleeping mat askew. I did not want to rise, but rise I must.
The weather was amazing, the trail picturesque.
I came to a pond. I sat beside it. The breeze felt cool off its waters. I sipped hot coffee and reflected. I did not want it to end.
It was time to climb Old Speck, Maine’s 3rd highest mountain.
The climb was steep and challenging. I turned and gazed. The mountains rolled off in to the distance.
Soon another hiker came up behind me. I stopped to let them pass. “I’m moving at full speed”, they replied. I laughed. We started chatting. The conversation was interesting and heart-felt. We got on well.
We reached ME 26 at Grafton Notch. Another hiker was sitting in the parking lot enjoying a beer. A young man offered us each one as well. “Thanks”. The can was cold and perspiring. I sat on a patch of dirt and sipped and chatted. Buzzing from the IPA, the three of us continued along the trail in unison. The two of them stopped at the Baldpate Lean-to, I continued on.
I crossed over Baldpate West Peak and down through an alpine bog. Then I ascended once more to Baldpate East Peak, a large and open summit comprised of large stone slabs. In its vastness, it was slightly challenging to navigate in the dark. I relied on the stone cairns to guide my way. The night sky was deep and dark and clear, the stars vibrant and radiating. If it were not for the bone-chilling wind, I would have considered sleeping beneath the starlight.
I continued on, descending down the north side of the Baldpate’s East Peak. After about half a mile, I came to a nice tentsite just before Little Baldpate.
I settled in comfortably, reasoning that a nice shielded camping spot may lend itself to an early rise. Within the cover of trees, I should be left no need to hide in my sleeping bag from the early morning mountain chill.