Oh, how I adore October! The beautiful colors that waft from the trees and blanket the trail, the crunching of leaves beneath my boots, the crisp air, the sound of the wind through the naked trees, the curious squirrels with their mischevious stares and full cheeks and bellies.
Last night, it did not freeze with the absence of sun. To the contrary, I found myself removing my gloves and hat and lifting my head from the hood of my sleeping bag in search of cool air.
I rose late, anyhow. But I cared not. I am brilliantly happy, enlivened, filled with childlike wonder, and excited to climb the Bigelows.
Just a couple of miles in to my hike I came to a spur trail that led to a lovely view of Horns Pond.
As I returned to the trail, I crossed paths with a hiker I am quite fond of, who I continue to see at the most random of places. We have a similar hiking pace and lots to chat about (they also hiked the PCT in 2016), so we continued on the journey over the Bigelows together.
The views were fantastic. The day, beautiful and clear.
Many of the hikers I had seen that day had planned to camp at the Safford Notch Campsite, just before Little Bigelow West Ledges and Little Bigelow Mountain.
As darkness covered the forest and the stars began to dance in contrast, I fell out of step with my hiking partner. I was beginning to grow weary. I stopped for a break by the junction to the campground. Then, they appeared again. “Ready to night hike!?” they stated cheerily. I smiled. Earlier in the day we had discussed night hiking. It certainly was a beautiful night for it.
I took a few bites of peanut butter tortilla and chased it with a caffeine pill. I stood. “Alright! Let’s do this.”
On, we went.
The stars shone brilliantly above the ledges. The moon was heavy and bursting with magical light. The wind blew in heavy gusts, poking fun at our balance as we moved precariously along jutting slabs of stone. We often stood and gazed, shutting off our headlamps to bathe in the natural light.
Oh, what joy!
We then trodded down the north side of Little Bigelow, crossed a logging road, and came to a parking lot at East Flagstaff Road. The parking lot was next to an official campground. The campground was located 20 trail miles from the Kennebec River, where we both hoped to camp the following night.
Sore with satisfaction, I made my way to a flat spot tucked between some trees, yet still open to my beloved night sky. There, I drifted in to sleep.