Appalachian Trail Mile 2078.3

Thursday, October 5, 2017 (Day 156)

I woke before the sun, contemplated hiking, and closed my eyes once more.

Hours later as my eyes fluttered, eyelids aglow with the light of the sun, I heard heavy splashing.

I had passed a tent last night. It was pitched at the banks of the south side of the river. They certainly are making a lot of noise,  I thought to myself. Fording was not even necessary.

The loud splashing continued.

Still tucked inside my sleeping bag, I sat up at a 90 degree angle. In that very moment, I beheld a large black bear heave its heavy body in to the river and begin swimming–rather swiftly–in my exact direction. I was in awe. What a spectacular sight!

As I lifted my phone to take a picture, I must have startled it. The large beast came to an abrupt stop mid-stroke, made an about-face, and lumbered off hurriedly in the direction by which it came. It was bear hunting season in Maine. I had not seen a bear since Virginia.

Amazing.

Now, to make it to the town of Monson. Monson was just 6.7 miles away.

After passing Lake Hebron and various streams and dirt roads, I came to Route 15.

It was early afternoon. I stood no more than 10 minutes, thumb extended, before an SUV armed with two soft spoken, silver haired ladies, pulled over to grant me a ride.

“Oh, thank you!” I said with glee, as they popped the trunk for my pack.

It was a quick ride in to town. They dropped me off at the general store and bid me farewell.

I made myself comfortable in the stores outdoor seating area, plugged in my things, and stepped inside to resupply.

The store was small, but contained everything I needed, including fantastic fresh coffee.

I returned outside and began the repackaging process, swallowing large quantities of caffiene in between each redistribution.

I made small talk with locals. The ones who had experienced the trail were especially encouraging, and eager to share their knowledge.

As the sky began to melt in to a soft display of pastels and pinks, it was time to find my way to the trail.

I crossed the street and barely extended my thumb before a very friendly middle-aged couple stopped to give me a lift. They were fascinated with my lifestyle, and eager to hear stories of my adventure.

Then, I was at the south entrance of the 100 Mile Wilderness.

Oh, what joy! The final stretch!

After a mile or so, my pack began to feel tremendously heavy. My shoulder ached under the full resupply. I stopped for a break on a log that stretched across the trail.

I continued just a short while longer, before coming to a nice clearing beneath a tree. There, I stayed for the night.

I lay tired, yet astir. My mind dances with anticipation of completion, a desire for it to never end, and a thankfulness to be tucked within such beautiful woods; to sleep amongst the wild-things on a night when the moon hangs heavy in its fullness, suspended in bright glory, illuminating the grey haze of the clouds above.

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