No Pain, No Rain, No Maine

25 07 2008

Hi all, Default here checking in from the Rangeley Public Library.   For those of you who check our calendar religiously, you must be saying “Rangeley!  They weren’t stopping in Rangeley?!”, which would be correct…until it started to rain.   And then in rained for about 7 days straight.  Each night this week we went to sleep hopeful that the night’s surely impending rain would bring sunny skies and less humidity to our next day’s hike.  And each morning we were sorely disappointed.

Wednesday was a particularly hard day, as we went over the summit of Saddleback Mountain and were exposed above treeline walking quite literally in a cloud for more than two hours with gale-force winds and mist that made me feel like I was in a very unpleasant Scotland.   Saddleback is known for its amazing panoramic views, but all we could see was the mist flying 40mph about 15 feet in front of our faces, making our every arm hair a bead of water.   Needless to say, Beef and Siren, our two glasses-wearing friends, were not happy campers. We arrived at the lean-to mid-afternoon and were very happy to be under a trusty roof since we could tell that it was going to rain yet again.   As the evening wore on, the shelter filled up.   As we were headed to bed, 3 men arrived and looked at the 7 of us heading to sleep and asked if there was space in the shelter.    It was an 8 person shelter, so we told them we had one space and pointed them towards the tentsite.   They told us they didn’t have their tent- they said they had hiked the whole trail and never experienced a full shelter!   They ended up sleeping on the dirt between the sleeping platform and the edge of the roof.   I remember thinking to myself as I went to sleep “Man, I wouldn’t want to do that.”

As it turned out though, I probably would have been a better night’s sleep, because the shelter roof between Beef and I leaked all night. During the softer rain, our pack towels stuffed into the rafters could hold the water for several hours.   Then around 3am, it started to downpour and Beef began having to stand up about every 5 minutes, grab the towel, wring it out into the bowl rapidly filling with splashes of water and replace it with the other towel.   Beef reports that her 4 cup bowl was filled twice with dirty brown water and she had to empty it, so at least 8 cups of water came down onto us in addition to the splashes coming in various other directions.  I was awake during this time and mostly floundered around trying to pretend this wasn’t happening, or in my more helpful moments, wipe off the sleeping platform to keep us from getting ever more wet.  Needless to say, these conditions did not provide for optimal sleep the rest of the night.   Beef and I slowly inched our way down our sleeping pads until we were sleeping in the fetal position at the opposite end of the shelter.

The next morning, the tranquil stream running alongside our campsite that we had bathed in the night before had turned into a frightening torrent hurtling down the mountainside in a spectacular waterfall.   The fording should have been a warning to what the rest of our day would hold, but we didn’t quite realize how bad it would be!   However, we enjoyed a brief flasback-to-childhood moment as we climbed up Piazza Rock and looked out.   For those of you who have seen the Lion King, it was just like Pride Rock, except in Maine and not Africa.   We sang a little Swahili on the way up, and wished we had a Pink Flamingo to hoist off the side like Little Baby Simba.   Alas, none of us have lost quite enough weight yet to safely be thrust skyward by the others.

We continued on our way, trudging through the mud to meet up with April.   It was a blissful reunion, complete with blueberries, two pints of Ben and Jerry’s, two cups of coffee, and our trail friend Smokey (our favorite trail buddy so far, who had been in Rangeley staying the night and rode in with April).

We geared up and headed out.   Not 75 feet into the trail, another frightening stream was racing across the trail.  We made it across, but as we started up, conditions continued to deteriorate.  Soon we had all given up any hope of dry feet and were literally sloshing through a foot of thick chocolatey mud and water with every step.   We trudged on for almost 5 miles and then stopped to eat lunch at a campsite.   It then began to pour, leaving us eating soaking wet jelly-covered bagels.   At this point we were wetter than any of us have ever been, and the situation was the sort where you either choose to laugh or cry.  We chose to laugh, hysterically.   It was amazing.

And then we decided to turn around.    We had heard from NOBOs that the creeks up the trail were impassable, with rumors of chest high Black Brook making us rethink our plans for this next 4-day stretch or trail.   As painful as it was to go back the same way we came, it would have been much worse to face 5 more miles and the prospect of a soaking wet night with a full shelter and not enough tents.   We longed for the shower and some hot, yummy food.     So that is what we got 🙂

Now here we are.   Check out the calendar for more details, but we will be headed out tomorrow again for Andover.  April and Siren will be joining us for the first day and a half, at which point they will leave us and Beef, Flamebo, and me will continue on the next leg of our journey.   We are very excited to cross into New Hampshire on August 1st and will enjoy a few days off trail in Tamworth, New Hampshire visiting Beef’s cousins.   Keep us in your thoughts as we hike the hardest section of the AT this next few weeks!

peace, and warm, dry feet,

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2 responses

25 07 2008
Dana

Well it made for a good laugh but sounds just terrible!! I miss you Laura! and all you girls!! Here’s hoping for better conditions!

19 12 2008
Major Miles

I would change the title to No pain, no Maine, no Rain
Because it rained for a month straight from New Hampshire to Maine when I went through there.

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