Moxie Bald

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Sept 10 , 1983 Saturday (147.4 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning we faced an immediate climb up Pleasant Pond Mountain. Not a particularly tall mountain at just under 2500 feet, but the climb was formidable, and only about a mile long. I did not take the side trail to the top as I did not think there would be a view since the sky was mostly hazy. On the descent, the guide mentioned to look for glacial striations on a boulder along the trail. I found what I thought to be the scratches they were talking about and left a note on the trail informing the others to look at the remnants from the last ice age. Personally I thought they looked like a hiker had slid down and the frame of their pack had gouged the rock - not particularly impressive. As I continued, a light sprinkle fell here and there. It looked like rain was on the way. Near the shore of Moxie Pond, the trail turned right and followed the Scott Paper Company road. As I stepped out onto the road, the rain quickened. Regardless, the lake provided a nice backdrop in the fog and rain. Not far down the road, I ran into Lan, who had just gotten prepared to depart for the day. She said she had been ill, and asked if I had any aspirin. I gave her some. She began to relay to me her story about a weird guy she had seen last night who claimed to have been hiking since Pennsylvania, was fat, and wore strange clothes. She was afraid that he would camp with her last night, but she had avoided that. Not long after leaving Lan, I ran into the stranger, who looked as she had described, but I also noted that he wore sandals and a long black overcoat. He carried no backpack, only a satchel and a huge beard. Strange fellow. I tried to start up a conversation with him, but got little to no response. Even though the conversation was terribly thrilling, as you can imagine, I just said good-bye and hiked past him while I continued toward my rest stop at Joe's Hole Lean-to. Near the end of the roadwalk along Moxie Pond, Baker Brook supplies water to the pond. The Trail presents two ways of getting over this brook: the first one encountered is the two cable suspension crossing, the second is a rock hop if the water is not too high, or a ford if the water covers the boulders. I chose the rock hop, but the distance between some of the boulders made it more than a hop from one to the next. I crossed without getting wet feet, which I was happy about since I had crossed the Kennebec and still had dry shoes.

One mile past Baker Brook is Joe's Hole Brook Lean-to. I felt the name was appropriate. It was a hole. Another aging baseball bat shelter with a mud hole as its water supply. I stopped at the shelter for a break and to read the register. Recently I began reading about the southbounders' descriptions of a place in Monson, Maine just up the trail, where hikers could get an all you could eat meal really cheap, and truly supplied all you could eat. My mouth watered and I could not wait to get there. Lan arrived at the shelter not long after, and I was happy she made it past the stranger. We talked for a while and then I moved on up the trail toward Moxie Bald Mountain. Moxie Bald had a firetower and good views, and I looked for Katahdin, but could not see it. I did not really know what I was looking for anyway, but the sky was a bit hazy and the end was still over 100 miles away by trail. Right around Joe's Hole Lean-to I became an official 2000 miler! At that point I had about 138 miles to go. Since the length of the trail this year was said to be 2138, that meant I had already done 2000 miles. A Great accomplishment even if I happened to fall to my death right now and not finish the final leg to Katahdin. I met two members of the MATC while on Moxie Bald. I continued down the other side of the mountain and stopped at Moxie Bald Lean-to for another break. Breaks seem to be coming more regularly now, there seems to be no urgency to finish as the end draws near. Now that we have come this far it seems almost certain that we will make it, and the thought of going back to regular life begins to cause a slowdown - to keep the "dream" going.

I was just getting ready to depart from the shelter when the MATC volunteers arrived. If I had known what was in store for me, I would have discussed the matter with the maintainers concerning the blazing for the next section. The fact was, there was very little blazing. For the next five miles to Breakneck Ridge Lean-to, I was not sure whether I was going down the trail or not. Not enough blazing! However, there were no turnoffs, so I figured I must be on the right track. The trail was well worn, but according to the guide book, was supposed to be a tote road.

Upon finally reaching the shelter, I took off my pack, set it aside, and then backtracked a short distance on the trail to the last decent water source I had encountered. Knowing the shelter was near, and that there was no water at the shelter itself, I made it a habit of mentally noting water supplies as I approached a shelter. I left a note for the others at the spot where I drew water so they could pick up water on their way rather than backtrack like I had.

As I sat alone at the shelter I heard some commotion up in the trees, then suddenly not 20 yards away, a Coopers Hawk swooped to the ground with a sparrow in its talons! I sat motionless as the hawk looked around while it gripped its prey until all motion stopped, then just as quickly flew away. Quite exciting! The wilds of Maine are wonderful.

Max, Ron and Cathy, and Nick all showed up later and were happy that I had left the note at the water supply. Lan did not show up, and we were all a bit concerned. Nick said that he had eaten lunch with her for a couple of hours on Moxi Bald, so he figured that she would get to the shelter. Probably she stayed at Moxie Bald Shelter next to Bald Mountain.

Twenty miles from Pleasant Pond to Breakneck Ridge Lean-to. Mostly nice walking.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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