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Sept 16 , 1983 Friday (37.7 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning I found out that I did not snore. Butch and Rob said that they did not mind sleeping in the same shelter with me since I did not snore - unlike countless other hikers who could saw a whole forest down in one night. The conversations were light hearted and jovial as we all began to realized that we were soon to become members of an "elite few" who had successfully traveled the entire distance over the Appalachian Trail in one season. By 1983, fewer than 1000 hikers had done that. From Wadleigh No-Stream Lean-to we had just 37.7 miles to the Summit of Katahdin! We could actually finish in two days!

Directly beyond the shelter, the trail began an ascent up Nesuntabunt Mountain that really got my blood flowing. I thought there were no mountains in this area. We had started at such a low elevation, that even though the mountain was just over 1500 feet tall, the climb was more of a climb than I would have thought. I stopped for a break near the summit after I traveled the 250 yards to the overlook where the lakes below, and Katahdin could be seen. I could see the smoke coming from the stacks of the paper mill in Millinocket many miles away. The rest of the day would be a breeze compared to the first couple of miles.

The big debate today became whether to hike to Cresent Pond and parallel Pollywog stream, or take a shortcut on a logging road that was shown on the map. Not a big difference in mileage, and I don't even know why we would have considered it. I suppose because of the poor trail conditions over the last ten miles, we feared that the same conditions might reveal themselves to us along Pollywog Stream as we had read in the registers that the trail was new. I chose not to stray from the white blazes, and found the area to be quite nice even though the trail was new and in poor shape. Bad trail at the beginning of a day is never quite as bad as bad trail at the end of a twenty-mile day.

I ran into Roger Brickner heading south near Cresent Pond, and stopped to chat with him for a while. He and Mike were still doing the key exchange thing, and he asked if I had seen him. I was ahead of Mike apparently, and said I had not seen or read any entries in any of the registers. I said goodbye to Roger, and headed down to Pollywog Stream, turned right and began to follow the flow down to where it merged with Bean Brook Stream. The cascading Pollywog provided interesting scenes along the way before its intersection with the larger stream in the lowlands. I crossed the now fairly large stream on a logging road bridge and began a gradual ascent along Rainbow Stream on the way to Rainbow Stream Lean-to. I followed Rainbow Stream gradually uphill catching astounding views into little gorges as the water roared with gushes of swirling liquidity that forced its way between rocks while forming channels that meandered here and there. After two miles of paralleling the stream, I arrived at Rainbow Stream Lean-to, situated right next to the ten-yard wide stream. I stopped to check the place out. While sitting on the platform and reading the register, I casually looked up and noticed a tree beside the shelter that had a light switch mounted on the trunk. A strange sight out in the wilds of Maine. What did it control?

The bridge over the stream, if there ever was one, was gone so a ford was in order. There were no rocks projecting to allow a rock hop. I bare footed it through the rapids to the opposite side, put my shoes and socks back on, and followed Rainbow Stream and its deadwaters for another two miles to Rainbow Lake Dam at the end of Rainbow Lake where the water had originated. Katahdin could be seen across the Lake. The mountain looked different from this angle - beautiful, but not as ominous. I continued on, following the shoreline to the site of another large spring similar to the one at Potawadjo, where I stopped for lunch.

The trail followed the shore of Rainbow Lake for yet another three and a half miles. The walk was nice, the weather was nice, and the scenery just as nice. I came upon a couple of southbounders who were stopped along the trail attempting to repair their dogs' backpack that had fallen apart. We introduced ourselves, and they recognized the name Gonzo!, but I did not recognize them. Perhaps they had begun after I did, and decided to flip flop in order to finish on time. As I ascended the smooth rocky ledges over Rainbow Ledges, I detected a haze building in the sky and had a feeling that now that I was within twenty miles of Katahdin, the weather was going to deteriorate. I was amazed with the stretch of good weather that I had had during the past week or so, and felt lucky to have had that. Whatever weather I received during my climb up Katahdin would just be a part of the trip. It is the culmination of the climb that defines the event, not the weather.

A couple of miles of downhill trail brought me to my destination for the night. Hurd Brook Lean-to was the last of the regular shelters before entering Baxter State Park and the last few miles of the trail. There was no spring at Hurd Brook, and water flowed from a pond upstream. I had read rumors about the sickness that the water had caused, so I decided to treat the water I was about to use. I was not about to get sick on the last days of my hike! I had carried a tiny bottle of Iodine tablets in my pack the whole trip. I treated my drinking water with a tablet, let it dissolve, and then let the water flow partially out into the grooves of the cap to zap any microbes there. Rather than using this water to cook with, I boiled the water in my pot sufficiently before putting the pasta in.

Butch and Rob arrived later, and even later the infamous Phil Goad arrived just beginning his southbound section of his "Springer to Springer" in one year hike. He had just turned around after taking a break following his northbound journey, and was now heading back south. He had a scarf tied around his head and the image he projected resembled a pirate in my imagination. He felt it necessary to tell us what really happened to him in Rangely when he spent the night at Viola's boarding house. Apparently rumor said that he had spent the night there and then refused to pay the next morning and walked out. According to him, this was partly true, but the reason he did not pay was that he had spent the night on the floor, because no one was there to check him in. He seemed like an alright guy, even though I did not appreciate seeing "Phil Goad - Springer to Springer" stickers stuck on registers, trees, and even the shell of a box turtle once as he attempted to make history, and himself a legend.

Later on I got back to the cleanup of supper that consisted of some macaroni noodles of some kind. The most memorable part of the meal came about as I began to clean the pot that I had cooked in. Using some of the water that I had treated with Iodine, I poured a bit into the pot and began to swirl it around. Immediately the water turned purple! My eyes popped out in amazement and bewilderment until I remembered what I had learned in science class - adding Iodine to starch will produce a purple color. I showed the others, laughed, and finished cleaning.

This shelter had a baseball bat outhouse as well, and even more curious was the light bulb suspended under the eave of the overhang from a wire.... I hoped the people back at Rainbow Stream Lean-to didn't forget to turn the light out tonight. A cute idea.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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