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Sept 17 , 1983 Saturday (18 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

According to the Data Book for 1983, the distance to the summit of Katahdin from Hurd Brook Lean-to was 18 miles. I could do that distance in one day, I had proven that many times, but my goal was to get as close to Katahdin as I could for a final ascent the following day. Remember, after the five mile climb to the summit, there is a five mile return to the base. I did not want to have to rush twenty-three miles today. Besides, traveling away from Hurd Brook this morning, I became aware of the fact that it probably would be raining this afternoon. I just hoped I could reach either Katahdin Springs Campground, or Daicey Pond Campground before the rain fell. I soon stepped out onto a tote road that lead to the right toward Abol Bridge. Turning around, I read the sign facing in the opposite direction. For those entering the woods traveling south, was located a sign warning of the lack of roads for the next 40 miles, and no resupply points until the next town in Monson, Maine. I had completed the 100-mile wilderness! I headed down the gravel road with a view of Katahdin engulfed in clouds to my left. I climbed a large rock pile along the road and photographed Katahdin as the clouds enveloped its summit in a swirl that if viewed upside down looked like a vortex produced in a bathroom sink as the water went down the drain.

I stopped at Abol Campground General store to pick up a few snacks just in case I had to wait a day or so to climb Katahdin. I checked on the price of Pop-Tarts there just to see if they were jacked-up. They were, going for over one dollar for a pack of six. I usually picked them up for .79 - .88 for a pack. I could feel a sense of victory as I strolled down the road and was asked by a guy in a truck where I had come from. I shouted out proudly, "Georgia!" He replied, "I guess there is no need to ask if you need a ride or not then, is there?" I said "No" and smiled the biggest grin I think I had ever grinned.

The rain began to fall as I had four miles left to Daicey Pond Campsite. I immersed my foot in a tributary of the Neowadnehunk Stream when I slipped on a rock-hop crossing, and felt lost as I wandered through an area where the trail forced me to wade through a swamp. Both feet got soaked to match the rest of my body, which had become wet from the rain that had begun not long before. The blazing was very poor through the swamp, and I felt lucky that I had instinctively chosen the correct path through the muck. It was a bad feeling to become soaked just before getting to Katahdin, especially when the last few days had been so clear and gorgeous.

I stopped and looked at Big Niagara Falls along Neowadnehunk Stream, but did not take the camera out into the elements. I soon found myself at Daisey Pond Campground, where I inquired of Ranger Pam Herrin about the existence of a spot at Katahdin Stream Falls for the night. The shelters were all taken she replied. I should not have been surprised since it was a Saturday night. I had the option of spending the night at the shelters nearby specifically reserved for thru-hikers, for only one night, or going out of the park. I chose to stay at one of the two Daisey pond shelters reserved for thru-hikers, but spent the majority of the afternoon in the library next to the fireplace attempting to dry my shoes, socks and other clothing for the ascent the following morning. I had company most of the afternoon as Richard Wansor, known as "Strider, the Rock Hopper" showed up as well. That afternoon, we also made reservations to spend Sunday night in the bunkhouse at Katahdin Stream campground when we returned from our final descent from the summit of Katahdin in victory. But for tonight, we slept in the traditional trail shelter that we had come to know so well over these many months, this time hoping that perhaps a moose would come by in the open field in front of our lodgings. We went to sleep early anticipating an early wake up to cover the two miles between campgrounds before signing in at the rangers station and beginning the final ascent.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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