Rangeley Lake

Images from
this date

What You

Progress Map

Other Images

Contact Gonzo!


Sept 2 , 1983 Friday (232.9 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

This morning I left the shelter before anyone else, and within a quarter of a mile froze in my tracks alongside the pond when I heard some noise just offshore in the shallows. I focused in on where the noise had come, while a young bull moose looked at me and waded in the water of Sabbath Day Pond. Apparently my stealth hiking tactics had allowed me to come within 15 yards of the animal before either one of us had realized it. I slowly put down my pack and removed my camera from the upper pocket of my pack and set up to photograph the first wild moose that I had encountered on this trip. The backlit conditions presented a problem, but I snapped off a few shots before going back to the shelter to tell the rest about the nearby wildlife. The younger guy, filled with excitement, returned with me to photograph the moose. I later learned from someone he had told, that he thought I was a real neat guy for having come back to tell him about the moose. Moose are quite abundant in Maine, yet some hikers travel all the way through and never get to see one. I felt lucky.

Four miles later after traveling through some general forest areas, I approached Little Swift Pond and the campsite located there. As the campsite came into view I noticed a female hiker with her back to me just slipping her T-shirt over her head and onto her torso. Late again I thought. All because of that moose. Once she was within range of my voice I said hello, and just then her boyfriend stepped out from the woods, apparently having just finished his morning duty. I said a few words before continuing on to my first goal of the day: Maine highway 4 that leads to Rangeley - for lunch. Five miles later I stepped out onto that road. The first vehicle that went by was a UPS truck. I thought I might have a chance at a ride, but no luck. I did not really want to stay in Rangeley, just pick up a few supplies and then move on. Rangeley is nine miles off the trail and I did not like the thought of having to hike back to the trail if I could not secure a ride. Immediately after the UPS truck, followed a small car that quickly stopped to pick me up. This is too easy. What is going on here? The driver was a young lady named Lois Ellinwood who was staying in her parents cabin on Rangeley Lake with her five year old daughter Sarah, and younger son Jeffrey, who was still in diapers. I crawled in the back and we were soon on our way to Rangeley. Along the way I had a conversation about my hiking adventure and then was invited to have a fresh vegetable meal with them that evening and then spend the night. I was not much of a real vegetarian, but it sounded wonderful to me.

I found it interesting, and a bit strange when Louis stopped at a store, said she would be back in a minute, and left me in the back seat with four little eyes just staring at me from the front seat. The kids seemed mesmerized by me. They were not scared, but curious I suppose. The young girl asked me all sorts of questions. We moved on to the grocery store and I was able to get all my munchy supplies refreshed. We drove out of Rangeley and farther down the road from the trail to a back road that led to a cabin named "Tamarack." The cabin was directly beside the shore of Rangeley Lake, and had a beautiful view of Elephant Mountain across the lake. Once there, I was offered some fresh veggies and tuna salad for lunch. Later that afternoon, her husband, David Lipton, came home. Other company came too, someone named Paul and another female. This was their weekend retreat, and I was lucky enough to have been in the right place at the right time for the "trail magic" of super hospitality to befall upon me. I had recently mentioned to someone on the trail that I had not had any "magic" like that happen to me so far. David invited me to take a canoe ride on the lake in their wooden canoe. The canoe was a slick looking naturally redwood Old Town canoe that was stored under the cabin. Fearing that I would capsize the boat and lose my camera, I chose not to take it along, but later regretted not having it as we watched one of the most beautiful sunsets that I had seen along the trail. We heard an occasional loon laughing on the lake and headed back to port before the darkness totally set in.

We ate stir-fried veggies for supper, and I could not get enough. I gorged myself on the healthy food, and later on some ice cream while enjoying the company of my new friends. Lois was so curious that she insisted on weighing my pack. She had to know what it weighed. I knew it was heavy, but did not want her to tell me what it weighed. At that point it probably weighed fifty pounds. More than enough, but after virtually 2000 miles, I could handle it. The Lipton's were devout vegetarians, and attempted to live an organic life as much as possible. They also made their own bread - whole wheat - which was the best! They invited me to visit them at their home in Coopers Mills, Maine after I had completed the trail, and to go to the Common Grounds Organic Fair if I was finished by the 23rd of September. I said I would think about it if I had finished by then.

It was here at Tamarackthat I learned about septic etiquette- "If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down." I was also told to conserve water in the shower by getting wet, turning off the water for washing, and then rinsing - a tough thing for a long distance hiker without the chance for any type of shower for a long time.

I signed their guest book praising their hospitality and kindness.

I did make a phone call to my parents today, and it seems that I must have made it in Rangely around the time I was buying supplies before I went to Tamarack since there is no mention in Mom's notes about Louis or the kids. I am sure I would have mentioned it, and she would have written it down. She did; however, thank me for the small bell I had sent to her that I purchased on the top of Mt. Washington for her bell collection. She asked if I could also see if I could buy one from Baxter State Park at the end of the trail, if possible. I estimated I had about fifteen days until I finished the Appalachian Trail in Baxter. With such a short time to go I don't know why I told her to oil the boots she had just gotten resoled, perhaps I was thinking about having them sent to me at my last mail drop so I could finish the trail with the boots that I had begun the trail with. (notes from Mom)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

Next From the Beginning