Saddleback Mountain

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Sept 3 , 1983 Saturday (223.7 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

I got a ride back to the trail this morning from Paul, who had also stayed at Tamarack last night. From the road, it was only 1.2 miles or so to Piazza Rock Shelter where I found Lan and Tom Stevens from Lake Placid, NY. I had finally caught up to Tom. After talking with him we discovered that he had been dating his entries a day late and when I thought he was just in front of me, he was actually two days ahead. Lan had spent the night at Sabbath Day Pond. Tom at either Piazza Rock shelter or Rangely.

I could not mess around with reunions, it was early in the day and there were miles to travel. I left the shelter and headed toward a group of ponds. The first pond I skirted near the shore was named Ethel Pond. I could see moose tracks of the impression kind, as well as the solid kind, following the trail I was on. There were certainly moose in the vicinity. I followed a stream for a while and then made my way around the base of a small hill to the next pond called Eddy Pond. Across the pond near the opposite shore stood a moose, doing what moose do naturally - eating. It lifted its' head and I could tell it was a female. I got out my camera and shot a picture. The moose seemed more interested in eating, so I moved on after watching it for a while.

The ascent up Saddleback Mountain was next on the agenda. Almost two miles of climbing put me on top of the 4116 foot tall mountain that was the center of controversy between ski developers and the wilderness trail corridor of the Appalachian Trail. A developer wanted to expand the ski area, and noted that it would not interfere with the trail, but the view would have been sacrificed. And a grand view it was from the round top of Saddleback to the surrounding peaks of "The Horn" and "Saddleback Jr." I ate lunch on "The Horn" before continuing on toward "Jr."

When I arrived at Poplar Ridge Lean-to I had traveled ten miles from highway 4 since beginning this morning. I figured there would be a large number of hikers staying at the shelter tonight. Poplar ridge shelter was one of the infamous baseball bat shelters - shelters with the sleeping platform constructed out of two to three inch thick pine logs placed side by side. As the Philosopher's Guide stated, "some hikers swear by them, others swear at them." If you find just the right groove for your back they can be comfortable. Years ago, the idea was that hikers would bring in cut pine boughs and build up a layer of "soft" leafy material as a cushion. This was no longer done or encouraged, so the uneven platform was always uncovered. This shelter's platform was old and knarly, plus I could not manage to pick up a National Public Radio station from the place, so I decided to move on. Tonight was Saturday evening, and A Prairie Home Companion was on….if I could find a station.

I had to travel seven miles to the next shelter on the side of Spaulding Mountain. Soon after departing from Poplar Ridge and dropping down to cross Orbeton Stream, I began to not feel very well. At the time I had no idea what the problem was, but I began to produce large amounts of flatulence as I hiked along. A huge bubble would grow in my abdomen and soon I was clipping off a cadence as I marched along. I kind of laughed as I grimaced from the pain as I imagined myself getting to the shelter in record time due to the jet action that sped me along. The five mile climb up the side of Spaulding Mountain was easy and I reached Spaulding Mountain Lean-to after eighteen miles before darkness set in. I found some short term hikers at the shelter along with a couple of south bound hikers Dan Okeefe & Mike Whorf, who signed the register with a little stick figure drawing of two hikers with packs on and the words "thru-hiker position" written next to them. Down south I had seen their entries often, but somewhere along the line had passed them. They must have flip flopped later, and now recognized my name, "Gonzo!" having read my entries after I had passed them. Unfortunately there was no reception at Spaulding Mountain Lean-to either, so there was no Prairie Home Companion tonight. During the night I woke up with a bloated abdomen. The gas had built up and could not escape. I could not release it as I lay there so I got up, followed the side trail to the latrine with the aid of my small flashlight and sat for a while and let it all out. I eventually began to feel a little better. (On a hike years later, I had the same thing happen to me after eating stir-fry. I have concluded that after a diet of mostly pasta for such a long time, a meal rich in oil, and harder to digest plant cellulose had caused the problem. I vowed never to eat that again during future hikes.)

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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