3 , 1983 Saturday (223.7 mtg) From
Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal
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
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.
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.)
Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983