The past few days I’ve been working my way back to Houlton Maine from Mars Hill.
The first day I decided to hop on the IAT (International Appalachian Trail), however, after I came down the mountain, I couldn’t find the trail head. So I headed back to town (Mars Hill) and stopped by Al’s Diner and had breakfast. It was as delicious as I had come to expect.
I then started working my way back on US 1 toward Houlton, yet after a few good miles, I came across the town of Bridgewater. While I was working my way through, I noticed a sign for the IAT on the other side of the road. The arrow of the sign was pointed straight ahead, which I figured meant it went onto US 1 for a while. Then I looked at the angle of the path and followed it across the road and found the trail on my side…right in front of me.
I had a decision to make because of a sign I saw. It read “Trail closed until May 15th”, no doubt to open in tandem with the campsites at Baxter State Park. The decision was this:
- Keep going on US 1 and hope for a ride to get me to Houlton quicker.
- Hop on a trail where I will likely be the only one on along with the fact that it was technically illegal.
I let out an evil laugh as I hopped on the trail. The landscape was beautiful with the ponds and streams. The smell of the pine, spruce, and cedar. It was exactly what I needed.
I ran into a couple named Tammy and Terry and they told me about a lean-too and an awesome bridge which used to be for the railroad steam engines to refill their water from the river.
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it that far. Climbing mountains makes you sore, who knew?
Settling in my campsite in the woods for the night listening to the Wood Thrushes call to each other was pure peace.
I slept great and slept in.
The next day was all walking, but I did get to see the view from the bridge Tammy and Terry told me about and I took my lunch in the nice lean-too on the trail. I also stopped at the Blue Moose restaurant, which they suggested. It was crowded being Mother’s day, yet it was nice to get out of the cold. The food was pretty good too, but I hated how much I’d been spending on eating out lately. I convinced myself not to worry with as long as I would be on US 1 with just my road food (tuna, jerky, nuts, and tortillas), it would make up for my minor splurges on warm food.
That night was one of the worst nights on my trip thus far. I got my camp set up and settled in with no problem. However, that night the temperature dropped. I had on my jacket, fleece shirt, sweat shirt, sweat pants, regular pants, wool socks, and sleeping bag which is supposed to be good to 32 degrees (I doubt it now), and I couldn’t get warm enough to sleep.
When I finally got up the courage to face the cold in the early morning, my rainfly was a sheet of ice and I had to pause constantly while putting it away to warm up my hands.
After what seemed like an eternity of putting my stuff away in the freezing cold, I got underway again.
It was a very windy and cold day (only up into the high 40s). Yet I made it to Houlton.
My first stop was Walmart where I bought another pair of sweatpants. Then I headed to the Library, however, as I was working my way over there a fellow offered me a ride. His name was Rodney.
Rodney did granite countertops for years, but now works for the Department of Natural resources, which he told me after I told him how me and my friend Harley had just climbed Mt. Katahdin, even though technically it was still closed. Luckily, he laughed and it was all good. He told me how his daughter said she wanted to do what he did, but he wanted her to have something better to aim for, which is why he changed jobs. Said he’s never been happier and always loved the outdoors.
Rodney dropped me off at the Library and I excitedly got to work…however, nothing seemed to go right.
First I tried uploading pictures, but the library WiFi kept acting up. Then I tried taking all the pictures off of my phone and putting them onto the flash drive I have, but my mini laptop won’t allow the transfer from my phone to the flash drive.
Finally, I just said screw it and grabbed Finder’s Keepers by Stephen King and read it while my stuff charged.
That’s another thing I love about Maine, their libraries are full of all of Stephen King’s books.
After a few hours, I headed out and found a place in the woods. Even though I had enough to stay warm, I didn’t sleep well due to the wind, which rocked me most of the night and not like a baby.
Today I got up tired and still sore from climbing Big Rock Mountain and the 25 mile trek to Houlton. It was hard to get going, but I took my time which made it easier. I did my morning routine after breaking camp: a prayer for the day, reading a chapter in my bible, brushing my teeth, and a small breakfast.
Adopting my old technique from Florida, 1 hour on and 30 minutes off, I made a decent few miles. When lunch rolled around though, I decided to take an hour off. I took off most of my sweat clothes and my jacket, which put me down to my T-shirt, but it had finally warmed up to a beautiful day.
I got out my solar panel and began charging my external battery charger, which I had been using like mad on the road due to the lack of stores with WiFi and libraries where I had been trekking.
I took off my socks which I had been wearing for days because at night in the Maine woods, you don’t take off your wool socks. It was pure heaven. I then bandaged my one toe that was cut.
After I was all patched up, I had lunch and then took a nap in the sun.
When I got up, I was in better spirits, probably because I got better rest in that hour than I had in the past few nights. I got going, but the soreness crept back in and the ibuprofen was slacking on the job.
About 45 more minutes, back into my trek I had to take another break. I rested in the shade of pine tree on this guys farm that looked like it was out of a painting.
As I slowly got up and began searching on my phone for some music to motivate me to get going, a small voice said to me:
“You better hurry or you’re going to miss your ride.”
I didn’t question it. I just went with it and got back on the road. Not a minute later, I saw this white ford sedan stop ahead of me and then throw on the reverse.
“Need a ride?”
After I put my backpack in the back, I sat in the front seat and offered my hand “My name is Seth by the way.”
“Gibb. So where are you headed?” said the kindly old man.
“Danforth.” I said knowing it was the next town on my route and not to far for a car.
“Is that in PA?”
“No, it’s just right down the road,” I said laughing.
“I was just joking with you. I’m actually from Danforth,” Gibb said with a laugh.
Gibb went on to tell me how he had been a tour bus driver, served in the military and had been all throughout Europe and Asia, was the chief mechanic in the motor pool while he served, and how his dream was to own a dairy farm. When he got back from the service, he worked in the timber industry and actually, helped clear the roads in Baxter State Park near Mt. Katahdin.
After years of work, Gibb finally got his dairy farm and had it for many years. However, one year the barn burned down and the state wouldn’t let him build a new barn on the old foundation. Since he couldn’t afford a new foundation he ended up selling his cows because he couldn’t keep them without a barn.
But Gibb was an optimist and said “It’s ok though. I’m getting up there in years (Gibb is 80 years old) and now its more peaceful at my place. Got 3 acres of land, still got good crops, and more raspberries than you would believe!”
Gibb asked where I wanted to be dropped off in Danforth and I said anywhere is good, but he wouldn’t have it and said he’d drive me further if it would help me out. After many more stories of this well-traveled interesting fellow, he dropped me off in Lincoln, which saved me over a week of walking.
I thanked Gibb and bid him farewell. He wished me luck on my journey and then drove away.
Gibb told me many more awesome stories about his life, including how he built his own house, yet only had a year and a half high school education. But for those you’ll have to wait for the book 😉
Happiness is hearing someone’s story,
Forever your friend,