Day 148: West Branch Pleasant River to East Branch Lean-To

August 9, 2013

Today’s mileage: 16.4
Total mileage: 2118.1

We had heard from multiple sources that today was going to clear up. The rain would stop and the skies would clear. None of this would happen today. It only rained harder and longer.

I awoke to a loud rumble of thunder this morning, so I quickly got up and went to the bathroom before the rain hit. As we got ready in our tent, it began to pour. We debated as to whether we should just pack up and go or wait out the rain. After all, we had heard that it was going to clear. With our false sense of hope in place, we waited it out in our warm, dry tent. Miles read an astronomy magazine, I worked on the Valley News crossword puzzle that I had started in Hanover, and then we both took a morning nap. The rain let up around 9:15, so we figured that was our chance to pack up and go. We forded the river and then put on our shoes to begin our wet, wet day.

Not long after we began hiking, it started to rain again. It picked up as we headed uphill towards another mountain range and the next lean-to. We passed by the Gulf Hagas Trail and three day hikers taking it on in the rain. When we arrived at the lean-to, it was still raining, so we welcomed a snack break under a roof. We saw Dundee taking a zero there, a thru-hiker that we hadn’t seen since the Grayson Highlands in southern Virginia. A section hiker rolled up with the biggest pack I have ever seen. It was an external frame pack that extended way above his head. I don’t know why you would want to hike with one of those things these days. It looks painful. The funny thing was that he was hiking with another man and a woman who came in after him. The other man had a normal-sized pack and the woman had no pack. I wondered why they didn’t just equally distribute their weight. Oh, the things you see out here. People kept telling us that we wouldn’t see many people out on the trail in Maine. There have been times where we haven’t seen many people, but we have seen several kids’ groups, 100-Mile Wilderness section hikers, and SOBOs. Not to mention several day hikers. I suppose if you come through in the fall there are less people, but I think August is the peak month for all of the different groups we see out here.

We hiked over four mountains this afternoon, each one taller than the last. We hiked over Gulf Hagas Mountain, West Peak, Hay Mountain, and White Cap Mountain. White Cap, the tallest of the four at around 3,600 ft., had an exposed summit. We emerged from the trees to witness driving wind and rain. My shorts were soaked in seconds. We made it down off of the top as fast as we could. The hundreds of stone steps going down the mountain were a waterfall. Everything was wet. The trail, us, our packs, my Starburst, and our guidebook pages. I wrote in the log book at Logan Brook Lean-To that, “Everything I touch, turns to rain.” It’s true. The worst part of the day was that we didn’t get to see Katahdin from the north side of White Cap. We had been looking forward to this view for days, but of course it was cloudy and rainy all day. Guess we’ll just have to wait on that view. I don’t believe the weathermen anymore. A 30% chance of rain means a 100% chance of rain and I’ve stopped believing anyone who tells us that the weather is going to clear up. I’ve become a weather cynic.

We saw White-Out at the second lean-to hanging out with two of his friends from back home in Missouri. They were dry and warm, while we took a break in our wet rain gear, preparing to hike 3.6 more miles after 6:00 PM. The rain was coming down hard, but we got back out there, as much as we wanted to stay. We hadn’t seen White-Out since Dalton, MA and it would have been fun to hang out since we probably won’t see him again. It’s strange seeing people now, knowing that you may never see them again once you pass them or once they pass you. It’s not like before when we used to say, “see you up the trail.” Now we must say goodbye.

We booked it to our destination and we were so relieved to roll in at 8:00 to an empty lean-to. We have all of our gear hung up to dry and are enjoying a quiet night. Besides wet feet with sores on top of my toes, the only other bad development of the day occurred when Miles fell into the river after retrieving water in our 4 liter water bag. He stepped down off a rock, took a sudden step onto another one, spun around while trying to catch his balance, and then landed in the water near a tree. He lost all of the water and got himself soaking wet on one side. I thought he might freak out like he did in the Shenandoahs, but I think he realized the fact that he was already soaking wet, so it didn’t matter. I had almost asked him if he wanted me to take the bag before he got down from the rock, but I thought he could handle it. The second time around, I did take the bag from him while holding the other four liters of water. At least I was on flat, stable land. The second time, he survived.

It’s late now, but the rain has ceased and the sky has cleared. I guess they were right after all. It did clear up today, August 9, around 10:00 PM. It was a long clear-out, 22 hours worth, but it’s clear now.

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One thought on “Day 148: West Branch Pleasant River to East Branch Lean-To

  1. Denise Gordon says:

    We had that same hard rain here all day long and I thought of you all out in that because I believe that there was rain all over Maine. Clear skies ahead for you the rest of the way, I am serious. You can look forward to staying dry until your destination. xoxoxoxo

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