We got up around 6:30 (later than intended but not too bad) and left an hour later. We had a climb first thing, up Barren Ledges, and I was hoping for some good views to reward the tough climb, but the views were on a side trail. "I stopped taking side trails to views in North Carolina," said Bear Bag. I agreed--not worth it. So we kept going; the trail was flat for awhile (and very sloppy) and then we had more climbing up Barren Mountain. I was exhausted already...could I do the 22 miles we had planned?
At the bottom was Fourth Mountain Bog. I'd been dreading this section since I saw it in the book. Were these going to be the bog bridges that everyone falls through into the muck? We got there and I was so glad to see that some maintenance had been done! There were several obviously new planks and we easily walked across; I sighed in relief when we came out on the other side. Walking through knee- and waist-deep muck did not sound very appealing!
We then climbed Fourth Mountain and had ups and downs for miles and miles. I was so, so tired, and I don't know why. The day was gorgeous and nice but I started to get really frustrated at the trail. It seemed to take us up over every little hump and bump and mountain, and through every mudhole, and down the steepest sections, and through a near-vertical boulderfield. And I hurt; with every step I feel the past 2100 miles in the bottoms of my feet, in my knees, in my back, and even in my hands from gripping trekking poles. I admit, today was the first time I actually looked forward to the end. It was rough.
We had a long and painful descent to the west branch of Pleasant River, and forded the water at the bottom. It was wide but only knee deep and a simple ford. We got to the other side and there were a couple of day hikers there (yes, more day hikers in the "wilderness"). Mike and Jeff gave us tons of food! Bread and turkey, peanut butter and crackers, candy, apple juice...and they said they had more goodies in their car, so Bear Bag followed them back and returned with a huge bag of homemade cookies, little candy bars, and fresh apples...amazing! It was the perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day. We sat and feasted on turkey sandwiches and cookies and I felt good. It totally turned my day around! It was dark by that time and we set up camp for the night right by the river. We didn't make 22 but hopefully we can make that up in the next few days. Tomorrow we are supposed to get a view of Katahdin if the weather is clear!
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