Mile: 2028.3 - 2054.6 (26.3 miles)
It's not a perfect nights sleep but it's better than my night before. My pace has been so unpredictable with roots, rocks and who knows what that I figure this morning is no time for dilly dallying, I have a ferry to catch.
It's lovely easy pine needle soft trail to start. The surrounding woods are thick with debris and the warning cries of squirrels and the trail even dips through a marsh with lingering mist and a lovely cold inversion. I'm so busy watching a squirrel eat a pinecone that I don't even register the moose until it's crashing away through the brush. Does it count as a moose sighting if all I really saw was its backside in a bush?
The next miles aren't bad. Passing Pierce Pond the trail turns to follow the raging creek, it's all cascades and waterfalls as I start to head more steeply downhill. I'm just thinking how lovely it all is when my foot skates off a root and I find myself sitting in the dirt half falling off a steep edge of slippery pine needles. I have a small temper tantrum sitting there feeling sorry for myself and stay grouchy for a solid mile or two. It suddenly seems as if the trail is only roots, rocks or pointless very small climbs when I know I'm dropping down over a thousand feet in the next mile.
When I make it to the Kennebec River I cheer up. Another hiker appears behind me and we try to figure out how this whole ferry thing works out. A canoe pops into view and we realize there's our guy. He takes another two across and returns for us. He's amazing and answers all of our silly questions. While I may have been able to walk a river that's 400 ft wide below a dam it's actively discouraged and the whole reason a ferryman is employed just for hikers during the season. So as long as you can get there from 9-2 pm you're in luck. There's a neat website (accompanied by a good article/rant) about the ferry and it's purpose, http://www.matc.org/for-hikers/kennebec-river-ferry/.
Across the river is the town of Caratunk, I believe the smallest town I've been on while out here. A B&B/hostel has reopened after a few years off and at just 0.1 off trail it's a great stop. An historic old house with a shady porch, electricity, great storytellers and milkshakes. No question here.
It's hard but I tear myself away from the welcoming hikers and host and start the slow steady miles of the afternoon. There's water and it's hot and humid plus a giant milkshake might not have been the best idea in heat but I enjoy the miles.
I decide to try to make it to the top of Moxie Bald to camp. There's a lot of wide easy trail and large flat rock to hike up, of course the last bit is pretty rocky and dark enough that I need my headlamp just in case. The steepness and disconcerting small things scurrying in a cave the trail butts up against help me speed up the last little bit.
I miss sunset but I watch a giant orange moon rise. It's been forever since I just sat and watched the stars. Crickets are everywhere and there's a breeze but it's not too cold yet. At least if everything gets wet I know I'm going to town tomorrow. Mostly I'm just trying to be stealthy and quiet because someone else had my bright idea and is already sound asleep on the summit.
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