Saturday, September 10, 2016

Day 129: the Birches

8/26: Abol Bridge - the Birches
Mile: 2174.1 - 2184.1 (10 miles)

I had decided to sleep in one of the lean to's at the campground when I heard it might rain overnight. I had the whole thing to myself and it seemed like a good idea. Especially when the rain started a little after sunset. But the rain was short lived and it was a hot and muggy night with enough bugs to keep me restless. But no mice got into my food or fear and everything is dry so I'll call it a draw. But no more shelters, you'd think I'd know myself by now!

With only 10 miles I had thought to sleep in a bit but that was a complete failure. Other people are packing up as I leave but only one other person has already signed in for the Birches campsite when I get to the infamous kiosk sign in sheet. As usual worrying for nothing.

Looking back at the Abol Bridge area, I'm not sure what I expected but this dusty power lined road wasn't quite it. Soon enough it's back to the land of water and into Baxter State Park.

The trail is flat and easy going, more old fire road than narrow walk way today. It's still muggy and if I stop to long the bugs get busy but I'm trying to take my time. There are lots of short viewpoints this morning, mostly to water and I take advantage of most. The trail seems to be all along large creeks or rivers and it's quite the change when I think back to the beginning of Maine. The one little rocky section is a joke compared to the ridiculousness of my first day in this state.

Once at the Katahdin Stream Campground I find another hiker and we twiddle our thumbs waiting for the ranger. Eventually he appears from the campground and gives us our official passes and the rundown on the rules. Already there are 9 people signed up for the Birches tonight. I've never been to a park that is so aware of where all the people are. There's a ranger at that first kiosk radioing all the sign ups up to this guy. He's completely friendly and encourages us to hang out at Katahdin Stream as long as we want. I find an outside pavilion and kill a few hours meeting all the folks I saw yesterday as they trickle in. We eventually head the quarter mile up the hill to the dry Birches campsite. Two shelters and a picnic table with plenty of spots to tent.

We hang out and people seem to eat and nap in waves. I'm hiding in my tent when I hear Wanderer start playing a ukulele and someone mentions it's our last sunset. It's hidden by the trees but I can't resist and it's a quiet group sitting out taking it all in. It's really a perfect evening before a finish. The wind rustles the trees and the music is quiet and wonderful.

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