Location: Safford Notch
A hard rain convinced me to stay in my sleeping bag this morning. I heard thunder in the distance, even though the rain rattled the tin roof of the lean-to like a snare drum. I decided I would not take even the slightest chance with lightning, because of my last encounter.
Wolfman told me, (that is he woke me at 5:00am and told me), if I had an extra day to wait, then I should summit the Bigelow’s tomorrow when the sun will be shining, for the view, he says, is too good to miss.
Around noon, a family came to the lean-to. I was already awake and had been working on transcribing my journals into legible form. I decided then that I would at least hike the six miles over Little Bigelow, which is still a high mountain despite the name. The family left before me, and I followed about an hour later. When I met them near the top, one of the daughters said that she would not go above tree line because the winds were so strong. I thought she might have been exaggerating the wind speed, however when I got above the tree line I met 30-35 mph winds. My hat immediately blew off my head, but luckily the hat snagged on one of the many brown shrubs and I retrieved it. A few hundred yards down the trail and up the mountain, I came to a viewpoint. I stood near the edge of the granite cliff with my face in the cold wind; and when gusts came up the mountainside, the tops of the pines just below me whistled and bowed and the wind would knock me back a few steps. Everything about the weather told me that a storm was approaching, so after taking in the view of blue mountain peaks that seemed to bob on the valley fog, I raced along the ridgeline and reached the safety of the trees.
Today, Wolfman told me some facts about Maine wildlife. He claims that no snakes in Maine are poisonous (which I was glad to hear because of the number of snakes I’ve seen). He also said Maine has flying squirrels, which I hope to see, and mountain lions, which I don’t hope to see.
On the wildlife subject, I jumped a huge deer this evening at the spring. I couldn’t tell if it was a buck or a doe, but I saw that it was large as it flipped its white tail and ran away from the drinking hole.
Also, a very special thing happened to me a couple of nights ago. Once my fire had died and the clouds moved from behind the mountains and covered the stars, I climbed into my sleeping bag. I wondered though where the loons I had seen playing earlier might have gone. For an unknown reason, I dug my headlamp out of my rucksack and returned to the rocks. I cupped my hands together, like I used to do to call Mourning Doves as a kid, and began imitating the loon calls that I had heard so many nights in Maine. After many attempts to even get a sound, I sounded the three note call of the loon. Compared to one another, the notes would be middle, high, and then low. I repeated it a few times and listened to my call echo over the water and off the valley walls. To my surprise, a loon, seemingly distant, returned the same call. I continued to call and the loon continued to answer. I could hear that the loon neared my rock on the water. He spotted me before I saw him, and with a rapid succession of clucks and many splashes, my game was up. I had lured him from a far bank and brought him close to my rocky shore. I wonder if so much time in the woods brings out a more animalistic, maybe just more natural, side of me I’ve never known. I believe it might, and perhaps in a few months I might experience relationship with nature that few ever do.
A thunderstorm has arrived, I need to fortify myself. Tonight, also, I have hung a bear bag for the first time in a long time. The last night I used my tent, the night before arriving in Monson, an animal woke me trying to get into my tent. I opened my eyes, turned and looked, and saw two claws scraping the tent fabric. I grabbed a propane tank and thought about whacking the hell out of it, but I decided it would be better to simply push the animal away as not to get sprayed if it were a skunk. I placed my hand against the tent wall and pushed away the warm body.