Location: Wadleigh Creek
I thought I would never find Wadleigh Creek. The day seemed to draw on and on without end. Several times I considered setting up my tent, just so my aching knees could rest. My right knee hurts the most, on the inner and upper parts around my kneecap. Tomorrow I’ll wrap it with an ACE bandage. When I walk, it helps to put one foot directly in front of the other no matter the pain. If I compensate for the injury, then something else starts hurting because I am walking irregularly. I should also stop swinging my heavy boots around roots and rocks. I think my boots, especially when wet, are putting awkward strain on my leg joints, especially my knees.
However, as I said about frequently wanting to stop hiking and set up camp, I pressed onward. I told myself to just see what was around the next bend in the trail, through the next thicket or over the next hill. After enough of these little steps, I finally found the shelter. I hugged the corner post of the structure as soon as I arrived.
I have set up my inner tent inside the lean-to. I am sorry I don’t have a camera to take a picture. The many mesh panels allow me to see outside and keep the bugs out while I sleep. Today I hope and think I hiked out of black fly territory. A man told me I should hike out of them in three days, and here I am, three days into the Wilderness. The mosquitoes still swarm constantly, and I regret to say that I am out of bug spray for the next two days.
I saw my first snake today. It had one, maybe two black stripes down its gray back. I only saw the last half of the snake as it disappeared into the green underbrush by my foot.
Today the sun shined occasionally. The trail was still flooded in many places because of the three weeks of rain Maine has had. A violent downpour kept me in my tent this morning and added to the trail’s conditions. The trail along Pollywog Stream had been overcome by the flooding stream. The water on the trail came up to my knees and it flowed quickly. The rapids, and I would most certainly call them rapids, pulled at my lower legs and boots as I tried to find footholds on the rocky bottom. Stepping stones placed by the MATC to facilitate passage when puddle form proved useless. The rocks were smooth and slippery, so grounded roots worked best for footholds. After finally passing the sharp bend where the stream had overcome her banks, I reached a mud patch above the waterline and poured the water from my boots. I say ban ‘X’ scraped in the mud by a boot heel. I could only laugh. For the second time today, I changed my socks. Much to my dismay, though not surprisingly, I stumbled upon another flooded section of the trail. I tiptoed slowly across submerged rocks and roots, but the water still managed to fill my boots. Shortly thereafter, while walking along the root-ridden trail around the East side of Crescent Pond, I slipped and fell hard for the first time, badly bending my trekking pole beneath my hip. I don’t think it needs to be replaced.
I have seen neither a sunrise nor a sunset since beginning my hike. The clouds linger in the mornings and evening, and the day brings rain more often than sunshine. The water, in all forms, does more to dampen morale and spirits than any other element or obstacle. Steep inclines and declines, switchbacks and boulders do little to my emotions when compared to a soggy pair of socks and a three pound boot. I become so frustrated when I dry myself and am soaked once again within an hour. But I have learned quickly that the circumstance well represents the trail. I overcome one hardship or obstacle, which a blister, mountain or river, for the opportunity to best another.
Speaking of thinks to overcome, I still fear noises in the night. Only twice have I spent a night alone in the woods, but on both nights I was being watched by Outward Bound instructors I’m sure. Often I’ll shout, ‘Get outta here!’ whenever I hear a suspicious noise. I have already seen one animal investigate my food bag and then scurry into the bushes while I’ve been writing. Last night I heard a pack of wolves or coyotes; they howled as they ran in a pack. It reminded me of sitting on a deer stand at North State as a pack of dogs chases a deer’s trail in front of me. Perhaps they were feral dogs. The pack would change direction randomly and I could undoubtedly tell when they were running towards me. I forced my eyes shut and fell asleep. In the morning, I discovered that neither the rain nor animal had attacked my tent. With each night that passes and with each animal encounter, I’ll become more comfortable. The morning did bring a new problem though: slugs, big fat yellow slugs on my tent and everything I had left outside of my tent.
Hopefully tonight will be uneventful. The sun might be setting. The rain patters the tin roof of this shelter. Time for bed. Sleeping alone once more. I saw no one today, and I cannot remember the last time in my life that I saw no one for an entire day.