Location: Speck Pond
The sick boy was able to walk out of the woods with the help of rescue medics. They inched him down the mountain. Heavy Foot and Ketchup followed the group of people in case he collapsed and needed to be carried. They were really spirited about the possibility of carrying him out. By 5:00pm last night, both had their fanny packs loaded with snacks and emergency equipment and they were already wearing their headlamps. I was willing and able to volunteer to carry him, but I did want to continue on the trail. The daughter gave me four grocery bags full of beef jerky, Mountain House meals, and assorted snacks. It was about 150 dollars of food. I took a couple items and left the rest at the shelter to be divided among the hikers still in the lean-to when I left. After breaking down the tent that the medics slept in, I started for Old Speck Pond Mountain.
I crossed Baldpate Mountain early in the morning but not without some excitement. As I climbed above the tree line, the wind blasted hard against my right side. It pushed me off balance as I battled up the steep rock face. I climbed to the summit and sat to rest to take in the view. There was a thick fog in the valley. The wind cooled the sweat on my body, so I put on my jacket to keep warm. I noticed that the fog began to shift and then lift. As it rose, the wind pushed the fog up the mountain. The white cloud engulfed the top of the mountain and limited my vision to about twenty feet. I decided to wait for the fog to pass. I stayed at the high elevation marker and watched as the fog swept across the rocks like a blizzard. Thick patches came and went in waves. As the fog cleared, I took a picture of myself at the summit and continued down the mountain in the haze. I could barely distinguish the outlines of the cairns so I crept slowly down the long rock face.
I took a break again at Grafton Notch at a parking lot full of cars. I hoped that Humpty Dumpty might be handing out cookies and sodas in the parking lot. I stopped to read all of the signs and pamphlets on a bulletin board in the parking lot and then began the four mile climb up Old Speck, the third highest peak in Maine. Tonight I learned that a couple had seen a hiker reading the signs at Grafton Notch as they pulled in to do trail magic. Tortoise told me that I missed burgers, beers, and sodas by only minutes. I was really disappointed.
The hike up Old Speck took forever. There were several false peaks that aggravated me. I met two Canadian girls on the mountain. They led a group of girls from the same camp as the boys I’d been seeing. They were relieved to hear from me that it was not one of the campers or one of their boyfriends that had gotten so sick. They could barely speak English, but I was able to calm their fears with single words and short phrases. News travels quickly on the trail, but usually the stories are patched and lacking details.
I paid the 8 dollar fee to camp at Speck Pond, the highest pond in Maine. I met two northbound thru-hikers from Boone, NC. One, Snickers (Jacob), lived in Raleigh for a time and graduated from Wakefield. He knows both Blair Dougher and Melissa Bucci. Tortoise also lives in Boone, NC, but was born and raised in Chapel Hill. I’ve met many people from North Carolina on this trip.
Tomorrow I’ll complete the hardest mile in Maine, the Mahoosuc Notch. I might try to cross the state border, but I’ll see how my legs feel after bouldering ‘The Notch.’