Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Day -1: Millinocket, ME

If this post turns out weird, it's because I'm typing on a bluetooth keyboard attached to my phone. Slow going, but this is how I'll be doing it on the trail, which by the way begins TOMORROW! Today started late, as I was making up the sleep I missed the night before. So now I'm feeling good. I headed to Baxter State Park, where I met Ranger Bob at the visitor's center. He continued the trend of really nice people I meet in Maine. We bonded over being left handed and he finally sold me on bringing a head net to keep the black flies out of my face. Apparently those things love all the ponds around here, and they're huge. Anyways, Ranger Bob told me that the namesake of the hotel where I'm staying, Pamola, is not the owner's wife, as I had guessed. In fact, Pamola is a Native American mythical figure, a confusing eagle-moose-man hybrid. I'm told Pamola controls the weather and releases rock slides on people who litter. I think he views me favorably because the weather is looking good for a Katahdin climb tomorrow. Pamola must have seen me pick up a cup in the forest that one time.

Next, I drove in to Katahdin Stream Campground, the starting point of tomorrow's hike and the place I'll be staying tomorrow night. The approach road for the campground is also the AT, so my introduction was in a vehicle. After preparing for what felt like forever, reading countless books and trail journals, I felt like I was stepping out onto holy ground. At the ranger station, I met a father and daughter embarking on a post-graduation section hike tomorrow, as well as a few SOBOs who turned back on a Katahdin summit attempt because of the crummy weather. Those guys could have been miserable, but they had nothing but optimism on their breath. "Guess we'll try tomorrow!" one of them said. That's a valuable trait to have.

After chatting with the ranger and getting my site reservation set, I was back off to Millinocket, where I got to buy food and my head net! After a Chinese dinner from the restaurant attached to the hotel, I'm enjoying one last hotel stay before getting an early start tomorrow. I expect 8-10 hours round-trip, plus like 13 hours of summit photos, so it'll be a long day.

-Aaron

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