Bemis Mountain Lean-to to Piazza Rock Lean-to
Miles Hiked: 19.5
AT Milage: 1973.4
Last night a section hiker in the shelter was snoring extremely loudly. Usually it doesn’t bother me too much when people snore gently, I find it a little comforting. Clearly this man had severe sleep apnea and I was a little concerned he was going to stop breathing. I slept surprisingly well given the loud noise, but another older gentleman who was a thru hiker as well (named Pura Vida) was extremely rude about the man snoring in the morning. He loudly announced that some people know they shouldn’t be sleeping in shelters. I felt really bad for the man with sleep apnea and definitely disagreed with Pura Vida’s view point that only certain people should sleep in shelters. The way I look at it, the shelters are for absolutely everyone, whether you snore louder than a train, leave at 3am, stay up on your phone or reading all night, toss and turn, or arrive at midnight. Yes, hikers do have the option to make choices that show consideration for others, but at the end of the day if YOU choose to sleep in a shelter then YOU are choosing to subject yourself to the habits of your potential bunk mates whether they annoy you or not. If you don’t like someone or something they do then YOU have the option to leave. I was pretty mad about how Pura Vida treated the man and I really wish I had politely spoken out against him because he was so mean about it. The thing that kills me the most is that this is Pura Vida’s second and a half time completing a thru hike of the AT so clearly he’s had to have chosen to sleep with a ton of strangers in the shelters and I’m sure had put up with a lot of shelter fiascos as have I by hiking this year. Sometimes shelter life makes me laugh about how I find myself sleeping right next to strangers all the time.
Anyways, I got on trail just before 8am. The first three miles of the day involved a downhill descent in an alpine like environment. I listened to my music and had a good time nimbly navigating through the rocks and mud. At one point I got really close to a grouse that was in the middle of he trail so I snapped a few pictures of him. Grouse are one animal that I’ve heard quite often on the trail but don’t always see. The grouse up north seem to make a slightly different sound than the ones in the south. They are a fun animal to hear. At the bottom of the hill was a nice bench so I took a break to rest my knees, eat a second breakfast, and air out my wet feet. At this point Doc caught up to me and we hiked pretty much the rest of the day together. It was so nice to have company and the miles flew by. My legs were feeling great so I set an aggressive pace for us of over 2mph. We took lunch at a shelter near a pond and sat by the “shore” to eat our lunches. After lunch we continued on and it began to rain. We passed a lake that had public Canoes and even though it was raining we couldn’t resist the urge to go canoeing so we did. It was a quick 20 minute tour of the small lake. It was beautiful and I’m glad we didn’t pass the opportunity up. We were hiking so fast it felt like we had extra time to do random things like Canoe and still make it to our destinations. Five miles later, Doc and I split up because he had to go and get a package of food he mailed to himself at a hostel in town. I continued on the last two miles to the shelter which were surprisingly easy. Even though today was rainy and cold, I thought it was a really nice rain and the colors of the fall leaves really stood out in it. I didn’t mind my soaking wet shoes and clothes or the fact I would start shivering every time I would stop for a moment. Somedays I’m just so happy and thankful to be out hiking I could care less about the weather or if everything on my hike goes wrong. I still can’t believe I’m in Maine and it makes me walk around with a stupid grin on my face.
When I arrived at the shelter there were three people all bundled up in their sleeping bags fast asleep. They didn’t talk to me or each other the whole time. I think they were just cold and tired. Their gear looked like section hikers but I’m not quite sure. Maybe they will wake up and talk to me in the morning!
I was going to try and describe why I thought their gear didn’t look like a thru hiker’s and realized I can’t quite covey it in words. It’s not that it is drastically different or anything, it’s just something you learn to pick up on after spending so much time with other thru, day, and section hikers. My favorite way to say this is that “it takes one to know one”. When I go shopping at Walmart or walk down the street trail towns it is super easy to pick out the other thru hikers in a crowd even if it isn’t completely obvious. Sometimes it’s the funny limp, other times it’s the conversation about how one granola bar has more calories per dollar than the other or the logo on their hat from a specific brewery back in Virginia or a cottage industry backpacking brand. When you see another person who’s walking 2000 miles on the same route just like you, you know. Other people who spend time around thru hikers often pick up on the hints as well. There are many times I’ve just looked completely homeless in a town or walking down the side of the road. Usually everyone is mistaken for being homeless at least once on this journey.
I quickly got into dry clothes and snuggled up in my sleeping bag to eat dinner. I fell asleep super early around 7pm and woke up at 10 realizing my food was still next to me and I didn’t have my head lamp. I stayed up on my phone looking at the map and writing this blog post.