Time with Pie
HWY 4 to Sugarloaf Mountain, HWY 27
Apple Pie, the thru-hiker who had spoiled me and slackpacked me for a couple days in the White Mountains, met me in Rangeley. She wanted to hike Saddleback Mountain with me, an overnight hike for her, and we had epic weather for the task.
We began the climb, which had residual snow and ice, but nothing quite worthy of needing crampons. We chatted on the way up, talking about the diversity of trails I’d hike this year, and the sections of trails she was hopeful to set foot on, as she’s busy crafting and selling a line of fun, and rather adorable, backpacking buddies. They are these little stuffed creatures, in fun colors, and some with little backpacks of their own. She gave me one to clip to my pack, an incredibly lightweight buddy to keep Squackers, my plastic orange duck, company.
It’s been nice, getting to know another female hiker, one who has also hiked the Triple Crown, in addition to a dozen other trails like New Zealand and the Pacific Northwest Trail. I found we had alot of similarities, while admiring our differences. It was nice having a companion to traverse across the alpine summit of Saddleback Mountain, where a 3.5 mile ridge offers spectacular views stretching from the White Mountains all the way north to Katahdin. I snapped a dozen shots, adding scale to my photos, a perk of having a hiking companion.
We camped that night at an old shelter, where the now flat floorboards had recently been converted from baseball bat style floorboards. It made for a better sleep, although somebody could’ve used a level.
By morning, Apple Pie climbed from her sleeping bag and out into the brisk morning. Just like when my friend Meg joined me down south, back near Erwin, TN, Apple Pie got to experience what has become so normal, so routine to my everyday existence. Being this far north, months ahead of the herd, well, it’s still cold. The pace and process of packing up is always a bit more involved compared to that of a summer hike. Another week, and the CDT is mine! Do I have a countdown yet? Absolutely!
Apple Pie and I hiked toward Sugarloaf Mountain, the snowpack hard and therefore allowing us to float atop. Poor Legend though, from the look of the postholes, he had been there during the afternoon and on a warm day. What a difference a few days makes. Which reminds me of a hiker, a Canadian who had caught me in Yellowstone while on the CDT in 2011. He had started two weeks after me, finished a week ahead, and although he hiked through a fair amount of snow in the mountains of Colorado, from the sound of his stories, it was noticeably less than when I’d gone through. There is a benefit to starting a little bit later.
Now, I stayed above the snow, hiking north to Sugarloaf Mountain, where we took a 0.6 mile side trip up to the top. Exceptional views were met at the top, and I didn’t return back down that trail. Instead I descended from the ski resort on an access road, hiking the old AT. In fact, I passed a blue-blaze that had once been white. In fact, I stayed inside the old building atop Sugarloaf ten years ago, so I wonder if it was the official trail back then. So purists, I ask you, what’s the damn difference if your primary means leads you past the white blaze, but occassionally you stray, and ultimately you still connect the dots? Apple Pie encourages a good blue-blaze here and there, and in fact, we joked that she, and her husband Greenleaf, have become quite the enablers to such activity. My new trail name could become Shortcut Speedstick.