Saturday–August 21, 2021
Location–Bigelow Range, Bigelow Col Campsite
Hostel of Maine, just luxurious! I’ll be camped out on the trail tonight, but plans are to return to the hostel two more nights, starting tomorrow. Yippee!
Much needed rest; I slept well. Coffee’s on early; breakfast at seven. I’m right there!
I thought I had my pack (and me) ready to go but I miss the first shuttle to ME-27. So, soon as Justin returns from the first run, he offers to do a special run for me. On the porch and putting my shoes and socks on, just for that moment, I’m entertained by fellow thru-hiker, Ketchup. A happy fellow, uplifting, country kind of twang, his style, fingers flying across the guitar strings for backup. ‘Twas only a click in time, but to me–a blessing our paths crossed. Thanks Ketchup!
Logistics are such that to schedule the protracted hour-long run clear around to Flagstaff Road–an evening pickup would be so much the better than a morning trip. So, decision is for me to hike through the Bigelows northbound. And by golly, when my thoughts return to times spent in the Bigelows, I vividly remember my northbound passage. East Rider and I were hiking together then. Reaching the Ledges on Little Bigelow, I recall us both standing there at that moment, awestruck, looking out in silence to what presented before us. I’ll (perhaps) succeed in enticing you to come to the Bigelows–after you’ve read the verses I’ve chosen to close this and tomorrow’s journal entries.
And so, after meeting Blacklight (southbound Eastern Continental Trail hiker), Justin special-shuttles me the short distance to the ME-27 trail crossing and I’m headed (northbound) into the Bigelows. Tomorrow afternoon, it’ll work better for him to make the long, long shuttle run around, to fetch me then, after I come down from Avery and Little Bigelow Peaks.
The day starts right off with a climb, by running me up an elaborately built staircase, then to cross a rustic bridge. I sense the beginning of fall here in the north woods. Maples are showing subtle color change. Leaves scattered along the trail are bright red.
I repeat the same stupid stunt I pulled a number of weeks ago. I take a blue-blaze trail out to an overlook and when I return to the trail I head off in the wrong direction. A couple of tenths down I meet Hambone coming toward me. He gets me stopped, turned around, and headed the right direction again–dumb-dumb… Thanks, Hambone!
The climb today is up past North Peak, the Horns, then over South Peak. A tricky down over sloped ledges, then comes the climb to West Peak. Rugged climbs make for breathtaking vistas, and today the views from South and West Peaks are more than ample reward.
My planned destination today is Bigelow Col, the low gap between West and Avery Peaks, but neither of the campsite springs are running–and I need water. So I continue past the old Ranger’s Cabin (locked and shuttered), to begin my ascent of Avery. Part way up is a boxed spring, which contains needed water for the night. My campsite is a small, marginally flat spot over the side right down from the spring.
THE BIGELOWS [9-98]
The Bigelows of western Maine,
Are something to behold.
’twill take a chapter in my book,
A story yet untold.
I’ll write about the mountains lush,
With birch and fir and spruce.
You’ll read about the porcupine,
The beaver and the moose.
I’ll write so vivid you will hear
The calling of the loon.
Across the silent, high-held ponds,
Pure diamonds in the moon.
You’ll understand why *Percival
And †Myron loved this place.
I’ll paint in words, a picture,
Of its majesty and grace.
And when you go to close the book,
And put it on the shelf –
’twill haunt you till you’ve seen,
*PERCIVAL PROCTOR BAXTER 1876-1969 – A native and former Governor of Maine. He gave the land now known as Baxter State Park, location of Mt. Katahdin, to the people of Maine. Percival loved the Bigelows.
†MYRON HALIBURTON AVERY 1899-1952 – A native/resident of Maine all his life. Myron most single-handedly built the Appalachian Trail. He, too, loved the Bigelows. A 4000-footer in the Bigelow Range is named in his honor.