REAL TIME UPDATE: we have yellow blazed to Maine! We left VA around 4:40am this morning (7/17) and arrived at the White Wolf Inn in Stratton, ME after mannnnny hours of driving (13.5 to be exact), much of which I spent editing blog posts on my mom’s laptop and trying not to barf because of motion sickness. Here are a few driving pictures:
According to a comment in guthook, Caribou Valley Rd aka Caribou Pond Rd is now closed during the weekdays for logging, so our access point to get back to my exact re-entry point has theoretically been blocked until Saturday. The change happened on Monday, July 15th, so we just missed the cut-off! We don’t want to lose our buffer for hitting Katahdin with enough time to get Oakland home on time. Rather than deal with the logistics of hiking south and shuttling, we made a plan to brave the ski trails of sugarloaf resort to hike to the summit of sugarloaf where there is a blue blazed trail that leads down to the AT. The blue blaze comes out about 2.7 miles north of where I broke my elbow in 2017, which we have plans to revisit. It makes for a complicated and somewhat dramatic way to start our Maine leg, but Oakland is up for the adventure. Very sadly, the complications led to extended planning sessions and phones calls, which sealed the deal for keeping us in VA for an extra day (yesterday), thus making us lose the flexibility to meet up with my hiking friend Halfway. It was a long shot to begin with given his 2.5 hour drive (one-way) to get from family events in a different part of the state, but I’m pretty disappointed about it.
We arrived at the White Wolf Inn around 6pm. It was mind boggling to have breakfast in Virginia…well, technically Maryland because we ate in the car, and then have dinner in Maine across the street from a place that I haven’t seen since I broke my arm. Sadly, the White Wolf’s downstairs restaurant is closed on Wednesdays. After settling in, we zombie walked our way across the street to have a simple dinner at the Stratton Plaza which appears to be part bar, part hotel, and part restaurant. The front area is dotted with pool tables and you walk into a seating area that is likely populated more for the bar than the food. We sat near a handful of hikers that were up to their elbows in a nacho platter. Construction workers talked loudly at the bar and we marveled at their intense Maine accents. At some point, Oakland suggested that we ask the hikers whether they got off trail at the logging road or where it crosses RT 27. I scoffed, saying that no one gets out at the logging road unless they absolutely have to, but it seemed silly not to ask. I interrupted their dinner right as one woman had her mouth full of stringy cheesy pizza. After laughing about that, I asked the question of where they’d gotten off the trail without actually asking if they were hiking because hikers can almost always spot other hikers. They had in fact come from the logging road! And one of them used her car to drive in and out of there today. They turned out to be a jolly and personable group. One of them misheard me when I said that I broke my arm and thought that I’d broken my oboe. She then asked if she could call me oboe, which I of course agreed to should we ever meet again. They very unfortunately got trolled by the construction workers who did the classic “sit down at the table and be completely inappropriate while apologizing for being drunk and possibly inappropriate” routine. I wanted the hikers to tell them to shove off, but I know that’s not really what you do when faced with two men in a bar. You placate and exit as soon as possible, unless by some chance the attention is actually a good thing. We left the restaurant buoyed by the prospect of getting to hit the trail at the road rather than suffer up the steep grade of a ski trail while also feeling anxious about tenuous nature of the road access. For all we know, crews could arrive first thing in the morning and make the road impassable.
We are now settled back into the white horse. Our nerves are a bit on edge, our legs are stiff from the long ride, and I can already tell that I’m going to lose my shit when we take a detour to the spot where I broke my arm, but I’m so excited to show Oakland the wilds of Maine. The hikers at the restaurant didn’t do much to allay her fears of Maine after they despaired about how hard the hiking was from sugarloaf to the logging road. I tried to comfort Oakland by saying I did the hike with a broken arm, but I’m not sure it helped. I’m also not sure how much blog posting will get done while we’re in Maine, but I am writing daily notes and will work on publishing the backlog as soon as I can manage it. I will save some of the stories and emotions from today for the Day 85 post.
A gigantic thank you to my stepdad who braved sitting in the car with me for hours on end and who did the majority of the driving with a healthy chunk also done by Oakland. Tomorrow, we hike! In the meantime, here’s part of tonight’s sunset as seen from the white wolf while swatting mosquitoes and talking to two of the hikers we met at dinner who happen to be a gay married couple. Huzzah!