September 30: mile 2167: stealth camp at rainbow lake

Not only is the six mile plan out the window, but I have learned from Achilles that the end point before the mountain is not 2175 as I thought, but 2185 at birches Shelter below the mountain.  The wilderness ends at 2175 at the gate to Baxter State Park.  It’s is then ten miles to the shelter at the base of the mountain.  That makes my now seven day plan a little dicey.  

Even worse is that I didn’t learn that last night, he informed me at about ten in the morning while we sat by the fire drinking real percolated coffee from the trail magic guy.  Just what I needed, a late start.  Luckily, things remained flat, albeit root infested.  The big miles are also taking a toll on my feet.  Nonetheless I hiked hard and fast through continuing breathtaking scenery.  Northern Maine is truly special.  Achilles told me he was camping at a camp site at 2164.  That would leave me 21 miles the following day.  Yikes.  He said that he heard about a stealth spot just off trail at rainbow lake. That would be 2167 which would leave 18 miles the following day.  With no margin days left I resolved to head for that stealth spot.

I was somewhat slowed by my injuries and root snarls, but the flat terrain allowed for pretty good progress.  I did the best I could and made the fifteen miles to the campsite at dusk.  Achilles was setting up with three or so other hikers.  Rather than condemn myself to 21 miles the penultimate day, I got my head lamp out and set out to night hike the last three miles.  Worrisome was the fact the stealth site might be hard to find in the dark.  The trail was blazed pretty good with white rectangle marked trees every 100 feet or so.  Nonetheless, it was hard to stay on trail at times with numerous fallen trees to contend with.  It was slow going, I progressed onward.  I had to think to myself how far I’d progressed in terms of not fearing the woods.  A lone night hike like this would have unthinkable back in Tennessee or Georgia when I started.  Oddly, I felt perfectly at ease.

I got to rainbow lake and the stealth spot was right on the water with room for four or five tents.  I was surprised that no one else had nabbed it.  I could see the moon on the lake from my tent as I settled in.  Eighteen miles starting at 10:30– not bad.

I have left myself another 18 miles for tomorrow, the last day before the mountain.  I will cross from the 100 mile wilderness into Baxter State Park after eight miles.  Happy Trail.

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