Woke up early to a very warm and dry morning. I went down to the water to take early morning photos and see if there were any moose out, but I saw none. Boo. Back at camp, I was starting to pack up and pull everything together when Boss and I heard moose noises. To the water!
Boss headed back south on the trail, and I went out to where I had been taking photos. It was a large lake, and I didn't see anything right away. The noises were loud though, and from the other side...? Then I spotted them. Two moose SWIMMING across the lake. I got a few photos on my real camera, but they're a bit fuzzy because of the distance. One was a bull with a full set of antlers. The other was a cow. Very cool! It would have been nice to see a few a little closer than 200 yards, but I can't complain. I was watching two moose swimming! (ps: this photo is from the internet... but it's probably similar to what the scene looked like close-up, minus the cow...)
Boss came back from his expedition into the lake, and we had breakfast as Backwards left camp. We ate lots since it would be a long day of hiking and we would only need one more breakfast (what?!). Then we were off on our LAST full day of hiking in the woods. The terrain was nice and the weather was warm. Too warm? It felt more like the end of May than the end of September.
We got up to Rainbow Ledges and got a view of Katahdin. We couldn't see the top because there was a large cloud hovering up there and covering it up. I hope that cloud burns off for anyone climbing up there today. We continued on, to kill nine miles or so before our first break at a shelter. Master Chief and Backwards were there having a snack, and we all talked about what we'd eat at the Abol Bridge camp store a few miles away.
We hiked on and got to the bridge. Stunning view of Katahdin, but that big ole cloud was still there! I think Uncas and HD Mama were up there in it. A hundred yards past the bridge was the camp store where the guys bought lots of snacks. I ate a little out of my food bag and a Whoopie Pie from the store. It was so sweet it almost made me sick, but it was a nice, sugary treat. We took a long snack break in the shade and filled up on calories.
Then, we were off to conquer that last ten miles to get to the Birches camp at the Katahdin Stream Campground, which is 5.2 miles from Baxter Peak (the end). Luckily, it was really nice, flat trail that followed the stream. Before we knew it, we'd arrived and registered at the Ranger Station. It was getting so real!
After taking care of a few admin bits (I was #386 of the nobo's from this season), we walked back to our designated camp spot and found Tripper, Wizard, Stickbuilt, 413 and Scooter. Well, hey! It was so nice to finally catch those Aussies! We chatted with them, and then Backwards and Master Chief rolled in. We made dinner around the fire, and already-done-thru-hiker True stopped by to drop off a cooler of drinks! Our last trail magic! Just when I thought I wouldn't get anymore... Thanks, True!
We ate and drank, and soon we were all retiring to our beds for our last night in the woods. It's so crazy that we'll all be climbing Katahdin in the morning. Baxter peak - the distant, fabled myth - is right outside the tent wall. The summit sign that we've seen in countless photos of joy, accomplishment, and completion. This journey that seemed like it had no end will finally be complete. It's all happening, and it just feels great.
I can't wait.
-- Posted from the trail...
Location:The Birches Camp, Baxter State Park