Friday, October 13, 2017

Jim's Fall Hike - Epilogue

Friday, October 6, 2017

Jim's Fall Hike - Finale (Really!!!)

Here is the journal of Jim's final two days.  It is so hard to believe that this four year quest to hike from Key West, FL to Lubec ME is actually done:

Thurs., Oct., 5 - Some days I feel really lucky if things have gone particularly well. Today was not one of those days. After breakfast at our B&B, we drove to Machias so I could buy ANOTHER Subway sandwich for lunch. Then off I went, heading east and hoping to minimize the number of miles I would walk on heavily trafficked U.S. Route 1. The first way was to take another road that more or less runs straight while Rte 1 curves for the first three miles. Well I had difficulty finding that other road named Scott’s Hill Road. Turning onto what I thought was that road (no road sign visible) I walk a short distance and come to a mailbox that showed an address of Old County Road. Now either this street goes by two names, or it changes names and Google didn’t recognize that.  Not wanting to risk walking down the wrong road and having to backtrack, I returned to Rte 1 and walked this highway for the first three miles. That brought me back to our B&B, where I picked up my backpack, used the bathroom, and then left to do the rest of today’s mileage.

Within a few minutes I was on the road that Google showed getting me to Rte 1 in three miles. Alas, that paved road soon turned to gravel, and in another ¾ mile was a grassy path heading into the woods. NO WAY was I going to rely on that path lasting another 2 miles. So I backtracked for 15 minutes, found Rte 1 and continued on my way. This cost me at least a half hour of time, and an extra 1.5 miles of distance, not counting the extra mile or so that I would have to hike along the highway because the “shortcut” wasn’t.

Route 1 may be a Federal Highway, but it is in incredibly poor condition east of East Machias. The paved shoulder is missing in many places, with chunks of it preventing me from walking adjacent to the car lane. So I would hop onto the road when there was no vehicle approaching, then back off as a car or truck came by. All-in-all, not a really pleasant walk today. A little after noon, I found a  decent spot for lunch – a large cement block about two feet high and a flat rectangular surface about 2’ by 3’ – situated on a dirt driveway about 100 feet off  the roadway. Perfect for sitting on while I ate my sandwich and relaxed my feet. But the break was brief, as I knew I had several more miles to walk today than the 16.5 originally planned.

The afternoon miles passed pretty uneventfully, as I walked now on a wide paved shoulder most of the time. The terrain was rolling hills with gentle changes in elevation. Although the temperature was warm – the car thermometer read 73 degrees – there was no humidity and a pleasant breeze. By now I was in really rural Maine, with very few houses or other buildings to break the monotony of the woods that lined this road. A few minutes before 2:00 pm I hear the familiar toot of Jane’s car horn and she pulls off the road for a brief discussion. At her suggestion I swap my backpack for a bottle of water as I have just about 2.5 miles left to reach our B&B, where she is about to check in. And 45 minutes later I joined her there, happy to have finished today’s long and unlucky journey.
Miles Today - 18     Total Cumulative Miles - 239.5

Fri., Oct. 6 - This is it!  Day 7 of this section, and day 17 of the walk across the entire state of Maine, from the NH border in Fryeburg to the Canadian border in Lubec. More significantly, this is the last day of my hike up the East Coast from Key West Florida. So no wonder I began today’s walk with great excitement.

As I set out from the bed and breakfast, the sky was overcast but not threatening rain. I would be on the same road all morning – Maine state route 189 - with just 10.5 miles between me and the bridge to Canada. Jane and I agreed to meet up in Lubec and walk together to the border in the middle of the bridge. This is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt bridge over the Lubec Narrows that connects Canada’s Campobello Island with the mainland U.S.

The real estate market in this area must be pretty poor, as nearly half the residences I passed were either for sale or had been abandoned and let fall into disrepair many years ago. The only notable thing I saw was an unusual wildlife sighting: a beautiful large red fox jumped out of the bushes just ahead of me, ran to the middle of the road, then apparently changed its mind (maybe because a person was just a few feet away?) and returned to the protection of the same roadside vegetation it had just emerged from. All of that in the space of less than five seconds.

As I neared the city about three hours after starting, it began to sprinkle. So I donned a light jacket and hoped the heavens wouldn’t soak me before I could meet Jane. This is the only rain I have felt all week. Fortunately the sprinkles didn’t get any worse and I stayed dry. A few minutes later I saw her car and with umbrellas in hand, we strolled the quarter-mile distance to the bridge. We met the U.S. Border Patrol agent that was stopping all cars coming in from Canada and asked if we could walk the bridge to the middle. He said OK, and so long as we didn’t get out of his sight, we wouldn’t need to produce the passports we had brought along in case they might be needed. Although there really was no pedestrian lane for us, traffic was very light, so we just shared the car lane with whatever vehicles came along. At the middle we snapped some pictures, then returned quickly to once again meet up with the BP agent. When we told him this was the end of a 2,500 mile walk north from the Florida Keys, he laughed as though we were pulling his leg. “Really!” we told him, this is the end of a very long hike. I think he then believed us, but I’m not positive.

By now it was time for lunch, so we drove to the waterfront restaurant that our B&B hostess recommended this morning. Naturally I ordered a celebratory beer, and had already begun to drink it when I recognized how appropriate was the brand I had selected: Long Trail Ale. Yes, I had walked a very long trail to get to this point.
In a few days I will  write the usual epilogue and include some reflections on completing this 2,466 mile journey, my third after earlier walking the Appalachian Trail (2,180 miles long), and hiking across the country (4,300 miles). That’s a total of nearly 9,000 miles. Each of these three was physically challenging and all three are different from each other. Now what will be the next big challenge?

Miles Today - 10.5     Total Cumulative Miles - 250
Total Miles From Key West, FL to Lubec, ME - 2,466

Day 16 - Riverside Inn B&B - note the bed on the top of the sign
Day 16 - Hike Start in Machias
Day 17 - Hike Start from Whiting Bay B&B
Day 17 - Welcome to Lubec
Day 17 - The Easternmost Point in the US
Day 17 - FDR Bridge Sign
Day 17 - Jim Walking on the Bridge to Canada
Day 17 - The end of a very long walk - a Long Trail Ale

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Jim's Fall Hike - Part 6

Here is the journal of Jim's next two days:

Tues., Oct., 3This was the coldest morning yet, with the temperature just 28 degrees at 7:00 a.m. A solid layer of frost coated the car windshield. Our hosts at the B&B prepared a scrumptious breakfast of fresh fruit and crepes and we obliged by eating as much as we could. By 8:45 I was walking down the main street of Cherryfield, wearing long pants and a fleece jacket for warmth. Although a tad chilly, it was really a delightful morning, with the sun shining brightly. Soon the temperature had risen enough that I could remove the jacket and tie it around my waist.
The cold nights and mornings are hastening the changing of leaf color. It seems the maples are becoming more red every day, and more of them are falling to the ground as I pass by them. For the first several hours, the DST ran parallel to U.S. Route 1 and just about 50-100 feet away, so vehicular noise was my companion this morning. But not ATVs, as just one went past.
Yesterday and today I saw several remnants of a by-gone era: very old telegraph posts, some with wires still attached, apparently left over from when the telegraph was a vital communications link for the railroads. Most of the posts are long gone, perhaps rotted away and blown over into the underbrush, or no longer visible because the forest has grown around them. So just a few are left to be seen by those of us traveling on this old rail bed.
Today’s hike is a relatively short one, just 12.5 miles that will take me four hours to travel. Jane met me two hours after I had started so we could drive to the nearby Subway for a lunch sandwich. Our meeting spot was a cemetery located adjacent to the trail. After buying lunch and returning to the cemetery, I swapped my hiking pants for shorts and my nearly worn out sandals for new ones. Less than two hours later she met me again at another road-trail intersection. I had just finished my sandwich at a picnic table conveniently located along the trail.
Two weeks ago I commented in this journal about the profusion of wildflowers along the roads I walked that week. What a difference from this week, when nearly all the flowers are gone. Only the last few goldenrods and some blue asters remain. Like the maple leaves, the flowers are saying that the season is fast changing.
With today’s mileage, I am now over halfway through this hike’s final week. Now just three more days of walking remain, until we get to the border town of Lubec and the bridge from there to Campobello Island and Canada.
Miles Today - 12.5     Total Cumulative Miles - 206

Wed., Oct. 4How blessed I am this week – it’s another super day for hiking the trail and enjoying all the beauty nature has to offer. Breakfast at the local restaurant was the bargain meal of this entire trip: we each ordered a fried egg, bacon or sausage, and toast, all for less than $7 for the two of us!
By 9:00 a.m. we were back at the trail, and today Jane decided to walk with me for a bit. She snapped a picture of a telegraph pole that I had described yesterday. I would see many more on my hike today, most in a pretty dilapidated state. The footing on this short stretch of the trail was pretty decent, so she had no trouble with it. After 15 minutes she said “go with God” and was walking back to the car. I could now accelerate to my usual pace, but glad to have shared the DST with her for a while.
Today’s hike was filled with streams and wetlands, great for wildlife and super for viewing wildlife. As I approached a bridge over a good sized flowing stream, I heard some splashing activity in the water. Coming closer I saw two otters frolicking in the water, taking turns diving underwater and then emerging (this is why Jim needs to have a smart phone with him - this picture would have been fabulous). They were only about 25 feet away, so I got a good view of these great swimmers. Whatever they were doing (hunting for breakfast?) they seemed to be enjoying themselves and not at all concerned that they had a spectator nearby.
I assume all this water and swampy land is prime moose territory, so I kept looking for one of those  large creatures. I did see, for the first time on this trip, plenty of moose prints in the loose gravel – apparently they like to hike the trail too!  Moose prints are quite distinctive, nothing else is similar. But alas, no moose sightings were on my agenda today.
When we parted this morning, I told Jane to look for me in the small town of Whitneyville around 12:40, giving me 3:40 to hike 12 miles.  She was planning to spend some time at the Porter Memorial Library in Machias.  And right at that time, I arrived to see her in the trailside parking lot. Just moments earlier I had seen a large snake in the middle of the trail, so we backtracked to take its picture, but it was gone. A four-mile drive got us to a highly rated restaurant in downtown Machias, where we enjoyed a fine lunch of lobster and fried clam rolls. I really needed the mid-day break today as my left foot has become quite painful, and even two ibuprofen pills mid-morning didn’t seem to take care of it. But lunch and a one-hour rest did the trick and I was pain-free this afternoon. Four more miles of trail hiking and I was done for the day by 3:00 pm. Coincidentally, the finish spot was at an old train station right across the street from where we had eaten lunch two hours earlier.
For the next two days, the remainder of this hike, I will be walking the roads. I have enjoyed hiking over 50 miles on the Down East Sunrise Trail, but beyond Machias it is not a practical route to get to Lubec. As mentioned earlier this is a popular off-road route for ATVs, but surprisingly not for cyclists. This, despite the fact that it is the longest continuous off-road piece of the East Coast Greenway, the 3000 mile bike trail from Florida  to Maine. But the surface of the DST is too rutted and stony and too sandy in places to be a great route for bicycles. So ATVs and snowmobiles in the winter are the main users of the trail.
Tonight we are staying in another B&B. This one is called the Riverside Inn and naturally it is on the banks of a tidal river. As I write this, the tide is coming in and it looks like the water is flowing upstream.
Miles Today - 15.5     Total Cumulative Miles - 221.5

Day 14 - Tuesday Morning Leaving our Great B&B
Day 15 - Old Telegraph Pole Along Downeast Sunrise Trail
Day 15 - Off Jim Goes After Jane Turned Around
Day 15 - Beautiful Bookcase at Machias Library

Monday, October 2, 2017

Jim's Fall Hike - Part 5

Here is the journal of Jim's next three days:

Sat., Sept., 30 - We began today by driving over 200 miles to get back to Ellsworth, where I had last walked nine days ago. It was raining as we left home, but only lightly, and then just intermittently as the morning wore on. Arriving in Ellsworth at noon, we found an Irish pub that looked like our kind of place. Following lunch we drove around town, finding the hotel where we will spend the next two nights, the church where we will attend Mass tomorrow morning, and the Washington Junction train depot where I will finish today's short hike. Then we drove 3.5 miles west out of town on Route 1, dropping me off right where I had been picked up on Thursday last week - at the road quaintly named Hagan's Elbow.

After about 30 minutes of walking, I noticed someone hiking in my direction on the other side of the road. He yelled to me "where're headed?" and I responded "Lubec". " I just came from there" he says. He crosses the road, we introduce ourselves and quickly realize we have much in common. Tim Evans also is a long-distance walker, now headed to Boston, with plans to eventually go all the way to Florida. He travels alone, carries what he needs in two small packs, one on his back and one around his waist. He has hiked extensively in Europe and recommends I give that a try. He maintains a website called "". I gave him my email address and we promised to stay in touch with each other. Twenty minutes later I continued east-bound and he walked off in the other direction. In all my many years of road-walking, I have never before met a stranger pounding the pavement like me. He likewise has never met a road warrior.

By 3:00 pm I was at our hotel, having covered about 5 miles, with another 2 left to do. Jane had checked in and unloaded all our luggage and other paraphernalia into the room. After a quick bathroom break, I walked just a few feet onto the adjacent Downeast Sunrise Trail (DST) that will be my pathway for the next 45 miles. As I had approached the hotel, a train full of passengers enjoying a slow but scenic ride passed me by. The nearby train depot is the end of the line for the 87-mile long DST. This afternoon I traveled just two miles on this wide, packed gravel trail, passing through wetlands that signs informed me were habitat for a great variety of birds. Mechanized vehicles are generally prohibited on the DST, with the notable exceptions of snowmobiles and ATVs. The former are not an issue this time of year, but several of the latter passed me at a moderate pace. These noisy, dust-raising 4-wheel vehicles could be a nuisance tomorrow, as it will be Sunday and I expect to see more of them then. Just as I arrived at the designated destination spot, Jane showed up and we returned to the hotel.

Miles Today - 7     Total Cumulative Miles - 163.5

Sun., Oct. 1 - It was quite cool when we got up this morning, and we noticed a thin layer of frost on the car at 7:30. After a quick and unsatisfying breakfast at the hotel, we drove half a mile to church for Mass. After a brief stop back at the hotel to change clothes, we drove to the trail parking lot where I finished yesterday's hike. Other vehicles were unloading large ATVs that I knew I would see and hear zoom past me on the trail in just a few minutes. The temperature was rising fast as I started the day's hike with two jackets layered to keep me toasty warm. But within a half hour it was warm enough for me to remove both and walk in shirtsleeves.

The trail today was variable in surface, with smooth ledgepack providing a solid rock-free treadway in some places, and loose gravel with small stones in others. As the ATVs passed me, they would create a cloud of dust and dirt, a pretty unpleasant experience for those like me that they literally left in the dust as they roared down the trail. Most of them were traveling in the same direction as I was, so they approached from the rear. But I could hear them coming, even with my poor hearing, for these are not quiet vehicles. The largest ones were nearly the size of a small car. I fail to understand the thrill of driving these off-road vehicles along a dusty trail that resembles a gravel road. Over the course of 3 hours I  counted 17 of them or about one every ten minutes. Sharing the trail with them was OK but not something I would want to do all the time. Still, it's an acceptable trade-off for avoiding the noise, smell and risk of road traffic.

By 11:30 I was feeling hungry, so I found a sloping rock to sit on to eat my Subway sandwich and banana lunch. I really enjoyed this trail today, as it permitted me some gorgeous views of the woods, fields, and wetlands through which it passes. There are mileposts every mile so I could readily compute my pace - under 17-minute miles early this morning, then slowing to about 18 minute miles later. The forests on both sides of the trail were youngish in age, and though they included some tall pines and spruces, they didn't have the girth of really old trees. So I infer that this area was heavily logged, probably about 25-30 years ago.

With 2.5 miles remaining, I left the trail to do some road-walking. This was designed to save me some distance, as the trail does an oxbow-like loop for the next several miles and I can cut the distance by walking roads and rejoining the trail. After another half-hour, I turned onto General Cobb Road. From here it should be just a mile to get back to the trail. But after half that distance, this paved road became an unpaved, gravel and grass path that doesn’t appear to have accommodated vehicles for quite some time. With Jane due to pick me up any minute now, I decided to backtrack to the paved section of General Cobb and meet her there. We met up and I drove us back to the section of the road that resembles a cow-path. As the road became rougher still, she urged me to walk it while she waited in the car. I pulled the car off road and into a field and with walking stick in hand, set off to find out if this pathway would lead me back to the trail as GoogleMaps had led me to believe. “Take as much time as you need” she says as I leave (she always has a book to read on her phone).
On my left are many acres of open fields, filled with low blueberry bushes, their green leaves of summer now turning crimson on the first day of October. In ten minutes I came to a gate across the road, which I easily walked around, and then a stream that I rock-hopped across. Next the roadway deteriorated more, with larger stones and broken pieces of old pavement making it more challenging for this sandal-clad hiker to proceed.  But on I went, up a hill and down the other side. Still no trail in sight. But then I see and hear in the distance two ATVs. Sure enough, I had found the trail, nearly a mile beyond where I had left Jane in the field. I will return to the General Cobb cow-path tomorrow and walk it again to get back to the Downeast Sunrise Trail.

Miles Today - 14     Total Cumulative Miles - 177.5

Mon., Oct., 2 - After a much more satisfying breakfast at a nearby Denny’s, I drove us back to General Cobb. I drove up this pseudo-road even further than where we parked yesterday. Finding a fine place to turn the car around, I did so and bid Jane farewell. As usual, she bid me “go with God”.

Jane:  I must interject now.  I was apprehensive about driving BACK on this previously described "cow path" road, but Jim assured me with much confidence that as long as I took it slow, I would be fine since I WOULD BE THE ONLY ONE ON THIS VERY NARROW "ROAD".  I drove along nice and slow and was feeling more comfortable when all of a sudden there was a pickup truck facing me on the road - and not only a pickup truck but he was towing a trailer.  Now what?   I am fairly sure that the driver was not expecting to see me.  He very nicely backed into a pull off spot and I assumed that meant I could continue on my way.   No luck since all of a sudden I saw a HUGE tractor trailer hauling a large load of hay bales.  I couldn't believe that this rig actually fit on this narrow cow path!   The pickup driver must have sensed my apprehension (AKA abject fear) because he told me just to pull into the area where he was and the tractor trailer could get by me.  I asked where the big one was headed and he said just past me.  So I pulled in and sure enough the big one got by me.  I was then free to back up and head on my way.  So much for Jim's confident assurances.  My biggest regret was that in my chaotic state, I neglected to take a picture of the huge truck.

Jim:  Off I walked on this beautiful day, with not a cloud overhead. After ten minutes I was once again on the Downeast Sunrise Trail. This being a weekday, I was much more alone than yesterday. No noisy ATVs to spoil this gorgeous morning. Soon I was looking up at the locally famous Schoodic Mountain (about 500’ higher than the trail) and walking through the 500 acres of Schoodic Bog Preserve. Later, I read on a website: the bog is “filled with water lilies and cattails, carnivorous pitcher plants, and eastern painted turtles. Industrious beavers have also made their home here, living in great lodges made of sticks and mud. And with open water at its center, the bog also attracts osprey.” I observed two huge beaver lodges, largest I have ever seen, and a very large osprey nest. No turtles or pitcher plants. The silence here, and for most of the next several hours, was remarkable, as there were no vehicles driving anywhere near, and no planes overhead. Just me communing with nature.

The trail surface was not as fine as yesterday’s, with loose gravel and small stones far more common than a hard-packed surface. Somewhat similar to walking on beach sand. But I made good time until just before noon, when my left foot seemed to be developing a “hot spot”. With no place to sit down, I awkwardly removed that foot's sandal and socks and applied a layer of petroleum jelly to it. Some grains of sand had somehow penetrated my double layer of socks and were abrading the skin. A few minutes later I came to a flat rock and was able to sit down and apply foot powder and more jelly. With still another two hours of walking ahead, I hoped this would do the trick.

It was a sunny day and with temps in the mid-60s and I was borderline uncomfortable when not in the shade. And there was little shade, as all the trees were on my left and the sun was in the southern sky on my right. The forests here in Downeast Maine are remarkably diverse in terms of types of trees, with a fine mix of pines, spruce, hemlocks, birch, oak, an occasional larch (aka tamarack), and for the first time this trip, cedar. Lots of cedar trees lining the road.

For the first ten miles, the trail intersected only one paved road. I really felt isolated. At 12:15 I saw a picnic table trail-side and decided it was time to enjoy a brief lunch. Another Subway sandwich, purchased after breakfast, was my meal. Sitting on top of the table, I was able to air out the feet while eating lunch. Twenty minutes later I was back hiking.

I later learned that this old railroad bed was not converted to a multi-use trail until about 10 years ago. Today there is little evidence of its provenance, with no rails or railroad ties visible along the route. In the gravel trail bed I did see a few iron spikes that were used to secure the rails to the ties. My destination today was a bed and breakfast in the town of Cherryfield.  When I arrived at 2:30 Jane has just checked in and I arrived in time to help unload our gear from the car. As I approached the B&B, Jane called to find out how close I was to arriving. “I am in the driveway” was my reply.

Miles Today - 16     Total Cumulative Miles - 193.5

Day 11 - Saturday Hike Start at Hagen's Elbow Rd
Day 11 - Downeast Sunrise Trail
Day 12 - Sunday Hike Start
Day 12 - ATVs Parked at Our Ellsworth Hotel
Day 13 - City Hall with Beautiful Scrollwork
Day 13 - Fields of Blueberry Bushes Turning their Fall Red Color

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Jim's Fall Hike - Part 4

Here is the journal of Jim's next two days:

Wed., Sept., 20Jane:  Today was the only relatively leisurely day on this latest quest.  We headed out to breakfast in downtown Belfast around 8:30.   After breakfast Jim had the great idea to repeat yesterday's stroll - with me this time - on the Harbor Walk and the wonderful pedestrian bridge over the Bay.  I loved seeing the activity in the shipyard.  There were at least two gigantic yachts completely encased in plastic tarps, presumably being constructed.  There were also several others at the docks.  I wondered what these monstrous boats cost - probably far more than I can possibly imagine! After I dropped Jim off at today's start point I headed for the library in Bucksport where we will meet for lunch. The building has a beautiful stone facade and it has been in town since 1887.  I had the most delightful conversation with Gerry, who has been the librarian there for 30 years.   Believe it or not, they do not have any type of digital access or check out system.  They still utilize the card catalog system that was in use when I was a child first using my town library!   Needless to say I had to take a picture.  I never imagined that this system still existed anywhere.   Fortunately for me, they do have wi-fi so I was able to access email.

Jim:  After our walk along the Belfast harbor, we returned to the quaint town of Searsport to begin today's hike where I had finished yesterday's. Located at the confluence of the Penobscot River and deepwater bay of the same name, this town is the home of the Penobscot Marine Museum. Although I was too occupied today to visit it, the museum gets rave reviews as a multi-building village showcasing the seafaring history of this town. We will have to schedule a return trip to see it. The weather this morning was fine, with comfortable temps and rain-threatening overcast skies. And in fact it did rain twice, just briefly but intense enough to warrant opening my umbrella. Highlight of the day was walking the Penobscot Narrows Bridge spanning the Penobscot River just before I entered the city of Bucksport. This bridge is relatively new (2006) and designed as a cable-stayed structure that looks like a suspension bridge ( a la the Brooklyn Bridge) but isn't. Unlike a suspension bridge, this one's two towers do not support the weight of the bridge, but permit the cables to pass through them. There are only three large bridges of this design in the world, one of which is the Zakim Bridge in Boston. The 420' high west tower includes an observatory that is open to the public, offering great views in all directions. The bridge has been the site of at least eight suicides in the eleven years it has been open. Maine legislators have declined to install a suicide barrier fence due to cost, deciding instead to install solar powered phones at each end of the bridge, which unfortunately are not always functional when needed. Chunks of ice falling from the overhead cables necessitated two brief closure of the bridge in the winter of 2013-14. Adjacent to the bridge is Fort Knox, a large granite stone fortification built in the mid-19th century and named after the revolutionary war general Henry Knox. Fort Knox has been designated a national historic landmark and is today a state park. This is another local site I would love to visit on a future trip to coastal Maine.

Like most modern bridges today, and unlike most old ones, there is a wide lane for hikers and bikers to use to safely pass to the other side of the river. Shortly after doing this, I hiked into the town of Bucksport. A few minutes later Jane arrived and we enjoyed a delightful lunch at a waterfront restaurant with a view across the river to the large bridge and Fort Knox. After an hour's rest and with a full belly, I resumed hiking, leaving town on Route 1, known here as the Acadia Highway. By now the sun was shining and making it pretty warm for me. But I had planned only a five mile afternoon, having walked 10 this morning. That I accomplished in 90 minutes and soon thereafter I was in our waterfront hotel room in downtown Bucksport. As she usually does, Jane had checked us in and unpacked the car. Later we enjoyed a great dinner at the restaurant conveniently located directly across Main Street.
Miles Today - 15     Total Cumulative Miles - 146.5

Thurs., Sept. 21 -  Oh what a glorious day!  We woke to see a cloudless sky and dry conditions - the humidity we have had to deal with all week was mercifully gone. I reacted by deciding to extend today's walk to ten miles instead of the previously planned seven. That I accomplished in three hours. Route 1 in this part of Maine becomes quite hilly as it goes further east toward Ellsworth, gateway city to Acadia National Park. I finished today just four miles west of Ellsworth.
Miles Today - 10     Total Cumulative Miles - 156.5

Some final observations from this week's walking:

As mentioned previously, the wildflowers have been awesome, providing bright colors to the fields and roadsides. I have seldom seen so many lupines growing wild right next to the road. Asters of many varieties and hues are plentiful. I enjoyed the great diversity of trees that thrive here in coastal Maine, including many larch trees that are seldom seen at home in NH. Spruce trees are common in this area, and some are so full of cones this time of year that their upper branches are nearly as brown as they are green.

Readers of this journal know that I frequently include a comment about roadkill I have to walk around on the side of the highway. This week I have observed little variety, just a lot of desiccated porcupines. Obviously this animal is not on the endangered species list! Most of the critters were not recent victims, as their bodies were largely gone except for the many quills that do not seem to disappear. Each quill looks like a toothpick and the carcass resembles a hundred white toothpicks atop a small pile of fur.   Jane:   What Jim did not say is that at lunch on Thursday he took something out of his pocket and put it on the table (while we were waiting for our food).  It looked like a toothpick although it was brownish at one end and extremely sharp.  He then explained that it was a porcupine quill - how do you know that?   Because I took it off a porcupine carcass - I believe "GROSS: was my rather loud response.  I am not sure what our fellow diners were thinking.  Of course I had to take a picture!

While hiking this week I shared the roads with quite a variety of small fauna. Perhaps this is a seasonal phenomenon. Many species of beetles, and all kinds of caterpillars, centipedes, and other crawling insects came close to being squished by my sandals. I saw several monarch butterflies - clad like me in orange and black, I like to think of these as Princeton butterflies. And today I came upon one of the largest anthills I have ever seen - about a foot high and three feet in diameter. I wonder how many thousands of ants reside there.

Today's hike was bittersweet, as it is the last one here in Maine until we return on September 30. In the interim Jane and I have scheduled a week of meetings and appointments and a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. And the break will give my body a chance to recover before beginning the last leg of this Maine traverse. 

Day 9 - Card Catalog at Bucksport Library
Day 9 - Lovely Reading Room at Library
Day 9 - Penobscot Narrows Bridge Showing the Two Towers
Day 9 - Same Bridge Seen From Straight On
Day 9 - Fort Knox
Day 9 - The Harbor View in the Back of our Hotel
Day 10 - Hike Start on Last Day of this Phase
Day 10 - Larch Tree
Day 10 - East Coast Greenway Sign (seen many times walking up the east coast)
Day 10 - Porcupine Quill



Jim's Fall Hike - Epilogue

Once again, here is my favorite of all of the hike journals - Jim's epilogue.  This time I really believe that this epilogue is ...