Still looking for Moose

I’m still here in Millinocket, Maine…..

....considered the gateway to the Maine North Woods and located almost in the shadow of Mt Katahdin.
….considered the gateway to the Maine North Woods and located almost in the shadow of Mt Katahdin.
Yesterday I went in a moose watching tour through the North East Outdoor Center, located just outside Baxter State Park.
Yesterday I went in a moose watching tour through the North East Outdoor Center, located just outside Baxter State Park. We didn’t manage to find moose, but it was still a lovely day.
It started on Millinocket Lake, which also have a magnificent Viet of Mt Katahdin. For those who haven't figured it it, this is both the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the "holy mountain" for northbound AT hikers.
It started on Millinocket Lake, which also have a magnificent Viet of Mt Katahdin. For those who haven’t figured it it, this is both the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and the “holy mountain” for northbound AT hikers.
Our boat captain and tour guide was a young local woman who has just graduated from college with a degree in outdoor recreation. She expect to guide ice fisherman and snowmobiles this winter. Danielle's family has been here for a few generations and she found this mostly sunny, 80f day a bit warm for her tastes.
Our boat captain and tour guide was a young local woman who has just graduated from college with a degree in outdoor recreation. She expect to guide ice fisherman and snowmobiles this winter. Danielle’s family has been here for a few generations and she found this mostly sunny, 80f day a bit warm for her taste.
The water was calm and we searched the shallows for moose.
The water was calm and we searched the shallows for moose.
We saw this Bald Eagle...
We saw this Bald Eagle…
...and several loons.
…and several loons.
Millinocket Lake is 8 miles by 6 miles and at its deepest spot is 100feet. The fishing is good particularly near these islands, some of which are large enough for cabins.
Millinocket Lake is 8 miles by 6 miles and at its deepest spot is 100feet. The fishing is good particularly near these islands, some of which are large enough for cabins.

 

 

Observations

It’s a busy place here at the Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket, Maine. I get one day off a week. If I’m lucky. There are a lot of 12+ hour days. I work in the gear shop, scrub toilets, drive shuttles, clean & sweep, answer the same 6 questions on the phone and do a pile of laundry each day the size of Mt Katahdin.

I do this much laundry every day!
I do this much laundry every day!

Here are a few fleeting observations:

Hikers have forgotten how to flush. Seriously. And I can’t decided if they need to eat more fiber or less, but the toilet need plunging once or twice a week.

Hikers have a very distinctive smell. It’s part body funk with ground in dirt, a heaping helping of sweaty socks, and a a hint of rotten egg. Delicious! We ask them to leave their backpacks on the porch and wash themselves and their clothes as soon as reasonable.

These are Penobscot Fries and they are VERY popular among the locals. It s French fries with gravy and cheese. Yum!
These are Penobscot Fries and they are VERY popular among the locals. It s French fries with gravy and cheese. Yum!
This is a lobster roll with fries. The roll is made much like tuna salad except you use lobster. Especially tasty with house made mayo!
This is a lobster roll with fries. The roll is made much like tuna salad except you use lobster. Especially tasty with house made mayo!

 

Maine, the way life should be

…..or at least that’s what they tell me! It’s the state slogan. I can say for sure the place is beautiful. Here are photos I’ve snapped the last few days.

This is just before you enter Baxter State Park
This is just before you enter Baxter State Park
My first view of Katahdin, driving down the Golden Road, a logging road.
My first view of Katahdin, driving down the Golden Road, a logging road.
Abol campground
Abol campground
For an Appalachian Trail hiker, this is the holy mountain, Mt Katahdin. From Abol Bridge.
For an Appalachian Trail hiker, this is the holy mountain, Mt Katahdin. From Abol Bridge.

 

The next adventure is taking shape

imageI’ve made it it Maine.

Except I’ve driven here, not walked. I’ve had to stop my Appalachian Trail hike earlier than hoped. I had a foot injury in the rocks of Pennsylvania. Naturally. I limped along through New Jersey and finally at mile marker 1,405 in New York the pain was too much. My dear, dear friends Julia and Kathy (yes, you ARE Trail Angels!) rescued me and took me to Albany. I hoped that I could rest a week and get back to hiking, but after few days it became clear that the injury was more serious and required a doctors attention. Initially I was diagnosed with a stress fracture. The bottom line was this: my hike was over.

For the rest of that day I cried and ate ice cream. I also drank some wine. OK, a LOT of wine. But the next morning I put on my Big Girl Panties and started on a new plan–Plan C. With the help of some fabulous AT friends (thanks Crazy Larry and AWOL) I was hired to help out at the AT Lodge in Milinocket, ME for the remainder of the hiker season. It’s very close to the end of the trail, Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin.

Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket, Maine.
Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket, Maine.

It was a fast turnaround, too. Thursday of last week the doctor in Albany, NY released me so that I didn’t have to wear a boot on my foot. The injury is probably not a stress fracture, but micro tearing in the muscle and or connective tissue. It would take an MRI to confirm exactly, but the treatment is the same. The foot is strong enough to walk on, though I have to wear with sturdy shoes all the time. It is not strong enough to walk on rocks while wearing a backpack.

Friday I flew to Atlanta, collected my few belongings and car. Saturday morning I began the drive to Maine, 1,400 miles. Even with some car troubles, I was able to arrive in Millinocket Monday morning about 10a. And I was put to work immediately.

A New England soda. Tastes like a cream root beer with a splash of Dr Pepper and a slightly bitter aftertaste.
A New England soda. Tastes like a cream root beer with a splash of Dr Pepper and a slightly bitter aftertaste.

I’ve been working almost nonstop since then. The AT Lodge has private rooms and a huge bunkhouse. It’s a very busy place with shuttles, food drops and a gear store in addition to lodging. I’ve learned a lot, but so far I’m mostly doing laundry, making beds, cleaning, taking simple reservations and sales. It allows me to stay close to the trail for awhile longer and I’ve run into several hikers I met down south: Thin Mint, Bean Dip, Diesel, F1, Reroute and Happy.

I’m rooming with Tie Dye in a small apartment and hope to get to know the town soon. I eat at the AT Cafe daily, about 2 blocks away.

In the meantime, I’m arranging a job to teach English overseas. I have some leads, but nothing in stone just yet. It’s all in progress. It’s all an adventure.

But don’t forget that the trail is still there. With a little luck I can come back and finish next year. Only 780 miles to go!

Hope to learn more about Millinocket, including this downtown business.
Hope to learn more about Millinocket, including this downtown business.