Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Little Break

Last night Kel and Dave came off trail....after reports from other hikers of bad thunderstorms coming, they decided to come home for a night or two! We families were very excited! But I can see that Kel is missing the trail and anxious to get back on. We have been updated and will be getting pictures on the site soon. What a wonderful time they are having and they have met many wonderful people already along the trail.

STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/8/07...Friday...Well, we got up at 5:00 AM, and were hiking at 6:00 AM, so we had a pretty good start today. We pushed over Spaulding Mtn., and then past the Caribou Rd. At that point, we were pretty well committed to finishing the day at Rt. 27. When we crossed the south branch of the Carrabassett River, I found an old stone tool that had been used for cutting and scraping. It was surely shaped by hand, and was the only rock I could see that wasn’t smooth and round. Now, most people that hike over 10 miles with a big ‘ol rock in their pocket could be called a little strange. I have, at times, been called strange without a rock in my pocket, so I figured it wouldn’t make me a whole lot stranger...the rock now sits on my table at home...So, onward and upward, and onward and downward at least a couple of more times, and we cleared both Crocker Mtns., North and South, (and not in that order). That only left us with an “easy” downhill to reach Rt. 27, and a couple of days off. But, not wanting the day to seem uneventful, I added a little drama to it, by hyperextending my injured knee...not once, but eleven more times, making it a clean dozen. Quite satisfied that this day would forever be ingrained in my memory, we then emerged onto Rt. 27 at 3:45 PM. I had previously told my daughter, Elizabeth, that we would probably reach the road between 6 and 7 PM, so we were quite early. We passed some time talking to a nice fella who was getting ready to head into the woods to do a bit of cutting. When he was gone, we decided to hitch a ride into Sugarloaf or Kingfield, to get a bite to eat, and something to drink. To our surprise, a truck that I recognized as being from my hometown of Madison went by. I waved, and saw the brake lights flash as it went by, rounding a turn, and disappearing from sight. A couple of minutes later, it reappeared. It was none other than Jim Elias, of Elias Monuments, in Madison. Jim is a life-long acquaintance, and, when I was a bit younger, a neighbor, on Locust Street. Jim is a great guy, and has worked hard to build a successful business. Now, I’ve always liked Jim, and wish him well in his work, but I do pray that he won’t be having to put my name in stone for some time to come...So...He came back and got us! He brought us to a grocery and bought us beverages to get us hydrated. Then he brought us right to my home! Thanks, Jim, your kindness will not be forgotten. May God Bless you!...By the way, at that little grocery store was another old friend. Well, not that old, she’s my age. But, we were also childhood friends, neighbors (Locust Street), and classmates. Susan, it was so nice to see you again. Sorry I didn’t realize it was you right off, I hadn’t seen you for a bit, and you took me by surprise! Sure hope to see you sometime again!...many great memories...So, now I am home, and will get a bit of rest. God Bless you, everyone!


STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/9/07...Saturday...Ahhh...What can I say today?...That I feel so rested, and at peace with my life? That I am happy to see my wife and family? And friends? YES! But, let me first say that I feel like I spent the whole last week at KAMP KIKMIBUT! Yeah...It wore me out, but it toughened me up too! Thanks to all of you for your support, in every aspect of this hike. I feel that this trail ministry will have a positive impact as far as reaching folks for Christ. The opportunities certainly abound. Now, I don’t want folks to feel like I’m beating them with a Bible, but I would like them to gain some knowledge and give some careful consideration regarding establishing a relationship with Christ. The only person who can make a good decision is one who has good information. Hopefully, folks will turn to the Bible to get informed. Then, it’s up to them and God. There are a lot of people out on the trail who are seeking. Let’s keep these folks in prayer, that what they find will be Truth....OK, time to break for a commercial...I wouldn’t normally do this, but...I REALLY like Ice Cream! There just happens to be a little place in Madison, out on Rt. 148, called the Kennebec Ice Kreamery, owned and operated by Chris Roy. He makes his own ice cream, and it is good! I repeat, it is GOOD! When I was trying to lose weight in preparation for this hike, I actually allowed myself to have his ice cream twice a week. (Hard to believe, but I still lost weight!). I even tried all his flavors, including flavors I wouldn’t normally order, and found them all to my liking. I think it is the best ice cream around, and not only that, Chris is a real nice guy! So, help a good guy out...go see Chris at the Kennebec Ice Kreamery...Enjoy!...Now, I gotta go get an ice cream...talked myself right into it!...I will get to attend Church tomorrow, so happy about that, and happy also that I will get to see everyone!...And, as always, “just one more thing”...I got to go to a BBQ today, that was fantastic! Not just because of the pork and turkey and fixin’s, though. It was because it was for a benefit for the “RELAY FOR LIFE”, for the American Cancer Society. I, as many of you have, have been touched by cancer. I have lost members of my family to it, and don’t want to see anyone else have to suffer with it. So, please be supportive of your local “RELAY FOR LIFE”, and the American Cancer Society. Maybe you can even start your own relay team, as my family has done...GO “JEAN’S GEM’S”!!!...Time to sign off...God Bless!


Thursday, June 7, 2007


Clint met up with the hikers about noon time. In contrast to last night's cool temperatures, it was very warm and sunny! They enjoyed the yummy cookies (Kel spotted the no bakes right away!) and conversation. Then they were on their way to Spaulding Mountain Lean-To and a few steps closer to Stratton where they will meet up with family again this weekend.

STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/7/07...Thursday...Didn’t get up until 7:30 AM, and the temperature has warmed to a delightful 37 degrees. However, the sun is out, so it may warm up quickly and nicely. The wind has died down some here at the shelter, but expect that again, it may be ferocious at higher elevations. Out on the trail at 8:30, got to Spaulding Mtn. Lean-to at 3:45 PM. Had a wonderful, sunny day. Not much for views, but pleasant.

Clint Buzzell made it out to the trail, and we walked onto him. What a wonderful guy! Clint is a trail maintainer, and although this wasn’t his section to caretake, he was trimming up an area as we approached. He tickled me when I asked what he was up to. He said he was out tipping some trees to make Christmas wreaths! FUNNY! Well, there he was, in his sandals and shorts, and wearing a big smile. To our delight, he was carying some goodies for us. He had the section maps that Cari had gotten for me, a fleece pullover, and fleece cap that she also had sent up with him. (I’ll be much warmer tonight!). He also had a bag of cookies for each of us. Chocolate no-bakes that his wife Helen had made for us! WOW! What nice folks!...By the way, remember, everyone. When you go out for a hike or use the shelters, do your part by keeping things spruced up and clean. It will take a lot of the burden from these wonderful volunteer caretakers, and make everyone’s adventure more enjoyable. Thanks again Clint, and thank you too, Helen.

We had met Clint at the beginning of the climb up Lone Mtn. . I had a slight “hot spot” at the back of my right heel. It wasn’t real bad, so I continued to hike up. At the top, I took off my boot to find a nice big blister, and it had already torn open. I had actually tightened up the lacing on my boots before the climb, and had overdone it. The boots were a little too tight! I also learned a hard lesson. Take care of the problem before it gets to be a big problem. I suspect that I will severely regret not stopping sooner, as I will have to continue to hike, blister or no blister. I doctored it up, looks like it will be OK in time, not sure how it will be tomorrow, or the next few days. Not sure what ot do tomorrow, as far is hiking is concerned. It will be 6.2 miles to Crocker Cirque Campsite, and that is just a place to pitch a tent, not a lean-to... Not the best place to be on Friday night, with rain in the forecast for Saturday. A ways before that is Caribou Valley Road. If we get to that, maybe Larry could pick us up and bring us home for a day or two. The other possibility is that we try to do 13.5 miles all the way up and over Spaulding Mtn, then both peaks of Crocker Mtn., then descend to Rt 27 in Stratton. That would be a major day for us, but would be an ideal finish for the week, and also a great pick-up and drop-off point. We will see how early we start tomorrow. Good night, God Bless!


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cold Night Tonight

Larry stopped by to drop off Kel's extra hiking shoes and dirty clothes at the house(I don't want to open the bag!) and to catch me up on their visit last night. The hikers were so pleased to have Larry take them into town for a cheeseburger deluxe, milk, apple pie with ice cream, and hot coffee! He also had brought them hot soup (which they also consumed before taking off again) and took the italians and whoopie pies with them for today's hike. Larry also downloaded pictures onto his computer (he is always so prepared!), and heard stories of the hike and about the 3 hikers that they have met on the trail already (Snowman and Sparkplug are two of them). Kelly called about 5pm to say they had made it to the Poplar Ridge Lean-To for the night. The temperature was already down to 40 degrees and still windy, and they were trying to stay warm. Not sure if they could get a fire going because everything is still so saturated it's hard to find dry wood to keep it going. At least it had stopped raining! Tomorrow they will be heading on toward Spaulding Mountain Lean-To. Clint hopes to meet up with them at Overton's Stream. He will have warm clothes for Kel, more maps, and cookies from Helen to perk up the hikers! We have such great family and friends!

On the Trail Again

The hikers were back on trail last night after a nice visit with Kel's brother Larry, a big cheeseburger meal, and with a lighter load! Larry met them on Route 4 and drove them up to town to eat. While eating, a huge storm complete with lightening and torrential rain blew in. The storm was done when they were ready to get back on trail! Larry said they were happy with full bellys, and ready to push on. They are right on track with the trail schedule. A friend , Clint, is trying to meet up with them on Thursday for a day of hiking. It will depend on how windy it is as they try to climb the next mountain or two! Hopefully no rain today, but the bugs will be nasty. A quick Thank-You to all I have spoken to and are praying for the boys.....God continues to provide and bless!

STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/6/07...Wednesday...Have a major day today. Go from Piazza Rock Lean-to at 2080 ft., to Eddy Pond at 2616 ft., then up Saddleback Mtn., at 4120 ft., down, and back up again to Saddleback Jr. at 3655 ft., then to Poplar Ridge Lean-to at 2920 ft.. Lot’s of STEEP ups and downs. This, of course, must happen in the distance of 8,9 miles. It won’t get much easier until Caratunk. Well, the time is now 7:15 AM, ready to pack everything up, be hiking by 7:30 AM. COLD, COLD, COLD! 40 degrees and high winds as we got up this morning. Looks like it could stay sunny, though. We will stop at PIAZZA ROCK, then get hiking...Ooops! didn’t get hiking until 8:30 AM...

...Well, here we are at Poplar Ridge Lean-to, having gotten here at 4:00 PM. We managed to navigate 8.9 miles of STEEP ups and downs in 7 ½ hours. No sign of Bookworm. He is fast enough that he is able to stay at every other shelter, or do even greater mileages. Although we aren’t all out here for a footrace, it is necessary to get some higher miles in each day, to get our average daily miles up to 15 or 15 ½ minimum. If we cannot maintain that average, we will end up still being on the trail in December, which is certainly not where we want to be. We will begin to do some higher mileage days later on in the hike, as we gain strength, and the trail becomes less aggressive in some areas.

It has been a mix of clouds and sun today, very windy, and cold. The temperature right now is 40 degrees, at 4:20 PM. It will be a tough night tonight, as the temperature will likely drop below freezing. The wind, ah, the wind...The wind up on top of the mountains was, shall we say, brisk. Judging by my past experiences on motorcycles, I would guess wind speeds to be 80 to 90 MPH. That tends to make you walk a little sideways, and, occasionally, in a backtracking maybe we actually DID do extra miles today! Still, it could only be described as another GREAT HIKING DAY!!!

***Side note to Wayne and Teresa Morris...I wish I could have had more time in your company, you are both wonderful! You should check out these most recent pic-tures that I took today. The other ones were ob-scured by the clouds!

Well, I think we will try to get a hot meal into us, get covered up, and try to stay warm. More later...Later...I gathered up some wood from around the campsite, and was able to get a nice fire going. This is our first camp fire! It is so nice to be able to warm up a bit. Ate two packets of food that my brother Larry had given me, some potatoes and gravy, and a packet of beef stroganoff. The stroganoff was for sure the favorite, with the potatoes and gravy coming in a distant second place. Now, that might seem like the potatoes and gravy wasn’t well appreciated, but it was. They were HOT, and HOT FOOD IS GOOD FOOD! Faithful just checked the thermometer, and it is now hovering at 35 degrees. Sure feels it. I just readied my sleeping gear, an inflatable pad with a bag liner to crawl into, and a foil emergency blanket on top of it. I look somewhat like a NEW ENGLAND BOILED DINNER! I have all my clothes on, in order to stay warm. I will surely be wet in the morning, from being under the foil, as it doesn’t “breathe”, and makes for a lot of condensate...especially if you get real cold and stick your head beneath the foil to get warm. Your breath will pretty much cause, immediatly, tropical rainforest conditions.

Remember the Rock, Scissors, Paper game? Well, as I was walking today, I came up with a variation...Rock, Root, Mud. That pretty well covered the hiking conditions so far. Just add in the rain, cold, and major changes in elevation...oh yeah!, wind...can’t leave that one out. On the brighter side, we do get to see so many beautiful things! And, it sure gives a feeling of accomplishment when you stand on top of a mountain and look back. The valleys are so low, the mountains so high. Standing at the bottom never seems to give a person the proper perspective.

I talked to the love of my life tonight. She is well, but very busy. She has picked up a set of section maps for me today! Love you, my beloved! ***Side note to all the guys out know when you call your wife “Honey”, or “Dear”, or any of a variety of enduring terms, you can still convey a certain coldness, if you’ve used them when frustrated, or exasperated...for example, “Yes, DEAR.”. Well, here’s a tip. The Bible uses “Beloved”. Try that one out. I can pretty much guarantee that it will not only sound different, it will change your attitude when speaking to your spouse. *** OK. The maps, I am sure, will be a great asset in our trying to plan our days of hiking, helping to work out some kind of a strategy. They have much needed information that I don’t have in my “Thru-Hiker’s Companion”, or in some cases, a much better format to convey the information. Well, it sure is good to hear that all is well at home. Cari says that Clint Buzzell told her that he would like to hook up with us for a hike, as he has a day off. I don’t know if that is going to happen, only because of where we are, but it sure would be great. Thanks, Clint, for thinking of us! I do hope we can get together.

It’s getting a little late, and I’m losing light, I have to use my headlamp while in the lean-to, as they tend to be a little dark. I don’t want to use up my battery in the first week, so I guess I will close for now. As I settle down for the night, my mind wanders to the hiking pace that some of these hikers set for themselves...a pace that I will not attain, and don’t desire to. I tell myself that it isn’t because I’m an older model of hiker, and all worn out, but that I am an older, wiser man, trying to hike the best hike I can...for me, that will work...”Slow and steady, set the pace. Slow and steady, win the race.”

So, it looks like it’s good night to all of you, I hope God richly blesses you all.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sunny Day!

Just heard from "the boys" about 9am this morning...Kel sounded more rested! Kel's brother Larry is on his way up to see them with hot soup and italian sandwiches and a dry truck for them to sleep in. A bad storm is on the way and we are thankful Larry is going. We will have an update and maybe pics when Larry gets back. They are meeting up at route 4.

STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/5/07...Tuesday...Had a nice night at the shelter with Snowman and Sparkplug. They were great folks, and gave us some tips for the trail, regarding things like how to pack efficiently and balanced, and on simple things like which foods to eat, and when. For example, always eat your heaviest foods first, such as packets of tuna or salmon, and keep your freeze dried foods for later in the trip. They got off trail at RT. 17, around 1:15PM. They actually had left the shelter AFTER we left...We left the shelter at 7:30AM, and got to RT. 17 at 3:15 PM. We had hiked for almost 8 HRS., covering a distance of 9.4 miles. We still had to hike another 1.9 miles before we would arrive at Piazza Rock Lean-to. Well, to our great delight, my brother, Larry, was parked at RT. 17, waiting for us! He’d had the opportunity to talk with Snowman and Sparkplug, and knew that we would be along. It was a REAL blessing that he was there!

Larry took us into Rangely, where Faithful and I each consumed a big cheeseburger with fries and coleslaw. I also got a nice big glass of milk, a coffee, and topped it all off with apple pie and ice cream. While we were having our meal, a MAJOR storm came rolling through. Very high winds, and torrential rains. WOW! We finished with our meals, and headed back to the parking area for the trailhead. We proceeded to go through all of our gear, to see how we might lessen the weight we were carrying. I believe I may have dropped a good 10 LBS. Of pack weight, and Faithful probably ditched 5 to 8 LBS., easy. That, of course, is just guessing, but they were indeed lighter, even with the added weight of whoopie pies and ham italians that would be our meals when we reached shelter that night. Larry also downloaded the pictures on my camera, and charged my cell phone.

After a couple of pictures, and some goodbys, we were on our way again. It was 7:45 PM, and we still had to hike that last 1.9 miles. Where we had been hiking at an average speed of just over 1 MPH, we were pretty sure that we would be hiking in the dark tonight. Well, I have to say, we did OK. We kicked into high gear. With food in our bellies, and lighter packs, we did make it into the shelter at dusk! We got in at 8:45PM. We actually travelled on trail at 1.9 MPH, a record pace for us beginners! Actually, the terrain wasn’t quite as bad as what we had already been through, and it had stopped raining, but still, we were really on the move...and I wasn’t in pain for that whole hour either. Thanks, Larry! God is good, and Larry, I think you were right up there in the running too! Love you, and thanks for all you do.

Guess I could leave you all with this...

”Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

I’ll have to close for tonight, as it is getting quite late. Good night to all, and God Bless!


Monday, June 4, 2007

Route 17

At 11:30am Kel flagged down a passing motorist and called with his cell phone to check in....his brother Larry drove up on motorcycle with pop up camper in tow to wait on route 17 after Bemis Mt. to try and catch them to give them hot soup and to help lighten their packs a bit! He waited all through Sunday and camped out in the area and waited Monday morning until he had to leave for another appointment down state. He didn't see the hikers but had left a note at the entrance to the AT where they would cross route 17 (the message said to call home). Cari got a call at about 11:30am and confirmed all was well with the family, and explained what Larry had done and that he will meet them on route 4 tomorrow or the next day. Kel sounded tired ("it's brutal, Care, but we are doing well"). They are pushing on to Sabbath Day Pond lean-to to sleep tonight. The weather is rainy,very windy, and getting worse. Hopefully they will be near a warm fire tonight! : )

STICKMANS' JOURNAL...6/3/07 & 6/4/07

6/3...Was fairly comfortable last night. Got up at 6:30 AM, with 50 degree temps, and an overcast sky. We were on trail at 7:00 AM. We need to get over Bemis Mtn. today, another six miles. Everything is wet, foggy, or overcast. Had places that must have been beautiful views, but what we saw looked like a TV station gone off the air! Nothing but grey. Hiking was less grueling as far as going up and down, but with all the rain, the trail had become a brook. Slippery! Dave and I have both fallen a few times, but no major injury...just bruised pride. I did take a good tumble, landing on my right hand, the one with the bad wrist, but it didn't break. Another time, I started to slide down a rock face (on my feet), and not on purpose. I was hating to think of where I might end up, but thankfully, after 20 or so feet, I came to a stop, and still standing at that! We hiked through patches of snow and ice on a couple of mountains, sure hoping that it warms up just a bit.

We eventually made it to Bemis Mtn. Lean-to at 12:30 PM. Six miles in 5 ½ Hrs., now that’s a little bit better! Even though it is early, we can’t make it to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, which is another 8.3 miles. Instead, we will lose a day’s worth of hiking, make our entries into our personal journals, and the lean-to journals, decide what to eat, rest, and lick our wounds. I had one of Cari’s energy bars, a ½ bag of trail mix, and a few banana chips.

We have some good company tonight! “Bookworm”, from Michigan, who started in Georgia in November, and a very nice couple, “Snowman”, and “Sparkplug”, who are doing a section hike northbound. They did all the way from Georgia to Massachusetts a few years ago, and had to stop their thru-hike due to an injury. Not ready to give up, they are completing their hike as they are able to take time off. I know that they will be successful! It sure is great to have such nice company!

Time to sign off for the night! God Bless!


6/4...Bemis Mtn. Lean-to to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to today. On trail at 7:30 AM, and at Sabbath Day at 2:30 PM. , which is 8.3 miles in 7 Hrs. flat, or just better than 1MPH. I had a tough time of it today, even though the trail wasn’t as bad. My legs and shoulders were killing me, but we made it.

Had quite a storm all day, and hiked in our raingear. We are soaked anyway, as you tend to do a bit of sweating. In fact, I’m starting to smell like a thru-hiker. I really need to clean up, but it is way too cold and wet. Just happy to get to the shelter, log in, write journal, eat and sleep. Exciting!

Saw a message in the dirt, on the shoulder of Rt. 17, as we were coming out of the woods and onto the roadway. It was simple and direct. “Kelly, call home.” Now, of course, when you NEED to use your cell phone, you don’t get reception...and that was the case in this instance. I stood by the side of the road for a few minutes, thinking about a possible hitch-hike into town to get to a phone. At this time, it was downright nasty weather, with high winds and rain, and me, standing out in the open. Then, fortunately, a fellow named Larry came by in a van belonging to his employer, Sherwin-Williams. I believe he said he worked out of Rumford. If you catch this, Larry, again, I thank you many times over for your kindness. He wasn’t able to give us a ride in the company vehicle, but he did have a cellphone that worked, and let us use it. I called Cari at work, all is OK. My brother Larry had left the message. He had actually come up the day before, stayed the day, and overnight, hoping to give us a little trail support. Unfortunately, we were running behind schedule. I need to adjust my schedule, and do something about getting a better phone. Anyway, thanks go out to the two Larrys! You guys are both great!

It was a little chilly last night, 46 degrees, maybe a little cooler now. I will have to do something about warmer sleeping gear, possibly a light bag, if the weather doesn’t warm up a bit. It’s not too bad if I make it to the shelter, but I will surely have to camp out again soon.

We have good company again tonight, Snowman and Sparkplug. They are both so nice. Bookworm breezed through earlier than us, left a quick note in the log, and was going to head to the next shelter. That would be another 11.2 miles North...Nah!...We’ll do that one tomorrow!

So, it’s off to sleep, rest up for the next days mileage...Good night all!...and God Bless!