Day 169 – August 23 – 17.7 miles – Horns Pond to West Carry Lean-to
Elevation Change: 10,168 feet
When we woke up, we saw that the mountain top that we saw last night was still in a cloud. That was a big disappointment. The Bigelow Mountains were supposed to have really nice views.
That’s the only downside to Thru hiking. Sometimes we have to hike through gorgeous places, without ever getting to actually see them.
Immediately after leaving the campsite, we climbed South Horn Peak, (The one we could see from the Lean-to) and sure enough, we were hiking through a cloud.
From South Horn, we made our way over to Bigelow Mountain West Peak, two miles away. As we were hiking, the sky began to clear up. When we popped back out of the trees near the top of West peak, we had an amazing view looking back towards South and North Horn.
As we climbed the last section to the top, the wind picked up, and we could tell we were in for one heck of a view.
The view from the top was absolutely stunning.
It seemed like we had walked through a cloud, and had been transported to a primal place. One where mans presence had yet to leave its mark.
After West Peak, we made our way over to Avery Peak. Enjoying the views the whole way there.
The clouds, which hampered our view in the beginning of the day, now added significantly to the experience. Most of the clouds were at our level or a little higher. They were moving towards us on one side of the mountain range. Most of the clouds deflected off the mountain range, while a few came flying over our heads. This added to the feeling of being in a truly wild place.
On one side of the mountain range, it was mostly cloudy. On the other side, it was mostly sunny. Very cool.
At the very edge of Avery Peak were the remnants of an old fire tower. (pictured in the video below) Stoat and I hung out there for a while, while Zeus and Flashfire went on.
We stayed there for two reasons. It was an amazing area with an amazing view, of course. But there was another reason why we found it hard to go on. Avery Peak was the last mountain above 4000 feet until the final climb up Katahdin.
It was another sign that this great adventure is coming to an end. We wanted to savor every minute of it.
I think Stoat and I could have stayed there all day, but we still had 14.6 miles to go for the day. Reluctantly, we slowly began our descent down from Avery Peak.
The next mountain that we had to go over was Little Bigelow. From Avery, the peak of Little Bigelow didn’t look too far away.
Once we got down from Avery, it felt like it took forever to get to the top of Little Bigelow. I stopped to look at the map and realized why it felt that way. What had looked so close while on Avery, was actually 5 miles away.
When we finally got to the top of Little Bigelow, we had a great view of Avery Peak and Flagstaff lake off in the distance.
Once we were completely off the Bigelow range, we came to Flagstaff Lake. The lake that seemed so far away in the beginning of the day, was now at our feet. It was just as pretty up close, as it was from far away.
After leaving the shores of the lake, we went over a small climb, and passed some of the outdated 2000 mile markers.
Three and a half miles later, after another small climb, we came the the West carry Lean-to.
During the last five miles of the hike, my feet and knees were killing me. I hadn’t felt that bad in a long while. I wasn’t exhausted, but my body was showing signs of wear and tear from the rugged terrain. Many guide books and videos say that southern Maine is tough. What everyone seemed to leave out, was that it was the entire southern half of Maine that was tough.
I’m not complaining though. The toughness and the beauty are equally matched.
We setup our gear and ate dinner. There were a few southbounders there, and they were talking to all the other hikers. I wanted to have some time to myself, so I went down to the nearby pond to watch the sunset.
I took off my shoes and put my feet in the cool water. Off in the distance loons were calling to each other. Their ancient sounding calls echoing around the lake.
Sitting there, watching the sun slowly set, I could not imagine a more perfect ending to the day.
165.2 miles to go.