Cooper Brook Falls to Wadleigh 
09 October 2017
Got up especially early this morning in hopes of beating the rain to the Wadleigh Shelter. Alarm blared at 430a, and I begrudgingly sat up and began packing as quietly as I could. Didn't wanna disturb anyone, especially since I'd arrived after everyone was already asleep last night, and I was doing well until I banged my head on the slanted rafters. Oops. Looking at my shoes this morning, I did not want to put them on, a familiar feeling from my PCT days, and one that I'd conveniently forgotten in my many bouts of nostalgia. Of course, I put them on anyways. Ended up leaving around 530a before another soul had even begun to stir.
As predicted, the light was pretty good the first part of today. I managed to snap some beautiful pictures at a sandy beach along the Lower Jo-Mary Lake shore before lunch. The colors were beautiful, and the light was halfway decent, so I couldn't complain given the conditions the 24 hours prior.
Arrived at the Nahmakanta Stream tent sites around 12p and took refuge in the brand new, nearly-completed shelter. It had started sprinkling as I neared it, but I didn't even bother stopping to put on my rain jacket. I just turned up the jets to beat the heavier rain. Ate lunch as I watched the rain fall beyond the shelter canopy, then I took a nap for about half an hour before contemplating my options. I figured I could stop at Wadleigh just 6 miles north, or I could push for Rainbow Stream another 8 miles beyond that. The forecast I last saw indicated that there is a 75% chance of rain until like 10p tonight, which in my mind makes a case to push even further. I mean, if I'm gonna be wet either way, may as well cover more miles. Although to be fair, it would totally suck to get there and have the shelter be full. There are few things I hate more than setting up in the rain. Decided to head out and just re-evaluate when I arrived at Wadleigh. The rain had started falling harder since I'd been at Nahmakanta, so I donned my rain gear and packed my camera away. Planned to just put my head down and shred, which actually worked out because I wasn't expecting too many more great photo opportunities anyways.
If you're looking at hiking the HMW, don't let the mellow elevation profile between Cooper Brook Falls and Wadleigh shelters fool you. Yeah it's pretty flat, but it's also miserable rock/root/bog walking, which is pretty standard on the AT, and especially so in the HMW. I generally did pretty well with footing, though I did manage to eat it hard today when my foot slipped on a bare root and just kicked right out from under me. Been struggling with both knee and Achilles pain today, which makes sense given the difficult terrain, long days, and my planned pace.
Today was a different kind of day than I'm used to enjoying on the trail. Usually I'm cruising along, doing big miles and long days, snapping lots of photos. Today felt slower in some ways. I took time during lunch to just enjoy the protection of the shelter. Watching the rain fall, I wasn't in any hurry to leave. I wasn't stressed about gaining ground. I was just there, chillin'. Usually when I'm working my way back into trail shape, I don't do fewer miles. Instead, I do longer days to compensate for my slow pace. Today I just made up my mind to do a shorter day. I could've pushed - like I usually do - but it was nice to be done at 4p instead of 9p, just 10.5 hours of hiking versus 16. I enjoyed arriving at Wadleigh and chatting with other hikers before we went to sleep. I felt like an outsider as these thru-hikers swapped stories from the trail, but it was nice to listen because it reminded me of my own beautiful thru-hike.
It's now 7p, and the rain has been steadily falling since before I arrived. Thankful tonight for the early sunset, because the dark makes it easier to sleep. Gonna be up before anyone else again tomorrow, since I'm planning to do 33 miles all of the way to Katahdin Stream Campground. Should be decent weather tomorrow, and beautiful weather for the Katahdin summit bid on Wednesday with Ryan and Nate.
As I'm lying here, I notice that I'm annoyed at the conditions. Even when it's cool and breezy, the humidity is so thick that everything is eternally damp. And I'm really noticing the mosquitoes for the first time this trip. Could be a long night. (Let's be honest, though- if these are my concerns, I'm doing pretty well.)
Miles Hiked: 21.5