Wake up at home to sound of steady rain. Lie in bed reading and drinking coffee. Leisurely pack up and leave home late morning. Begin hiking up Caribou Mtn Trail (Bethel side) midafternoon, after rain has stopped. Stay dry except for feet. Jump into amazing swimming hole near trailhead post-hike to clean off just as rain starts up again for final brief showers. Drive through Evans Notch and find stellar campsite for the next two nights at Basin Campground.
Awake to early morning birdsong after solid 8 hours sleep. Get dropped off at Cold Brook (not a) Trail. Listen to intuitive, nagging voice inside head and wisely lug entire White Mtn Guide in pack. Negotiate weird logging and skidder roads while swatting at 17,246 +/-1 deer flies and scurrying by creepy hunting camp, all the while looking for anything resembling a TRAIL. Somehow choose all correct, mostly unsigned, turns and finally set foot on real trail. After 0.1 mile of real trail, reach Evergreen Link Trail. Meet Chris on out-and-back of comparatively beautiful ELT and again on ledges of Speckled Mtn. Upper Cold Brook Trail is nice! Lose at least 45 min. on ascent of Speckled stuffing mouths w/luscious blueberries. Do out-and-back on Red Rock Trail as far as Great Brook Trail. RRT quite overgrown but very enjoyable. See no one. Fill water bottle with cold, clear Speckled Mtn Springwater. Pick more blueberries. Continue across Bickford Brook and Spruce Hill Trails. Cross Rt 113 and head up E Royce Trail. Descend Royce Trail. Back at Basin Campground, discover next-door neighbors: a dozen very loud, very shrill 8-12 year old girls from Missouri repeatedly singing “Jesus Loves Me.”
Wake up early and climb Basin Trail, including Hermit Loop. Do Blue Brook Tentsite Loop because have never done. Chris shakes head at hiking 5+ miles and 1000+ feet to “get” 0.3 miles. Admit yes, am a Redlining Fool. Throw away rotting trail runners that smell like blue cheese. Drive to Deer Isle.
Spend day hobnobbing with Deer Isle crowd, drinking wine, eating deep fried whole belly clams and other decadent, yummy things. Sleep in friends circa 1972 Airstream. Decide could probably live in one of these. Spend many hours watching slide show and comparing notes with friend who has just finished section hiking AT over 4 years. Bore spouses nearly to death…
Drive to West side of Acadia National Park in attempt to finally finish 28 Peaks of Acadia list after first visit 16 years ago. Climb Flying Mtn, Valley Peak, Acadia, and St Saveur. Meet interesting folks, many of whom cannot read a map. Check into Seawall Campground and walk Ship Harbor Loop. Speed shower at lobster pound: $1 for 2 min. (Piece of cake!)
Pack up and head to Echo Lake. Climb near vertical ladders (yippee!) on Beech Cliff Trail. Continue on to Mansell, Knight’s Nubble, and Bernard. Shake head in wonder at work of art that is the CCC-built Perpendicular Trail. Wait crazy long time for parking space at Jordan Pond House and negotiate masses of people to procure table. Dine on eye-popping $22 “worth-every-penny” bowl of lobster stew and popovers. Drive crazy winding Maine roads to lovely Crocker Pond Campground back in the Whites.
Wake up groggy due to din of 10 lb (gotta be!) bullfrogs croaking throughout night. Rename site CROAKER Pond. Do quick out and back to Round Pond via Albany Brook Trail, easternmost of all White Mtn trails. Meet F&W dude setting up live trap for resident beaver. (Plan is to eradicate “trash fish” and relocate beaver in order to reintroduce trout to Croaker Pond.) Get dropped off at southern end of Albany Mtn Trail and proceed north while getting dive bombed by 9,237 +/-1 deer flies. Find trail well maintained in lower sections, less so approaching Albany Notch. Meet Chris atop Albany Mtn and spend next hour stuffing mouths with ripe blueberries in hot sun before continuing to north terminus. Drink can of cool, refreshing Coca Cola - first soda in over a year - en route to Wheeler Brook Trail. Lower part of trail has some nice pools; upper part is less traveled. (First Coke in over a year leaves me quite energized.) Happy to be picked up on Little Lary Rd so as to do trail just once. Get dropped off at southern end of Shelburne Trail. After very easy ford of Wild River, immediately lose trail and bushwhack to Highwater Trail. Finish redlining HT, 5+ miles to Rt 113, happy to see trail in better condition than expected with only a few short sections of complete Irene washouts. Meet Chris about a mile before end. Refreshing jump into River afterwards. Dinner at Mr. Pizza, then south to Dolly Copp Campground for the night.
Thompson Falls by 6:30 am, then up Crew Cut Trail to George’s Gorge, Liebeskind’s Loop, and Lila’s Ledge. Surprised at punch packed by these short trails. Early morning plunge into Emerald Pool quite invigorating. Breakfast #2 at Water Wheel in Jefferson. Rain begins again. Home.