Friday, September 11, 2015

Day 54. North Haverhill, VT to Lovell, ME

The overnight rains that were predicted came showering through the trees about 8pm.  With sunset at about 7:30, I had ample time to get the campsite set properly.  I am in site 23 at Wildwood National Forest campground.  It is primitive site, but does have cold, fresh water.  I choose this site because of the layout of trees and picnic table.  My tent has become less sea-worthy over the past two months and its double decade old age is starting to show.  The taped seams and other water-proofing issues needs some attention I cannot give it at the moment.  These have been discovered the hard way in the past weeks.    So I have a plan to use my emergency tarp to cover the exposed areas, extending out to cover my bike and create a bit of a canopy over the tent entrance.  It actually looks hideous, but works well.  The rains come blowing through, but I am perfectly dry with my impromptu breeze ways creating a fine shelter.  The rains drain the sky for a couple of hours and the tarp has a tin roof effect with the rain and I am soon forced to check my eyelids for holes.

The morning breaks to the enjoyment of some instant coffee with maple and brown sugar oatmeal. I feel a bit melancholy that this is my last day of camping for the trip.  I am at hotels and Inns for the remainder.  I have truly enjoyed the camping experiences and just sit and enjoy the cool quiet morning in the forest, reflecting on the various places I have stayed.   As I stuff my wet and gritty tent and tarp into their compression sacks, put on my damp cycling clothes again and  have some schmeg from the tree fall into my coffee, the feeling quickly evaporates, like the morning fog.   Time to move on.  
My tent and its owner is not the only thing that appears to be wearing out on this trip.  My well-documented shoe repairs, along with my main cycling socks are disintegrating.   My cycling gloves that I bought on this trip are worn and have tears in them.  The handlebar tape is seeing its last days.  Yesterday, my back pannier needed "field" repairs to keep on the bike.  The cyclometer has not worked for weeks and the heart monitor is intermittently active.  Both battery issues, I presume.  This will be the third battery on the cyclometer, but I am not going to change it out.  All in all, not bad really, but normal wear and tear is showing its ugly head.

Kancamangus pass was the highest climb of the last week and on the elevation profile, looked daunting.  Yes, it was the highest and longest climb of the week, but comparatively turned out to be the easiest.  The grade was gradual and steady for the 12 miles of climbing.  The weather was perfect, overcast and cool, giving the sensation that this pass could be climbed all day.  Where the earlier climbs had 10 and 12 percent grades, this climb and descent was about 7% at the worst and made both up and down hill exhilarating.  I hardly had to tap my breaks on the way down except for the roughest spots on the road.  On the earlier mountain descents I was burning some break pads.  The views and the Pemigewasset River cascading over the abundance of rocks and stones made this a top 3 ride of the trip.  I have discovered of all the landscape features that have been encountered, I have enjoyed the creeks, rivers and falls the most.  This ride will not top the 94 mile climb in Idaho, but it will compete for a podium finish for sure. Loved this ride today.

Early in the day, I crossed the Appalachian trail and met some hikers by the road.  They were trying to hitch hike into Lincoln for supplies.  Three of the hikers were mid twenties, but one was about age with full dreadlocks that just did not quite fit.  He had recently hooked up with this team, but had actually started his hike in Key West.  They eventually catch a lift and pass me.  I run into them again in Lincoln where they holler out and I whip in a parking lot to chat a second.  The 50 year old is massaging his gnarled feet while holding court on some hiking philosophy.  At that very moment I decide that bike touring across the country beats hiking the Appalachian Trail.

As I leave Lincoln there is an adventure store that's

advertising Moose tours, 97% sightings.  I remain hopeful.

I have seen some gorgeous sights on this trip, but tomorrow will be the best sight I have seen.  My wife, Brenda, meets me for the final two days and when I stop pedaling tomorrow she will be there.  I cannot express how excited I am.  No, she will not be cycling with me.  She will spend the day sightseeing while I am doing the same from the comfort of my bike saddle.  Can't wait.

Moose Search: 0

Song in my head:  Etta James; At Last