Day 10: Stratton, ME to Skowhegan, ME

September 15th, 2016

58.6 mi / 4:35:23 time / 12.8 mph avg. / 2054 ft. climbing
Staying at Two Rivers Campground 

Our innkeeper remarked that she gets a lot of people who had planned on camping at Cathedral Pines but then thought better of it. Which makes sense, since it’s the first place as you head south, not to mention that it’s a beautiful, rustic, converted barn, on Flagstaff Lake in the shadow of Bigelow Mountain. The only other couple who stayed there were moose “hunters”, who had seen 23 moose on their last visit. Our count: 0. Sad face. 

We got all packed up and ready to go, and then, disaster: Rett’s prescription sunglasses were gone. She quickly realized where they were: back in Canada at the B&B. When we were shown our original room there, she had understandably put them down in the room, and then when we got upgraded to the nicer suite, completely forgot about them. And then never used them throughout the next rainy day. 

She has contacts, but they’re pretty uncomfortable for her, and riding into the morning sun without protection is bad too. She called and confirmed that they were exactly where she thought, and Anne at Auberge La Charmille generously offered to mail them wherever we wanted. We considered having them sent to the Acadia campground where we’d be spending a couple days, but our Maine  innkeeper scared us out of that: “there’s no such thing as one-day shipping up here. They may say it, but it never happens” . So the plan became: buy a pair of cheap sunglasses to wear over her contacts, and get new glasses from LensCrafters once we reached Bangor. With sweet pink camouflage glasses in hand from the general store, we were finally off! 

And we made it another half mile to breakfast. Today would be a slow start. Stratton feels like a mountain town out West. Last night I saw a group of outdoors-people gathered outside a motel picnic table that offered $25 communal bunks, and this morning in the Looney Moose Cafe, I overheard another couple who sounded exactly like us, mapping out their day’s route over their eggs and French toast.

It turns out they were Appalachian Trail thru-hikers (and they even had their little Shih-Tzu hiking with them!) I knew from my planning that the AT crossed our route nearby, and it was an important place for me, both because hiking the AT is something Rett and I have talked a lot about the last couple years, and because I remember how drawn I was to it when I crossed it on my very first bike tour, in Georgia. This crossing was probably similarly close to the opposite end. 

In fact, we met So Free (aka Galen), another AT hiker, when we finally crossed the trail a few miles later, and he was near the end of his six month, four day journey north. It was really great to talk with these kindred adventurers, and like France the bike tourer, when we asked if their adventure was good enough to recommend to others, the positive response came more quickly, naturally, and unequivocally than any question I’ve ever asked anyone. Like in Georgia, we stepped onto the trail briefly, and then dragged ourselves out of the woods and back out to the bikes. 

The riding was still really tough, with three big climbs to cross from one river valley to the next, but the beauty helped counteract the struggle. 

In Kingfisher we stopped at a grocery store where Rett played telephone games to get her prescription transmitted from her latest optometrist over to LensCrafters. The fax wasn’t going through, and the Chicago-based optometry chain was making no extra effort in consideration of the fact that Rett was standing in a grocery vestibule in Maine attempting to transact business. This willful indifference was infavorably juxtaposed with the fabulous grocery/gas/laundry all-in-one we were at.  They manually sliced a loaf of cinnamon bread we bought, so we could make sandwiches at their picnic table, let use the bathroom in their laundromat, and we could even watch the horses in their back yard. Man I love the country all-in-one! 

In Madison we stocked up on baked goods at a bakery that was only open that day of the week, and had a nice talk with the people in there too, including the woman who recited a poem she remembered from her college, from which she graduated in 1953!

A final push down a beautiful US 2, with the sun setting over the river and casting shadows of the tree-tunnel onto the road, and we made it to our campground destination, where we hit 6-for-6 on waterfront sites, and this one maybe the best so far. Right on a point where two rivers meet. But it was getting cold fast, and the giant bundle of scrap woodworking firewood burned well, but quickly, and we soon hunkered down for the night. 

2 Responses to “Day 10: Stratton, ME to Skowhegan, ME”

  1. Swati Says:

    Gorgeous! Damn city Chicago people!! 😛

  2. Sue Harms Says:

    Loved the picture at the trailhead because you both look so darn happy (and cute!)