First Step on the ATSiler BaldSelf Portrait in WhitesWhite Mountains

Bird Man's AT Journal

Trail Updates and Photos from the 2002 AT "Flip-Flap" Hike
© Bruce Nichols - 2002

Flip-Flappin' South
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Dear family and friends,

The AT "Bird Man" has arrived in Monson, ME having completed the walk south from Baxter Park and Mt
Katahdin [image] throught the 100 Mile Wilderness. I'll be back on the trail today after a good night in a B&B
here in town run by the Monson "Pie Lady" whose fresh baked pies fly out of the house each morning snatched
up by hungry locals and vacationers alike. She also serves a mean breakfast and this hungry hiker will leave town with a pleasently full belly.

I summited Katahdin on Aug. 2 in windy and foggy conditions on top [image1] [image2]. The last 2 miles of the 5.2 mile hike up from Katahding Stream Camp Ground were done in about 100 feet of visibility - but the trail is very well marked and this did not present a serious obsticle. I was one of the faster climbers of the day and met a few who were finishing their through hikes from Springer. It was very inspirational to see them arrive at the summit out of the swirling mist at the end of a 2168 mile foot journey. One fellow stopped about 10 feet short of the summit and waited for some friends who had joined him for the final climb. They all stood together waiting for the right moment and then walked those final 10 feet to the very top of the mountain and the very end of a very long journey.

I spent my first night at the through hiker shelter at the base of the mountain and started south on the 3rd.
Over the first three days I coverd 60 miles in hot and humid weather (especiall for Maine). Fortunately there are lots of streams, ponds, lakes [image], rivers going south and I would occasionally stop, shed my pack and my cloths and just jump into the cool water. I'd rinse the sweat from my t-shirt and shorts, put them back on wet and cool and start walking south again through the beautiful spruce forests [image] of the northern maine wilderness.

On the 4th day I think my enthusiasm of the previous three caught up with me and also I began encountering
some steeper and longer cimbs. I'd planned 15 or 17 miles but was stopped short by showers and thunder
storms in the afternoon. I wandered into a shelter pretty wet and a little chilled (a cold front had hearalded the changing weather) and found Pete Harley and Gigi (the little dog) already there. I had met Pete way back near Erwin TN and wrote about him in an earlier message. Pete had been through a lot but was still on the trail. Giardia down south, a hernia that needed medical attention, and most recently kidney stones in Millenocket that put him off the trail for several days. At over 70, I was amazed that he was still plugging along. Unfortunately, Gigi (aka Four Wheel Drive) seemed to be fairing even worse. The little 15 year olf dog was very week could hardly stand and was not eating. Early in the morning I was awakened by a loud thud and found Gigi had fallen from the sleeping platform of the shelter about 2 feet to the wooden planking foot rests near the front of the shelter. I roused Pete and picked Gigi up. She seemed to be in no worse shape than she had been the night before but still could barely stand. I left a bit later in the morning and understand that Pete is
carring Gigi south (heard from other S-bounders that have since passed them). I wish them both the best and send them my prayers.

After the rains, the weather cleared and cooled and the remainder of the walk into Monson was really beautiful. The trail went up and down over rocky peaks with 100 mile views. I could see the white mountains (or at least the mountains of western Maine over 100 miles to the west and what I think were the Camden hills way off to the south. My last night in the 100 mile wilderness was spent at a lovely spot called Cloud Pond high up on the north side of Barren Mt. The large pond is nestled into a forested cleft and is clear and blue under the Maine sky. The night sky there was exqusite with the first of the Persid meteorites occasionally flashing by and a bright sattelite (probalby the Internation Space Station) making an unexpected transit of the night sky.

Just after dark a 20 something grad student girl calling herself "BlueBird" arrived after a 24 mile day. She had started N from Springer near the end of May and had done a really fast walk north to PA before flipping to Katahdin. She had been following my origami birds north to Harper's Ferry and was interesting in catching the "Bird Man". (It seems that my little paper offereing have been quite a hit on the trail this year). Yeatersay she and I walked down into Monson together swapping tales of our trail experiences and both stayed the night here at the "Pie Lady's". BlueBird pushed on early this morning to continue her rapid walk south so on this leg it will be the Bird Man reading her register entries.

There's so much more to tell. But the trail calls. Briefly. I met other hikers on the bus from Bangor who had enjoyed the origami birds as well as one lady who I'd also met back in Erwin. Here in Monson, I caught the Idahoe 4, a family of 4 (kids 6 & 8) who I'd met back in Damascus, VA and who had also recently flip-plopped and are heading south. I'm looking forward to more reunions on the trail and it's always fun to stop and share a few words with N Bounders who are near to finishing their journey.

Thanks for all the email that has come. I've read it all even if I haven't answered you personally. My next mail town will be Gorham, NH in about two weeks. Hope you all are enjoying life as much as I am.

Sending Peace, Blessings, and Love to all.

Bruce "Bird Man" Nichols

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page created - 11/09/2002
updated - 11/22/2002
All text and photos © Bruce Nichols