START: West Branch Ponds Rd. 5 am
FINISH: Pollywog Stream 7:45 pm
37.3 miles 14:45 2.5 mph
2,171.1 total miles 42.8 mpd
Great weather – breezy, blue sky, cool temps
Mercury heads off into the ‘Plain of Reflection’ – a relatively flat section of trail before Katahdin. She glides at a good pace through thick forests of deep, verdant moss and firs; swaying ferns in the breeze; next to rivers of clean water; and, alongside deep blue lakes with the moving frosted tops of whitecaps. This is her reward for all her effort – the northern woods of Maine in late August and early Sept.
NOBO’s greet her with accolades as Mercury continues her standard of ‘hiker likeability’. She has become the ‘feel good’ story of an unusual hiking season filled with confusion and frustration.
Very few have seen her sausage toe, but they have just seen her warm smile.
Very few have heard the sounds of her pain, but they have heard her friendly greetings.
Jupiter sees her lights come in one more time (just a little night hiking this evening).
Her lights turn off, after a half-hour of preparing for sleep, her eyes close under a multitude of stars framed by the tiny fingers of the tall pines – close to a bridge in the middle of nowhere that someone unknown has written in yellow chalk “Go Mercury!”
Tomorrow will both be the end and the start of a new beginning.