Bald Mountain Pond
The stealth camp site provided an unusually soft evening. The ground was not trampled by hundreds of tents before me and my sleep was deep and long.
By 06:55 I was on the trail with a goal of 15.1 Miles after crossing Bald Mountain and Moxie Mountain. Suddenly at about a mile into the hike I became extremely dizzy and had to sit on the ground and wait for it to pass. I had been drinking plenty of water so I didn’t suspect dehydration although that is always a possibility. The sensation was exactly like I experienced 15 months ago after a physical confrontation I had with a patient. That had cost me several hours twice in the emergency room. Today’s dizziness passed rather quickly and within a few moments I was back up and on the trail.
While on the ground we met Wings who had hiked 36 miles the day before. “Have you met a German guy in front of me? He keeps asking about me sometimes in front of me and sometimes in back of me yet I’ve never met him. It’s creeping me out!” I could provide no answers.
The Summit of Bald Mountain
At 4 miles we reached the summit of Bald Mountain which consisted of a huge granite plateau and magnificent views. I must admit that I did not feel especially strong while up there. I took the obligatory pictures and posed with the others but my heart wasn’t into it. When it came time to move on I stayed behind and did a short video and then found myself well behind the others on a steep downhill descent.
A Time to Enjoy the View
Zak, Helen of Troy and Zach Nurse were already settled into down time when Jed and I arrived. The view was decent and our timing was looking good for an early arrival at our next 15 mile camp site. Everything was in place ……. but…….
I Just Didn’t Feel Right
I couldn’t put my finger on it. I was not hungry, I felt that I was well hydrated, I was getting good mileage. Fallon had asked if I was OK when we were in the restaurant in Monson. I’d become quiet. The light breeze was leaving me cooler than I should have been. I sought shelter in the depression between the summit rocks. Jed just happened to take this picture which captured me in hiding. It just seems to perfectly capture how I felt at that moment.
The New Gangs All Here…. or Not
It appeared to be smooth sailing ahead. Granted the weather forecast was for off and on rain but that was certainly not unusual for this adventure. Our gear was right and other than the fact that we were always looking for a way to lose an ounce or two of pack weight we were, in general, ready to roll.
What Our Near Hiking Future Held Looked Promising
I suddenly felt weaker. I was functional but there was no energy in my step. The hike off of Bald Mountain was slow and deliberate.
Moxie Bald Mountain Pond Lean-to
At 136.5 I came to the side trail Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to. I had hiked two more miles solo and there was no reason to think that anyone had held back for me. My fatigue was enough that I did not feel like hiking to the shelter to see if anyone was there. Besides….. if Fallon had been there I would have heard her uplifting laughter. I hiked past it’s side trail.
Moxie Pond Marsh
After the shelter my strength came back and I quickly recovered as I passed Moxie Pond, found Trestle Road, and a power line. Once down onto the road I followed it and then veered back into the forest. I crossed another rock hopping creek and had made it about a mile beyond that when…… bam…… down I went. It came on so suddenly I barely had time to choose a soft landing zone. The world was spinning and there was absolutely no way to stop it. It was so severe that I could not initially determine where my pack straps were. I found a spot on my right side that I could tolerate if I focused on a single rock in front of me and not move my head in any way. For about two hours I lay on the ground. Thinking it was perhaps dehydration I managed to drink until the water bladder was empty.
Nothing helped. As I lay there I heard footsteps coming NOBO. Soon I could see a male between me and my focus rock.”Hey man. Do you need help?”
I hated to admit it but I did in fact need help. His girlfriend had just joined him for the day and they scrambled to the stream that I had crossed to get me more water. I remember him telling me that his name was Bookmark and his girlfriend was Dawn.
At the same moment Jed appeared out of nowhere. He had waited for me at Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to…….. you know ….. the one I was too lazy to get to. After waiting he had asked a couple of NOBO hikers if they had seen me. They had. He knew that I was in front of him so he continued SOBO.
The rain then hit. He found a spot to set up our tents on the side of the trail and I remember him practically hauling me to my tent. I fell in and as I hit the floor of the tent the Heavens opened up and it poured. That was about 4 pm and by 8 the next morning it was still raining. The torrents of water on the tent was non stop. I stayed still, I slept, I cooled my jets. Nothing improved. Maybe it would be better in the morning.
There was one thing for sure. I would not be hiking on for the time being.