The trail from the Kennebec river lead us to the edge of Maine Highway 201. There were
no buildings in either direction along the highway but there was a tree lined residential
street across the road. We crossed the road and proceeded up the street.  It was very clean
and quiet street of older wood homes. Everything this July 5th morning seemed green and
fresh as we walked up the street looking for Caratunk House. 

Part way up the block we came to a large white house with some kind of flag hanging
over the front door (see picture taken from their website). There was a sign directing us
to the side door to register. The side door was located off a low verandah running along
the side of the house.  As we approached the door, we heard the door bell ring inside. I
went in and was greeted by Jenson Steele, sitting at a desk across from the door, and by
Bailey, a very friendly 95 pound golden retriever. As Jenson was busy, I grabbed a couple
of cokes from a fridge next to him and went to sit outside on the verandah with MA.

We were soon joined by a hiker who told us about TIGER PAW (a long distance section
hiker I believe), who did a 28 mile day a few days ago and as a result had to leave the
trail. He stood on doormat in front of the door as he talked and each time he moved the
doorbell rang. We soon heard a shout from Jenson on the other side of the door to get off
the mat as it was activating the door bell. Soon a car arrived to take away this hiker and
TIGER PAW.
Not long after, we had acquired the Green Room on the second floor and Jenson had
explained the rules and amenities. Like many hostels, this place ran on the honor system.
Every guest had a card attached to a clip next to the desk. The guests would write down
the services they used and the items they took from the little store located down a few
steps to the right of the desk. At the end of their stay it would all be tallied up.

The store consisted of a small room with a few shelves, a freezer and a fridge. It was
stocked with a few hiker items and a good selection of hiker food supplies: Lipton meals,
other dried meals, candy bars, energy bars, pop tarts, peanut butter, cheese, frozen bagels
etc., as well as snacks: pop, ice cream, chips, etc. It was clear that someone here was
aware of hiker needs and tastes. It turned out that Paul Fuller, the other owner,  had thru
hiked in 1990. The prices were very reasonable, in fact they seemed better than
supermarkets.

All you can eat breakfast was $4 and they would do hiker laundry for $2 including drying
and folding. They provided a free shuttle to restaurants and groceries and accepted
maildrops ($2 charge for non guests). It was owned by Jenson Steele and Paul Fuller.
This was a great place. More information about Caratunk House is available at their

GREENHORN soon arrived and said he was going on to the next shelter.  We treated
him to a pop on the verandah and then went upstairs with him where we had Jenson hook
us up to Internet so we all could check our email. We then said our good-byes.

We then went up to sort through our stuff. We put aside our clothes for the laundry and
then tried to determine our food requirements for the next section to Monson. We
decided to aim for the state highway 36 miles away although we could also access
Monson by taking a local road at the 33 mile mark; the latter however had less traffic.
The map showed two pretty good climbs and then a long relatively flat section in the last
half. It also showed many ponds and streams and a number of  river crossings.  We knew
from our reading that some of this area could be very wet and that the river crossings
could sometimes be quite dangerous. In 1999 many hikers had been stranded at shelters
when rivers became gorged during Hurricane Floyd. We thought we could make it to
Monson on the third day but we decided to bring a day or two of extra food. We would
have many options available to us, as there were four shelters through that section.

At lunch time we headed to Moose Crossing the only place right in Caratunk to get
something to eat.. It was also owned by Jenson and Paul. A small moose sign on the
hostel's side lawn pointed to a trail through the woods in back to the highway. From there
it was a short walk to Moose Crossing a take-out trailer with a few picnic tables under a
covered area out behind. We walked up to the order window and met Paul Fuller. We
ordered two milk shakes and a large meat pizza and had them put on our room bill. .
Paul said he would see us later in the day at the hostel when he and Jenson switched jobs.
Despite our appetites, we could not finish the pizza and brought the rest back to our
room.

We rested in our room for a while then checked out the hostel. We were in the main
section of the house where there are two bedrooms available to hikers. At the bottom of
the stairs,  in the living room, we found a photo album with pictures of all the hikers who
stopped by.  The large dining room/ kitchen had a large round table with a lazy Susan in
the middle, perfect for serving a big group of hungry hikers for breakfast. Further to the
back was the office and beyond that the store. A short set of stairs next to the store, lead
up to the bunkhouse section. It was a large friendly room with space for 8 hikers. There
were beds along the walls including one double bed at the far end of the room. There was
a kitchen table with chairs around it and there were a number of chairs and lazy boys
scattered around the room. In one corner there was a TV and a large number of
videotapes. A sign explained the house rules and mentioned the quiet time and that it
would be even earlier if even one hiker requested it.  The cost for a bed was $14.

We walked to the post office to call the kids on the pay phone and then returned for an
ice cream snack and some cookies that Paul had just baked. Late in the afternoon, Paul
drove us up the highway about 7 miles to the general store to get groceries. It was a very
busy place situated in a tourist area with a great number of rafting companies nearby as
well as a restaurant and a popular micro-brewery.  The prices were very expensive so we
only purchased those items that were not available at the hostel. We were not able to get
powdered Gatorade so Paul drove us to Steve.(the ferryman) Longley's place. There were
a few hikers here including CHAD who was busy on the phone when we were there. The
little store had Gatorade but it was a massive container which would make 9 gallons, so
we passed and purchased a few energy bars. We obtained the rest of our supplies at the
hostel.

Later in the day, we walked over to Moose Crossing where we asked Jenson to prepare us
two sandwiches for our lunch on the trail the next day. He said he would make them at
the end of the day before coming home and would put them in the fridge for us. For some
reason we were not too hungry at supper time so we simply ate the rest of the pizza. We
turned in early. The next day Paul prepared us a great breakfast, including French toast.
We were the only guests. Paul then took our picture out front for their album and we
were on our way by 8:15 AM. The Data Book showed 151.2 remaining miles to the
summit of Katahdin.

We walked back to the highway and went back into the woods through the trailhead
parking lot near the corner. The morning's hiking was a leisurely ascent of 750 feet over
a distance of 5.5 miles to Pleasant Pond Lean-to which we reached at 11 AM. We had
followed Holly Brook most of the morning, crossing it once. We also crossed a few
logging roads, the last one with a trail parking area within a short distance from the
lean-to, not normally a good idea. CHAD had passed us early in the morning and we
updated ourselves.

We took a break at this shelter which was 0.1 miles off the AT on Pleasant Pond. A
SOBO named GIZMO was here packing. He had made the steep descent down adjacent
Pleasant Pond Mountain late in the evening and had slept-in this morning. He told us that
GREENHORN had spent the night here with him. He then handed us a couple of metal
cookie tins from a shelf. They contained delicious homemade cookies that had been
brought in by a local lady who I believe is called the Cookie Lady. (not to be confused
with the Cookie Lady near Dalton MA or the Pie Lady in upcoming Monson ME)

It took us an hour to do the 1200 foot climb up to the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain,
1.3 miles away.  It was the kind of climb I really liked on a nice day.  The ascent
alternated between areas of vegetation and small trees, and large exposed sloping
boulders with painted blazes here and there leading us higher. It was usually easy to find
your way on these boulders as hiker traffic often wore a path on the partly mossy rocks.
We passed a couple who were day hiking down the mountain with no visible supplies or
water; not a good idea but they would soon be reaching roads at the bottom.

We stopped for lunch near the top and took out the sandwiches that Jenson had prepared
for us.  What a treat! Delicious ham and cheese sandwiches on two thick firm slices of
bread. We really enjoyed them and are still talking about them today.  As we sat eating
on small boulders right on the trail, two speedy NOBO's in their 40's or 50's named
GOODGULF and TANGLEWOOD stopped and talked for a second.

It was a gradual 5 mile descent off the mountain over nice hiking terrain. We stopped for
a break on a flat boulder with a view and were passed by two NOBO brothers called
ENGINE and RED BARON. I recall ENGINE telling me that he was 27 years old and his
brother was 16. They had been having a great trip. We passed them later, further down
the mountain.

Late in the afternoon, shortly after coming off the mountain, we crossed a power line and
came to a dirt road. We saw no buildings but there were a few very young children
playing on bicycles. A couple of ATV's went passed us.  The road to the north paralleled
Moxie Pond. We were at the southern end of the pond.  We went right and followed the
road for a short distance to the south until we came to a spot where we entered the woods
and would skirt around the extreme southern section of the pond called Joe's Hole.

We immediately had a wide ford of Baker Stream, an inlet to the pond. The water was
fast but less than a foot deep in most spots as we made our way across from boulder to
boulder. The literature indicates that this can be a dangerous crossing in high water.
Beyond the stream, the narrow path was underwater and we had to carefully go from rock
to rock to solid ground, all the while hanging onto to bushes lining the trail. The two
brothers passed us in this area. We were pleased to be doing all this without getting wet,
but unfortunately near the end, a spot of ground was not as solid as I thought and one foot
sank deep into the mud. What a mess!

The trail improved for a while as it rose but then it dropped down slightly and turned
swampy again. The ground was soft and water had collected in the trench that was the
trail. We tried our best to keep our feet dry, by hanging on to branches and searching out
rocks and dry spots. In some places, small logs had been placed lengthwise side by side
on the trail to help. In some of the worst places there were short board walks and
puncheons, however in many instances the water was deep and they sank as we
proceeded on them. At one point the trail contoured to the right around a deep muddy
pool. When we had circled it, we realized that this 40 foot wide pool blocked the former
route and the detour was relatively new.

The path then climbed slightly to higher ground and within a few minutes we came to a
campsite in the woods to our right adjacent to Bald Mountain brook. We continued along
the AT, crossing the brook, and 0.2 miles later came to a side trail to our right leading a
short distance to our destination, Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to. It was 5 o'clock and we
had done 14.7 miles. We entered a tiny clearing with the shelter facing us about 20 feet
to our left. The brook was 20 feet through the trees to our right. The path made a sharp
turn and lead to the shelter where we were greeted by GREENHORN and CHAD and a
yappy dog.

CHAD was set up along the right wall with GREENHORN next to him. The rest of the
shelter was taken up by a non backpacking dome tent. A young couple sat in the shelter
in front of the tent. They were accompanied by three dogs, all of different sizes.  One of
the dogs was very nervous and was still yapping at us. He finally hid under the shelter.
We leaned our packs against the front of the shelter and scouted around for a tent site.
The only decent spot was in the trees at the front edge of the clearing, not far from the
brook, but ENGINE and RED BARON were setting up their tent there.  It started to
sprinkle so we decided to make our meal first. After filtering water, we sat on the ledge
at the front of the shelter and I boiled up some Ramen. While we relaxed with that, I
prepared our meal which consisted of two Lipton meals, to which I added a can of tuna. I
placed the empty tuna can in the rain on the big boulder in the middle of the clearing, in
order to rinse it before I crushed it. Unfortunately we would forget it the next day when
we left.

The young couple were in their mid twenties. I got the impression they were part of a
university type crowd.  The young man said he would really like to do some serious
writing and he went on and on about intellectual subjects, mostly modern American
literature I believe.  I did not participate in the conversation, but CHAD seemed a little
aware of the subject. 

They seemed ill prepared for the trail and were having problems. Their tent was a heavy
dome style tent of the type sold in department stores. The tent leaked, so they had set it
up in the shelter. The young lady was sitting in front of her tent wrapped in a heavy
blanket as the air was getting a little chilly and damp. A glance inside the tent revealed
more blankets. I did not see sleeping bags.  As we sat having our meal, I noticed her
eating peanut butter with a spoon from a nearly empty jar. She passed it to her
companion who did the same.  While talking to them we pieced together their story. Here
it is as best as we understood it or can recall.

I believe they were from northern Michigan where they lived in an apartment with the
three dogs and the girl's 7 year old daughter. I am not sure where they started their hike
but they had been on the trail a few weeks, having been driven to Maine by a friend.
Their intent had been to hike north all the way to Katahdin. It must have been pretty
tough climbing those mountains with the three dogs and their gear.

They ran into problems in Caratunk. Apparently the only ATM would not accept his bank
card and he was unable to straighten out the problem. It would be more than a week
before someone would be coming to get them in Monson. In order to save money, they
decided to make their way slowly to Monson, stopping for a day or two at each of the
four shelters between Caratunk and Monson. They left Caratunk a few days ago and
would not be picked up for six more days.  The young lady said they had enough food for
one meal per day each and that they had sufficient food for the dogs.  I found it a little
worrisome.  It was bad enough to have to do the 20 miles to Monson with their poor gear,
a leaky tent and three dogs, but with meager food supplies, it would be even more
difficult. Fortunately they had only one serious mountain to go over.

After cleaning up, we went scouting around for a tent spot. There seemed to be a little
room right next to the two brothers. As it would put us in close proximity to them, we
asked ENGINE if he would mind. He said there would be no problem but warned us that
they would be up early the next day as they would be going all the way to Monson. We
set up our tent as quickly as we could in the light downpour, trying to ensure that the few
roots would not be in tender spots. We had a nice conversation with the brothers as we
set up and discussed the situation about the couple and their dogs. We looked over to the
shelter where the couple and their dogs were getting into their tent. We did not hear a
sound from them or the dogs all night. We snuggled into our bags before dark but I soon
unzipped the tent and searched under it for a rock that was digging into me. We had a
very good sleep, likely as result of the mileage we had done.

We awoke early the next day. The brothers were up and packing. I marveled at how
quickly they got everything folded up and stowed away. They were soon on their way.
We also packed quickly but noticed that all the occupants of the shelter were still asleep.
Our big day yesterday convinced us that we would be able to get to Monson early the
following day.  As a result, our food supplies were in good shape. I put aside some items:
a few Lipton meals, packages of Ramen, a new jar of peanut butter, a few Pop Tarts,
some wrapped hard candies, and a few energy bars. We left the food on the ledge of the
shelter in front of their tent. It was 7:20 AM and we were on our way, leaving by the
north side trail.

It was an one hour steep climb up to the foggy summit of Moxie Bald Mountain. We
came to a bad weather blue blaze trail that contoured the summit but we kept climbing
the rocky exposed trail to the top. It was a slow steep descent off the mountain. The rest
of the way to Monson would be relatively flat. Two and a half hours after the summit, we
took a break with GREENHORN at the picnic table at Moxie Bald Lean-to, looking out
over Bald Mountain Pond. He was surprised with the amount of food we had left that
morning, but he had been unaware that the couple had 6 more days in the woods before
they went to Monson.

Two wet and swampy miles later we came to the far end of an arm of the pond. We
forded Bald Mountain Stream, an outlet of the pond. The water from the pond was partly
held back by a wide and high pile of rocks that we had to work our way across. The next
3.5 miles followed along the stream. The walking was pretty good, with a few wet and
swampy spots. We arrived at a major river crossing around 1:30 PM. The trail brought us
right to the edge of the West Branch of the Piscataquis River at a spot where Bald
Mountain Stream flowed into it. 

We studied the situation carefully. While the trail was at water level on this side, there
was a steep 10 foot embankment on the other side. We could first cross the stream,
stopping on a piece of land with high grasses and then continue on across the river. The
water seemed to be knee deep and the trees seemed thick on the embankment at that spot.
If we went a few feet down stream below the confluence, we would only have to cross
the river. At that spot, the water was much wider and faster as it flowed over a rocky
bottom but it appeared more shallow, maybe only a little more than ankle deep. This was
the route that GREENHORN had just taken and there seemed to be a path up the
embankment on the other side. We put on our sandals and slowly made our way across,
trying to keep our balance on the rounded rocks on the river bed. It was a slow process
but we finally made it across.  We put our boots back on, climbed the embankment and
spoke with GREENHORN who was waiting for the iodine to do its work on his water.

We had just crossed the West Branch of the river and tomorrow we would have to cross
the East Branch. STITCHES had crossed this ankle deep river in 1999 and then been
stranded at the next shelter for a few days in a hurricane when both branches swelled.
The water had climbed to chest high during that period. Her account of the ordeal is at
http://friends.backcountry.net/m_factor/september1.html#16 .Thankfully the weather for
us looked pretty good.

The path then followed the river along the top of the embankment, on what might have
been an old cart trail at one time. It was a nice grade and easy walking. At 3:15, after 13
miles, we came to the side trail leading 0.1 mile up and away from the river to Horseshoe
Canyon Lean-to.  CHAD was already installed in the left corner of the shelter. We sat on
the front of the shelter chatting with CHAD, GREENHORN and three boys (they seemed
in their mid to late teens). The boys did not seem to be backpacking types and it soon
became clear that they were local boys who had wandered up here for the day.

We were soon joined by a number of SOBO thru hikers: 10%, THE COLONEL, WILLIE
MCGEE, and WAYBACK. They were a very nice, happy, friendly group. The
conversation was typical trail talk about mileage, terrain, equipment, etc., and some talk
about their stay in Monson and the hikers behind them. The local boys told them about
the depth of snow in this area in winter.

The map showed the water source here to be where the north bound side trail meets the
AT. A young girl arrived from the north and said her partner was looking for water on the
AT. I went that way and met him. He said he did not find the source and had gone down
the steep embankment to the river for his water. The river was far below and the
embankment seemed too steep so I walked south back along the AT looking for a better
spot. I soon came to the side trail that we had taken and kept on going another few
minutes. I finally gave up looking for a perfect spot, and worked my way 30 feet  down
the steep embankment to the rocky river where I filled my 6 liter bag to capacity, as I had
no intention of making a second trip.

We spent a very pleasant evening socializing with the group while we prepared and ate
our meals and did our chores. I found out that WILLIE MCGEE was a big baseball fan.
THE COLONEL was a tall slim young man of around 18.  He certainly did not have the
thru hiker look. His hair was short and he was clean shaven. He was from a small town in
Kentucky I believe and had just graduated from High School. He talked quite a bit about
his town, his High School and his church. I recall that his name had something to do with
his High School. He said he had gotten a ton of food in his maildrop in Monson and was
expecting another one in Caratunk. He sold a few energy bars for a total of  $1 to a very
grateful CHAD, who was always hungry.

After supper, THE COLONEL and one or two others set up their one-man tents in the
clearing in front of the shelter. MA and I set up ours on the soft ground on the left side of
the shelter. The young couple, who were from North Carolina, set up way back of the
shelter. We hung some of our sweaty clothes on hooks on the outside shelter wall and
went to bed.

We slept well and were on our way at 6:50 the next morning. The trail was little ups and
downs as we followed the West Branch of the Piscataquis river for 2.5 miles until we
reached the East Branch of the river which we had to ford. The river in this spot is 50 feet
wide, but we had no problems crossing it, or so it would seem, as we have no recollection
of the crossing. STITCHES had to wait more than 2 days to cross this river in 1999.

We climbed a little rise and crossed a paved road (Shirley-Blanchard Road). The terrain
then became soft and damp in sections. During this period we met two SOBO couples.
We stopped both times to chat. They were in good spirits and were really enjoying their
trip. One couple were called GRIZZLY and BOO BOO. At the 5.5 mile mark we came to
the side trail leading to Pleasant street in Monson but it would be a long walk into town
as there was very little traffic so we kept on going.  Eventually the trail rose again
bringing us to drier terrain and we met two SOBO young men named CAPTAIN
DANGER and BUCKEYE who told us they had stayed at the Pie Lady's place. We told
them we were heading to Shaw's Boarding House.

We finally got to Maine highway 15 where we propped up our backpacks against our
hiking poles and stuck out our thumbs for the mile hitch into Monson.  We liked to have
our backpacks plainly visible in the hope that people would have less fear of picking us
up. We were standing at the end of a short straight-away so vehicles would have a bit of a
chance to see us, and the road then curved around a cliff to our right. 

Across the road we could see where the trail went back into the woods.  That was the
entrance to the 100 Mile Wilderness where we would be heading in two days. There was
a small pull-off area there. We had been standing at the side of the road for about 15
minutes, when an SUV coming from the other direction pulled off the road and a lady
jumped out and yelled across the road, offering us a ride.

We went over and stuffed our packs on top of the pile of stuff in the back and she moved
her daughter into the front seat with her other daughter. We then got in the back seat with
her dog.  She said she had passed us going the other way and decided to turn around and
come and get us. She dropped us off in town at 11:15.  We were greeted immediately by
GREENHORN coming down the main street towards us with 3 Moxie sodas. It is a New
England soft drink that is very popular in Maine. Some say you have to try Moxie while
in Maine. Well we tried it and it had a very distinct taste, and was very refreshing, but I
really can't recall whether I liked it or not. MA says it tasted terrible but added that that
is what it's supposed to taste like. (http://www.monarchbeverage.biz/subnav_moxie.asp)

We walked one block down Pleasant Street to Shaw's and went through the front porch
into the large dining room/ kitchen (pictures further down) and Mr. Shaw assigned us a
private room on the second floor for the next two nights.  $35 per night got us a small
room with cable TV. There was a famous AYCE $5 breakfast and AYCE $10 dinner
which were only available to people who stayed here. We said we wanted both. Mr.
Shaw also informed us that they only took cash and travelers cheques, no credit cards.

We went up the stairs at the back of the house where we found a large bunkroom at the
top of the stairs with a dozen or so beds. There were a few hikers here and there were
backpacks and other hiker items on a number of beds. Around the corner and down the
hall, a pleasant lady was doing housekeeping chores and directed us to our room, #9.
There were a few private rooms up here and two bathrooms.

We had the rest of the day and the entire next day to relax and prepare for the 100 Mile
Wilderness. We heard that the grocery selection in town was not too good, so we decided
to scout out the stores when we went out for lunch. We would also have to see about
getting cash because paying at Shaw's would take most of our travelers cheques and
leave us with very little cash. It would not be that serious because we would only have 2
days left after the wilderness.

We showered and socialized with hikers in the back room on the main floor. This was a
room for hikers to hang out. There was a sofa and a couple of arm chairs, a few other
chairs, a TV, a washer and dryer, and a fridge for hiker use. CHAD and GREENHORN
were here, and we met a few SOBO's including NIKO (Justin) and WILL, and a young
couple. There were a number of people waiting to use the washer and dryer so we
decided to wait until the next day. WILL was wearing only a long rain cape, as his
clothes were all being washed. I accepted a beer that NIKO offered me from the fridge.

MA and I then went out for lunch.  We walked passed The Appalachian Station, one of
the two restaurants in town, but it had just closed  There is another restaurant in town
called the Spring Creek Cookhouse and BBQ Emporium, but it is only open Thursday to
Sunday and on other days when the porch light is on. This was Monday so we were out of
luck. In fact when we walked by there later, there was a sign out front that said "Out of
Food".

We walked a distance up main street to the Robinson's Mobil Mart and found a few of
the things we would need, but not much variety and would have to change meal routine
and snack habits. There was a deli here so we got two wonderful subs and coffees. The
lady at the deli counter was very nice and friendly. The lady at the cash said she could
help us with our cash problem by giving us an extra $40 on our cash card. Unfortunately,
their machine would not read our card.

On the way back we stopped at the Library to check our email on their computer. We
also visited the general store and found that it had a bit more of the stuff we wanted, but
it also would be far from perfect.  We inquired about bagels and the lady said the bread
delivery man would perhaps stop by the next day. 

The food and money situation did not seem too promising but we heard that Mr. Shaw
would drive hikers to the ATM and supermarket in Dover-Foxborough for $10. If he
happened to be going there anyway, the trip would be free. We relaxed the rest of the day
and that evening both in our room and in the hiker room. At 5 PM the dinner bell was
rung and we went down for supper. This was a really fantastic boarding house meal. We
helped ourselves from a number of large bowls in the middle of the table all loaded with
food: Salad, boiled potatoes, cooked vegetables, roast beef and rolls. In addition there
was real butter, a large jug of milk, coffee and dessert. CHAD did not eat with us as he is
a vegetarian.

Early the next morning, the bell called us back downstairs for breakfast. Mr. Shaw was
responsible for breakfast. He came to the table and took a few orders, just to get the
cooking started, and before we knew it, food was arriving fast and furious at the table.
There were scrambled eggs and home fried potatoes and a choice of pancakes and meats. It was AYCE. There were large jugs of coffee, orange juice and milk on the table. A
great meal. There were three young NOBO brothers who had arrived late last evening.
We did not find out their names but collectively they were called THE WISCONSIN
BROTHERS; they had been on the trail about 4 months. The youngest was 16 and the
oldest was in his late twenties. The youngest had a foot problem and his brothers had
been helping carry his stuff. They would be taking the day off to rest and would be trying
to arrange to slackpack part of the wilderness.

Mr. Shaw said he would be going to town in the afternoon, so we said we would
appreciate a ride. We went up to our room to make our supply list. MA's plan for the
upcoming section had us coming out of the wilderness on the 8th day which meant 7
breakfasts and 7 suppers and enough other food for 8 days.  MA inventoried our food
supplies and made a grocery list that included an extra day's worth of food, in order to be
on the safe side.

We hung around the hiker room watching the activity while we did our laundry. The
Shaw's son (Keith I believe, same as his father) is responsible for most of the shuttling.
Keith was in his late twenties and really loved hikers. The family had been running this
place for hikers for the last 27 years and he had essentially been raised around thru
hikers. At one point he had been called LITTLE SHAW but I don't know if that still was
used. This morning he was bringing hikers back to the trail. He would also be driving
GREENHORN to the nearest bus station later in the morning.  GREENHORN had
enjoyed his trip but decided to go home. He is now back in school in Texas and he has
kept in touch by email.

We went to the Post Office to mail some maps and other documentation home. We found
out that the postmaster could give us $50 cash back with any purchase with our bank
card. Fortunately our card worked in his machine. So our second problem was solved.
We called Natasha to wish her Happy Birthday for the next day and we socialized with
the young people most of the day while waiting for Mr. Shaw to leave. We got along
particularly well with NIKO, a very nice young man from Amityville NY who had a very
obvious New York accent. Around noon he stopped by our room to chat. He seemed
particularly interested in the fact that we did this at our age. We made a date to have pie
at the PIE LADY's when we returned in the afternoon.

Mr. Shaw drove us to Dover-Foxborough where we got most of the things we needed. On
the way back, he detoured around some farm country and pointed out hay fields that had
been abandoned. He had once owned land out here. He still had two cows which he kept
in the garage behind the house. Before going home, he stopped by a road side stand and
picked up a flat of strawberries.

When we got back, he gave us a tour of the rest of his facilities: a bunk house out back
and a house across the street with a number of available rooms. The house across the
street was not being used at this time, except for camping on the back lawn. There was a
pool table in that house, and he sadly showed it to us.  At one end of the table there were
stains and cuts in the fabric, caused by a hiker cutting cheese.  He said that the hiker was
one of only 4 people that he has had problems with over the last 27 years. 

I needed a replacement cartridge for my water filter I checked in the store house he had
out back, but he did not carry that brand and I would have had to buy a whole new filter;
so I passed. I needed DEET for the bugs in the wilderness, and with a twinkle in his eye,
he said he could help me out. I bought a small bottle of DEET to which he added a few
drops of secret ingredients. I know what they were, but I have been sworn to secrecy. Mr.
Shaw gave MA a Shaw's Boarding House T-shirt. MA did not want to carry it, so we
mailed it home and got another $50 from the Post Office.

We went to the PIE LADY with NIKO and sat in her kitchen and had wonderful pies
while we talked with her and played with her dog.  The PIE LADY is a trail legend,
serving pies to hikers for years. A thru hike is not complete without having a piece of her
pies. For the past few years, she has opened her home to hikers, renting rooms and beds
and supplying breakfasts and supper.  All for cheaper than Shaw's.

We went back to Shaw's and had someone take a picture of the great Shaw's sign, with
NIKO, MA, PA and CHAD. When we went back inside, Mr. Shaw was in the porch
cleaning the strawberries. A little later, I managed to get a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Shaw
in the kitchen. There was a larger crowd for supper that night, and a few had to eat on the
front porch with the Shaw's. We had Mr. Shaw take this picture of the group at the
kitchen table.  PA, MA and NIKO at the back, NAVIGATOR at the end, and THE
WISCONSIN BROTHERS closest to the camera.

It was an incredible meal, well worth the $10. This time the main course was delicious
salmon steak, as much as you could eat, accompanied by salad, vegetables , potatoes and
fresh rolls. Dessert was strawberry shortcake, with freshly made short cake, and piled
high with whipped cream. A really great treat. CHAD had supper with us, and simply
skipped the salmon. NAVIGATOR was a speedy NOBO who had been on the trail a little
over 3 months. He had lightened his load as he went and now had a very small pack and
hiked in trail runners.

That evening we relaxed in the hiker room, watching a movie that THE WISCONSIN
BROTHERS had rented. I mooched a beer and relaxed. The movie was pretty bad and
MA did not stay long, before retiring for the night. The next day would be the start of the
100 Mile Wilderness; and that is another chapter.
MA & PA 

APPALACHIAN TRAIL

2000 / 2001 / 2002
2002 -  3
Caratunk to Monson
2002 - 3
Caratunk/Monson
The trail from the Kennebec river lead us to the edge of Maine Highway 201. There were
no buildings in either direction along the highway but there was a tree lined residential
street across the road. We crossed the road and proceeded up the street.  It was very clean
and quiet street of older wood homes. Everything this July 5th morning seemed green and
fresh as we walked up the street looking for Caratunk House. 

Part way up the block we came to a large white house with some kind of flag hanging
over the front door (see picture taken from their website). There was a sign directing us
to the side door to register. The side door was located off a low verandah running along
the side of the house.  As we approached the door, we heard the door bell ring inside. I
went in and was greeted by Jenson Steele, sitting at a desk across from the door, and by
Bailey, a very friendly 95 pound golden retriever. As Jenson was busy, I grabbed a couple
of cokes from a fridge next to him and went to sit outside on the verandah with MA.

We were soon joined by a hiker who told us about TIGER PAW (a long distance section
hiker I believe), who did a 28 mile day a few days ago and as a result had to leave the
trail. He stood on doormat in front of the door as he talked and each time he moved the
doorbell rang. We soon heard a shout from Jenson on the other side of the door to get off
the mat as it was activating the door bell. Soon a car arrived to take away this hiker and
TIGER PAW.
Not long after, we had acquired the Green Room on the second floor and Jenson had
explained the rules and amenities. Like many hostels, this place ran on the honor system.
Every guest had a card attached to a clip next to the desk. The guests would write down
the services they used and the items they took from the little store located down a few
steps to the right of the desk. At the end of their stay it would all be tallied up.

The store consisted of a small room with a few shelves, a freezer and a fridge. It was
stocked with a few hiker items and a good selection of hiker food supplies: Lipton meals,
other dried meals, candy bars, energy bars, pop tarts, peanut butter, cheese, frozen bagels
etc., as well as snacks: pop, ice cream, chips, etc. It was clear that someone here was
aware of hiker needs and tastes. It turned out that Paul Fuller, the other owner,  had thru
hiked in 1990. The prices were very reasonable, in fact they seemed better than
supermarkets.

All you can eat breakfast was $4 and they would do hiker laundry for $2 including drying
and folding. They provided a free shuttle to restaurants and groceries and accepted
maildrops ($2 charge for non guests). It was owned by Jenson Steele and Paul Fuller.
This was a great place. More information about Caratunk House is available at their

GREENHORN soon arrived and said he was going on to the next shelter.  We treated
him to a pop on the verandah and then went upstairs with him where we had Jenson hook
us up to Internet so we all could check our email. We then said our good-byes.

We then went up to sort through our stuff. We put aside our clothes for the laundry and
then tried to determine our food requirements for the next section to Monson. We
decided to aim for the state highway 36 miles away although we could also access
Monson by taking a local road at the 33 mile mark; the latter however had less traffic.
The map showed two pretty good climbs and then a long relatively flat section in the last
half. It also showed many ponds and streams and a number of  river crossings.  We knew
from our reading that some of this area could be very wet and that the river crossings
could sometimes be quite dangerous. In 1999 many hikers had been stranded at shelters
when rivers became gorged during Hurricane Floyd. We thought we could make it to
Monson on the third day but we decided to bring a day or two of extra food. We would
have many options available to us, as there were four shelters through that section.

At lunch time we headed to Moose Crossing the only place right in Caratunk to get
something to eat.. It was also owned by Jenson and Paul. A small moose sign on the
hostel's side lawn pointed to a trail through the woods in back to the highway. From there
it was a short walk to Moose Crossing a take-out trailer with a few picnic tables under a
covered area out behind. We walked up to the order window and met Paul Fuller. We
ordered two milk shakes and a large meat pizza and had them put on our room bill. .
Paul said he would see us later in the day at the hostel when he and Jenson switched jobs.
Despite our appetites, we could not finish the pizza and brought the rest back to our
room.

We rested in our room for a while then checked out the hostel. We were in the main
section of the house where there are two bedrooms available to hikers. At the bottom of
the stairs,  in the living room, we found a photo album with pictures of all the hikers who
stopped by.  The large dining room/ kitchen had a large round table with a lazy Susan in
the middle, perfect for serving a big group of hungry hikers for breakfast. Further to the
back was the office and beyond that the store. A short set of stairs next to the store, lead
up to the bunkhouse section. It was a large friendly room with space for 8 hikers. There
were beds along the walls including one double bed at the far end of the room. There was
a kitchen table with chairs around it and there were a number of chairs and lazy boys
scattered around the room. In one corner there was a TV and a large number of
videotapes. A sign explained the house rules and mentioned the quiet time and that it
would be even earlier if even one hiker requested it.  The cost for a bed was $14.

We walked to the post office to call the kids on the pay phone and then returned for an
ice cream snack and some cookies that Paul had just baked. Late in the afternoon, Paul
drove us up the highway about 7 miles to the general store to get groceries. It was a very
busy place situated in a tourist area with a great number of rafting companies nearby as
well as a restaurant and a popular micro-brewery.  The prices were very expensive so we
only purchased those items that were not available at the hostel. We were not able to get
powdered Gatorade so Paul drove us to Steve.(the ferryman) Longley's place. There were
a few hikers here including CHAD who was busy on the phone when we were there. The
little store had Gatorade but it was a massive container which would make 9 gallons, so
we passed and purchased a few energy bars. We obtained the rest of our supplies at the
hostel.

Later in the day, we walked over to Moose Crossing where we asked Jenson to prepare us
two sandwiches for our lunch on the trail the next day. He said he would make them at
the end of the day before coming home and would put them in the fridge for us. For some
reason we were not too hungry at supper time so we simply ate the rest of the pizza. We
turned in early. The next day Paul prepared us a great breakfast, including French toast.
We were the only guests. Paul then took our picture out front for their album and we
were on our way by 8:15 AM. The Data Book showed 151.2 remaining miles to the
summit of Katahdin.

We walked back to the highway and went back into the woods through the trailhead
parking lot near the corner. The morning's hiking was a leisurely ascent of 750 feet over
a distance of 5.5 miles to Pleasant Pond Lean-to which we reached at 11 AM. We had
followed Holly Brook most of the morning, crossing it once. We also crossed a few
logging roads, the last one with a trail parking area within a short distance from the
lean-to, not normally a good idea. CHAD had passed us early in the morning and we
updated ourselves.

We took a break at this shelter which was 0.1 miles off the AT on Pleasant Pond. A
SOBO named GIZMO was here packing. He had made the steep descent down adjacent
Pleasant Pond Mountain late in the evening and had slept-in this morning. He told us that
GREENHORN had spent the night here with him. He then handed us a couple of metal
cookie tins from a shelf. They contained delicious homemade cookies that had been
brought in by a local lady who I believe is called the Cookie Lady. (not to be confused
with the Cookie Lady near Dalton MA or the Pie Lady in upcoming Monson ME)

It took us an hour to do the 1200 foot climb up to the summit of Pleasant Pond Mountain,
1.3 miles away.  It was the kind of climb I really liked on a nice day.  The ascent
alternated between areas of vegetation and small trees, and large exposed sloping
boulders with painted blazes here and there leading us higher. It was usually easy to find
your way on these boulders as hiker traffic often wore a path on the partly mossy rocks.
We passed a couple who were day hiking down the mountain with no visible supplies or
water; not a good idea but they would soon be reaching roads at the bottom.

We stopped for lunch near the top and took out the sandwiches that Jenson had prepared
for us.  What a treat! Delicious ham and cheese sandwiches on two thick firm slices of
bread. We really enjoyed them and are still talking about them today.  As we sat eating
on small boulders right on the trail, two speedy NOBO's in their 40's or 50's named
GOODGULF and TANGLEWOOD stopped and talked for a second.

It was a gradual 5 mile descent off the mountain over nice hiking terrain. We stopped for
a break on a flat boulder with a view and were passed by two NOBO brothers called
ENGINE and RED BARON. I recall ENGINE telling me that he was 27 years old and his
brother was 16. They had been having a great trip. We passed them later, further down
the mountain.

Late in the afternoon, shortly after coming off the mountain, we crossed a power line and
came to a dirt road. We saw no buildings but there were a few very young children
playing on bicycles. A couple of ATV's went passed us.  The road to the north paralleled
Moxie Pond. We were at the southern end of the pond.  We went right and followed the
road for a short distance to the south until we came to a spot where we entered the woods
and would skirt around the extreme southern section of the pond called Joe's Hole.

We immediately had a wide ford of Baker Stream, an inlet to the pond. The water was
fast but less than a foot deep in most spots as we made our way across from boulder to
boulder. The literature indicates that this can be a dangerous crossing in high water.
Beyond the stream, the narrow path was underwater and we had to carefully go from rock
to rock to solid ground, all the while hanging onto to bushes lining the trail. The two
brothers passed us in this area. We were pleased to be doing all this without getting wet,
but unfortunately near the end, a spot of ground was not as solid as I thought and one foot
sank deep into the mud. What a mess!

The trail improved for a while as it rose but then it dropped down slightly and turned
swampy again. The ground was soft and water had collected in the trench that was the
trail. We tried our best to keep our feet dry, by hanging on to branches and searching out
rocks and dry spots. In some places, small logs had been placed lengthwise side by side
on the trail to help. In some of the worst places there were short board walks and
puncheons, however in many instances the water was deep and they sank as we
proceeded on them. At one point the trail contoured to the right around a deep muddy
pool. When we had circled it, we realized that this 40 foot wide pool blocked the former
route and the detour was relatively new.

The path then climbed slightly to higher ground and within a few minutes we came to a
campsite in the woods to our right adjacent to Bald Mountain brook. We continued along
the AT, crossing the brook, and 0.2 miles later came to a side trail to our right leading a
short distance to our destination, Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to. It was 5 o'clock and we
had done 14.7 miles. We entered a tiny clearing with the shelter facing us about 20 feet
to our left. The brook was 20 feet through the trees to our right. The path made a sharp
turn and lead to the shelter where we were greeted by GREENHORN and CHAD and a
yappy dog.

CHAD was set up along the right wall with GREENHORN next to him. The rest of the
shelter was taken up by a non backpacking dome tent. A young couple sat in the shelter
in front of the tent. They were accompanied by three dogs, all of different sizes.  One of
the dogs was very nervous and was still yapping at us. He finally hid under the shelter.
We leaned our packs against the front of the shelter and scouted around for a tent site.
The only decent spot was in the trees at the front edge of the clearing, not far from the
brook, but ENGINE and RED BARON were setting up their tent there.  It started to
sprinkle so we decided to make our meal first. After filtering water, we sat on the ledge
at the front of the shelter and I boiled up some Ramen. While we relaxed with that, I
prepared our meal which consisted of two Lipton meals, to which I added a can of tuna. I
placed the empty tuna can in the rain on the big boulder in the middle of the clearing, in
order to rinse it before I crushed it. Unfortunately we would forget it the next day when
we left.

The young couple were in their mid twenties. I got the impression they were part of a
university type crowd.  The young man said he would really like to do some serious
writing and he went on and on about intellectual subjects, mostly modern American
literature I believe.  I did not participate in the conversation, but CHAD seemed a little
aware of the subject. 

They seemed ill prepared for the trail and were having problems. Their tent was a heavy
dome style tent of the type sold in department stores. The tent leaked, so they had set it
up in the shelter. The young lady was sitting in front of her tent wrapped in a heavy
blanket as the air was getting a little chilly and damp. A glance inside the tent revealed
more blankets. I did not see sleeping bags.  As we sat having our meal, I noticed her
eating peanut butter with a spoon from a nearly empty jar. She passed it to her
companion who did the same.  While talking to them we pieced together their story. Here
it is as best as we understood it or can recall.

I believe they were from northern Michigan where they lived in an apartment with the
three dogs and the girl's 7 year old daughter. I am not sure where they started their hike
but they had been on the trail a few weeks, having been driven to Maine by a friend.
Their intent had been to hike north all the way to Katahdin. It must have been pretty
tough climbing those mountains with the three dogs and their gear.

They ran into problems in Caratunk. Apparently the only ATM would not accept his bank
card and he was unable to straighten out the problem. It would be more than a week
before someone would be coming to get them in Monson. In order to save money, they
decided to make their way slowly to Monson, stopping for a day or two at each of the
four shelters between Caratunk and Monson. They left Caratunk a few days ago and
would not be picked up for six more days.  The young lady said they had enough food for
one meal per day each and that they had sufficient food for the dogs.  I found it a little
worrisome.  It was bad enough to have to do the 20 miles to Monson with their poor gear,
a leaky tent and three dogs, but with meager food supplies, it would be even more
difficult. Fortunately they had only one serious mountain to go over.

After cleaning up, we went scouting around for a tent spot. There seemed to be a little
room right next to the two brothers. As it would put us in close proximity to them, we
asked ENGINE if he would mind. He said there would be no problem but warned us that
they would be up early the next day as they would be going all the way to Monson. We
set up our tent as quickly as we could in the light downpour, trying to ensure that the few
roots would not be in tender spots. We had a nice conversation with the brothers as we
set up and discussed the situation about the couple and their dogs. We looked over to the
shelter where the couple and their dogs were getting into their tent. We did not hear a
sound from them or the dogs all night. We snuggled into our bags before dark but I soon
unzipped the tent and searched under it for a rock that was digging into me. We had a
very good sleep, likely as result of the mileage we had done.

We awoke early the next day. The brothers were up and packing. I marveled at how
quickly they got everything folded up and stowed away. They were soon on their way.
We also packed quickly but noticed that all the occupants of the shelter were still asleep.
Our big day yesterday convinced us that we would be able to get to Monson early the
following day.  As a result, our food supplies were in good shape. I put aside some items:
a few Lipton meals, packages of Ramen, a new jar of peanut butter, a few Pop Tarts,
some wrapped hard candies, and a few energy bars. We left the food on the ledge of the
shelter in front of their tent. It was 7:20 AM and we were on our way, leaving by the
north side trail.

It was an one hour steep climb up to the foggy summit of Moxie Bald Mountain. We
came to a bad weather blue blaze trail that contoured the summit but we kept climbing
the rocky exposed trail to the top. It was a slow steep descent off the mountain. The rest
of the way to Monson would be relatively flat. Two and a half hours after the summit, we
took a break with GREENHORN at the picnic table at Moxie Bald Lean-to, looking out
over Bald Mountain Pond. He was surprised with the amount of food we had left that
morning, but he had been unaware that the couple had 6 more days in the woods before
they went to Monson.

Two wet and swampy miles later we came to the far end of an arm of the pond. We
forded Bald Mountain Stream, an outlet of the pond. The water from the pond was partly
held back by a wide and high pile of rocks that we had to work our way across. The next
3.5 miles followed along the stream. The walking was pretty good, with a few wet and
swampy spots. We arrived at a major river crossing around 1:30 PM. The trail brought us
right to the edge of the West Branch of the Piscataquis River at a spot where Bald
Mountain Stream flowed into it. 

We studied the situation carefully. While the trail was at water level on this side, there
was a steep 10 foot embankment on the other side. We could first cross the stream,
stopping on a piece of land with high grasses and then continue on across the river. The
water seemed to be knee deep and the trees seemed thick on the embankment at that spot.
If we went a few feet down stream below the confluence, we would only have to cross
the river. At that spot, the water was much wider and faster as it flowed over a rocky
bottom but it appeared more shallow, maybe only a little more than ankle deep. This was
the route that GREENHORN had just taken and there seemed to be a path up the
embankment on the other side. We put on our sandals and slowly made our way across,
trying to keep our balance on the rounded rocks on the river bed. It was a slow process
but we finally made it across.  We put our boots back on, climbed the embankment and
spoke with GREENHORN who was waiting for the iodine to do its work on his water.

We had just crossed the West Branch of the river and tomorrow we would have to cross
the East Branch. STITCHES had crossed this ankle deep river in 1999 and then been
stranded at the next shelter for a few days in a hurricane when both branches swelled.
The water had climbed to chest high during that period. Her account of the ordeal is at
http://friends.backcountry.net/m_factor/september1.html#16 .Thankfully the weather for
us looked pretty good.

The path then followed the river along the top of the embankment, on what might have
been an old cart trail at one time. It was a nice grade and easy walking. At 3:15, after 13
miles, we came to the side trail leading 0.1 mile up and away from the river to Horseshoe
Canyon Lean-to.  CHAD was already installed in the left corner of the shelter. We sat on
the front of the shelter chatting with CHAD, GREENHORN and three boys (they seemed
in their mid to late teens). The boys did not seem to be backpacking types and it soon
became clear that they were local boys who had wandered up here for the day.

We were soon joined by a number of SOBO thru hikers: 10%, THE COLONEL, WILLIE
MCGEE, and WAYBACK. They were a very nice, happy, friendly group. The
conversation was typical trail talk about mileage, terrain, equipment, etc., and some talk
about their stay in Monson and the hikers behind them. The local boys told them about
the depth of snow in this area in winter.

The map showed the water source here to be where the north bound side trail meets the
AT. A young girl arrived from the north and said her partner was looking for water on the
AT. I went that way and met him. He said he did not find the source and had gone down
the steep embankment to the river for his water. The river was far below and the
embankment seemed too steep so I walked south back along the AT looking for a better
spot. I soon came to the side trail that we had taken and kept on going another few
minutes. I finally gave up looking for a perfect spot, and worked my way 30 feet  down
the steep embankment to the rocky river where I filled my 6 liter bag to capacity, as I had
no intention of making a second trip.

We spent a very pleasant evening socializing with the group while we prepared and ate
our meals and did our chores. I found out that WILLIE MCGEE was a big baseball fan.
THE COLONEL was a tall slim young man of around 18.  He certainly did not have the
thru hiker look. His hair was short and he was clean shaven. He was from a small town in
Kentucky I believe and had just graduated from High School. He talked quite a bit about
his town, his High School and his church. I recall that his name had something to do with
his High School. He said he had gotten a ton of food in his maildrop in Monson and was
expecting another one in Caratunk. He sold a few energy bars for a total of  $1 to a very
grateful CHAD, who was always hungry.

After supper, THE COLONEL and one or two others set up their one-man tents in the
clearing in front of the shelter. MA and I set up ours on the soft ground on the left side of
the shelter. The young couple, who were from North Carolina, set up way back of the
shelter. We hung some of our sweaty clothes on hooks on the outside shelter wall and
went to bed.

We slept well and were on our way at 6:50 the next morning. The trail was little ups and
downs as we followed the West Branch of the Piscataquis river for 2.5 miles until we
reached the East Branch of the river which we had to ford. The river in this spot is 50 feet
wide, but we had no problems crossing it, or so it would seem, as we have no recollection
of the crossing. STITCHES had to wait more than 2 days to cross this river in 1999.

We climbed a little rise and crossed a paved road (Shirley-Blanchard Road). The terrain
then became soft and damp in sections. During this period we met two SOBO couples.
We stopped both times to chat. They were in good spirits and were really enjoying their
trip. One couple were called GRIZZLY and BOO BOO. At the 5.5 mile mark we came to
the side trail leading to Pleasant street in Monson but it would be a long walk into town
as there was very little traffic so we kept on going.  Eventually the trail rose again
bringing us to drier terrain and we met two SOBO young men named CAPTAIN
DANGER and BUCKEYE who told us they had stayed at the Pie Lady's place. We told
them we were heading to Shaw's Boarding House.

We finally got to Maine highway 15 where we propped up our backpacks against our
hiking poles and stuck out our thumbs for the mile hitch into Monson.  We liked to have
our backpacks plainly visible in the hope that people would have less fear of picking us
up. We were standing at the end of a short straight-away so vehicles would have a bit of a
chance to see us, and the road then curved around a cliff to our right. 

Across the road we could see where the trail went back into the woods.  That was the
entrance to the 100 Mile Wilderness where we would be heading in two days. There was
a small pull-off area there. We had been standing at the side of the road for about 15
minutes, when an SUV coming from the other direction pulled off the road and a lady
jumped out and yelled across the road, offering us a ride.

We went over and stuffed our packs on top of the pile of stuff in the back and she moved
her daughter into the front seat with her other daughter. We then got in the back seat with
her dog.  She said she had passed us going the other way and decided to turn around and
come and get us. She dropped us off in town at 11:15.  We were greeted immediately by
GREENHORN coming down the main street towards us with 3 Moxie sodas. It is a New
England soft drink that is very popular in Maine. Some say you have to try Moxie while
in Maine. Well we tried it and it had a very distinct taste, and was very refreshing, but I
really can't recall whether I liked it or not. MA says it tasted terrible but added that that
is what it's supposed to taste like. (http://www.monarchbeverage.biz/subnav_moxie.asp)

We walked one block down Pleasant Street to Shaw's and went through the front porch
into the large dining room/ kitchen (pictures further down) and Mr. Shaw assigned us a
private room on the second floor for the next two nights.  $35 per night got us a small
room with cable TV. There was a famous AYCE $5 breakfast and AYCE $10 dinner
which were only available to people who stayed here. We said we wanted both. Mr.
Shaw also informed us that they only took cash and travelers cheques, no credit cards.

We went up the stairs at the back of the house where we found a large bunkroom at the
top of the stairs with a dozen or so beds. There were a few hikers here and there were
backpacks and other hiker items on a number of beds. Around the corner and down the
hall, a pleasant lady was doing housekeeping chores and directed us to our room, #9.
There were a few private rooms up here and two bathrooms.

We had the rest of the day and the entire next day to relax and prepare for the 100 Mile
Wilderness. We heard that the grocery selection in town was not too good, so we decided
to scout out the stores when we went out for lunch. We would also have to see about
getting cash because paying at Shaw's would take most of our travelers cheques and
leave us with very little cash. It would not be that serious because we would only have 2
days left after the wilderness.

We showered and socialized with hikers in the back room on the main floor. This was a
room for hikers to hang out. There was a sofa and a couple of arm chairs, a few other
chairs, a TV, a washer and dryer, and a fridge for hiker use. CHAD and GREENHORN
were here, and we met a few SOBO's including NIKO (Justin) and WILL, and a young
couple. There were a number of people waiting to use the washer and dryer so we
decided to wait until the next day. WILL was wearing only a long rain cape, as his
clothes were all being washed. I accepted a beer that NIKO offered me from the fridge.

MA and I then went out for lunch.  We walked passed The Appalachian Station, one of
the two restaurants in town, but it had just closed  There is another restaurant in town
called the Spring Creek Cookhouse and BBQ Emporium, but it is only open Thursday to
Sunday and on other days when the porch light is on. This was Monday so we were out of
luck. In fact when we walked by there later, there was a sign out front that said "Out of
Food".

We walked a distance up main street to the Robinson's Mobil Mart and found a few of
the things we would need, but not much variety and would have to change meal routine
and snack habits. There was a deli here so we got two wonderful subs and coffees. The
lady at the deli counter was very nice and friendly. The lady at the cash said she could
help us with our cash problem by giving us an extra $40 on our cash card. Unfortunately,
their machine would not read our card.

On the way back we stopped at the Library to check our email on their computer. We
also visited the general store and found that it had a bit more of the stuff we wanted, but
it also would be far from perfect.  We inquired about bagels and the lady said the bread
delivery man would perhaps stop by the next day. 

The food and money situation did not seem too promising but we heard that Mr. Shaw
would drive hikers to the ATM and supermarket in Dover-Foxborough for $10. If he
happened to be going there anyway, the trip would be free. We relaxed the rest of the day
and that evening both in our room and in the hiker room. At 5 PM the dinner bell was
rung and we went down for supper. This was a really fantastic boarding house meal. We
helped ourselves from a number of large bowls in the middle of the table all loaded with
food: Salad, boiled potatoes, cooked vegetables, roast beef and rolls. In addition there
was real butter, a large jug of milk, coffee and dessert. CHAD did not eat with us as he is
a vegetarian.

Early the next morning, the bell called us back downstairs for breakfast. Mr. Shaw was
responsible for breakfast. He came to the table and took a few orders, just to get the
cooking started, and before we knew it, food was arriving fast and furious at the table.
There were scrambled eggs and home fried potatoes and a choice of pancakes and meats. It was AYCE. There were large jugs of coffee, orange juice and milk on the table. A
great meal. There were three young NOBO brothers who had arrived late last evening.
We did not find out their names but collectively they were called THE WISCONSIN
BROTHERS; they had been on the trail about 4 months. The youngest was 16 and the
oldest was in his late twenties. The youngest had a foot problem and his brothers had
been helping carry his stuff. They would be taking the day off to rest and would be trying
to arrange to slackpack part of the wilderness.

Mr. Shaw said he would be going to town in the afternoon, so we said we would
appreciate a ride. We went up to our room to make our supply list. MA's plan for the
upcoming section had us coming out of the wilderness on the 8th day which meant 7
breakfasts and 7 suppers and enough other food for 8 days.  MA inventoried our food
supplies and made a grocery list that included an extra day's worth of food, in order to be
on the safe side.

We hung around the hiker room watching the activity while we did our laundry. The
Shaw's son (Keith I believe, same as his father) is responsible for most of the shuttling.
Keith was in his late twenties and really loved hikers. The family had been running this
place for hikers for the last 27 years and he had essentially been raised around thru
hikers. At one point he had been called LITTLE SHAW but I don't know if that still was
used. This morning he was bringing hikers back to the trail. He would also be driving
GREENHORN to the nearest bus station later in the morning.  GREENHORN had
enjoyed his trip but decided to go home. He is now back in school in Texas and he has
kept in touch by email.

We went to the Post Office to mail some maps and other documentation home. We found
out that the postmaster could give us $50 cash back with any purchase with our bank
card. Fortunately our card worked in his machine. So our second problem was solved.
We called Natasha to wish her Happy Birthday for the next day and we socialized with
the young people most of the day while waiting for Mr. Shaw to leave. We got along
particularly well with NIKO, a very nice young man from Amityville NY who had a very
obvious New York accent. Around noon he stopped by our room to chat. He seemed
particularly interested in the fact that we did this at our age. We made a date to have pie
at the PIE LADY's when we returned in the afternoon.

Mr. Shaw drove us to Dover-Foxborough where we got most of the things we needed. On
the way back, he detoured around some farm country and pointed out hay fields that had
been abandoned. He had once owned land out here. He still had two cows which he kept
in the garage behind the house. Before going home, he stopped by a road side stand and
picked up a flat of strawberries.

When we got back, he gave us a tour of the rest of his facilities: a bunk house out back
and a house across the street with a number of available rooms. The house across the
street was not being used at this time, except for camping on the back lawn. There was a
pool table in that house, and he sadly showed it to us.  At one end of the table there were
stains and cuts in the fabric, caused by a hiker cutting cheese.  He said that the hiker was
one of only 4 people that he has had problems with over the last 27 years. 

I needed a replacement cartridge for my water filter I checked in the store house he had
out back, but he did not carry that brand and I would have had to buy a whole new filter;
so I passed. I needed DEET for the bugs in the wilderness, and with a twinkle in his eye,
he said he could help me out. I bought a small bottle of DEET to which he added a few
drops of secret ingredients. I know what they were, but I have been sworn to secrecy. Mr.
Shaw gave MA a Shaw's Boarding House T-shirt. MA did not want to carry it, so we
mailed it home and got another $50 from the Post Office.

We went to the PIE LADY with NIKO and sat in her kitchen and had wonderful pies
while we talked with her and played with her dog.  The PIE LADY is a trail legend,
serving pies to hikers for years. A thru hike is not complete without having a piece of her
pies. For the past few years, she has opened her home to hikers, renting rooms and beds
and supplying breakfasts and supper.  All for cheaper than Shaw's.

We went back to Shaw's and had someone take a picture of the great Shaw's sign, with
NIKO, MA, PA and CHAD. When we went back inside, Mr. Shaw was in the porch
cleaning the strawberries. A little later, I managed to get a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Shaw
in the kitchen. There was a larger crowd for supper that night, and a few had to eat on the
front porch with the Shaw's. We had Mr. Shaw take this picture of the group at the
kitchen table.  PA, MA and NIKO at the back, NAVIGATOR at the end, and THE
WISCONSIN BROTHERS closest to the camera.

It was an incredible meal, well worth the $10. This time the main course was delicious
salmon steak, as much as you could eat, accompanied by salad, vegetables , potatoes and
fresh rolls. Dessert was strawberry shortcake, with freshly made short cake, and piled
high with whipped cream. A really great treat. CHAD had supper with us, and simply
skipped the salmon. NAVIGATOR was a speedy NOBO who had been on the trail a little
over 3 months. He had lightened his load as he went and now had a very small pack and
hiked in trail runners.

That evening we relaxed in the hiker room, watching a movie that THE WISCONSIN
BROTHERS had rented. I mooched a beer and relaxed. The movie was pretty bad and
MA did not stay long, before retiring for the night. The next day would be the start of the
100 Mile Wilderness; and that is another chapter.