Day #66-Saddle up to Saddleback; Miles hiked: 20.1

Today contained an ambitious mileage goal for Southern Maine terrain, but I really wanted to try and catch some of my lady friends so off I went into the sunrise.

I spent my morning walking with a new friend, Tracks. I enjoyed learning about his story and how his two thru hikes (PCT and now AT) have shaped his life perspective. Here’s the back of his head while we gaze at the mountain we had to climb that afternoon: Saddleback.About 6 miles and several hours, here’s the reward for all of our efforts:Let me tell you about this next picture…I broke my trekking poles (thankfully not my leg) a few days back and had new ones overnighted to a hostel right off the trail. I picked them up and since it was Sunday, needed to carry my old ones (that I refuse to part with) dozens of miles to the next town. This awesome family on top of Saddleback saw my plight and offered to mail them home for me! What amazing trail magic! I must say, the culture of the AT is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever experienced. I’ve almost grown to expect perfectly timed kindness like this and can’t wait to apply that to my life at home in new ways. It’s almost like a taste of heaven!My walk across the Saddleback ridge continued into the sunset where I got some great views of the Bigelows and other peaks to come.I stopped at the Poplar Ridge shelter, the last place that Inchworm (a woman from Brentwood, TN who lost her way on the AT and passed away before she ever made it back in 2013) was seen. There was a memorial in the shelter dedicated to her; I spent some time praying for her family and friends that she left behind.

On a more positive note, I did manage to catch up with four awesome women that I look forward to hiking with in the coming days: Earth Heart and Knots, two ladies around my age, and River and Puddles, two ladies my mom’s age. There have not been nearly as many women on the trail as I had hoped or expected (at least around me), so some girl time was a welcome treat!