Started off as a nice day, until we got to the Baldpate Peaks. The climb up Baldpate West Peak was tough! I kept having to take breaks. It was long, steep, had a lot of steps (which you may think would make it easier, but I think it's tougher), and I kept feeling like I was running on low energy. We got over West Peak but as we were in the saddle of the two, we could see some nasty, dark clouds rolling in and hear thunder in the distance. Roadhouse and I decided to lay low in the saddle and let the storm pass. It didn't seem like a safe idea to be up high on the exposed bald in a storm. We waited it out as the rain came down. Where I was sitting turned out to be a bad spot. Water running down the rock face funneled into the area I was in and the rocks I was perched on quickly became a disappearing island. I had stayed pretty dry, but I had to move out of that spot, and when I did, my feet got a little wet. The rain stopped after about 20 minutes and we decided to head up Baldpate East Peak as it looked like the storm had passed. There were small streams running across the open rock face, but luckily the granite is rough enough to provide grip to walk on, even in those conditions. Took our time to carefully climb, and the sun started to poke out. When we made it to the top, it was an open rocky area that somewhat flattened out, and almost felt like we were on the moon or some other planet. The sun was out and we were hungry so we stopped to eat and dry out our raincoats and any other wet gear.
We made our way down toward Frye Notch Lean-to (same as a shelter, just what Maine calls them). When I got there and was pumping water, it started to rain again. I walked back up to the shelter and waited out the rain. Roadhouse and Pedestrian showed up, and after about 15 minutes, the rain stopped. I finished filtering water, then we carried on. Had a decent climb, which was making my legs burn. Lately, I have been feeling really worn down. I think it's the constant elevation changes, tougher terrain, steep ascents and descents, and me not eating enough food. I would have to go into Andover as initially planned. The others had planned for enough food to get to Rangely, but for some reason, I didn't. I thought I could stretch my food to make it last, but I quickly learned that doesn't work for me. Not a good idea. Working as hard as we do to climb these mountains really requires a lot of energy from calories, and you just can't do without.
I pushed ahead of the others and wanted to see how it looked to get a hitch from the road. We heard it's not an often travelled road. As I got close to Dunn Notch and Falls, it started to rain again. (Ok, now it's just getting a little ridiculous). I made it to a spot just before the road where it was fairly dry. I was hungry and not sure if Roadhouse was going to go into town or not, so I stopped, and started cooking dinner. As I was getting dripped on, Roadhouse walked up and said there were two guys behind him that had a car parked at the road and maybe we could get a hitch in from them. As they showed up, Roadhouse asked which way it was into Andover on the road, and they told us to the right and said they were going and could give us a lift. I grabbed my almost completed (delicious) dinner of pasta side and instant mashed potatoes, and we loaded up into their vehicle. We got lucky with this hitch. The towns in Maine are a further off the trail and trying to hitch in rain can be tough. Picking up wet, dirty, stinky hiker trash...not everyone's desire in life.
We got into town 7 miles later and were dropped off at the center of town, which consisted of a general store, The Little Red Hen restaurant which we heard was good but was currently closed, the fire department, another gas station, and an ice cream stand. We went into the general store, which also had a deli and grill. Danish, and 4 other hikers were also there. The Birds, and two others I didn't meet. We both ordered the double bacon barbecue burger specials and put those down quickly. The rain was coming down like crazy now, mixed with thunder and lightning. We had to buy more snacks and things for the next 2 to 2.5 days into Rangely, so we took care of that, then went and sat outside. Like he also was does, Houdini walked up out of nowhere with Yosemite. Houdini had been ahead of me, but was having knee issues and was going slow. He got off at the same road I was an got a ride from the hostel in town. They were coming over to the general store to eat for the second time today. I got some ice cream and a cappuccino and sat outside enjoying that, talking to some locals, and trying to figure out where we would sleep. It was still pouring rain, so we sat there and waited it out. One local clued us in that in this town of about 400 people, there aren't any police, and that the dugouts on the baseball field just next door might be a good place to sleep and stay dry. After the store closed and the rain slowed to a slow sprinkle, we made our way over to the ball field and set up shop in the one of the dugouts. Kinda looked like a shelter on the AT!
As they say on the trail... No pain, no rain, no Maine. Definitely have all 3 right now!