Maine Appalachian Trail: ME 17 to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To

In September of 2019, I spent a week alone hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine. There’s no bragging about the mileage on this trip. I very intentionally set my daily mileage below 10 each day. While my goal was to complete a 64 mile section of the Appalachian Trail and grab 10 of Maine’s 4000 Footers, my deeper goal was to spend time enjoying the woods. On so many of my trips, each moment is polluted by the feeling of needing to get to the next place. This keeps me from fully enjoying the time and place that I am in. This time I wanted plenty of time to relax, read, journal, reflect, and pray.

maine lobster roll
Lobster Roll from Fisherman’s Ketch

I like to start every Maine trip out with a lobster roll. I don’t like to go too far from the highway. A little before lunchtime, I just pull over and ask Google Maps to find me a lobster roll place that isn’t so out of the way. This was from Fisherman’s Ketch and it was delicious. I’m sorry to say I can’t find this place on Google now. I have no idea where it was. But you shouldn’t have any trouble finding something similar.

height of land
The Height of Land, Maine Highway 17

My trip started from the Height of Land on Maine Highway 17. It was cold, windy, and there was a light drizzle. Feeling the cold, I put on a long sleeve wool undershirt and windshirt that weren’t part of my original gear plan. I was pretty happy to have both of them for the duration of the trip. I find it is helpful to have a few extra layers in the car for last minute gear changes.

I’m all ready to go.

For spring and fall trips, I almost always carry a wind shirt. Mine is a Patagonia Houdini. This crazy light jacket (~4.5 oz) blocks wind and mist but allows heat and sweat to escape. It’s a great alternative to a fully waterproof rain shell which will tend to feel very clammy. (You should still carry a full waterproof layer, you just won’t have to wear it as often if you have a wind shirt.)

maine appalachian trail
A glade along the Maine Appalachian Trail

One of the first things I noticed about the trail in Maine is that it is remarkably well maintained. The bog bridges and planking are in pretty good shape and don’t teeter or move under my feet. This is in contrast to other descriptions of Maine being “like New Hampshire, but with the safeties turned off.”

trail signage
The sign for Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To

My mileage on “Day 0” was just 3.8 miles, which took about 1.5 hours. I started hiking after driving up and was in camp at Sabbath Day Pond by 4pm. By this point the weather was improving. The rain stopped by 5 and the sky was clear by evening.

I called this “Day 0” because it wasn’t in my original plans. I had an opportunity to start my trip a little early, so I stole some miles off Day 1 and did them late in the afternoon when I arrived in Maine from NJ.

Tarptent Stratospire Li
Tarptent Stratospire Li

This is the longest duration trip on which I’ve used my Tarptent Stratospire Li. It turned out to be the perfect tent for lots of slow, lingering mornings. The spacious interior was great for keeping my gear organized and the giant vestibules allowed me to make coffee in bed. Now that I’ve upgraded from 6″ to 8″ stakes and perfected my pitching technique, the tent proved remarkably stable and adaptable in various conditions.

tent under tarp
An interesting idea…

I liked this interesting solution to an old problem. This is Sierra Designs Flashlight Clip tent set under what I think is a Kelty Noah’s Tarp. The tent keeps the bugs away while the tarp provides a wide dry area for gear storage and other activities while providing ample views in all directions. If the weather were bad, this guy (or gal, we never met) could just lower the corners of the tarp for bomber protection. 

A derelict canoe on Sbbath Day Pond

Here’s a derelict canoe at the shore of Sabbath Day Pond. No paddles, no seats, and the floor was de-laminated and floating on a few inches of water. As I walked the trail in Maine, I found many canoes and rowboats tied up at remote ponds and lakes. They seemed to be left their by their owners, free to use by anyone walking by. What a nice thing for people to leave behind!

camp fire
Campfire at Sabbath Day Lean-To

AT Hikers don’t always build fires every night, but I enjoyed a fire with my campmates almost every night of this trip. The evenings were cold in general and this evening started off pretty damp. Most of the hikers I met on this trip were nearing the completion of their 2000 mile journey from Georgia and had no problem getting fires started.

Just as this trip was slow and meandering, I’m going to break the report up into posts for each day. If you see or read anything you want to know more about, let me know!

Rangeley (Maine 17) to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to

Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To to Piazza Rocks Lean-To

Piazza Rocks Lean-To to Sluice Brook Logging Road

Sluice Brook Logging Road to Spaulding Mountain Lean-To

Spaulding Mountain Lean-To to Crocker Cirque Tent Site

Crocker Cirque Tent Site to Stratton / Carrabassett Valley (Maine 16/27)

Flagstaff Lake to Bigelow Col Campsite

Bigelow Col Campsite to Stratton / Carrabassett Valley (Maine 16/27)

Rangeley to Maine Summary / Trip Planning