Maine Appalachian Trail: Sabbath day to Piazza Rock

On “Day 1” of my week in Maine, I hiked from Sabbath Day Lean-To to Piazza Rock Lean-to. I’m calling this “Day 1: because it was the first day of hiking and full immersion. On “Day 0” I drove most of the day and hiked for 1.5 hours. I hiked about 11 miles on “Day 1”, and climbed about 1700 feet. That’s a pretty easy day, but I was carrying much more weight than usual with 5 days worth of food on my back. I developed a small pain in my shoulder because my shoulder straps aren’t long enough. It was a crisp, clear day with signs of fall everywhere.

Autumn Flowers
The trail crosses through a flowery meadow on some wood planks

This was my third hiking trip in Maine this year. The first was at the very beginning of summer, the next in the middle, and this at the end. Oddly, I noticed what seemed to be the same flowers each time. I always thought flowers came and went quickly with the seasons. Maybe not as quickly in the far north?

Some of the smaller trees starting to show autumn color.

After so many spring and summer trips, I expect planks and bog bridges to basically float out from under my feet when I try to walk on them. It was a pleasure skipping across them over the dry ground in September. In general, the trail seemed better built and maintained from Route 17 all the way up to Stratton. Conditions were rougher once I got into the Biggelows.

Little Swift River Pond
Little Swift River Pond

This is Little Swift River Pond where I stopped for “church.” Obviously I couldn’t have real church with people and communion, but I read the daily readings. Ex32, 1Tim1, and Luk15. The general theme was that God rejoices in his lost sons the most. 

There’s a saying that goes something like “I’d rather be in the mountains thinking about God than in Church thinking about the mountains.” I think there’s some truth to this, but it can also be a justification for just doing what we want all the time and not making any real sacrifice. Doesn’t Christ ask us to die to ourselves and live in him? How can we do that if we are clinging to our favorite earthly pastimes and possessions?

Canoes tied up at Little Swift River Pond

These canoes were stacked up at Little Swift River Pond, left by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club for hikers to use. The MATC does a remarkable job providing for hikers. Every campsite was well maintained and included nice little touches. I wish I had taken a little extra time to go for a paddle.

gossamer gear mariopossa
Gossamer Gear Maripossa

On this trip, I used my Gossamer Gear Maripossa. I’ve owned this pack for a few years, but rarely use it because it is so much large than I need. On this trip I had plans to carry 5+ days worth of food in addition to some cooler weather clothing. This pack did splendidly. The side pockets on this pack are very unique. One side has an extra tall pocket that runs maybe half the height of the pack. This pocket can store a variety of small items without worrying about them bouncing out, or it can store larger items like a 3-liter water bladder or sodden tent. On the other side is a more standard water bottle pocket at waste level, and a similarly sized pocket at shoulder height. I’ve never had good use for the upper pocket before, but on this trip I stored my day snacks in there. That kept me having to open and unpack my main compartment during the day. It also allowed me to store my main food supply at the bottom in an HMG pod.

Saddleback & Abrahams
The Saddleback Range

Toward the end of the day I cam to an overlook where I got a glimpse of the Saddleback Range. The dark, low mountains on the right are the rocky topped Abrhams. Since I was taking this trip so slowly, I wouldn’t come to Mt Abrhams for two more days!

piazza rock
Piazza Rock Campsite

If you’ve never been to one of these large campsites managed by AMC or MATC, you’re missing out. Most of them come with a hand drawn map of the site. The maps are never to scale and rarely oriented correctly. Frequently they are mirror images. Sometimes trails are shaded in blue, which makes them look like rivers.

I kept calling this place “Pizza Rock,” but its actually “Piazza.” The site gets its name from a large overhanging rock formation that I didn’t visit or take any pictures of. I can’t really explain this behavior, as I got to camp around 2 or 3 PM and had plenty of time!

Tarptent Stratospire Li
Tarptent Stratospire Li

While I failed to take any pictures of the local scenery, I did take plenty of pictures of my gear. This is my Tarptent Stratospire. A nice feature of this tent is that you can guy out the ridge line and then fully open the sides for better ventilation and views. This is a great way to dry out the tent after a damp night, or enjoy the breezes during an afternoon nap.

The item on the log to the left: This is a Large HMG Pod. It is a shaped, zippered storage compartment made of Dyneema Composite Fabric. It is designed for the HMG Porter pack, but it fits my GG Maripossa perfectly. On this trip, I used it to store all of my future food and kitchen accessories like spoon, stove, cozy, and Ursack.

Piazza Rock Lean-To
Piazza Rock Lean-To

This is the Piazza Rock Leanto. I don’t really like sleeping in leantos. The biggest reason is that they are dark and I can’t wake up in the morning without sunlight, but this one has skylights. Alas, I also don’t like sleeping on hard wood planks. I find the ground much softer. Its actually nice when the ground is a little lumpy and I can work my back into the contours.

Here I met Gravy Train and Andre. I frequently ask thruhikers why they are hiking, and the answers are varied. Andre had the best answer yet: his mom made him do it.

Appy Trails Mk III
Appy Trails Mk III

This is an Appy Trails Mk III tarptent. Campmore used to sell these, they may still. Its just a tarp with no mesh insert, but it can be fully enclosed. At just over 1 lb and costing $99, it would make a great UL shelter for scouts. The manufacturer says it sleeps 3, but I think 2 is more likely.

This tent belongs to Prometheus, an Eagle Scout known for starting fires for other hikers. I hiked with him on and off on this trip and camped with him twice. My last two days in Maine were “backwards,” as I did a sort of flip flop back to the Hostel of Maine where I stayed. Prometheus was one of the many hikers I got to say hi to one last time during that Backwards section.

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