I finally roused myself, ate breakfast, packed my stuff and donned rain gear. The other hikers in the shelter were still in their sleeping bags, no doubt contemplating taking a zero day in the shelter. I contemplated that myself, but it just seemed too depressing. Subaru was still getting his stuff together, so he told me to start hiking and he'd catch up. So off I went, into the rain.
Today would have been a great day of hiking, were it not for the rain. The terrain was flatter, there were hardly any roots, there was a regular transition of rolling hills. But, as it was, I was in Maine and the state of Maine hates me for some reason. Within an hour, the trail had transitioned into a river at best and a mud bog at worst. I slipped and fell several times, covering myself and my pack cover with mud. Once, I slipped at the top of a hill and slid, water slide style, all the way to the bottom of the hill. I was soaked. But somehow, I was having fun. Even if Maine was trying to kill me.
Its a funny thing when you are hiking with somebody: you can be 2 minutes in front or in back of them and you will not see them at all. Plus, today, with the sound of rain falling through the trees and splashing on the ground and the sound of the trail-turned-river rushing along, you couldn't hear much. Having your head and ears covered with the hood of the rain jacket further cut out any sounds.
I didn't see Subaru all morning. At one point, I thought that maybe he passed me when I ducked down a side trail to go to the bathroom. But he caught up with me just as I reached West Carry Pond Lean-To. We duked inside for lunch. In the shelter were 4 people in sleeping bags, zeroing for the day. Can't say that I blamed them. They had somewhat concerned looks on their faces when we arrived, but we quickly reassured them that we were just eating lunch. We hung our jackets, put on fleeces, and took off our boots and socks. Then we ate, watching the rain and hoping it would abate.
The rain actually increased as we ate and after we donned our wet socks and boots, we headed out into a downpour. Luckily, the rain slowed, and eventually stopped. We continued hiking in foggy weather over a wet, muddy mess of a trail. It was pretty warm, though, and fast hiking despite the rain. Some of the river crossings were a little sketchy and slow, but we took our time to be safe.
We reached Pierce Pond Lean-To at 3:45: an 18 mile day! (That'll show you, Maine!) We hung up our wet gear, claimed a spot in the shelter, and relaxed. I walked down to dip my feet in Pierce Pond, but decided against a swim, since the water was a little chilly. We ate dinner, and fell asleep in a full shelter.