Thursday (9/17/09) – (MA, NH) Arlene had breakfast ready for us when we woke this morning, and after powering down a quick bagel we took her Caddy to Concord for a 10am meeting with American Satellite. Spent an hour talking business, then went to lunch at a country-style restaurant nearby. Enjoyed lunch with Todd/Tim, then I drove straight to the Boston airport. Dropped off Carrie at the American terminal, then let myself out at the National car rental building. Arlene headed home and I headed for the Peabody Hampton Inn where I cashed in some hotel points for the night. Took a power nap, then worked from 5-8pm responding to emails. The Boyz (which included Roger and Charlie) were due in around 10pm this evening. So I found a local WalMart, bought stove gas, loaded a cooler with brews, and had some Subway within the store. Charlie was in first this evening, followed by Roger 15 minutes later, and things went smoothly in picking them up. We ended up back at the hotel by 11pm and spent the next 1 ½ hours loading our packs and swilling some brews before the trip north tomorrow.

Friday (9/18/09) – (ME) Mix of sun, clouds, and light rain. Winds heavy at ME 17 and off Long Pond. Woke by 7:30am at the Peabody Hampton Inn and had breakfast before we hit the road. Drove 4+ hours to the A.T. trailhead at ME 4 and met Ken Hoyt who shuttled us to ME 17 for a 13.1 mile hike northbound on the Trail. Passed through some light showers, but were fortunate enough to miss the big ones on the A.T. Snapped some photos from the trailhead and the views at ME 17 were outstanding to Bemis Mountain with a huge lake to the north.

Hit the trail by 2pm and had a challenging 3.8 mile hike to the Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To. The rocky and rooty trail is characteristic of Maine and made for a 2 ½ hour hike this afternoon. Had great views across Moxie and Long Pond and took a break with Roger on the shore of the lake. It got cold quickly, so both of us moved on to knock out the last 15 minutes and reach Sabbath Day Pond by 4pm. Set up camp at the Lean-To, then enjoyed some wine by the water. The sun poked out for a few minutes and the loons were plentiful and noisy as we watched the sunset. Around 6:30pm, the first of seven thru-hikers passed us on the way to the shelter having hiked 16 miles from Andover today. All were men and seemed to be in good spirits.

Before dusk, we gathered firewood and had a nice blaze around the shelter. Roger slugged down his wine quickly and went down early. Chatted with the thru-hikers who dubbed Roger as Lazaras (for a failed attempt at revival) then Charlie and I hung out at the fire until about 10pm. The temperatures dropped quickly after dark and it was pitch black by 7:30pm.

Saturday (9/19/09) – (ME, NH, MA) Mostly sunny and cool in ME with temps to 50’s H 30’s L. It was in the 30’s overnight, and I woke to sleet hitting my tent at one point. Charlie commented on hearing the same, but there was no sign of sleet or snow on the ground when we woke this morning. Roger slept in the shelter with seven thru-hikers last night and was up early. He woke Charlie and I up around 7:30am and he left camp within 45 minutes. We didn’t see Roger again until we reached the trailhead at ME 4 which was 9.4 miles away.

Made hot chocolate for breakfast, packed up my gear, then Charlie and I left Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To around 9:30am. It was cool this morning with temps hovering in the 50’s. The sun was out which made for a pleasant day hiking on the trail. In the first mile, we reached the Houghton Fire Road where Laid Back Sue and I blue-blazed into Rangeley in 1994. It was riddled with puddles and mud and looked very unappealing this time. Took a quick photo, then continued hiking on/off with Charlie the rest of the afternoon. By 12pm, we reached the Little Swift River Pond Campsite and took a 45 minute break. Caught up with two day-hikers there who were enjoying the views by the lake and I cooked up some soup which was a treat in the cool temps. Looked at the map and was surprised to find that we only had two hours of hiking left (and roughly 4.8 miles to ME 4). I listened to Sloane’s 1994 AT Mix at various times during the day having just loaded it on my iPhone which I bought last month. It worked great and brought back great memories once I disabled the “shuffle” feature which was scrambling songs every five minutes.

By 3pm, I reached ME 4 and found Roger walking toward me on the trail. His early start and short break at Little Swift River Pond had him an hour ahead of us on the trail. So he was happy to see me and even happier when I unlocked our Ford SUV to serve up some frosty brews. Charlie was having trouble with his feet and this gave us time to power down two beers before his arrival about 30 minutes later. It was windy, shady and cool at the trailhead and we spent most of it inside the truck until he arrived.

Headed into Farmington for a late lunch at their local Subway and devoured a tuna sub. It was a 4+ hour drive to Boston this afternoon and with the stop at the Peabody Hampton Inn to pick-up my computer and travel bag – it clocked out at roughly five hours. By 8:30pm, we were checked-in at the DoubleTree downtown and enjoying some frosty pops that we purchased in Peabody and stored on ice. Cleaned up and hit the Faniel Hall area tonight. It was slamming, but so were the lines to get in the bars. Had dinner at Houston’s then spent about an hour at a sports/dance bar and cabbed back to the room by 12am.

Sunday (9/20/09) – (Boston/Atlanta) Sunny in Boston and cool this morning in the 50’s. Warmer and wet in Atlanta to 70’s H with overcast skies and rain most of the day. The hotel alarm went off at 7:15am and Charlie, Roger, and I went down to the DoubleTree breakfast area for a free Hilton Honors cold breakfast. Within an hour, the rental car was loaded and we were on the way to the airport. Dropped Charlie off first at Delta, then Roger at USAir, and returned the SUV to National. I made it back to the airport in enough time to catch Charlie’s 9:45am departure, but checking baggage complicated matters in getting on the flight. So I hung out in the Crown Room, worked on the laptop, and rode first class back to Atlanta at 11am. Atlanta has been getting hammered with rain since I left on Wednesday and the onslaught continued today. Canton had 17 inches of rain since 9/17, Cobb County had 14 inches. I-285 was closed as was I-20 and I-575. Got back to the house without incident and spent the evening with the family at the house. The rain continued into the night and from the leaks in the roof – apparently we need a new one after the hail storm of Spring 2008. State Farm is the only company that is not paying for new roofs. Guess I’ll have to get more aggressive with them as they denied my claim last winter.

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