Day 52 - Penultimate Portage
My penultimate day yesterday was a hard day! WOW! The hills of northern Maine were very tough. They just didn't stop going up Rt 11. Climbing through the sheepbacks was a lesson in geography. I had to look it up. The sheepbacks were created as the glaciers receded. Rt 11 goes up, then down, then up, then down, then up and on and on and on. You get the idea. The result was 3,825 feet of elevation gain over 58.65 miles. And I don't think the road engineer had any concept of flattening these hill out. They were long and steep. If you look at the elevation gain on Google maps, it looks like a sawblade!
If was a little cool as well, so I wore my long sleeves and my light windbreaker. As it warmed up in the afternoon, I took my windbreaker off, but just as soon as I did that the rain decided to jump into the fray. I wore my raincoat for the rest of the ride despite the rain stopping in a short time, Between yesterday and today, my bike that I cleaned in Hartland now looks like crap covered with road grime.
There's little to get replenished on Rt 11. The result is I was running out of water for the day. I thought I'd stop to see a guy in a garage on the way and he was kind enough to give me some water. However, he invited me over to his house and protected me from his rooster and chicken who had the run of the place. That rooster had some serious spurs that could do some damage.
When I saw the squalor that he was living in, I knew better than to accept the water from his sink, but I was too far in to say "No thanks". So I filled my bottles and went on my way hoping it would be OK. It wasn't. One taste and I had to spit out the water. Smelling the water confirmed my fears that it was not good. I ended up getting some water from a sawmill where I got the water from a bubbler. They made certain to let me know the water from the sink in the bathroom was non-potable. It smelled just like the water I got from the guy's sink. Dean's Motor Lodge has a similar issue and I'm reminded of the issue with sulphur water that affects many wells in Maine. I had to shower in it and the room smelled of the water all night. Needless to say I let the hotel know and bought some bottled water at the bar for last night and today.
The good news is that after seeing moose tracks on the road all day, I finally got to see my first moose! Unfortunately, I didn't get to take a picture as it was hightailing it back into the woods. It was located just north of Ashland, about 8 miles from the end of my ride. The bartender at Dean's Motor Lodge said her husband had seen the same juvenile moose just outside Ashland. She also told me the hills I have to climb today are pretty hellacious. But what the hell. It's the last day! My sister offered to carry my bags, but I feel strongly that I should be riding into Fort Kent with my bags. Should be quite a day! The weather is beautiful. I plan on leaving about 10 and should be into Fort Kent by 2 pm - assuming I can make it over these hills. On another note, I'm told there are lots of moose between here and there. While I've seen only one, I keep wondering how many moose, bear, deer, bobcats and other animals were watching me as I rode up Rt 11.