We never know when the clue will appear and so it was a complete surprise to find it this morning. “Drive 50 or so miles north and locate the Big A near the table.”
We took our chances and drove to Bethel and then on to Newry and beyond. Lo and behold–the Big A appeared. And so we parked across the street, slipped into our hiking boots, and began the journey. At the time that we arrived, we were the only contestants, so we wondered if we were behind or ahead.
At first the trail was deceivingly flat. “I’ve got this,” I thought.
But we soon came to a point where the white-blazed trail headed to the left and the orange-blazed trail to the right. We had a choice to make. White would mean a bit further journey, but it was easier. Orange was much more difficult, but if we played our cards right, we might ascend quickly. It wasn’t long before we realized that our hearts pulsed rapidly. And then we met Team Livermore . . . and passed them. They are younger than us, so I was feeling a bit smug. Until we came to the wrought iron rungs. I guess I was shaking a bit, from the looks of the photo, but really, climbing up the rungs was a piece of cake compared to the rest of the scramble . . .
over the steep, boulder-strewn trail.
Along the way, I paused periodically pretending to note things like a boulder covered with a moss map . . .
and an orb web sparkling in a bit of sunlight. The truth is that I was catching my breath. After seeing the web I had to put the camera away, for we’d reached a point where we needed the use of both hands. And just above the web my mind shut down as My Guy stepped from one boulder over a gaping hole to the next. He patiently told me where to place each foot, and try as I might, I couldn’t move. I was certain that hole would swallow me whole. Along came Team Livermore and I knew we were skunked, but I had to let them pass. They made it look effortless and so four more times I attempted to make the crossing, and on the fifth try I went for it. And I’m here to write about it, so obviously I lived.
Team Livermore may have passed us, but we soon caught up and moved ahead. We kept thinking we were about to reach the summit, when the rock would indicate otherwise and at one point we had to hike down a bit before climbing up again, which didn’t seem quite fair given how hard we’d worked. But then again, rock is rock and we certainly didn’t want to climb directly up its face.
At last–success. We found the table we’d sought: The summit of Table Rock.
Before us, The Eyebrow and Old Speck.
To the south, Sunday River Whitecap.
We didn’t stay too long on top for we weren’t hungry yet. And Team Cape Cod showed up. They’d chosen to come up the easier trail, so we knew we were ahead of them. We do like them though, so we hoped they wouldn’t be too far behind. Just as we started to make our way down, Team Speedy came along via the orange-blazed trail. We’ve had them on our tail in previous episodes and they have a bit of an attitude. That being said, we did what we often do–we practically ran down the blue and then white-blazed trails.
At lunch rock, we paused briefly beside the water and contemplated the map for a moment, making sure that we were headed in the right direction.
Further along we met a couple from New Hampshire–thru-hikers who had started in Georgia in March. We had nothing in our packs to offer them in terms of extra food, but bid them good tidings. Soon after, we heard Team Speedy again, and so with even more gusto, we finished our descent.
Before moving on, we had a couple of tasks to complete. The first was to share photos of a flower–we chose the purple asters;
a fruiting plant–trillium;
and a fruiting mushroom–ours being one of the cup variety.
We also had been instructed to find two more examples of the letter A, and so here is one . . .
and the other. All were in honor of the white-blazed Appalachian Trail.
Making our way south on the road, our next clue indicated that we needed to find a moose, or at least evidence that one had been there previously. And so we found this deep cave, which the photo doesn’t do justice.
As the local lore goes, however, a moose once fell in.
We were also instructed to find Mother Walker. We found the falls named for her that flowed through a gorge.
And we found a mother lode of Indian Pipes, all turned upright because they’d recently been fertilized. But who was Mother Walker? We never found the answer to that question.
With two stops left to make before finding the mat and finishing today’s leg of the race, we needed to locate a screw. Heck, I was with a hardware guy so that should have been easy.
But this screw was in the form of a water fall. Screw Auger Falls. In the 1800s, settlers had built a saw mill directly over the falls that was powered by the current. A screw auger is a hand tool used for boring holes in hard material. It all began to make sense.
While we were there, we took in a view of the arch, just in case we encounter a question about it should we make it successfully to the end of race.
And the falls below, were the story of water and glaciers was carved into the bedrock.
And then, and then, we continued south to a spot where we were told to fulfill our sweet tooth craving.
As we contemplated all of the possibilities, three folks came along in a truck (two of them from Norway, Maine, and the third visiting from San Francisco), bought a pie and gave us the money to buy one as well. But we had enough money. So we felt awkward, though we promised to pay it forward.
My Guy had just put the $20 into the metal tank when a vehicle from New York pulled in and a young couple stepped out. He walked over and told them about the previous couple, gave them $10 for their pie and asked them to pay it forward. Ahhh. Maine, the way life should be. And is!
At last, our final stop–we crossed the mat and learned we were first yet again.
While sipping a celebratory brew, Team Speedy came in. Bingo! They were second in place. Drats. But at least we beat them. We never saw the other teams.
All in all, The Amazing Race–Our Style, episode seven was most gratifying as we successfully summited Table Rock in Grafton Notch. Thanks to Team Cape Cod for taking a photo of us.
Oh, and dessert tonight will be . . . Maine Wild Blueberry a la Puzzle Mountain Bakery and the kind folks from Norway, Maine.