The tent was completely dry when I took it down. Matt had already started to mix his coffee and carnation breakfast drink, when I handed him the cinnamon muffin. “Happy Birthday!” I said cheerfully. He said thanks. We looked over the maps and thought it might be too long of a day to try and push to Bar Harbor. At this point we hadn’t had much luck reserving a camp spot and so the smart thing to do would be to try and get to the town outside of Bar Harbor like Ellsworth or Trenton and finish on Sunday. The only birthday gift I could give Matt at this point, was a hike up a mountain. Before we left, I told him I wanted to hike Mount Battie. As we biked to the trail head, the option could be bike to the top or hike the 1.6 miles through a blue blazed trail. I said I could go either way, and Matt opted for us to hike. The trail was full of roots and rocks and within the first 500 feet we had to climb on logs that immediately brought me back to the rugged terrain of the 100 mile wilderness in Maine along the Appalachian Trail. About half way up the mountain, Matt began to open up under the comfort of treeline and marked path below. We had journeyed almost 4000 miles at this point, side by side, day by day and talked about the conditions of the trail but never how the trail was actually affecting us.
It is grueling day in and day out with the threat of cars pushing you off the pavement. It is not serene or a time for great reflection. You are always surrounded by people and machines. We are finishing up this trip and it’s as if it didn’t even happen. There is no real ‘awakening’ or feeling of accomplishment that comes from months in the woods or on the water, because everyday we are riding the same roads as people who are going to work or to shop. We are biking on the same infrastructure that so many of us want to escape from. Both of us revealed our disappointment at the finale of this trip and our realization that biking long distance was challenging, without much of the rewards that so many other trails offer.
As we made it to the top of the mountain, and the expanse of Penobscot Bay opened up before us, we settled into the overwhelming peace a summit can bring you and once more, had the feeling that this entire trip was worth it. This mountain top experience, although not even 2000 feet high, brought us back to our roots and once more I saw the sparkle in Matt’s eyes. We stayed a long time looking out onto the ocean and letting the glisten off the water stain our eyes. This site and hike, although only lasting an hour, was just enough rejuvenation to get us back on our bikes.
We cycled quickly side by side when the shoulder was wide enough, flicking off all of the Maine drivers that crept too close. We passed Bucksport and Orland and before we knew it we were descending into Ellsworth. We stopped at subway to carb up and checked camping options one last time for Bar Harbor. It turned out that Bar Harbor campground had one tent site available and so after 5 we continued our last leg of the day. We pulled in as the sun was starting to set! We took a quick swim in their heated pool and watched the sky turn from pink to gray over the Frenchman Bay.
Today has been full of emotions and physical fatigue, but tonight I am once more thankful for the opportunity to climb inside a tent, lay next to a partner who is now one year older, and dream about finishing a trail started many months ago.