July 14. I went to bed stuffed with a stomach ache from the fish fry and drinks. At 3 AM I got up to use the restroom and realized I was starving again. I think the mountains of Southern Maine are finally giving me the hiker hunger. We slept in until 6 AM and got packed so we could be in the diner at 7 AM when they opened. I ordered the “Hollow Leg” hungry man special and easily put it all down. It was a Saturday morning in Stratton and everyone was getting ready to enjoy a hot weekend, and we were getting ready to go back to work on the trail. After breakfast JD, Rafiki, and I hit the road to hitch. Maine is breaking all of my sterotypes for the trail and this time the car that picked us up was a Cadillac! Granted, it was an older model…but it was a Caddy! The driver dropped us off at the trailhead, told us he doesn’t believe in the government and money, and said that people hiking 25 mile days on the AT were doing the trail too fast. We politely thanked him for the ride and headed off on the trail north to try a 25 mile day. We started around 9 AM and it was already hot. From the road we headed up Bigelow Mountain and Avery Peak, the last two summits over 4,000 feet until we climb Katahdin! It was a tough haul up and the heat was oppressive. In a short while the shower and laundry from yesterday was irrelevant as I was dripping sweat everywhere. The weather has been good to us this last week or two and we have not had any rain…of course, that also means that water will be harder to find as the springs and streams dry up. Today we had to hike a good several miles over the ridge with very little water, not fun. The temperature on my thermometer read well into the mid 90’s and the heat on the exposed rocky ridgline was intense. It was a fantastic day for boaters, but a hellishly hot day for hikers. Finally we started coming down off the mountains and back into tree cover. On the way down Avery Peak we walked through a huge boulder field with boulders the size of houses. The cool air coming off the rocks was refreshing. After taking a break and refilling water at a shelter we hiked on past a pond and caught a whiff of a BBQ and could see people out on a boat enjoying a hot Saturday afternoon on the water. That made me excited to get back to Santa Barbara and a cookout with Telegraph beer and my brother’s famous “Tyler Burgers”! Once we were down off the ridge and back in the woods the bugs got really bad. All three of us put on our bug protection…a.baseball cap to keep the flies off our head, and headphones with music so we couldn’t hear them buzzing around. We crossed a road today and someone had spray painted “2000 Miles Congrats” on the road and we got a picture with it. We had actually crossed 2,000 miles back on the ridge, but it was better to celebrate here! At some point each of us took a spill today. JD’s foot fell into a hole up to his knee and he went down, Rafiki slipped on a water crossing and bent his trekking pole, and I fell at another water crossing and smashed my thumb against a rock. We hiked a few flat miles around lakes and made it to the shelter. The guide book said there was a spring for water, but of course it was dry. We filled and treated our water from the lake and I washed off my legs in the lake. Standing in the lake was refreshing and a great way to end the day. The sun faded over the horizon and it was a great sunset on the water. We made a small fire for the smoke to keep the bugs away, ate dinner, and all climbed in our tents. As I went to sleep I could hear a fireworks show somewhere off in the distance. Another good day, town breakfast, out last big mountains before the end, crossing 2,000 miles, and getting into the tents away from the bugs! We hiked 23 miles and finished the day at mile 2,019, just 165.5 from the end!