Day 32 – The Beginning of the End

Sam here, fresh off another voyage up to Northern Maine, and now back in the blogging saddle. With our first trip finish of the summer tomorrow (ie. our leaders Garth and Kelly are done leading for this year), the signs of the end of the summer are truly upon us. Luckily it has been a great season thus far, and hopefully will continue to be for the next two weeks. And as for today…

CI: In the “Most detailed and involved blog spot of all time” category, the blue ribbon goes to CI. I was informed yesterday that after the first reaping (you need to have seen Hunger Games to know what that means) at the Martha’s Vineyard Campground last night, the group installed their first ever, very own, and trip long “Hunger Games.” Below are the tribute’s photos (as well as a more “traditional” blog shot of the group doing some community service at the Farm Institute). The group is having a great and somewhat drier day on MV today as they air things out from a thunderstorm that hit them last night.

VM: What is more fun than being on the road at 5:35 AM? Making it to Montreal for lunch with the prize of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Luckily for VM, both of these goals were in the cards today.  They reached their destination in great time, and will spend their last day together tomorrow exploring Montreal.

CQA: Donning different helmets and trading pedals for paddles, Susie and Nick’s crew hit the Kennebec for a trip down the (not-so) lazy river. Tonight they’ll face their third, and probably final, match up of ultimate frisbee against the CQB group.

CQB: Mia and Alex’s group of flying meese (moosen, moosies, whatever you want to call them) rode the long but sublime journey through the Maine woods to Jackman today. After innumerable packages and letters yesterday (it was their first mail stop) and with their eyes set on a rafting trip tomorrow, this group had lots of motivation to push them forward.  Tonight, CQA in Ultimate…

NEMC: Today was a bittersweet last day for the NEMCers which they spent kayaking in our very own Brunswick.  Amazing to think that the first trip is ending tomorrow, as it seems like just yesterday when the first bikes of the season were loaded and packs packed (don’t worry, I won’t get all Kevin-cheesy on you). They had a lovely day on the water this morning, playing what looks like the most fun game I have heard of in a long time, “walk the plank.” Tonight will be spent enjoying a scrumptious final dinner at Flatbreads in Portland, before one final A&P…

I call this one “Franklin Leads His Mighty Band”

DEX: The DEXsters have emerged from the woods! Veritable demolishers of mileage, the group was unphased by the long hikes on their first two days in the backcountry. Back in the van, the group is singing along to tunes on their way to Baxter State Park this afternoon. Tomorrow, assuming weather is good, Mt. Katahdin!

CMC: A surprise backcountry text came through in a pocket of cell service yesterday, and we heard from Tim and Jillian. A black bear sighting followed by arrival at a campsite described as “absolutely, ridiculously, profoundly beautiful” led to a great first backcountry day. Tomorrow they are headed into Yosemite Valley for some more great hiking and magnificent scenery.

CSA: Maddie and Mason’s group have hit the beach a few times this trip, but today they got to really explore the ocean. A day full of water activities, they kayaked this afternoon to a coral reef for snorkeling. Tonight they’ll take an evening swim in the biobay to learn about the ecosystem in what should be a hallmark day for everyone (except perhaps one, who fell asleep during the group photo).

NWX: After an epic day of snow hiking along a ridge to get out of the backcountry yesterday, today was the group’s first of several days on the water. While they will later be sea kayaking, today’s adventure of choice was rafting, as the group hit the Sauk River for some great rapids.  No image from these guys today, but we’ll make sure to have something posted tomorrow.

PCA: Micah and McKayla’s contingent hung ten on some gnarly surf off the coast of California, as they got a break from the bikes before tomorrow’s ride through their first real taste of the Redwoods.

PCB: Following in the footsteps of PCA, here is PCB with an extraordinarily similar yet significantly less pixelated picture of the border crossing. Sadly, there are no Ellen Degeneres dances in today’s photo…(see yesterday’s blog for that.)

TSA: Hot off the press!  Laura just sent us an email a few minutes ago, and we’ll quote her directly:

“We write to you all from Firenze, where we arrived this afternoon after a hot day of biking. Today’s ride was gorgeous, but took us a bit longer than expected as it was quite hilly. Morale was great though.  We gave everyone some time to walk around Pozano in Greve, where there was an open air market- lots of people got pastries and many of us also got samples of bread, olive oil, and salami. We then continued on and ate lunch in a spot overlooking some vineyards. On the way we met the lovely fellow in our photo. He has been traveling all around Europe and Asia by bike for over a year. He was an inspiration to all!”

ACC1: A short (remember, it’s all relative) 66 miles today saw the group into Pine. In the magical land of the 10 mile hills (both up and down) the group climbed for twenty miles straight this morning, followed by a 10 mile descent. The trend continued all day, as a brutal 5-mile hill brought them in to camp.  Even through the rollers, they were in to camp by lunch.  A homecooked dinner by their hosts tonight has their group in high spirits as they head to Prescott tomorrow, the site of their last rest day before San Diego.

ACC2: As dapper as this blog has ever seen, this group is decked out in their brand new threads. Breaching the continental divide means it’s all downhill for this group (unfortunately not literally, there are still a few uphills to go).  They, like ACC1, spent a couple of hours in Pie Town this morning tasting the local cuisine.  They are just one state border and two weeks away from the refreshing waters of the Pacific.

We like pie!