Tuesday, November 7, 2017

It's All Downhill From Maine: Part 7 - Coming Into Shaw's Landing

The thing about backpacking is you look forward to going and then you really look forward to it ending. There is nothing much like that very last 5 mile stretch, when you're running out of food and know there is plenty of great food ahead and things like showers, clean clothes and being able to walk without carrying a 35 pound pack on your shoulders.
In this particular instance, we were heading to the town of Monson and Shaw's Landing. There is quite a buzz among hikers about this place and it truly lived up to the legend. Try to imagine a little hick town in the middle of nowhere and then think of an old ramshackle two story house. Now, add to that a yard full of hipsters, old folks, young couples, and mountain men, filling the area, throwing Frisbees, drinking beer, and mainly just taking it easy. The house rents out rooms to backpackers, and offers a breakfast of endless pancakes that is loved by all. I fully expected to be let down by this experience, but it is now one of the top 10 meals I've had. If I had one wish, it would be that I could have done this in my 20's like some of the guests there. Paul and I got a room with 2 beds and then a common bathroom that we shared with everyone on the floor. There were girls and guys all about and everyone had that relieved look of finally getting clean for a bit, before they move on to finish the AT. Paul and I were getting off here and flying back home, but a part of me wished that I was going on to the finish as well. I can still remember the old lady that used to run the place telling us that every once in a while, some hikers just decided to stay...and sooner or later she'd had to push them back out on the trail. I can understand why.

In addition to Shaw's, there were other businesses in this little town that catered to the grizzled group of folks passing through on their way to Mount Katahdin. One place that really had me excited was this old time BBQ restaurant that we had heard about for days from other hikers. We walked the several miles to get there, my stomach rumbling the whole way, only to find that we had arrived at the one day of the week they were closed.
I had made Paul promise that we would hold out for a really good dinner, not just some takeout from the gas station...and where did we end up eating? Takeout burgers from the gas station, sitting in their backyard at a picnic table...it couldn't get more ghetto, but I must say, that was the best tasting burger and fries I ever had. I realized when we were sitting there, that I had been there once before long ago, with Pam and her folks. We had been driving through Maine and had stopped for directions and saw the big grill inside and took a chance on some rough country food. I did remember that it was very good, and from what other hikers told me, we weren't the only ones that found this place was one of the best worst-kept secrets in rural Maine....so if you're ever in Monson....stop at the gas station..

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