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Carey Kish

Carey Kish of Mount Desert Island has been adventuring in the woods and mountains of Maine for, well, a long time. If there’s a trail—be it on dirt, rock, snow, water or pavement—he will find it, explore it, and write about it. Carey is a two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, Registered Maine Guide, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes Along the Maine Coast, editor of the AMC Maine Mountain Guide (10th ed.), and has written a hiking & camping column for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram since 2003. Follow his outdoor travels and musings here, and on Facebook/CareyKish. Let Carey know what you think at

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Maineiac Outdoors with Carey Kish
Posted: May 5, 2015

Six-Moon Journey: Gloomy spruce forest atop Unaka Mountain

Carey Kish is currently thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine, a distance of 2,200 miles over a period of 5-6 months. Entries from Carey’s trail journal are presented here (read them all). You can also follow his journey on his Facebook page.

April 25, 2015: Piped spring campsite to Clyde Smith Shelter, 14.0 miles, 8:15am to 4:15pm.

Haven’t been so happy to see a shelter in quite awhile on this trip I’d say, but so it was with this one at the end of 14-mile day that seemed quite a bit longer for sure. Seven miles shy of big Roan Mtn, this place is home sweet home what will probably be another cold night at 4500 feet.

Woke around 6 this morning to other hikers nearby getting ready to take off in an effort to get a head start on the rain. I rolled over. Around 7, I heard the putter patter of rain. And more hikers hitting the trail. I didn’t move. At 7:30 the rain came down in earnest and for some odd reason that got me going.

I skipped cooking and got my gear packed. Had stuffed my backpack into the head of the tent last night, so it was dry and handy. Count on that move in the future. Easy packing everything inside, then it was on with the rain jacket and out the tent door to get the tent down. Got it all stowed without getting things very wet at all.

Walking through the gloomy spruce forests atop Unaka Mtn. Carey Kish photo.

Walking through the gloomy spruce forests atop Unaka Mtn. Carey Kish photo.

Figured I’d have a late breakfast or early lunch at the next shelter 4 1/2 miles north, then bolted. Cold cold cold walking, couldn’t seem to warm up despite the fact that I was climbing Unaka Mountain. Had the hood up and was zipped up to my chin. Cold went right through me. Of course, it doesn’t help that this poor rain jacket has seen its better days. I should replace it, but today I’ve got to wear it.

Slope moderated high on ridge of Unaka, which tops out near 5200 feet. Long summit ridge covered with spruce forest. As with Smokies, felt like I was walking in the Maine woods. That said, I couldn’t get real excited about it because I was cold to the core. Traversed the mountaintop, then began long descent (with a few ups of course) to Cherry Gap Shelter.

Another hiker was still in from last night, while Roy from NC soon joined me. He cooked up a cup of coffee, I should have as well but I was too lazy. Ate like a bandit though, everything I could get my hands on from my food bag. And as I sat at the picnic table the sun actually came out.

A bit of cheer on the first floor. Carey Kish photo.

A bit of cheer on the forest floor. Carey Kish photo.

But as I was getting ready to leave the sun disappeared and I got cold all over again. Left with my jacket fully zipped again. Over Little Bald Knob then down to Iron Mtn Gap. Finally more sun, and it stayed out pretty much the rest of the afternoon, even getting hot at times. Did allow me to hike in a T-shirt though. Strange day weather-wise for sure, but hey, that’s the mountains.

Good walking after the gap, but I must say my legs and lungs gave me some trouble. Not the best energy day. Plus my back issue, that haunting pain from my spine being out of alignment, was just killing me. That caused me to frig with the pack constantly for about an hour, trying to relieve the pain as well as make the damn thing ride more comfortably.

During a break in the sun at a large log, I got the pack right, plus did some back stretches over the log. Both seemed to work. My last miles into the shelter were better, but damn, I was just glad to see the structure through the trees on the final stretch.

Got the tent out drying, been down the long path to the spring, and now it’s getting chilly. Time to cook dinner, relax and get to my book. Just started a new John Grisham, Calico Joe. So far so good.

In out of the weather at Clyde Smith Shelter. Cay Kish photo.

In out of the weather at Clyde Smith Shelter. Cay Kish photo.



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