Caratunk to Stratton

June 27 Mile 165.3

What’s a girl to do when ankle deep in mud in the midst of a thunderstorm? Eat some Skittles (wild berry), put some Tupac on, do a little dance and move those feet. 

What else can I do?

This morning I woke up to clear skies reflected on the Kennebec river, the widest crossing on the AT. The ferry service didn’t begin until 9am so Lays and I had some time to hang out on the riverbank, take advantage of the privy and take some photos of irises. There were so many! Gorgeous. 

Once we got canoed across the river we stepped to it and made 13.4 miles in 7 hours. Lays got to the West Carry Pond shelter before me because the mud really slowed me down and I got a little grumpy about my rain skirt. Once I figured out how to wear it without it riding up my thighs (it needed to be shorter) I was less grumpy but I needed to check myself (before I wreck myself). So I got out the candy and the tunes and the last mile to the shelter I was lip singing with my trekking poles and busting out some stupid funky moves. 

I’m always willing to be silly to keep a positive vibe going. I have to. 

It’s cold so I’ll make some hot water after my stretches, massage my feet and calves and climb in my sleeping bag with Edward Abbey.

I’m a lucky girl.

June 28 Mile 180.1

Wow! Got up to over 4,000 feet today  in the Bigelow mountains. Tonight I am camped where I hoped I would be camping, right below the peak at a cool little campsite, complete with tent platforms and of course a privy.  And I even have phone and internet! What luxury!

I bagged about 5,000 feet of gain today, which is good practice for the Whites which will come up here pretty soon. Southern Maine has many formidable peaks as well so it’s nice to push myself now to see what I am capable of and how I’ll feel tomorrow. I started hiking at 5:30 this morning and got here around 3pm. Not bad. 

I’ll be in Stratton tomorrow midday and am looking forward to laundry and a shower. Every hiker has different priorities when it comes to town; some go for food first, others a place to stay or stealth camp, some like to resupply first. I always go for shower and laundry first. Once I am clean I feel like I am better able to handle the other hiker town chores I need to do.

Looks like I’ll be camping by myself tonight; Lays didn’t make it up the peak it seems and he probably camped at the spot down at the base of Bigelow at Safford Notch. Which is smart for him since he does not have a warm sleeping bag. Fortunately I do.

June 29 Mile 188.2 Stratton, Maine

I’m wearing some loaner clothes from the Stratton Motel and waiting for my laundry to finish washing. Lays made it into camp around 6:30 last evening which was good. We got a bit of a late start (7am) for me anyway, and hiked the 7.5 miles to the highway leading to town. We got a ride from a local who dropped us off at the motel here. Treehugger, the caretaker of the motel gave me a ride over to the PO where I picked up a wonderfully generous care package from my sweet friend Cindy. Thank you Cindy! A true trail angel. I filled my pockets with chocolate and we walked down to the laundry mat. At the gas station we ran into BFG, who we haven’t seen in a few days. He was hiking with three other hikers (Fern and the Harry Potters) and they had a room at the motel. I met BFG on Katahdin, a very tall handsome German man who is hiking as much as he can in three months. It’s nice to see him here.

This evening we’re going to eat burgers and hang out with our friends. It’s nice to be in town but I am already itching to get up into the big mountains that populate southern Maine and New Hampshire. Next stop is Andover 58 miles from here. So excited about having some good food to get me there. Thanks again Cindy! 

Monson to Caratunk

June 23 Mile 118

I was planning to take a zero day today (zero day means zero miles hiked) but by noon it was time to leave the hostel and I figured I’d get a few miles is just for good measure. I hiked about 4 miles to the western bank of Lake Hebron and found a lovely little spot to relax for the rest of the day. Town days are nice but it’s always a relief to get back on the trail and eat some miles. Miles are hard won on the AT in Maine and any chance to put away “easy” miles is not to be passed up. 

This morning several of us walked down to Shaw’s, another hostel for AYCE (all you can eat) breakfast with coffee, bacon, eggs, potatoes and blueberry pancakes. I sat with Shredder, a young woman who I met on the day of the leech, also known as the day of the fireflies. Shredder and I went skinny dipping in a river and I emerged from the water with a 4 inch leech on my foot. Visions of horror films flashed before my eyes and I tried to keep my cool while trying to will it off my foot. That didn’t work so I just pulled that sucker off. Yikes! It was nice to see her again.

After breakfast we perused Shaw’s gear shop and I found nothing that I needed. I walked over to Pete’s Bakery and got a few items for the next stretch and got my AT passport stamped. So exciting! I love stuff like that. I was also able to fill my .5oz hot sauce bottle for only .25 cents, which was exciting too. It is not good to run out of hot sauce. Ever. 

With that in mind it’s almost time to start thinking about cooking up some dinner, eating a homemade brownie and reading some Edward Abbey before I fall asleep around 7:30pm. 

June 24 Mile 132.4

When I got to Bald Mountain Pond (which is really more like a lake) the sun was out and once I pitched my tent I went for a swim and sat on a flat granite slab to warm up. The sun felt wonderful and it has been raining quite a bit so this respite was welcome. I did about 14 miles in just under seven hours. I want to say that’s slow but miles are different on this trail than the PCT. I get slowed down by wet rocks, creeks running down the middle of the trail and boggy muddy messes of trail that suck at my shoes. Today there were three river crossings; various branches of the Piscataquis, which were not scary so that is good. Every time I cross a river the water feels exquisite on my feet; as I slowly make my way across the rivers I sigh and go extra slow to be safe and to savor the luxurious feeling of cool water running between my toes and over my feet. It is extraordinary.

Maine continues to blow my mind with amazing landscapes; most of the time I don’t mind when the trail turns into an obstacle course. When I was laying on my hot rock I felt like I was the only person on this lake. It’s a nice feeling. 

Tomorrow I will climb a couple of mountains and I’m looking forward to the views. Maybe it will even be sunny. 

June 25 Mile 145.5

I’m usually awake at 4:45am. This morning when I got out of my tent to pee I was greeted with pink, clear sky reflected on a motionless lake. Stellar. The sky was clear as I got back into my tent and ate breakfast which today was a Clif Bar. As I packed up my stuff I could hear Lays in his tent nearby starting to get up. We’ve been hiking together more or less since I started and it’s nice to have the company. We don’t always hike together but we end up at the same spot in the evenings. Today I had my things packed up quickly so I could sit and enjoy a cup of cold coffee and I decided to wait for him. I found a spot in the early morning sun and watched polywogs in the water. It’s not easy for me to wait sometimes. The trail teaches me patience. 

When we arrived at the appropriately named Pleasant Pond (again, more lake sized than pond sized). I set up my tent and headed down to the pond. I sat on a dock and soaked my achy hiker feet for a good 20 minutes. There are several cabins around the lake and someone was blasting Johnny Cash. Perfect.

It’s 6pm, I have a full belly, a light pack to carry into Caratunk tomorrow and that lovely feeling of a tired body and light heart. I’ll pull Edward Abbey out, read and once again be asleep by 7:30 or earlier. 

Life, she is good. 

June 26 Mile 151.4 Caratunk

Lays and I walked into Caratunk this morning and now we’re showered and sorting our resupply at the Sterling Inn, a sweet little BnB on the edge of town. We met Mama Bear, a NOBO who has a lovely dog. So nice to be around a fur friend. I really miss animals on the trail so it’s nice to spend a little time with a sweetie like Beaver. 

Paul at the BnB next to the trail told me about some places to stealth camp on the Kennebec river; it’s a big river and we have to wait until tomorrow morning to catch the ferry (a 2 person canoe) to cross it. The ferry is the official AT route and almost everyone uses it. So, we’re taking a Nearo day; nearly a zero day but not quite, just a few miles hiked. I could use the rest. 

Trail life is treating me very well and I am tickled pink with the progress I’m making. Again, my heart swells with the kindness of the people I have met; strangers that go out of their way to help me. My life is richer for it, and gratitude is once again the theme for my hike.

Much love to you all!

Until Stratton,


Katahdin to Monson, Maine

June 15 Mile 5.2

I said goodbye to my old friend Wendy at Katahdin Stream Campground this morning and headed up the mountain. To get to the northern terminus of the AT, you have to climb Katahdin. It’s 5.2 miles with a 4,200 foot elevation gain (referred to as EG in this blog) and much of the hike involves climbing and bouldering. At one point I relied on a metal rung sticking out of a boulder to climb up the trail. I was pleased with my progress and happy to get to the summit in just under 4 hours. As I sat and ate the pepperoni Wendy left with me I looked over at a ridge known as the Knife’s Edge. The Knife’s Edge I hiked in Goat Rocks last summer on the PCT pales in comparison. I can’t imagine hiking that! My friend Darcy did when she was 14! Impressive!

I made it down slowly and carefully. It was a gorgeous hike; it didn’t take as long and the weather was delightful. My body felt strong and good and a bit tired as I approached Katahdin Stream Campground, where I will stay again tonight. Tomorrow I continue south, south following the white blazes on trees and rocks, every quarter of a mile or so on this amazing trail. I’ll follow them until there are no more blazes to follow. This idea motivates me and comforts me; a finite number of indicators, a set number of beacons pointing me in the direction I need to go. I feel so happy.

June 16 Mile 26.3

Maine told me this morning: “I gave you a somewhat clear and dry day to summit Katahdin. I can’t make any promises now.” It was cloudy as I packed up and once I got on the trail I met Lays, a young man from Tennessee who is also a SOBO. We hiked together for a few hours before is started pouring. I pulled my rain gear out but I was soaked anyway. My pack is waterproof, so I don’t need a pack cover. One less thing to carry. 

I hiked 10 miles in 4 hours and got to a tiny market on the edge of Baxter State Park. I had a huge cup of coffee with Lays and we pondered the rain. I decided to go for it and hiked out. For the next 100 miles there is just trail; no roads, no internet, no resources until Monson. That’s ok with me. I’m ready. 

I got to a shelter around 1:30 but decided to go on. And on, and on. I had no intention to do so many miles but there was no place to stop, so suitable place to set up my tent. So we kept going, and going. Finally we got to an established campsite and I set up, ate and slept for 10 hours. 


June 17 Mile 38.2

Not too many miles today, got a late start at 8am. Super late for me. It was lovely but tough trail, boggy, rocky and slick. So glad to be here at this shelter, talking to NOBOs who are about to finish the trail. And now another girl just hiked up and set up her tent so I’m not the only girl! Yay!

June 18 Mile 59.7

I stepped out of my tent around 10:30 into pitch dark. The roaring river next to me, I looked up between the cedars to patches of stars. All around me were fireflies, everywhere I looked. The ones above me, once they blinked off, were illuminated by the others that had blinked on, their bodies seemed huge to me. And back and forth they went as I ducked back into my tent to sleep off another long, difficult and amazing day on the AT.

June 19 Mile 71.4

I made it to a shelter half way up White Cap Mountain just as the sky opened up and the rain came pouring down. I met Fern, Greg and Rob who invited me to roll down my mat on the shelter. So glad I did. I was planning on stopping at this shelter even though it was only 2:30; yesterday was a big day and today was pretty tough considering the low miles. Body needs to rest. So here I am. Jimmy, an ex Army guy just hiked up and we all scooted over to make room for him. The shelters have been all the same; a platform with three sides and a slanted roof, lean-to style. There’s always a pit toilet about 200 feet away and often they are by creeks. This one is in an extraordinary location. I can’t wait to get up higher tomorrow. Three big days and then I should be in Monson. 

June 20 Mile 88.4

Another shelter this evening but it was full when Lays and I got here and everyone was asleep. A very, very long day. Slow going on wet, steep, rocky trail. Towards the end we both started thinking we had gone past the shelter; at one point we were on our hands and knees climbing up a boulder field, hoping it was the last ascent, which it was. Looks like tomorrow is much of the same, but 14.5 miles instead of 17. 

Boy am I tired. Beyond tired. But I met my goal. Even if it meant hiking up an unreasonably steep trail in the middle of a thunder storm. Happy now to be in my tent, dry with a full belly. Simple pleasures. Trail pleasures.

June 21 Mile 99.4

A low mileage day which is just fine. We’ll do more tomorrow to get into Monson, and leave early in the morning, which is nice. I like the early morning. Perfect for hiking. We had a good day, Lays kept the pace slow and steady and we had fun. Thunderstorms and lots of sun at the end of the day. All my gear is dry. Before the descent down to the shelter we stopped at a clearing with a fantastic view. I sat in the sun and watched two red tailed hawks float on the thermals above us. The warm granite slabs felt like heaven under my tired body. 

June 22 Mile 114.7 Monson, Maine

I reached the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness! Yay! I’m at a hostel called The Lakeshore House for the night and had my first shower in 9 days. Clean clothes. A slice of pizza. More food later. I am happy to be here and will probably take the day off tomorrow to rest this tired body. Legs, hips and mostly my feet need a day off. So I am listening to my body. Sharing a bunk room with three other hikers including Lays. Maine is lovely. The highlight of today’s hike was passing by Little Wilson Falls. The map says it is 60 feet but it looked higher to me; a huge rush of white water with attendant mist cooling me down as I stopped to stretch my hamstrings. 

Today was a good day! 

The northern terminus of the AT and the highest point in Maine; Mt. Katahdin

Last Day, First Day

June 10 Mile 0

Trying hard to get the hang of this blog thing via my phone. I think this is the third time I have written his entry, hopefully this time I will remember to post it before closing the page! 

Today was my last day of work. When I got home to my studio this evening I wondered what it will look like when I return in 5 or so months. Will there be dust covering everything? Should I buy some white sheets to cover everything like people in movies do? No. I am grateful to have a place to come home to. 

This evening I will pack up my things and be ready when Kirsten and Matt pick me up tomorrow morning. Before I hiked the PCT, I obsessed over packing my pack. Now, I am much more relaxed and carefree about the whole process. I have everything I need set out on the cedar bench, and I’ll just throw it into stuff sacks and then into my pack. When I get to Wendy’s house in Maine I’ll make it trail ready with food and fuel. But for now, meh. Just get it in the pack, Cougar.

I just ate a huge cookie, and I’m going to do a last load of laundry (I want to come home to clean sheets) and while I wait for that to finish I’m going to take a long hot bath and think about what I’m going to wear tomorrow. Do I wear my hiking clothes even though I don’t actually start hiking until Thursday? Or should I wear my favorite dress that is falling apart, that I’ve had for 8 years, that I can dispose of finally on Wednesday before Wendy and I drive up to Baxter Stare Park? I think so. 

I’m ready.