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.