The last 114 miles contain the 100 Mile Wilderness, entering Baxter State Park and the summit of Mt Katahdin. 145 days to get to this spectacular ending . . .
With a week to go on the trail we stayed at Shaw’s Lodging in Monson Maine. We hung out at Shaws until around 2:00 pm. When we left for the 100 mile wilderness, I had 6 days of food and my bag was 35 pounds. We planned 11 miles that day, but only did 7 because our backpacks were so heavy the hiking just wasn’t fun. We stopped for a little bit at Wilson falls and found a really cool campsite. We got to soak our feet a bit and had a bite to eat.
We ended up staying over at Little Wilson Stream. The next day was our worst day in the wilderness because of the rain. We hiked 20 miles total, but the last 11 miles were miserable in the rain. It was raining, we were cold and our packs were still heavy. We were climbing over wet rocks and trying not to slip. The highlight was we did get trail magic that day, which you don’t see much of once you get up north. This was kind of a special trail magic story. So, there was a guy who would go to his families hunting cabin and do trail magic. He and his father weren’t on good terms. He went to the cabin to do trail magic but didn’t tell his dad he was going. One time his dad showed up unexpected, they talked and reconnected. At some later date the guy (son) died. From then on the son’s best friend and the father continued the trail magic in his honor. So that was kind of special to hear the story behind the kindness of the trail magic.
As we hiked on it was still raining. We stopped at Chairback Gap lean-to that night and there was one space left. So I took that and Rush had to set up his hammock in the rain. We just knew that would be the worst day and it would get better from there on.
When we woke up it wasn’t raining anymore. This was going to be our last hard day, we were excited because we knew this would be our last mountain before Katahdin. We did 17 miles. We got up on White Cap Mountain and it was the first time we could see Katahdin somewhere beyond the clouds.
It was a really cool night. Rush and I hadn’t been seeing a lot of hikers but when we got to Logan Brook lean-to we were near a hiker named the Duke of Windsor. He let us camp in his area. He was doing the trail in random bits but still all at once. It was cool because we got to sit and talk to him and hear about his life. It had been just Rush and I for so long it was nice to connect with another hiker that night
The 4th day in the wilderness, we realized we had an extra day of food. This was great news because we had been rationing food to make sure we would make it through the 100 miles. Rush had been eating 3200 and I was eating only 2500 calories. Most hikers need at least 4,00-5,000 a day so we were in a huge deficit. At that point we knew we’d get to Abol Bridge a day sooner so our food would last. Even thought we did 20 miles that day, it felt like a good day. The hike was easy and at the Antlers Campsite that evening was Joe Mary pond so we had a great view in the night.
That was one of my favorite nights because you could hear the loons all night long. I got up in the middle of the night and could see a great starry sky. I hadn’t seen many starry nights because we were usually asleep by dusk. The sounds and the sights that night are just what I thought Maine should be like. The next morning we got our first actual view of Katahdin which was very exciting. It was the light at the end of the tunnel for sure!
We had a nice sunrise the next morning. More easy hiking, all pretty normal. We got to the lean to that had like a baseball bat flooring. It was rounded planks, it looks just like large baseball bats. It was very uncomfortable. Every time you turned over you just couldn’t get comfortable in any way. We met 2 sobo (southbound) hikers and told them about all of our travels the past few months. We only had 30 more miles to go and they had hiked only 30 miles! In the middle of the night it started raining and Rush got out of his hammock and came into the shelter. We knew this was going to be our last night in the wilderness so we were super excited.
We had 16 miles to hike to Abol Bridge, which is the ending of the 100 mile wilderness and the start of Baxter State Park. At that point I had a pro-meal bar and 1/6 of a jar of peanut butter left. We tried to go as fast as we could because we were super hungry and we were ready to get out of the wilderness. We were done hiking by 2:00 or 3:00 that afternoon. When we got to a restaurant we devoured burgers fries and beers. We met Patches who was a former thru hiker in 2013. She joined us for dinner and asked where we were staying. We said we weren’t sure and she invited us to stay with her at her campsite. We made a big fire, told stories and Rush made bacon wrapped smores. Yes, that would be bacon wrapped around the marshmallow cooked over the fire then put on chocolate and a graham cracker!! That night around 9:00 we had just fell asleep and we could hear and see fireworks. Some idiot decided to set off a huge box of fireworks off the bridge!! They went off for a straight hour, it was kinda scary and definitely annoying.
The next morning we woke up early, about 5:00 am, and Rush took off to make sure he got a spot to hang his hammock at the Birches campsite. Our last night on the trail!! Baxter State Park has several rules, one of which is the only place a thru-hiker can camp is at the Birches. They only have so many spaces so you have to sign up. If the list is full you have to wait. I took off about 7:00 so I could stop at the camp store to get a soda and a coffee. Hiking was the easiest, flattest and one of the most beautiful areas. We got to the Birches campsites around 11:00.
While signing in at the ranger station I got to see about 6 hikers who had summited Katahdin. It was great to hear about their hike. I was glad I got to wish them well and tell them good-bye. We spent the day playing cards and hanging out. Around 2:00 Hobbits showed up which was crazy because we hadn’t seen him since Harpers Ferry in Maryland. There were only 2 other section hikers at the Birches and the 3 of us. We decided that night, even though I told my mom we would meet her at 8:00, we wanted to start early in order to beat the heat and the day hikers up to Katahdin the next morning.
We woke up at 3:30 am, packed our day bags, put on our headlamps and started hiking at 4:30 am. The first mile was super easy and felt surreal because this was the last 5 miles I was going to hike out of 2,189. Then I got above tree line and had to start climbing and rock hopping. Pulling yourself up over boulders and trying not to fall because your on the side of the mountain is not easy. The sun was just starting to come up over the mountain which was just incredible.
I could see the summit and started going as fast as I could. I could see Rush and Hobbits, who had gotten there quite a bit before me, along with the sign kind of silhouetted in the sun.
Then I made it to the top and Rush and Hobbits walked away to let me have the summit to myself. I laid my head on the sign. It was the craziest feeling, I finally felt the emotions from all the miles and then really, really felt like I had actually walked all the way from Georgia. It was very exciting and overwhelming to finally be done. I read the sign that I had seen so many picture of and to see that Springer Mountain was actually 2,189 miles away was so incredible.
Then, Hobbits and Rush came over and we took all our goofy pictures. We still had the summit all to ourselves.
We left Hobbits at the top because his parents were going to meet him. When Rush and I started down we passed all the day hikers coming up. They were asking when we started since we were coming down so early. Rush had a great reply, “we started 145 days ago”. We were flying down the mountain, so excited, didn’t have our heavy packs, it was exhilarating. We ran into Treebird hiking up who we hadn’t seen since Parisburg Virginia. He told us there was another surprise on the trail. When we had about a mile and a half to go we ran into my mom who was hiking up hoping to surprise us as we were coming down.
It took us about an hour and a half to get out of the park and into town. We stopped for lunch at the Appalachian Trail cafe and to sign the thru hiker ceiling tiles.
Mom and I had lunch but Rush decided he needed to do the ice cream challenge, 14 scoops of ice cream, banana, king size snickers, a donut, m&m’s, topped with a ton of whip cream and a cherry. It took a while, but he completed the challenge.
While we were waiting for him to finish, another hiker who has a podcast asked me if she could interview me about finishing the trail. I was a little hesitant because I didn’t think I would do a very good interview or have too simple of answers. I was still overwhelmed with my summit and I didn’t think I would have the words for complete sentences. But I agreed and am glad I did. I’ll post the link when the podcast is up so you can listen.
I still can’t believe I did this. Its weird, it doesn’t feel real yet. It doesn’t feel like I was gone for 5 months, even though at the time it did. Everyday had a challenge, every day was horrible and everyday was wonderful. If you would like to stop by and say hi, maybe see some pictures we’re planing an open house Saturday the 29th anytime from 3-6. I’m so excited to be a official thru hiker from the class of 2015. Stay tuned, I’m already thinking of what trail I’ll do next!!