Maine was the 14th and final state along my journey along the Appalachian Trail. As you’ll read, entering Maine was an emotional experience for me. The Appalachain Trail in Maine was by far my favorite section and I’ll definitely be going back to do more hiking there.
If you missed my Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire Journals don’t miss them. It was a rollercoaster ride!
The Appalachian Trail in Maine
Facts about the Appalachian Trail in Maine
- How many miles of the Appalachian Trail are in Maine?: 281.1 miles
- Elevation Range: 490′-5267′ feet
- The 100 Mile Wilderness is one of the more remote parts of the Appalachian Trail.
- Cell phone service is the most spotty in Maine. I recommend getting a Garmin InReach Mini2 for reliable communication.
Friday, September 3, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 166
Location: Full Goose Shelter
Start/End Time: 7:15/5:00
Weather Conditions: Cloudy, Windy, and Rainy
Slept amazing, nice and toasty, but I had some very strange dreams.
It’s going to be a long day today. We’re hoping to get to some stealth sites right before The Notch so we can do it right off the bat tomorrow.
We started with a pretty big uphill. Lots of rocks, lots of slick muddy roots, and plenty of up.
Climbed up rebar ladders and wooden ladders, the perfect way to say goodbye to New Hampshire before entering Maine.
Sinking bog boards. I went first to find the path. Got my feet wet. Nat Geo went for it on the boards and ran!
We stopped a mile before the shelter for a snack and decided to stay there for the night. We were all tired and after seeing all the wet areas were worried we’d have to sleep in a muddy campsite.
This has been the most difficult day I’m trail so far. So much up and down, rocks, mud, roots, and plenty of exposed rock with some high winds. Today could have sucked, but it didn’t because of the people I hiked with. We laughed a ton!
Annie’s Mac and Cheese for dinner.
Started to rain.
Some kind of school group came in after dark. They were so loud in the woods before they arrived.
Saturday, September 4, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 167
Location: Summit of Old Speck
Start/End Time: 7:15/5:30
Weather Conditions: Sunny and Windy
Best Day Ever!
Did great the entire Notch. Stepped wrong on a flat area on my bad ankle. I hate this.
Didn’t love The Arm. It was lots of slogging straight up. Some of it was wet.
When we reached the top it finally sunk in that I was in Maine. I began to cry. I walked here from Georgia!
We took a break on the summit where we happened to have service and I found out Hoagie had summited Katahdin. I couldn’t be more proud of my friend.
Nat Geo and I thought it was too early to stop at the shelter a mile ahead so we made a plan to keep hiking.
We crossed and swampy area before reaching the shelter where we got water and used the privy. Maui was tired and tried to convince me that we should stop.
Hiked to the summit of Old Speck, my first 4K footer in Maine. The sweeping views were breathtaking on the way up.
When we arrived we found a sign that said no camping. Nothing else we had informed us of this before our arrival it was late, and we found an already established site, so we broke the rules and camped anyway.
The sunset from the Fire tower was spectacular.
More Appalachian Trail in Maine
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 168
Location: Some hotel near Sunday River
Start/End Time: 7:15/10:00
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy and rainy
Woke up in the middle of the night for no reason and was awake for 2 hours. I had a pain on the side of my right thumb. The wind was blowing. I fucked around on the internet because cell service.
Woke up around 6:30 and Maui and Nat Geo were rushing to get out for the morning. I wasn’t nearly ready to go and I tripped over a root and fell. That’s when I decided I needed to slow down.
Met the Ice Cream Man on the trail and bot banana.
Trail magic and trivia at Grafton Notch
Erica, Maui’s daughter came to get us.
Went to town to resupply and go to the outfitter. Ate at Butcher Burger got the Bacon Bacon and it was amazing! Went to the laundry mat, changed clothes inside and washed everything. Wore my rain gear for an hour. Went to Steam Mill Brewery, it was pretty terrible.
We headed off to the Grand Summit Lodge by squishing in Ericas car. It was funny trying to fit the whole crew inside.
We stuffed our faces with the subs we bought in town and showered.
It was a nice treat to get to sit in the outdoor hot tub and enjoy the dry sauna at the hotel.
Monday, September 6, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 169
Location: Stealth site near Easy B Road
Start/End Time: 10:00/5:30
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy with an afternoon thunderstorm
Today was one of those days when you just put your head down and hike.
We got a super late start on the trail because we dragged ass at the hotel. It was a bit frustrating as we said we were going to leave at 8:30, but didn’t.
I got to the trail and was off and running, except my stomach was feeling terrible because of the egg sandwich I had for breakfast. I had to stop a couple of times and go to the bathroom, but once I popped my music in I was on a roll.
Between the music and an audiobook I was pounding out the miles. I felt like I was back in the groove.
Around 1:30 I arrived at the Frye Notch Lean-to and found Skidmark and Baby Hands. They, along with Aarp who was up ahead, were headed to a site 4.5 miles ahead. They headed off and I had a quick lunch.
Once I started hiking again I quickly caught up with Skidmark and we hiked and chatted. Then it started to rain. And boy did it rain and there was a thunderstorm too. I haven’t hiked through a thunderstorm and that much rain in a while. Skidmark and I stuck together for the rest of the day as even after the rain stopped everything was wet and muddy.
Camped by a Brook, ate dinner, and chatted with a really cool SOBOer, Dora the Explorer.
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 170
Location: Piazza Rock Lean-to
Start/End Time: 6:30/4:30
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy
Today I did 10.1 hard miles in 6 hours and 15 minutes. What got me so motivated to move my ass? Hoagie was meeting me!
I was awake at 5:30 and hiking by 6:30. I barely stopped except to drink some electrolytes and eat.
There was so much evidence of moose today. Lots and lots of scat and a few tracks in the mud. At one point I heard a lot of rustling in the woods. I didn’t see anything, but with as much noise as I heard I’d bet it was a moose.
I was cruising until I hit the rocky trail of Moody Mountain. I hate PUDs, but this one is by far the worst one I’ve climbed in a while. The “view” at the top was crappy and it was so rocky going up and down it that I was just miserable the whole time.
The last time I saw Hoagie was in May and we both have been waiting to see each other since then.
I crossed the stream right before South Arm Road and heard her voice. We gave each other the biggest hug. I’m so proud of her for hiking her hike and finishing strong. I didn’t realize how much I missed her and I can’t wait to go on more adventures together.
We sat by the road and just talked. She brought me all kinds of tasty treats and did some trail magic for other hikers too.
I had been considering yellow blazing ahead to catch up with Vista and being with Hoagie made me truly realize that this whole adventure isn’t just about the miles it’s about the people you meet along the way. It helped me make the decision to skip ahead and make it easier for myself to catch up with Vista. We have so much fun hiking together and there’s no one I’d rather summit Katahdin with that’s still on trail.
Hoagie’s Mom and Dad gave me a ride from where we were to Rangely where I jumped back on trail.
I finished off my day doing another 1.8 miles to the Piazza Rock Lean-to. On the way there I ran into Clocks, Squirrel, and LT. Dan. I set my tent up on a tent pad ate the cranberry walnut chicken salad wrap Hoagie gave me for dinner and climbed into my tent to get some sleep.
Today was exactly the type of day I needed.
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 171
Location: Spaulding Mountain Lean-to
Start/End Time: 6:30/6:00
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy
Woke up early to make sure I had as much daylight as possible for hiking. It took me a while before I actually got moving but was happy to see, when I checked my watch, that it was 6:30 when I started hiking.
Maine was like a sling shot this morning and sent me straight up a 4K footer, Saddleback Mountain. The view was gorgeous, but my body definitely wasn’t ready for the climb.
Close to the top I got service and was able to text Vista. She got to Stratton this morning and is going to take a couple zeros so I can catch up. We’ll be heading out together on Saturday!
However, I have to get there first. Most of the day after I summited The Horn was spent in the woods. Every time I hear lots of moving or pass a pond I hope there’s a moose. I haven’t seen one in Maine yet, but I’m not giving up hope.
I listened to some podcasts and an audiobook to help pass the time and distract me from the fact that I’m doing 17 miles. I haven’t pulled a big mile day since before the White Mountains. My feet and legs are definitely pissed at me.
After a long slog uphill and 2 flat miles I arrived at the Spaulding Mountain shelter with plenty of room inside. I have plenty of food so I didn’t take my stove out to cook and just ate some pretzels, pre-cooked bacon, and lots of chocolate – a well balanced hiker meal for sure.
Everything was chill with the 3 other hikers that were at the shelter, then at 8 a bunch of other hikers showed up and were super loud and obnoxious. I put my headphones in and tried my best to block them out. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can.
Thursday, September 9, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 172
Location: The Hostel of Maine
Start/End Time: 7:15/4:30
Weather Conditions: Cloudy with scattered rain
Some days I have nothing to say about the trail. This is one of those days.
I hiked 13.something miles. It was rocky and rooty and I just put my head down and pounded the miles. Mother Nature showed up drunk to work today and she didn’t know if she wanted it to rain or be cloudy or be kind of sunny. Either way, when I was at the tops of the mountains they were completely socked in and I didn’t see anything.
For the last 6 miles I pushed myself really hard so I could make it to route 27 in time to catch the shuttle to the Hostel of Maine. When I was done my feet were throbbing.
But the goal today was being reunited with Vista and we were. I was even greeted with a hug. The non-hugger gave me a hug.
My amazing friend Kate, sent me a surprise via my inbox in the form of a gift card to the hostel! I’m gonna eat so many goodies because of her.
After showering and getting organized we, along with a really amazing SOBO named Tonya, went down the street to Hug’s a little Italian restaurant. The chicken parm was amazing!
When we got back, my tired ass crawled up into my bunk only to realize that a hiker who I haven’t seen since Virginia and who has sleep apnea, was in the bunk room. I’ll let you guess how I’m going to sleep tonight.
On top of that I found out that an old high school friend passed away a few days ago. We haven’t been in touch in a while, but I’m still shocked and heartbroken that he’s no longer with us. Through our mutual high school friend, Doug, I found out that the day he died he shared an old photo of our crew from the shop we were all in. I’m having a hard time processing it all. Much love to you Richie, I’ll never forget you.
Friday, September 10, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 173
Location: The Hostel of Maine
I’ve said to before and I’ll say it again, you can’t drink all day of you don’t start early. So I started soon after breakfast. The Hostel of Maine has a large selection of craft beers and ciders on site so we were hooked up.
Vista and I spent the entire day sitting on the front porch. We ate, drank, played with Zoe the hostel dog, and ate and drank some more.
At one point we left to resupply and planned our next few days and when we’re getting to Monson Maine.
It was a high quality day.
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 174
Location: Safford Notch Campsite
Start/End Time: 7:45/5:15
Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny
Breakfast at hostel. Delicious blueberry muffins! Ate one and took another to eat on trail later.
Didn’t sleep well again last night because of our sleep apnea friend. There is no way he doesn’t know about this issue. How are you so unselfaware to do this to other people? Get a private room!
Shuttle at 7:30 to trailhead.
First 2 miles super easy. Then it got steep.
Sat at Horns Pond view for a while watching people fish in Horns Pond.
The Bigelows are beautiful! Vista and I spent way too much time up at the top taking pictures, looking at the la escape and talking to day hikers.
One day hiker said that some days you can see Katahdin from the top. Today was one of those days!
Hiked down Avery peak to Safford Notch Campsite to meet Will! He made a fire and we had dinner.
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 175
Location: Beach campsite on East Carry Pond
Start/End Time: 7:15/5:45
Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy and a light sprinkle
Woke up and had breakfast with Will. I started hiking first while Vista finished packing up.
Hiked up Little Bigelow and vista caught up. Beautiful views and out first look at the surrounding area with leaves beginning to change color.
Red Squirrels hate me.
Saw my car with Wills boat on top, but no Will. Texted him where we were going tonight just in case he forgot.
Beautiful pond with an amazing beach. A surprisingly challenging uphill even thought it shouldn’t have been hard.
Bees nest sign for the very large hornets nest.
So much moose poop, no moose
When I arrived at East Carry Pond beach Will wasn’t there, and there’s no service for me to reach out to him. I know he’s probably fine, but I also know he’s freaking out because I’m not where he thinks I’m supposed to be. There are several carry ponds in the area so I bet he’s at another one.
I started setting up camp for the night and we started getting covered with little white sand fleas. After my tent was set up and I boiled water for hot chocolate I climbed in my tent and that was the end of the day.
Monday, September 13, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 176
Location: The Sterling Inn
Start/End Time: 6:45/1:15
Weather Conditions: Sunny
Got up for sunrise. It was gorgeous! Saw and heard loons and watched a bald eagle fly overhead.
Left early to try and get some service to let Will know I was ok and to make sure I got to the Kennebec River before the ATC ferry stopped for the day.
Super easy terrain. Was doing at least 2.25 miles an hour.
Found service and received a text from Will that he was unable to park the car anywhere near East Carry pond to camp for the night. I’m just glad he’s ok, and not upset that we couldn’t find each other.
Texted with Cheryl, who might come visit me in Monson later this week, and Rainman who I sadly won’t be meeting up with as he’s too far behind me now to catch up before Vista and I finish.
Put some music on and as Vista says I turned in the rocket boosters and crushed some miles.
The last 3 miles were a little rockier and were basically next to cascades and waterfalls the whole time.
Throughout the day I stopped 6 times hoping Vista would catch up. About .4 miles from the Kennebec River I stopped and she finally caught up. I was clearly going MUCH faster than I thought I was…oops.
Got to the river, signed the release form, got in, nearly fell in the water caught I didn’t lift my foot high enough, vista paddled, I took photos and video.
The Sterling Inn picked us up. Shower, resupply, ate ice cream, watched Night at the Museum, ate dinner at Kennebec River Brewing with a flip flop named No Name. Back to the in to chill and sleep.
Even More Appalachian Trail in Maine
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 177
Location: Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to
Start/End Time: 8:15/4:00
Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny
Some days on the AT are super boring. Today was one of those days. I did a bunch of hiking as I always do. There were some views and I slept in a shelter. That’s all I’ve got for today, sorry.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 178
Location: Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to
Start/End Time: 7:15/3:00
Weather Conditions: Cloudy and afternoon rain and thunderstorms
Getting to camp early means you get tons of sleep! I woke up around 6 feeling amazing. I took my time packing up and had a whoppie pie for breakfast.
Soon after I leaving camp I found cell service and saw a text from my friend Cheryl saying she was coming up to Maine to see me today! I told her where Vista and I were shooting for and got the OK from her!
First thing I had to do while hiking was to make it up and over Moxie Bald Mountain. It wasn’t very tall, but had some sections that were fully exposed to the elements. While the hike up was humid because the mountain was completely socked in it wasn’t a challenging climb.
At the top is was foggy and windy. I had put my rain jacket on before I left tree line and I’m glad I did. It was misting rain and the wind was whipping. At the summit I got a little turned around as I think some people made cairns as art which made me walk away from the AT. After a few minutes I got back on course and headed down the mountain.
On my way down I saw some fresh moose tracks, but didn’t see any moose…again.
The rest of the afternoon is a bit of a boring blur. The terrain was mostly flat and I didn’t see or do anything spectacular.
I rolled into the Horseshoe Canyon shelter to find Cheryl already there! I immediately gave her a huge hug and apologized for how smelly I was. She brought Vista and I some beer and snacks. I thought she was going to stay the night, but had to go home. She drove 4 hours and hiked in 3 miles to hang out for me for maybe 45 minutes. Her visit raised my spirits so much. I’m so lucky to have such amazing people in my corner cheering me on.
Unfortunately, within 20 minutes of Cheryl leaving to hike back to her car it started to downpour. I felt so terrible!
Vista and I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the shelter drinking beer, eating, and talking. I didn’t hate it.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 179
Location: Shaw’s Hiker Hostel
Start/End Time: 7:15/12:30
Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny
I put my head down and hiked this morning. I wasn’t really feeling it.
Stopped to check for service a bunch. We needed to book a place to stay at Shaw’s hiker hostel. Eventually, we found service and were able to get us space in the bunkhouse tonight and a private room tomorrow.
We got picked up and taken to Shaw’s and after my shower I got the best loner clothes: a chicken breathing fire shirt, and pants with wolves and bald eagles on them.
We headed down to the BBQ joint for dinner, it was good but not great.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 180
Location: Shaw’s Hiker Hostel
Weather Conditions: Sunny
Today is the last zero day I’ll take in the AT. As usual, I didn’t do that much.
Downloaded a ton or podcasts and books for the 100 mile
Maui showed up. Lunch at the general store.
Organized all my food and got a 5 gallon bucket for our food drop.
Dinner at Lakeshore House.
Pink and Fullmoon showed up
Trail Family downstairs was really loud doing terrible karaoke.
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 181
Location: Long Pond Stream Lean-to
Start/End Time: 8:45/7:00
Weather Conditions: Partly Cloudy with scattered sprinkles and thunder
Around 10:30 last night that loud Trail family finally went to bed.
Breakfast was amazing, but I had some stomach issues afterwards. I think I’m nervous about finishing the trail.
Paid and was ready to go but had to wait until 8:30 for the shuttle.
Poet took us to the trailhead and shared a Haiku he wrote during his thru-hike and told us to savor every moment of the 100-mile wilderness. I almost burst into tears. At camp tonight Vista told me she nearly cried too.
Starting hiking and had more stomach issues.
Took me a bit to get into the groove, but it happened eventually. Caught up with Vista and crossed a beaver dam to skirt around a pond a d up some ledges. The leaves are starting to change and make the mountain beautiful.
Rain started. Thunder in the distance.
Had to take our shoes off for a water crossing we couldn’t rock hop. I enjoy these, but it takes so long to take off all my layers.
Took a break at a shelter and there was a guy inside sleeping, at 3:30. He said he was ok, just tired. I didn’t enter the shelter just in case he had a cold. Before we left he was snoring.
Another river crossing.
Got water a little before the shelter as the seasonal spring had dried up according to FarOut.
We rolled into camp just as the sun was going down.
Dinner and beer in the dark. Sharing the shelter with 3 lovely section hikers
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 182
Location: Chairback Gap Lean-to
Start/End Time: 8:30/5:30
Weather Conditions: Partly Sunny
I take back the lovely on 2 of the section hikers. They were up until 10:30, then, at 2:30 in the morning had a full blown conversation at normal volume. I’m thankful they’re going south.
We ate our breakfast muffins while sitting in our sleeping bags while the other hikers packed their stuff up around us. We messed around a lot and I didn’t leave camp until 8:30.
First amazing view of the day was full of leaves changing color, birds flying, and a beautiful pond down below. Vista showed up, and skipped over to the view saying, “Take my picture,” it was the girliest thing I’ve ever seen her do.
The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. We did most of the Chairback range today which is the last really challenging section of the trail.
I can tell you that my knees really disliked this section. Towards the end of the day my left knee began to get a sharp pain in it.
In the afternoon I listened to a 4 part podcast all about Cleopatra. It was an amazing distraction from the rocky ups and downs.
Got to camp around 5:30, got water, which was down a steep hill, ate mountain House spaghetti and apple cider.
Vista and I crawled into our sleeping bags to look at Guthook for the next couple of days. I fart and I vibrated the lean-to. Then I said, “Something growled under the shelter.” We both laughed out loud and continued to do so for a good half hour.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 183
Location: Sidney Tappan Campsite
Start/End Time: 7:30/4:30
Weather Conditions: Sunny
We woke up with another person in the shelter. He got there late last night after we fell asleep. I thought I was having a dream about someone showing up and unpacking, but turns out it was real.
I left before Vista, as usual and headed up to the summit of Chairback Mountain. There is an area up top where I walked along the ledge of the mountain. I stopped to make a quick video and see if I had some service. While I was doing that a peregrine Falcon flew overhead and perched on a tree!
Going down there was a rockslide and it was like the climb down from Madison. Luckily it wasn’t wet.
After several more miles of downhill walking we hit a flat stretch that led to the West Branch of the Pleasant River and another crossing where we had to take off our shoes. The novelty for this has different worn off and as it was really cold this morning I didn’t appreciate taking off my shoes to put them in freezing cold water.
On the opposite side of the river there is a bench and Vista and I stayed there for an early lunch. For the first time on the trail I did a really good job of packing out my food. So good in fact that I’m scared I don’t have enough. I’m being extra cautious about how much food I consume in the hopes I’ll have enough for the next day and a half until our food drop on Wednesday.
We did a quick 1.3 miles to Gulf Hagas National Natural Landmark. Just .1 off the AT is Screw Augur Falls. Sadly it was difficult to view the falls because of so many downed trees.
Afterwards I put my headphones in an listened to an audiobook and some podcasts.
Did another quick 2 miles, cameled up at a stream and climbed .9 up Gulf Hagas Mountain.
At the top I found several spots along the ridge where a moose family was bedding down. The moose weren’t there, but you could see the outlines in the ground cover. There was also lots of moose poop.
Arrived at the campsite. Atlas, Dutch and Frosty were all there. We got set up and Frosty made a fire. We sat around the fire chatting and eating dinner (I’m slightly concerned I didn’t, for the first time all trip, pack enough food.) Around 7:30 everyone was headed to bed after a stirring conversation about shelter graffiti. #billbrysonisapussy
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 184
Location: Campsite near Crawford Pond
Start/End Time: 7:45/5:15
Weather Conditions: Sunny and windy
I went to bed super early so I woke up super early, but it was so cold I didn’t want to get out of my tent. Thankfully, this will be the last night on trail that we’ll be sleeping at a high elevation. It’s starting to get cold in the mountains.
After all the evidence of moose just before camp yesterday I was hoping to wake up to a moose wondering through, but no luck. When I eventually got it together it was too cold to take my leggings off so I just wore those to start off with.
The hike was instantly up this morning. It was windy, but the sun was shining. I had my fleece hat and gloves on with my merino wool long sleeve.
On the first summit I was able to get service and found out that the rest of the week called for rain at some point each day. That includes Monday when we planned on summiting Katahdin.
When I reached the summit of Whiteface, out last big mountain before Mama K, Vista was already there and we ran into Pink and Fullmoon who were slackpacking. They’re watching the weather too and not sure what they plan on doing. We called Shaw’s to confirm our food drop for tomorrow.
Just after the summit of Whiteface we got our first up-close view of Mama K! She looks huge way off in the distance and all the leaves are starting to change around her. It took my breath away.
We headed down for 2 miles to a shelter to have lunch. When we were eating these 2 days hikers showed up and started eating too. They had some good-looking lunches and I was able to yogi some food off of them because I was worried I’d run out. They even took my trash!
Going downhill, my foot got caught on a root going downhill. I tried to right myself, but ended up with both get next to each other, my knees hitting the ground at the same time, and my face inches from a rock. It was like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark when the Nazis throw Marion in the snake pit. She’s on hands and knees and there’s a king cobra inches from her face. The rock was my king cobra.
The rest of the day I cruised. I put my headphones in and listened to audiobooks and podcasts. For some reason, my Spotify app has decided to not load many of my downloaded podcasts. Get it together Spotify!
We arrived to our campsite to find 2 section hikers hammocking. After taking a look we didn’t set our tents up in the beach because of the sand flea incident last week.
It was nice to get into camp earlier enough to get set up and wind down before the sun set. When we were eating dinner, one of the hammockers came over and actually knocked on a tree, like knocking on a door, to announce he was there. It was the sweetest thing. He offered up some of his extra food from his food drop. I had just had my last hot chocolate and feel like I willed the 3 packets of hot chocolate into being that he had. Day made!
With the sun going down Vista and I went to the beach. We weren’t in exactly the right place, but the sky was orange and pink in spots and it was beautiful nonetheless.
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 185
Location: Mahar Landing Campsite
Start/End Time: 7:30/5:30
Weather Conditions: Sunny with lite rain in the afternoon
Took my time getting up and read this morning. Had to do 6.8 miles to get food pick up at Jo-Mary Road at Noon.
Sat on the beach and ate my breakfast listening to lions and watching a beaver sitting around.
Checked my phone after a half an hour of walking and I did 1.5 miles. I need to slow down.
Didn’t slow down, ended up doing 2.7 miles by the end of the hour and took a break at Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to. Beautiful waterfall.
Got back on trail and ran into some SOBO hikers telling us about trail magic at Jo-Mary Road!
A family was there making quesadillas and giving out coffee and sparkling water.
Food drop. Kilt got picked up at last road and driven 5 miles up trail to Jo-Mary Road. He snores like a truck and is heading to the lean-to we were going to sleep at, so we changed our plans.
We decided to put our heads down and do 10.5 more miles to the just off trail Campsite Mahar Landing.
Started listening to the Bassoon King, Rainn Wilson’s book. So far, it’s hilarious.
Arrived at Mahar Landing and we had it all to ourselves!
Set up and went to get water to see 2 beavers in the pond. While watching the beavers we noticed that right where we were standing as the beaver lodge. It was new and nit very big.
Made dinner and got into our tents right after the sun went down. Then we heard someone say, “Hello?” from the woods. It was Hermies who I met at Mr. Pizza in Gorham.
It’s a warm night, so I’m keeping my vestibule open and using my quilt as a pillow.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 186
Location: Rainbow Dam Campsite
Start/End Time: 7:30/5:45
Weather Conditions: Cloudy
A few hours into the night my quilt was used as a quilt once more. Then, when I had to get up to pee I heard something in the water, and it was big. With my red light on and the moon shining brightly I could see the ripples in the water and the sound of something slowly walking through the water.
You know what sound I mean? When legs are trudging through the shallows and the water is pushing against them. I sat by the shore looking out into the dark, but never saw what was making the noise. And eventually, it stopped, so I went back in my tent and got cuddled in my quilt. I’d bet it was a moose though.
Today was a pretty good-sized day with 17.5 miles to crush. The morning was easy with a flat trail with a bit of rocks and roots. However, the humidity was high and 30 minutes in I could feel the sweat trickling down the backs of my arms and beading up on my face.
All day we walked along side streams and ponds. Leaves littering the ground in yellows and reds. It was gorgeous, but you know what would make it even more gorgeous? I god damn moose! Lots of poop, lots of scat, but no moose in sight. It was like that time Erin and I went hiking on Isle Royale National Park. NO MOOSE!
I feel like the Pink Panther every time I get to a pond that looks particularly swampy, or as Vista and I like to say, “moosey.” I’m hiding behind trees and tip towing around. Deep down I know there isn’t going to be a moose, but I hope one just pops out of the woods or on the opposite bank. I digress.
After doing 5 miles I stopped to take a break by a lake. Some Mainers visiting the 100 Mile Wilderness for the week brought their dogs down to the beach to throw a tennis ball in the water for them. They gave both Vista and I beer and we got some dog love too. Great way to start my morning.
On the top of Nesuntabunt Mountain, we got some cell service and checked the weather. It’s going to rain from Friday to Monday, so we’ll be finishing our hike in the rain. I’m disappointed, but can’t be mad. I’ve been so lucky with the weather this entire time I feel like I deserve poor weather on my summit day.
Vista booked her flight home, we sent some texts, and hopefully have a room reserved at one of the hostels in town (we left a message and sent a text) we’ll certainly find out soon enough.
After heading down the mountain the trail did a lot of ups and downs. At one point we both got off trail as there was no indication we needed to turn.
At this point in the day everything started to hurt. I’ve stopped writing about my aches and pains because at some point each day something always hurts. Today was no exception.
Despite the pain I put my head down, my headphones in and hiked, getting to camp, which we had to ourselves until another hiker showed up a bit later.
As I lay here in my tent writing this I am 28.2 miles from the summit of Mount Katahdin. When the sun was up I could see her from our campsite. Well, at least the base of her, as the summit was covered by dense clouds. I don’t know how I feel just yet about this adventure being over. In 3 days I’ll be standing on the summit, most likely in the rain if the weather forecast stays the same, and I’ll be done with my hike.
While we ate dinner tonight Vista and I were talking about how we can’t believe the trip is almost over. I said that I don’t feel like the trip has “changed my life” as so many hikers have said before. Her response was, “Me either, but I don’t think we’re the type of people that the trail was going to have the kind of impact.” She’s right, but I don’t know why.
What I do know is 2 things. 1. It’s going to take me a while to fully process this trip. A few days? A week? A month? Who knows. And 2. I never once thought I wouldn’t make it. I definitely had my doubts, but when I really think about it deep down I knew I’d make it this far. This makes me sound like I’m full of myself, but it’s the truth.
Friday, September 24, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 187
Location: Abol Pines Campsite
Start/End Time: 7:30/1:30
Weather Conditions: Cloudy
We woke up to a light sprinkle of rain. By the look of the sky when taking down my tent I had a feeling it was going to rain all day. Sadly, I was correct. It rained ALL DAY LONG.
I don’t remember much about the hike to be honest other than I was in the zone and hiked so fast I didn’t see Vista until I had eaten lunch and was getting ready to pack up to head out from the last shelter in the 100 mile wilderness. This never happens.
The feeling of passing the last 100 mile wilderness sign hit home hard though. I had tears in my eyes. It was the last milestone on the AT before summiting Katahdin.
From there I exited the woods and turned right onto a wide dirt road and soon after came to Abol Bridge. Sadly Mama K was socked in and I couldn’t see her at all. It was disappointing as it is supposed to be one of the best views of Katahdin in the area.
I continued down the road to Abol Pines Campsite, the free one, not the Campground. And secured one of the shelters for Vista and I for the evening. I don’t remember how long it was before Vista arrived, but I had changed out of my hiking clothes and was attempting to dry out all my gear.
Soon after we walking back across the street and went into the store at the Campground and bought way too much food. Vista needed food for the next 3 days and I wanted beer and snacks. We ended leaving the store with cookies and milk, brats, rolls, mustard, chips, beer, and more sugary snacks that I can even remember.
When we left the store we ran into the hiker that shared the campsite with us last night. He followed us over to the campsite and, unfortunately for us, moved into the shelter. After a few beers we started spouting a bunch of political bullshit that I morally disagree with. I try and be a tolerant as possible, but the minute a man thinks he can tell women what they can do with their bodies I’m fucking done.
Essentially he talked himself in circles as I attempted to explain why no one can tell a woman what she can do with her body when it comes to reproductive rights. I have never wanted to punch someone in the face more in my life, especially when he started telling us about his girlfriend that was at home with her 2 kids while he was out here in the woods hiking and that she, “knew where her responsibilities and priorities should be.”
He went back to the store and we were super pissed. You just don’t talk about politics in trail. It’s kind of an unwritten rule. This guy pretty much ruined our evening. The rest of the night was awkward for Vista and I. Luckily, we were planning on leaving early, sadly there was no outrunning him with only 2 days of hiking left. We were stuck with this asshole.
It started pouring rain as we crawled into our sleeping bags.
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Appalachian Trail in Maine Day: 188
Location: Katahdin Stream Campground
Start/End Time: 6:50/9:45
Weather Conditions: Sunny
We were up early to ensure we got 2 of the 12 spots in The Birches, the campsite set way away from the regular campground, so us hiker trash don’t disturb the normal people.
The morning was chilly, but the sky was blue, which surprised us as it poured all night. After a short flat hike we arrived at the ranger station to check into Baxter State Park. We were hikers number 2 and 3 for the day, we had our spots in The Birches!
When we were checking in with Ranger Tim he received the weather report for the next 2 days. There was the possibility for rain in the afternoon and rain was expected all night and the following day. Our summit would be in the rain. It was a bummer.
Ranger Tim gave us our last trail magic, homemade cookies he made himself! He gave us the rundown of how to get our summit permits and a few notes about the trail ahead and then we were off.
The trail was super flat, so I was cruising and thinking about the weather that we would get for a summit tomorrow all while looking at the bright blue sky we had today. After a few miles I stopped to take a break by a raging waterfall, and to wait for Vista.
Maybe 5 minutes later Vista showed up, I looked right at her and said, “I think we should summit today.”
“I think so too,” she said.
So we went for it, but it wasn’t without its challenges that’s for sure!
Our first challenge came maybe a mile later when we had to cross a small river that was flossing extremely fast. We walked off trail and upstream to look for a safe spot, tried a couple rock hops, but nothing was safe. We headed back towards the trail.
There was one spot that we thought wasn’t too bad, so I went for it. I crossed the river safely, but got my shoes wet. Vista did the same. It was only 9am, our shoes were going to be wet all morning.
After that I booked it. I passed parking lots, ponds, and hopped over streams. At one point the water was so high from the night last night that the bog boards were floating and I had to step with caution. As I learned in southern Maine, never trust a bog board!
Around 12 I arrived at Katahdin Stream campground and headed over to the Ranger Station to get my summit permit. It’s a little blue card with my name on it. I’m hiker number 1,048. Of the hundreds, if not thousands of hikers a leap-frogged, passed, got passed by, and met on the trail , I’m number 1,048 to make it this far!
Ranger Kim gave me my permit after I asked her a million questions about if it was OK for us to summit this afternoon, about how long would it take, a several others I can’t remember. Ranger Kim was so kind and just as lovely at Ranger Tim. Hats off to these amazing people that have to deal with the hikers, good and bad, that come to climb this glorious mountain.
Shortly after 12:30, when I was scarfing down my food and organizing my gear, Vista walked into the campground. She got her permit and we got ready to hike. We took our trash bags our of our packs and left most of our gear at the Ranger station to make the climb easier and safer. Once we were organized and our gear was labeled with our trail names, we set off to complete our thur-hikes.
The first mile was a breeze, and we took mental note of that for later because we had to come back this way, and it would be dark by then, However, once we crossed the bridge water was gushing down the trail. My shoes had just dried from our earlier interaction with the river, and they were wet once more.
The hired we climbed the thinner the trees got, the trickier the footing, but the water didn’t stop. But then it did, and the trees were gone too. We realized just how high we were above Baxter State Park.
Vist and I were the only ones going up. Every other person we passed was going in the opposite direction. We shook hands and traded congratulations with a few other thru hikers, all of which we had never seen before. And I was so excited about finishing that I told ever day hiker we met that we were completing the the AT. I’ll be honest, I’m not humble about it. I’m a bad ass and I wanted to tell everyone that I walked here from Georgia!
There are part of this climb that you’re basically rock climbing. There’s rebar in a few spots to help you climb, but when you’re 5’2″ and you can barely reach the bar, it doesn’t really help.
Halfway up the boulder field as I like to call it, my entire body was feeling it. My ankle was killing me, my knees were pissed about crawling over rocks, and for the first time in a while my hip started to act up. For the first time it felt like my body was officially done. It really couldn’t take the punishment I was putting it through anymore. But I still had to reach the summit and get back down to camp for the night. I kept walking, slowly, but I was moving. I had plenty of time before dark and I was with Vista so I knew I’d be OK.
I leveled out a bit and I could see the Katahdin sign, although small, in the distance.
At this point Vista walked up behind me and said the nicest things possible. She tod me she was going to hike up ahead of me and get to the top first. She wasn’t going to tough the sign, but she’d video me coming up to the summit and finishing my hike. How am I so lucky to have met such an amazing person and hike with her so as long as I have on this adventure? The universe clearly wanted us to be together for this, and I’m so glad we are.
Flash forward about 15 minutes and there it was, the oh so famous Katahdin sign. the thing I had been picturing in my head for 187 days, and here I am on day 188 walking towards it. The tears started and didn’t stop. I was full on sobbing walking closer and closer to the sign until it was right in front of me. I grabbed it with both hands and put my forehead right on it. I had done it! Just over six months of walking and I had come all the way from Georiga.
Looking back I know there was a chill in the air, but in that moment I didn’t feel it. In that moment all I could feel was elation. Grasping the sides of the sign I pulled my body up to is and screamed, “I FUCKING DID IT!!!!! WOOOOOOOO!!!”
Then it looked over to Vista and said, “We did it buddy!”
Her response, “Yeah we did.”
We traded spots and Vista walked up to the sign and reach out her hand and touched it, kissed it (in a different spot I did, she’d want you all to know that.) and looked right at me and the camera and said, “Holy crap, that was a long trip,” and we laughed.
The best thing about this entire day, was we had the summit, with clear skies, and beautiful foliage views all to ourselves. I can’t recall how much time we spent up there, but it all still feels like a dream. I remember having smiles plastered on our faces and we even hugged. For those of you who don’t know, Vista is not a hugger.
This is the only photo (below) of the 2 of use at the summit. I have a love hate relationship with it because we look so happy and strong, but it’s blurry and that makes me sad. Vista on the other hand loves this picture and reminds of how much every time I say I love and hate it.
But at the end of the day I think this photo sums up my hike better than all the really nice photos I have at the summit. It’s me and by buddy, loving life on trail. It’s completely imperfect, just like my hike was. There’s parts about it I love and hate, but when all is said and done I’m going to treasure it for the rest of my life.
Thanks Appalachian Trail,
All my Appalachian Trail Journals
- North Carolina
- The Great Smoky Mountains
- The Great Smoky Mountains to Damascus, VA
- Southern Virginia
- Northern Virginia
- West Virginia and Maryland
- New Jersey and New York
- Connecticut and Massachusetts
- New Hampshire