Monday, August 20, 2012


10 years of dreaming
16 months of planning
4 months and 18 days of hiking
2,184.2 miles

"Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world a better place than when you found it." -Wilferd Peterson

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stratton, ME to Monson, ME

Mile 2069

Welp, here we are in Monson, Maine- the last trail town of our thru hike.  We each ate our final pints of Ben & Jerry's, drank our final quarts of chocolate milk, and resupplied for our last week on the trail.

Before I get all tender, let's recap the hike since Stratton.  It's been raining on and off for several days.  Everything is slightly damp- clothes, tent, cooking gear, the inside of my food bag, EVERYTHING. It's not so much of rainwater getting in as it is the air is to humid to let anything dry.  To add to this, Maine is known for it's muddy terrain, so while I am usually excellent at keeping my feet dry, I've had more than one step in water.  We've also been falling a lot.  Before Maine, I think I had fallen maybe once or twice.  Here, I have fallen at least once per day. Beau falls most days, too.  The trail is so slippery with rocks and roots and mud!

There are a few stream or river crossings that we have to cross, some of which require some fording.  Here's one where the trail club has added a rope to aid hikers across.

At the Kennebec River, there is a ferry service for hikers.  It's actually just a guy in a canoe, but it's still kind of fun.  The canoe even has a white blaze in it!

We've been able to stick to our aforementioned "slightly agressive plan" and arrived in Monson on time last night.  This town is at the entrance of the 100 Mile Wilderness.  It's kind of a silly title, because it's just 100 miles of regular trail that happens to not have any roads or towns go through it.  I  believe there are some gravel or logging roads, but nothing that can get you to a real town.  The 100 miles ends at a road which you can take to get to Millinocket, but since Katahdin is only 15 miles beyond that, we are opting to go straight through.  My dad is meeting us at the base of Katahdin and will summit with us on the 20th.

Monson, ME
Of course, we've talked a lot about things we are anxious to get back to, most notably an income and regular bathing. In fact, here is a little list of the first things that come to mind.

Things we will NOT miss about thru hiking:
- Our clothes and bodies smelling bad. All. The. Time.
- Doing my hair in pigtails every day because it's the only thing that keeps my hair up
- The ever present lower back rash from our backpacks
- Spending money! And not making any!
- Being hungry constantly. In towns this isn't so bad, but on the trail, I get so SICK of eating

I started to write things that we will miss about thru hiking, but I think I'll wait on that one till we've been home for a little bit.  A cheesy country song by Trace Adkins keeps popping in my head when I think about stuff like this: "You're going to miss this, you're going to want this back. You're going to wish these days hadn't gone by so fast."

I am anxious to finish and wanting the days to go by fast so we can get to Katahdin... but as for now I will enjoy this last week being in beautiful Maine.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Andover, ME to Stratton, ME

Mile 1996

It's only been four days since my last post, but we've had a busy few days! We've gone from thinking Maine is trying to kill us to loving it. There have been some awesome panoramic views, lots of lakes, and good terrain. And lots of moose poop, but no moose! Where are they?
We want to see one! Also, lots of French Canadians. Like more than Americans. Who knew Canadia was so close?

One day we were able to hit up two lakes- one with a wonderful sandy beach and the other with a canoe all ready for me to jump in and paddle away.

We've been with a big bubble lately. There are 7-10 thru hikers in the shelters every night in addition to another dozen or so section hikers (mostly speaking French). Maine is such a beautiful hiking spot, so I guess it attracts a lot of people. The towns in Maine are sooo small, so it's fun to have so many other thru hikers to have dinner and resupply with. Last night, Five Pair inadvertently paid us a huge compliment. There was some sort of discussion about things we do while walking, and she said, "You guys are always talking! Hiking, cooking, in your tent... What do you possibly still have to talk about?"

We can't believe we are so close to finishing. We have a slightly aggressive plan to summit the Big K on August 20th. If we get held up by anything, it may be a day after, but the 20th is definitely possible.

We have one more trail town to stop in, so that means one more blog post from Monson... Can't wait!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mt Washington to Andover, ME

Mile 1937


After a nero and zero in Gorham at a good hostel, we needed to get back on the trail. To get back up to Mt Washington via car would be a challenge, because it costs money to drive up. The hostel was on the trail, but ahead of where we got off. We decided it would make the most sense to hike south from the hostel in Gorham back to Mt Wash (how many thru hikers summit Mt Washington twice?), then hitch down the mountain back to Gorham.

Hiking south was kind of fun! We got to see several hikers we were ahead of that we hadn't seen in a while, including Lady Forward, who had Beau's glasses. We also got to climb up Mt Madison, which is far better than going down. We spent a couple days going southbound and had fun stopping at the huts to eat their leftover breakfast and soup. We had no problem getting a ride back down the mountain and were soon on our merry way north again.

Southern Maine is super tough. I think it's harder than the Whites. I'm not sure who in the AMC (the trail club that manages the Whites and S. Maine) likes putting the trail on steep slabs of rock, but they need to get a reality check. The Mahoosuc Notch is labeled the "most difficult or fun" mile on the AT. It's like a jungle gym of boulders and took us two and a half hours. That day it took us 12 hours to travel 12 miles.

Once the trail crossed over into the next trail club's territory, there was a distinct change in trail quality. We had stone stairs again! And rebar! And ladders! I've never been happier to ascend 1300 feet in .8 miles, just because it wasn't rock scrambling. We were moving quicker than expected and got to Andover a day earlier than planned. We arrived at the hostel just as dinner was being served... Perfect! We stayed up way too late way watching the Olympics and are lounging this morning until we hike a half day out.