Day 63 (Abol Pines to Baxter Peak / Mt. Katahdin)

Most thru hikers camp in Baxter State Park the night before they summit Mt. Katahdin. However, that was still 10 miles away from me. If I made it to Katahdin Stream Campground by noon, I would be allowed to continue on up the mountain. I set my alarm for 4:00 AM with the plan to start hiking at 5:00. When the alarm went off, I was still so sleepy that I reset it for 5:00 and went back to sleep for an hour. When I woke up again, I was still tired and was starting to question my sanity or at least my plan to reach Katahdin in 5 days from the start of the 100 Mile Wilderness.

I decided to get up and start hiking. If I didn’t feel good after 10 miles, I would camp at Katahdin Stream Campground and summit the next day. Although I was 15 miles away from the summit, I had to allow time and energy for the 5.2 miles back down the mountain. As I walked I started feeling better.

I reached the ranger’s station at 10:15 and signed in to climb Katahdin. Most thru hikers slack pack (day pack) the climb and leave their big packs at the ranger’s station. I left my tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes, etc. but used my pack since it can be made very small. I started the climb up Katahdin at 10:35.

The first mile was pretty easy with a lot of waterfalls along the way. The second mile was a little more challenging with some rock climbing but still no harder than climbs I had done earlier in New Hampshire. However, mile 3 was very challenging. Maybe the most challenging mile yet. Thank you to my mom for asking God to place angels at my ankles, knees, and neck during my hike. Those angels worked overtime today.

The next 2.2 miles had a lot of rocks but no rock climbing. Arriving at the sign in Baxter Peak was an awesome feeling. I arrived at 2:30. There was a family there that had hiked up on another trail. They took pictures of me with the sign. They were discussing which trail to take back to the campground. Their young adult kids wanted to take Knife’s Edge. I decided to hike down the “easier” trail with the parents, Laura and Peter. There is no easy trail on Katahdin. It was easier than the AT (Hunt Trail) but still a lot of rock climbing.

It wasn’t until I was 2 miles down the mountain that I realized how big Baxter State Park is and that I had made a mistake choosing the “easier” trail. The ranger explained that I was going to be ~20 miles away from my stuff at Katahdin Stream Campground once I finished the next 3.3 miles on the trail to the parking lot. 1/2 a mile from the parking lot, I passed two men finishing up a 3 day backpacking trip. I decided to get up my courage and ask them for a ride to the entrance gate. Then I could hitch to the other campground in the park.

Gary and Mike were very nice and agreed to take me to the gate. By the time we reached the gate, they had offered to drive me all the way to Katahdin Stream Campground AND them to drive me to the hotel at the airport in Bangor. In a matter of minutes, I went from not knowing how I would get back to my stuff to having a ride to my stuff and the airport! It is truly amazing how often things work out on the trail. Oh, and they bought me dinner too. I have a 7AM flight tomorrow morning.

Time to be a SOBO! 🙂

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Day 62 (Mahar Tote Rd to Abol Pines Campsite)

I woke this morning to the sound of moose hooves on the ground near my tent. Because I slept with the door rolled up, I could easily stay in my sleeping bag and watch them go about their morning business. So cool!

Yesterday was my longest day on the trail yet so I woke up a little stiff this morning. I started hiking at 6:00. Within a couple miles, I was walking by the Nahmakanta stream. There was a family of wood ducks out for their morning swim. I tried to get a picture but they were too fast.

I climbed Nesuntabunt Mountain next. There is supposed to be a view of Katahdin from the top but it was hiding in the clouds. Hmmmm. I think Katahdin is hiding from me.

I hiked with a NOBO section hiker for a little bit right before the Rainbow Lean-to. It was the first conversion I’ve had in a couple days. I say “hi” to the SOBOs but rarely do we stop and talk. When I got to Rainbow Ledges around 7:30, Bald Eagle caught up to me. He was hiking to the next shelter. I told him I wanted to hike to Abol Bridge so that I could summit Katahdin the next day. We discussed the store hours at Abol Bridge and the fact it would be closed when I got there. I have plenty of meals but I’m running short on snack food for the next day.

I stayed at the ledges a little longer to check messages since it was the only time all day that I had cell coverage. When I got to the next shelter, Bald Eagle was doing what looked like an Indian rain dance. He had gotten to the shelter first and taken up a collection of snack food from the section hikers for me. So sweet!

The 3 SOBO section hikers and Bald Eagle were all very excited to help. The section hikers told me all about the trail for the next few miles. Then I set out with a smile on my face in the dark with my headlamp to hike the 3.5 miles to Abol Bridge. Back to back 30+ mile days but I’m out of the 100 Mile Wilderness in 4 days. Katahdin tomorrow!!!

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Day 61 (West Peak to stealth site near Mahar Tote Rd)

I woke to beautiful hiking weather this morning. The birds on top of West Peak don’t seem to be scared of people. Two of them stayed on a tree branch a few feet from my tent as I ate breakfast and packed up camp.

I started the hiking at 5:30 with two climbs. The second one was over White Cap mountain. This is the last 3000+ climb until Katahdin. From the north face of White Cap, hikers can get their first glimpse of Katahdin. It was a bit hazy so I couldn’t see it.

I had lunch on the beach at Crawford Pond. I swam and cleaned up a bit while my lunch was rehydrating. Today was in the mid 80s so the water was very refreshing. It was hard to leave that spot. I love mountain lakes. I’m feeling lucky that it has not rained in a few days.

The 100 Mile Wilderness has a lot of water crossings, mud holes, and flying insects. All of these could have been much worse if it had rained. That being said, my feet (shoes, socks) have been wet for 13 days. I’m really looking forward to drier feet when I start heading south.

I’ve set up my tent on an abandoned forest service road. It is somewhat warm and muggy (relatively) so I’m sleeping with my tent door rolled up. I can see the stars. 🙂

Day 60 (Barren Mountain to West Peak)

I started the day by turning off my alarm and sleeping for another hour. I woke up when I heard a SOBO hiker by my tent. I started hiking at 7:00. It was a beautiful morning with clear skies.

Although the climbs are shorter than those in Southern Maine, we seem to be climbing more. I climbed seven mountains today. There were also a few streams to ford.

I stopped by the Chairback Gap Lean-to for lunch. Temper, Smiles, and Ghost Chilli arrived right as I was finishing eating. Temper and I hiked a few miles together. I also hiked some with Cookie Monster and Happy Feet. They all stopped at the Carl A. Newhall Lean-to but I continued on up the mountain to the next campsite. When I got there, it was packed with people. So, I decided to hike to the top of the next mountain. Luckily, the was a nice stealth site right on top that has cell coverage. 🙂

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Day 59 (Lakeshore House to stealth site on Barren Mountain)

I woke up early at the Lakeshore House and went next door to Pete’s for breakfast. Then I went to the gas station to buy some food to supplement my resupply. There is no grocery store in Monson so the gas station is the only option.

I got back to the trail around 8:45. I hiked by myself most of the morning but caught up with Little Engine and her sister, Firecracker, early afternoon. We hiked together for a little bit. Little Engine started her thru hike in Georgia in March. Her sister is hiking the last 200 miles with her. They stopped at the Long Pond Stream Lean-to and I kept hiking.

There was an awesome view from the Barren Ledges so I decided to take a break and enjoy for a bit. It wasn’t long before Bald Eagle joined me. We met my very first night on the trail and have seen each other maybe 20 times in the past 59 days but we haven’t talked a lot. Today we sat at the ledges and talked for a long time…, ex-girlfriends, philosophy of life…..good conversation. We hiked together the next couple of miles up Barren Mountain.

I decided to stealth camp on top of the mountain because I had a nice spot and cell coverage. 🙂 Bald Eagle hiked on to the next shelter a mile away. Great first day in the wilderness.

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Day 58 (Moxie Pond to Lakeshore House in Monson, ME)

I slept great last night even though the locals partied all night long. I started hiking at 5:30. I really wanted to make it to Monson today so I could get my resupply and be able to start the 100 mile wilderness tomorrow.

I stopped by the first shelter and met Smiles and Ghost Chili. I had seen their posts in the trail registers. They also started their flip flop hike at Harpers Ferry but they started a month earlier than me. We ended up hiking the rest of the day together.

Temper, who I met at the White Mountain Lodge and Hostel, also hiked with us. It was fun getting to know them better. They are ~30 years younger than me and they hike a fast pace. It was a good workout to keep up with them. I hiked 25 miles and finished around 4:00.

The hostel where I’m staying sent a shuttle so I didn’t have to walk the 3 miles in to town. Good dinner tonight at the restaurant downstairs. Now I’m waiting on my laundry to dry so I can go to sleep.

Day 57 (East Carry Pond to stealth site near Moxie Pond)

Last night was the first night I didn’t sleep well in my tent…..a combination of things on my mind and things moving around outside my tent. I’m pretty sure I was set up on a moose path. I could hear them walking around a good part of the night.

I was sleepy but I got up early as planned and was hiking by 5:20. I hiked 7.5 miles fast to get to Harrison’s Pierce Pond Fish Camp at 8:00 for breakfast. Tim, the owner, told me they only served hikers at 7:00. I explained how far I had hiked. He had pity on me and cooked me up a plate of 13 pancakes. They had blueberries, strawberries, and apples in them for the 4th. I cleaned my plate. smile emoticon

I left there at 9:00 with 2 hours to hike 3 miles to meet the canoe shuttle guy and get across the river. It is too dangerous to ford the Kennebec River so hikers have to use the canoe shuttle. If I didn’t make it, I would be stuck on the wrong side of the river for a day. I made it with time to spare.

Once on the other side, I cooked lunch and used the river water to clean up a bit. Around 3:00, I got so sleepy that I set up my tent and took a 45 minute power nap. This is the second time I’ve done this. It felt so good. I hiked on 7 more miles and set up camp near some powerlines. The locals were partying and setting off fireworks. I rolled up my tent door so I could be in my sleeping bag and watch the fireworks. Fun!

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