100 Appalachian Trials in the 100 Mile Wilderness

Sometimes plans change, and so I found myself summiting Katahdin 4 months ahead of schedule.



My NoBo hike turned into a flip flop- after hiking 470 miles north from Mt. Springer to Damascus, I’ll be completing my journey southbound with my boyfriend and two more friends. I’ll miss my northbound trail family, but I get to cross paths with them again in the coming months. The extra friends now are a bonus in addition to leaving the chaos of the Super Bubble. Not missing 30+ people at campsites at all.

But I didn’t expect to get slapped in the face by the “100 Acre Woods” as badly as I did.

The first bog bridge we saw in two days

The first bog bridge we saw in two days

My finest moment was spent sitting under my tiny umbrella halfway up the rock scramble on Chairback Mountain crying my eyes out in the pouring rain.


The Wilderness is devoid of the luxuries of the south that include “switchbacks,” “drainage ditches,” “paved roads to food,” and “bridges over rivers”. I had gotten used to hammering out 16-18 miles in 8 or 9 hours and suddenly a mere 12 miles required 10 hours.

Knowing the mileage would be low since everyone but me in the group was just starting the thru hike, we only planned 12-14 miles a day and 7.5 days total to arrive in Monson. My boyfriend, here on out known as That Guy, and I managed to meet that goal. Cinder and Gonzo ended up arriving a day behind us.

But it’s about the journey right?

My biggest mistake was packing food like I would for hiking 12-14 miles of lovely winding southern trail.

The resupply bucket contents halfway through.

The resupply bucket contents halfway through.

My hiker hunger kicked in like I was hiking 20 mile days. I felt completely sapped of energy by early afternoon and was shaking with hunger by dinnertime since I had to ration my lunch and snacks so sparsely. Had I been fully nourished, I probably could have reached Monson a day sooner but I did what I could with my resources.

Of course, when it rains, it pours. The first three days were a battle between rain showers, mosquitos, and black flies. Then up into the mountains for (slippery and wet) rock scrambles combined with amplifying hunger. And wet muddy shoes the whole time because, why not? Had I not experienced the lovely southern portion of the AT this spring, I would have seriously been questioning why I’m doing this to myself.

Finally when my legs, feet, and whole body couldn’t take any more, I made it to Monson and celebrated with not just one but two zeros. The first was to rest up physically and the second was to get my head back in the game for the remaining 1640 miles.

With that out of the way, I’m ready to resume town stops every 3-5 days!

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Comments 4

  • Marcia Federspiel : Jun 15th

    Dear Laurel,
    Wishing you much will power, high spirits and encouragement to keep up with the endurance
    of your journey on the AT! I have always loved the AT and been fascinated by AT thru hiker
    biographies ever since I first camped in the Smokies in NC at the age of 25.
    I am now 61, but have taken many trips over the years to hike on the AT with my husband, children
    and grandchildren. Short, but very fulfilling daybhikes. There’s something spiritual in the lure of that
    trail. I absolutely love reading about people’s adventures on it…from Bill Bryson’s ‘ A Walk in the Woods’
    to Cheryl Srayed’s ‘Wild’ and the ‘The Barefoot Sisters’ and countless others.
    Anyway, I googled summer thru hikers on the AT to see who might be writing posts about their
    daily life as they walked. Your name came up along with some others on the AT website.
    So glad your sharing this journey. : ) Blessings and Godspeed!……it’s a great source of fun for
    AT enthusiaists like me who are rooting for you. Courage, my dear! Sincerely, Marcia Federspiel
    ( from Fort Wayne, Indiana)


  • Randy Hill : Jun 18th

    Sounds like you got a proper welcome New England 🙂 Enjoy the rest of Maine and the White Mountains. They’re hard but we love them!

  • Paul Boulay : Jun 19th

    SOBO to the Chairbacks was definitely my worst day in the Hundred Mile back in Aug 1978 (like you, right out of college). I had an 86# pack with a diet of mostly free friends. There is something missing in that diet: complex sugars, real protein, electrolytes, I don’t know but something. Which led to exhaustion while de ending the forever slope to the Start of the Climb up the Chairbacks. The reward: arrival at Cloud Pond Lean-to by moonlight.

  • Paul Boulay : Jun 19th

    That should be “freeze friends”, not “forever friends”; should be “descending”, not “de ending.”

    No edit function available, apparently.


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