100 Mile Wilderness (August 25-30)
With such a foreboding name, I expected the 100 Mile Wilderness to be a very tough piece of trail. It turns out the name is more descriptive of the landscape than the difficulty of the path. Most northbounders can hike long days of 20+ miles in this section, if they desire. Though the path often remains rocky and particularly rooty, there are some miles of nearly flat terrain. Water is abundant in streams and lakes around the trail. There are several beautiful views of Katahdin throughout the wilderness. In short, I really appreciated winding down through the 100 Mile Wilderness.
I was walking through Monson, the final trail town before the 100 miles, and worrying about hitching back alone, when a friend of mine popped out of the post office. It was perfect timing! We decided to hitch together. Within two minutes of sticking out our thumbs, a truck pulled over. Trips and I ended up hiking through the 100 miles together. I was so glad to have such a nice, agreeable hiking partner for that last week. I was also glad that an old friend, Astronomer, caught up in the wilderness. He was one of the people I had hiked with most throughout the trip, so it felt good to see him again before the trip ended.
One night, just as we were all crawling into our shelters, we heard wild howling up on the ridge above. It was the first time that I had ever heard this. Someone said, “Coyote!” and we listened hard. It happened again, closer, but then the next howls were heard from far away again. That really made me feel we were in the wilderness, and I was so glad not to be camping alone! I also thought it was kind of neat to hear a coyote’s howl at night, before the trip ended. I’ll add it to my list of wild experiences out here.
There is a place within the 100 Mile Wilderness called White House Landing, a hostel. The hostel lies on the other side of a lake, so hikers are instructed to come out to the boat dock and call when they’re ready for pick up. A motor boat comes out to pick you up and deliver you to the hostel. Falls and I hiked all day one day, and made it to the hostel just in time for dinner. It was such a neat, peaceful setting, with a bunkhouse and various cabins right by the lake. The boat ride itself was an adventure, just bouncing over the beautiful blue waters of the lake, watching the shoreline pass by. This was one of my highlights on the way through the wilderness.
As we got closer to Katahdin, shelter logs are full of people’s thoughts as they wind down and consider the trip ending soon. In a way, there is a kind of sobering undertone to this section. We all celebrate the coming ending and the fewer and fewer miles left at the end of each day. But we’re all also imagining life after the trail and the adjustments ahead. Someone wrote, “It’s been a long and strange journey!” That made me laugh, but when I read it to Trips, he said, “I have to agree!” We all may have literally hiked the same path, but we each have had our own, very distinct, journeys (and interpretations of our journey) out here. What a time it’s been.
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