2,000 Miles Hiked: AT Days 121 & 122

Route 4 to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to, 18.7 miles

The sun was out and spirits were high as Jackrabbit and I began making our way back to the trail by 6:30, ready to traverse the Saddleback Mountain Range. The ascent up to the range started off very gradual before gaining over 1,400 feet of elevation in under two miles. Practically right as I climbed above tree line, the clouds rolled in, bringing strong wind gusts with it. Our hopes of having tremendous views on this traverse were tarnished, and we soon found ourselves completely socked in. This was definitely some of the strongest winds I’ve ever hiked in; I put my wind jacket on and kept my head down as I slowly but surely reached the sign marking the summit of Saddleback Mountain, at an elevation 4,120 feet.

The AT remains above tree line as it descends off the peak of Saddleback Mountain and makes its way towards the summit of The Horn at an elevation 4,041 feet. This entire three mile stretch of trail is totally exposed to the elements, and the intense wind gusts made the hiking pretty tough. I was just happy there was no rain at this point. Despite the gnarly weather and no views, I was still enjoying hiking on the flat and smooth rock slabs in this seemingly desolate landscape above tree line. After the summit of the Horn was your typical steep and sketchy Maine descent back to tree line. One final ascent up Saddleback Junior Peak remained for the traverse, before descending all the way back down to 1,500 feet. The clouds had dispersed at this point, and thankfully I was able to catch a fantastic view of the mountains I had just traversed.

I descended down to Orbeton Stream at 1,500 feet of elevation, but the climbing for the day wasn’t quite done yet. The ascent up Lone Mountain started off gradual before coming pretty steep, and the tree-covered summit offered no views. From there it was a flat and cruisy 2 mile hike to Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. Lots of familiar faces would be at the shelter tonight including Jackrabbit, Gramps, Perch, Johnny Boy, and Trashalope. We all had plans of stopping into the town of Stratton tomorrow to spend a night at the famed Maine Roadhouse hostel; a new hostel everyone has been raving about on trail. Jackrabbit and I decided we’d take a zero day at the hostel; we didn’t need to do so physically, but the reasoning behind the zero day was simply “why not?” There is no immediate rush to get to Katahdin, might as well soak in as many memories as possible.

Spaulding Mountain Lean-to to Route 27, 13.5 miles

For the first time in a long time, I ended up sleeping with my puffy jacket on and my sleeping bag fully zipped up. It was chilly at 3,000 feet in Central Maine; the weather app on my phone showed that it was only 40 degrees at 6 AM. I was pretty cold breaking down camp and all I could think about was the thru-hikers who hike through Maine in October. If it was this brisk in late July, how cold would it be for my fellow hikers here in October? I never want to find out the answer to that question, as I had plenty of frigid nights and mornings back in Georgia and North Carolina.

A short but steep ascent near the official summit of Spaulding Mountain at just over 4,000 feet got the blood flowing before tough descent down to the Carrabassett River. This was an extremely steep and technical descent, and each foot placement and butt slide had to be calculated perfectly. I was having the time of my life hiking through Maine, but these steep and treacherous descents were getting real old, real fast. Down at the river, I ran into Gramps, who also agreed that the descent leading here was not very fun. I filtered water and began the ascent up Crocker Mountain, with Gramps not too far behind.

The ascent, like always, started off easy before getting very steep. The ascent wasn’t technical at first as I made my way up the rock staircase. Soon the rock stairs disappeared, and the trail continued to climb up an exposed rock slide. Before returning to the woods I got fantastic views of the Bigelow Range just to the North. I reached the summit of South Crocker Mountain at 4,050 feet, before the mile long traverse to the summit of North Crocker Mountain at 4,220 feet. Just past the summit I reached a pretty significant milestone; 2,000 miles hiked. 2,000 miles and four months ago, I stood atop Springer Mountain in Georgia, and here I was in Central Maine nearing the end of my journey. It was tough to wrap my head around how far I’ve actually come, and my mind was definitely blown. I soaked in this moment before beginning the long four mile descent down to Route 27 where a driver for the Maine Roadhouse would be picking up Jackrabbit, Trashalope and I.

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Comments 4

  • ELS : Aug 14th

    You have done a wonderful job chronicling your journey. I look forward to the conclusion and wish you the best in life off the trail.

  • thetentman : Aug 15th

    Thank you. Almost there. Good luck.


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