Andover-Monson, ME: Into the ‘Hundred!
Total mileage: 2,075
Miles to go: 114
Average daily miles: 18-22
Here comes the final stretch. We’re heading into the 100 Mile Wilderness tomorrow, and the next time we pop out of the woods, we’ll be at the base of Katahdin. I’m happy to report that finishing the trail FINALLY feels like it’s really going to happen. The fact that we’ve hiked over 2,000 miles doesn’t feel real though, except for the fact that I am perpetually exhausted. That feels real.
The rumors are true: Maine is terrible at first. After my last update though, Maine got soooo much better. Not easy by any means, but the trail was glorious. We went over the Saddlebacks, North and South Crocker, and the Bigelows– one range after the other. The climbs were fun, and not absurdly overgrown and eroded like the Mahoosuc section. The views were stunning: the mountain ranges stretched to the horizon like a runched carpet, with lakes and ponds scattered in every direction.
Weather-wise, we’ve gotten nailed with major thunderstorms every afternoon. Each day starts clear and sunny, then a breeze picks up around noon, and a few clouds start gathering together like innocuous little puff balls. By the time we hear the first rumble and glance at the sky, it’s a dull iron grey and the forest goes dark. So we drop our packs and try to shove everything into the garbage bag liners, and I cram my puffy and fleece into my sleeping bag drysack. When it rains in Maine, it means business. Like the other day going over South Crocker, the storm was directly overhead and it was raining so hard I couldn’t see. Hare’s shorts filled with static and poofed all the way out, and he said that was the first time he’s been legitimately concerned with getting struck by lightning. I wasn’t having any fun either, trust me.
After the Bigelows, the trail stays pretty low, so we were able to move faster. Post- Mahoosuc section, we’ve been hiking between 18-22 per day, which is good because it feels like progress, but bad because I feel like I’m about to collapse. Honestly I don’t feel like I ever got my strength back after feeling lousy in Vermont. I’m not sure what’s up, but I guess it’s just a symptom of hiking a lot and not being able to keep weight on. I wish I was bigger and beefier and full of energy, but I work with what I’ve got. Hare feels good energy-wise, but his joints are feeling a little creaky. Also he falls down all the time. Constantly.
This week I had my favorite animal encounter of the whole trail: this little red squirrel was running back and forth in front of me, all agitated. Then it dashed across the trail, grabbed a HUGE mushroom from the ground, and ran away, with the stem in it’s mouth and the cap dragging on the ground. Sorry to interrupt your gardening, little buddy.
We’re seeing a lot of unfamiliar hikers in Monson, and most of them say they’ve skipped up from Gorham, or Rangely, or Caratunk. A TON of people yellow blaze to the start of the 100, which, well, I don’t know. I know that people yellow blaze to catch up to friends, or because they’re running out of time, or they want to skip parts that are “boring” or “hard.” (I think a large portion of the AT falls into one of those two categories…) but I guess I’m surprised at how many people skip sections. However, we aquablazed for two days in VA, so I can’t really say anything. If it makes a difference, I wish we hadn’t canoed that section of the Shenendoahs, and we’re going to hike it next spring when we visit my family on the east coast. (And we’re going to do trail magic along the way!!!)
In other news, I want to say congrats to the NOBOs we were hiking with before we got off trail to see our families. Those hikers are all summiting right about now. A big virtual hug to Happy Camper, who completed his Triple Crown as of this morning. Wow! What an amazing feat…. you couldn’t pay me to thru hike the CDT.
Hmm what else. I’m super tired, so I’m looking forward to not having to wake up and drag myself 20 miles through bug-infested mud pits, but seriously I’m going to miss the trail so much. I love waking up in the woods, walking to the next place we’re going to sleep, and building our little stinky nylon house every night. I love eating an entire sleeve of Oreos on top of a mountain, and I love being able to kick my trekking poles into my hands, so I don’t have to bend over and pick them up. (That’s pretty much my entire skillset from this trip.)
We’ll head back into the woods tomorrow, armed with 100 miles worth of PopTarts, Doritos, and other gas station cuisine. When we come out on the other side, the people who bet against us finishing the AT (like my ENTIRE FAMILY except my father) will have to pay up. Talk to y’all in a week!
Honey Badger and Hare, almost outofthewoods. (Copyright TSwift)
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Awesome Maggie!! I know how you feel– I simultaneously loved and hated Maine up until the end, at which point I basically just got super emotional and cried in my parents car on the way home…. And that night… And the next day. But I’m making progress. I miss the trail. Congratulations on being so close to the end!
Yay Maggie… I’m glad to hear you are in the final stretch!
Anyone know which Nemo tent that is?
you guys are doing great! don’t die in the hundred mile wilderness!
I can do it sir!!!