Days 145-148: The 100 Mile Wilderness

Day 145, 9/19/23

Mountain Rd to Stealth Campsite

~21 miles total, mile 2,113.9

Today was rough. The trail was a river, we went 3 miles in the wrong direction on a road walk to avoid a dangerous river crossing, I slipped and fell 3 times, talking with others about Katahdin logistics is frustrating when 20 people are planning to summit the same day, and it rained.

We woke up at 5:30am today because it is an hour and a half drive to Monson from Kingfield, and we had a lot of miles to hike. Mom drove us up the road from Monson as far as we could before it got a little dicey and we didn’t want to risk something happening as she was driving out alone with no cell service. So we got out and said our goodbyes and started walking up the road. My phone was off since it needs to last me these 5 days and I didn’t realize that on the reroute you needed to turn left and the road doesn’t curve to the left. We walked 1.5 miles further one way than we needed to and turned around and went back. A car came and we got so excited because this is a horrible road in the middle of no where. He asked us if we were lost and we said no but we went way further than we needed to. He said that it was about a mile and a half back. I asked him for a ride and he said no, which was a big bummer. Kev and I made an AT symbol at the road where you need to turn left so hopefully no other thru hikers make the same mistake.

After we made our way back to the trail we run into our friend Lucky who we haven’t seen since NJ! It was great to see him and we are camping with him now along with Moosejaw and Chili Pepper. They are a married couple from AZ who we met for the first time in NH.

The hiking was a lot harder than I anticipated especially since everyone says after the Bigelow Range it is smooth sailing to Katahdin. I strongly disagree. There was nothing smooth about today. I know I’m going to be feeling it after 6 zeros in a row and then hiking over 20 miles with 5 days of food on my back. Tomorrow we will probably have to camp on the side of another road reroute around another river.

Day 146, 9/20/23

Stealth Campsite to Side of a logging road

~26 miles, mile ? (unsure of mile since we camped on a reroute)

Today was the longest day we have had in a while. It started early around 7:45am and started with a river crossing of the West Branch Pleasant River. We had heard this one was okay to cross and even in higher water hardly goes above the knees. That was not the case today. I’m 6 feet tall and it came up to my waist with all the recent rain. I was definitely nervous but both Kevin and I made it across okay. We unbuckled our packs in case we were to fall in, faced the current, and side shuffled across it. The river is about 100 yards wide and it took me a long time to get across. The road walk around this one added about 13 miles and we knew that the East Branch was completely impassable, and that road walk is about 20 miles (the trail would only be 7) so there is some significant additions to avoid the rivers.

After we got across the river the trail climbed 2,000 feet up to Gulf Hagas mountain. Then over to the West Peak, Hay Mountain, and Whitecap Mountain. There was over 4,000 feet of gain in 11 miles. I was struggling but knew that these are the last legitimate mountains left before Katahdin. From Whitecap we got our first view of Katahdin! It was so crazy to see the final destination after walking over 2,100 miles to get there. Then we continued the 3 miles down to the start of the road walk to avoid the East Branch. We got down to the road around 4pm and absolutely kicked it into gear and were moving between 3.5 and 4mph for 3 hours straight. At 7pm we found a spot on the side of the road where there were 2 other hikers set up and we joined them. Kev and I met another hiker named Zig Zag this morning at the river crossing and we caught up to him and walked the last 4 or so miles of the road until camp with him. We are really hoping a car comes by tomorrow that will give us a ride to where the trail connects up. This road walk adds so much mileage that we would be having to pull some even bigger days to make it to Abol Bridge when we want to.

I’m happy we are camping with some other hikers tonight.

Day 147, 9/21/23

Side of logging road to Stealth Campsite

~24 miles, mile 2,162

Last night was pretty miserable due to cars zooming up the road we were camped right on the side of at 2:30am, 3am, 4am, 4:30am and 5am. They must either be hunters, or loggers because there is absolutely nothing up these roads. I have another day of approximate miles because we started on the road and were walking for about an hour when I heard a car in the distance. I thought I was imagining things but then a truck came! I stuck out my thumb and waved him down and he stopped. I explained the reroute and that it added a lot more mileage than the actual trail is and he offered us a ride to Jo Mary Rd. Then we picked up everyone else we were camped with. This saved us about 10 pointless miles on a road. His name is Lloyd and he used to be a shuttle driver for a local hotel! It was just our luck that he came by when he did and was so kind to let us hop in. Then, as if the morning couldn’t get any better, when we get to Jo Mary Rd there is trail magic set up. Trail magic! In the 100 mile wilderness! I couldn’t believe it. It was set up by Bigfoot and Mountain Doctor. They were making meatball subs that I sadly had to decline because of Celiac, but they had gluten free rice cakes, fruit, yogurt, and drinks that I could have! Our friends from yesterday that fell a bit behind also showed up at the trail magic! They got a ride from someone as well.

After hanging out for a while we realized that if we want to get to Abol Bridge tomorrow night, we needed to get moving. This means we were 1 day ahead of schedule because we have been hiking further than I thought we would. Thankfully the trail was mostly flat today. Unfortunately it was still very wet, and we had to ford three big creeks. There were also a lot of roots and rocks to hurt your feet just enough to be a little miserable. About 8 miles in there was a sign that said “View of Katahdin” and I absolutely gasped when we got to the shore of the lake. Katahdin was clear as day right there. I am so excited to see the end so near. We walked by a couple more lakes after the viewpoint which were beautiful, and had lunch by one. The trail was pretty uneventful and we were moving fast to get as many miles in as we could to make tomorrow a bit shorter for ourselves. We stopped to fill our waters because there is none where we are camping. Then, we climbed up over 1,000 feet to a viewpoint where Katahdin is in clear sights. Apparently this is a good sunrise spot and we will be waking up to see it!

I can’t believe tonight is our last night sleeping on trail. Even after 5 months I still cannot sleep out here, so I am thrilled to be getting back to a real bed soon! Mom and Dad have a hotel reserved, and will pick us up from Abol Bridge tomorrow night, and drop us back off the 23rd. From there, we are taking a blue blaze and then summiting Katahdin that day. This way we don’t have to worry about getting a spot at the birches. Two more days!!!

Day 148, 9/22/23

Stealth Campsite to Golden Rd

21.7 miles, mile 2,183.7

I woke up at 5:45am to get packed up before the sunrise. We made up some breakfast sitting out on the rocks and watched the sky turn to a pretty pink color. Unfortunately that didn’t stay for long and the colors became more muted before the sun started to peek up over the horizon. This was actually our first sunrise on trail that we were in a good spot to see. After soaking up the views we started to hike since this would be our 4th day in a row of over 20 miles. My right foot is hurting pretty bad but I’m going to push through it tomorrow knowing that I don’t have to keep hiking after tomorrow.

The trail was very rooty, rocky, and muddy today so our pace was a tad slower than I would have liked. However, Mom and Dad did not get to the road until around 6pm, and since we got an early start we had about 45 minutes to spare. Once we got out of the woods we walked over Abol Bridge. This was such a cool moment to see Katahdin so close to where we are. It’s so crazy that we will be standing on top of it in less than 24 hours. After crossing the bridge, we got Gatorades at the Abol Bridge Store and talked with some other hikers. Then we started to walk over to the parking lot and I look over and there was Lloyd! We yelled his name and he got all happy when he remembered who we were from the ride he gave us the other day. He said we hoofed it from Jo Mary Rd. Then two people got out of the truck and it was Taylor (Nahamsha Hiker) and her friend Cody! Being from NH I was waiting for the day I would inevitably run into her on a trail. It was really cool to get to meet her and talk with her for a bit. She summited today and was getting ready to drive home. The timing of us leaving the store was crazy because if we sat there much longer we would have completely missed her!

Mom and Dad showed up shortly after and since I was starving we went to a restaurant that had gluten free burger buns. I couldn’t have the fries which is usually how it goes but it still hurts a little every time. The burger was delicious and it was gone very quickly.

Tomorrow, I become an official Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker!!!!

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