Embracing Lower Miles: Humbled by Southern Maine
Out the gate of the 100-Mile Wilderness I did some big miles. Eighteen to 25 miles happened every coupleof days. I tried to keep this going through into Caratunk, over the Bigelows, and into Rangeley, but it eventually caught up with me. My body was tired, and my mileage was destined to drop. Coming to terms with lower mileage has not been easy.
Hiking southbound means I shouldn’t have any rush to finish since Springer never closes. The SOBO experience permits me to take a shorter day and live in the experience. I have to constantly remind myself there is no reason to rush the experience; participation is more meaningful.
I wasn’t entirely alone. Petra caught up with me when I zeroed in Stratton. She had started the SOBO part of her flip with her tramily, but unforeseen circumstances made her decide to push ahead and hike with me. I was grateful for her added company because the stretch from Stratton into New Hampshire was isolated and seemingly desolate. Aside from occasional NOBOs passing, we saw virtually no one heading SOBO. I’m finding how stealth camping might be the best way to meet the sunrise, but is not the best way to meet people.
When I do meet SOBO hikers they seem so focused on mileage. I think it’s easy to get stuck in that mind-set, especially when hiking solo. My first two weeks were relatively solo. I did find myself hiking with Dropsey about half the time, however her schedule was built around 16+ mile days. Also when I did find my solo hiking days to be more focused on getting to the end of the day than it was being in the day. I also think we all want to prove our worth to the NOBOs we come across. After 2,000 miles of hiking, the NOBOs are expecting big days and don’t really take SOBOs very serious. In fact, it wasn’t until I had come through Mahoosuc Notch that NOBO hikers became more friendly. I feel this was more an internal perception. I now saw myself and my experience to have valuable information about challenging terrain.
Smiles over Miles
Leaving Andover, ME, I got to see my first moose. I was hoping I’d get through Maine and see one. The shuttle driver for the Human Nature Hostel spotted it and stopped the truck so we could snap a picture!
Pushing on over Saddlebacks, Bemis, Baldplate, and Mahoosuc, I began to focus more on taking in where I was. Unfortunately this meant I was taking less notes and don’t have a lot to say about it. However, going over these mountains, I found myself stopping more often. The views were immense and my time in Maine was coming to a close. Every time I stopped, I began to notice little things. Aside from the breathtaking views, I was finding wild blueberries and strawberries, which I ate all the way to New Hampshire and am still finding above treelines in the Whites.
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