Little Red’s Tales of Katahdin and the 100-Mile Wilderness
Before I kick this off, I should mention that my trail name was issued within days of starting. Want to guess what it is? If you read my first post this won’t come as a surprise. Guessed it yet? No? Well, it’s Little Red(coat). I suppose you might say operation taking back the colonies is off to a wonderful start. Now on to the adventures.
Day One, Mile 5.2: Katahdin
Found myself a tramily on the climb but that’s not the best part; can you guess what it is? No? OK, I’ll tell you. They love selfies and snapshots just as much as me… stopping to take a photo wasn’t going to be a burden. The relief! That and I didn’t have to go it alone, my worries of solo hiking, at least for now, are over. I’ll introduce them all properly later (probably on Instagram) but for now I’ll give you the names: Al, Alex, Zach, Helen, Defib, and Jed.
We had views to die for and views to pose on pretty rocks for. Keepsakes! Standing on the summit sign for the standard “I made it” photographic evidence that we all need for one reason or another was incredible.
The climb, on the other hand (note that I said climb as opposed to hike), had these little legs of mine riding the struggle bus. Being 4 feet, 11 and a half inches (the half counts) is not ideal for handling bar climbs, nor boulder climbs. #shortpeopleproblems. #scaryashell
Sheltering at Abol Campground after the climb down was an experience. It took me awhile to fall asleep as I scanned the darkness for signs of bears and critters. When I finally managed to doze off hours later I woke suddenly to something dropping on me. What was it you ask? A mouse. Or so I think. Instinct had me boot that horrible scaremaster at Al, who was sleeping peacefully next to me. What? It’s a natural instinct. Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep for the rest of the night. Either the mouse was taunting me by running around my head having a grand old party, or paranoia had taken hold. Either is plausible. Anyway, I confessed my sin in the morning and luckily she laughed and said she didn’t feel a thing. Hopefully no more shelters.
Day Two, Mile 18.6: 14.6 Miles From Katahdin to Hurd Brook Lean-to
The day after Kathadin! Please tell me you’ve seen Labryinth? There were several bog stenches throughout today’s hike.
Or that’s what they looked like, anyhow. I might have even fallen in once or twice. Luckily, not head first – I would have stunk for eternity. If you have no idea what I’m going on about, put the kettle on and sit down to some David Bowie goodness. You won’t regret it.
Oh, not that’s it a surprise but I’m pretty much walking mossy (mosquito) bait. They even bit my bum… never counted how many but there’s at least ten on each cheek. How is that even possible? Good thing vampires don’t exist cause I’d be one of the first to bite the dust with the sweet blood I have.
Day Three, Mile 30.1: 12.5 Miles From Hurd Brook Lean-to to Rainbow Stream Lean-to
Man, I want a shower. Half washing in a river doesn’t quite cut it. The views make it all worth it but I’m getting paranoid about smelling. At least we’re all in the same boat.
Day Four, Mile 44: 13.9 Miles From Rainbow Stream Lean-to to Nahmakanta Campground
Write off. I woke up desperately trying not to cry. The amount of pain I was in had me wanting to quit.
Day Five, Mile 59.7: 15.7 Miles From Nahmakanta Campground to Cooper Brook Lean-to
Cooper Brook Lean-to is definitely a sight for sore eyes. It’s just beautiful. Al and I hit the last five miles hard so we could be at camp before 5 for the first time ever, and boy, was it worth it – we were greeted with a falls and a swimming hole. Skeptical at first, due to a leech incident a few days ago, we dangled our feet for a few minutes. We decided to give the all clear, declaring it a sucker-free zone, and jumped in for a swim. I thought you might want some super cool pictures of the falls, so we took a few. I got you.
I even took my favorite picture of the trail to date and it wasn’t of any picturesque views. No, it was of Al in her swimming bottoms, flannel shirt tied into a crop, complete with towel on head. I’m not sure anyone’s done hiker trash so well!
The swim helped my blistered feet, but as I went to dry them I noticed one had turned into a prune. Panic set in; I was clearly about to lose a foot. Luckily, we’ve got an ex-paramedic in our tramily, who assured me I wasn’t looking at trench foot. I know, what a relief! Hopefully tomorrow they’ll be better and back to normal.
Oh, I almost forgot… got a text come through on Helen’s phone today. Want to know what it was? I’m going to tell you anyway. It was someone I think/thought (I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this one) rejoicing in the fact that England was out of the World Cup. Tragic news.
Day Six, Mile 71.2: 11.7 Miles From Cooper Brook Lean-to to Logan Brook Lean-to
No mossie bites today. Can’t work out if I’m too high up for the evil bloodsuckers, if word spread that they were dropping like flies when they flew into my mouth, or if my Jungle Juice finally started working. Whatever the case, I’m a happy bunny. I generally had an awesome day, despite the 11.7 miles of torturous terrain. I’m surprised I couldn’t hear my feet screaming at me every time I stepped on an aged tree root, pointy rock, or hiked up a crazy incline. Troopers.
Oh, even the privy was nice. Haven’t been able to stomach the last few, but the one here at Logan Brook is luxury – well, in comparison.
Two members of our tramily (Dfib and Jed) got to the food resupply spot only to find their bucket of goodies were nonexistent. There’s something so awful about wanting to help but being so helpless. Thankfully, all was resolved by miraculous cell service (not mine – my network provider hates me) and they caught up to us a few hours later. Probably the biggest low of the day, but seeing their faces as they strolled up to the shelter was uplifting.
Oh, let me not forget the weather. Us Brits do like to complain about the weather. It is uncomfortably freezing. I’m sitting writing this in my puffy down jacket wrapped up in the warmth of my sleeping bag. If you think that’s bad you should have seen me earlier; I was cuddling my food that was steaming away in its bag for warmth.
Got a free facial so I guess I can’t complain too much. As always, our highs and lows and little chat before bed keeps my spirits high. Tramilys are golden.
Day Seven, Mile 84.6: 13.4 Miles From Logan Brook Lean-to to West Branch Pleasant River Campsite
Al and I conquered four mountains today in the rain like absolute bosses. We managed to make it to the top of Whitecap before the clouds unleashed hell.
The descent was a little sketchy. Slowly wins the race, that’s what they say. I suppose it’s like the story of the tortoise and the hare. You know the one I’m on about, right? We definitely channeled our inner tortoises and made it safely to camp with just enough time to gather wood and get a fire started for our tramily, who weren’t far behind us. Got to dry my undies and socks I’d washed earlier too. Bonus. If only we had marshmallows..
Day Eight, Mile 95.4: 10.8 Miles From West Branch Pleasant River Campsite to Cloud Pond Lean-to
Ten hours and four mountains, two of which had me scrambling to the peaks.
Pretty sure I looked like one of those super cool rock climbers. I could have done it a bit more graciously, I won’t lie, but clinging to the rock above me as I hopped over to the next wishing I wouldn’t die worked just fine. A tough day and my second slip of the day saw me reach my point. Might have been a tad hysterical. Ever see that YouTube video of the fainting goats? If you haven’t you’re missing out. They get overexcited and drop. I didn’t get overexcited but I did just flop sideways and that had me in stitches for a while after.
Overall the day was slow and painful. Pretty sure a snail would have made it the 11ish miles to the shelter before we did. On the upside, I got signal for five minutes, washed my hair and wasn’t frightened by mice crawling over me.
Day Nine, Mile 104.1: 8.8 Miles From Cloud Pond Lean-to to Wilson Valley Lean-to
Thunder. Da na na na. Thunder. Da na na na na. A legit song to kick-start the day. Hiking through a thunderstorm is terrifying. I much prefer watching them through a window with a nice hot cup of tea; alas, no such luck today. It’s not been all that bad in fairness. It’s almost a shower. I know that sounds bad, but you’d probably think the same way after river washes and bath wipes. Oh, today marks 100 miles.
One hundred miles. Can’t explain how happy I am. We’re still in the wilderness but ten more miles gets us to Monson and pizza and barbecue. More importantly, it gets me to a can of Coke.
I was going to stop there but the day took a turn. Fording a few rivers left me looking like a drowned rat. The first two were fine, but the third left me flapping about like a fish out of water. I may have accidentally forgot to undo my backpack straps. The water was low and I figured it out eventually so it wasn’t the end of the word. That is, of course, until my toes started to freeze. If there’s anything in the world I hate more than pineapple and ham, it’s being wet and cold. I was miserable for about 20 minutes but it wasn’t a bad day overall. Especially now I’ve warmed my belly with some food.
Day Ten, Mile 114.5: 10.4 Miles From Wilson Valley Lean-to to the End of the 100-Mile Wilderness
I’ll get back to you about Monson shenanigans in just a bit. For now, I’m going to leave you with this. My first lobster roll, and yes, I ate the whole thing like a fatty.
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