Journals From The Hundred Mile Wilderness – Night Five
The following is an excerpt straight from my journal as Shaaades and I, two run down North Bounders, trudged through the last Hundred Mile section before Mt. Katahdin. In these journals you will encounter desperation, determination, rain, rivers, hope, and a profound longing to stay in the woods forever. In Night Five, I end up at Nahmakanta Lake and experience my first wave of inexplicable my-hike-is-ending emotions.
Nahmakanta Lake, September 9, 8:15pm
You ever feel like your entire world is collapsing in front of you and there’s nothing you can do about it?
Alright, maybe I’m being a little dramatic. Let me reel it in, here’s what’s shaking me: Rocket, Piper, Kreature, Landlady and so many others are on their way home right now. Those are all people I was HIKING with. Now they’re headed home to their own private corners of the globe. Off the trail.
And soon I’m doomed for the same fate. In fact I’m hiking inexplicably fast towards it. Right now the trail is still full of life and friends. But in three days, all the crazy times, all the friends, and all the wild views will become a solid memory.
How did I run so short on time?
Today we straight up cruised.
It is a blessing, a GIFT FROM THE TRAIL GODS. The Trail is flat. And the sun is still shining. We have reached a perfect equilibrium. These are perfect hiking conditions. Everything is beautiful and amazing.
We stopped by Antlers Campground and had a boots-off kind of break.
CAMP HERE IF YOU CAN! I mean, you’ll probably never remember that when you get around to it, but man oh man if you can camp here I highly recommend it!
We talked about football and I tried to get schedie, which completely pissed Shaaades off.
What’s “getting schedie”? Oh, my dear friend, it’s a hilarious phenomena that occurs when a hiker is obsessively referring to his/her guidebook, perseverating over how many miles to crush in order to stay on schedule.
Shaaades is so sensitive to it, though, that even the slightest mention of a mile marker gets him all out of sorts. Which is hilarious to watch.
Luckily, we’re at the point in our hike where we can hike 10 miles after 3pm no problem.
I’m going to be honest with you: I got really scared tonight.
Scared, uncomfortable, unsettled – all those words COULD describe how I felt, yet none of them seem to ring perfectly. The point is I didn’t feel good and I was hiking extremely fast in the darkening woods.
There are lots of events that could have contributed to this unsettling, frightening feeling, including but not limited to:
- not seeing another NoBo (or really any hiker for that matter) for the past 24 hours
- turning a corner to see that Katahdin, the end of our hike, was RIGHT THERE, shining and beautiful and quiet
- the roots, the winding trail through the darkening woods
- let me clarify: the fucking roots were getting terrible. They’re everywhere and you can’t tell where the trail is and it’s getting dark, I can’t SEE, this looks like the birthplace of Maleficent, I think I’m going to DIE OUT HERE
- the scant dinner Shaaades and I shared by a random stream
- the fact that I am actually still kind of afraid of the woods
Either way I found myself borderline running through this dense forrest, huffing and puffing, frightened and convinced that there would be no where good to camp, that Shaaades and I would have to nestle ourselves in between the thick, daunting trees.
I imagined some random drill sergeant in my head yelling, “YOU CAN’T EARN YER STRIPES IF YOU DON’T DO SHIT THAT SCARES YA, WAYNE!” It was in this section of the hike that I realized what scared me most.
The woods continued to darken. It was quiet.
Then Nahmakanta Lake opened up before me.
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: the trail provides.
Tonight that meant that a beautiful beach with designated camping spots opened up before my eyes at 7:30pm. I dropped my pack. There was even a privy with cool designs on it.
I took a breath.
I walked up the path to the mouth of Nahmakanta Lake and burst out laughing as it started to drizzle rain.
I’d forgotten where I was, what I was doing. I think I’d even forgotten WHO I was. It’s difficult to explain. This entire moment…the desperation over such menial events, the immense comfort I felt upon seeing this view.
I like to think all long distance hikers experience moments like this, even if they don’t talk about it. I mean, you CAN’T talk about it. It’s a struggle to put it into words, especially in a relatable way. This is a private moment, something so deeply moving and profound, but also simple. It IS what it is. It’s it. This is all you have.
Tonight, we gaze at the stars above Nahmakanta Lake,
And let the whole world fall asleep around us. The clouds are spotty and traveling fast across the sky. You can see the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia. The waves are nipping at the beach. It is simple out here.
Goodnight, and as always,
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