Phone-less in the 100-Mile Wilderness
Entering the 100-Mile Wilderness, my trek was slowly coming to end. But the minutiae of day-to-day trail life continued. Here’s a video of a normal day on the trail:
A River Runs Through It
After a grueling week in Maine, it felt as if my body was running at 50% power because it knew I was almost finished. I was ready for a zero day at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel so I pushed on toward Monson, ME. As Monson grew closer, tragedy struck. I was fording my first river and the rocks were covered in algae and very slippery. The water was knee-deep in parts. All of a sudden I slipped. It all happened so fast but next thing I knew, my shoes were underwater and my trekking poles were floating away. I grabbed onto the poles but my phone fell into the water. A Croc floated down the river and another hiker ran off to fetch it. It was a hilarious moment. I felt like I was in the game Oregon Trail, when you ford the river and your wagon sinks. I was losing all my stuff!
I recovered my phone and luckily it was in a waterproof case. Unluckily, the headphone jack’s port was open and water had gotten inside the case. Needless to say my phone became nonoperational and remained so for the remainder of my hike. On the bright side, this event happened during the end of my journey. Some trail magic along the way helped lift my spirits and fuel me into town.
The Oasis of Monson
I ran into a number of fellow hikers at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel. We were all gearing up for the 100-Mile Wilderness. Loads of SOBO hikers were still there, which was strange. They were getting an extremely late start for southbounders. I imagined that many of them wouldn’t make it. I got the vibe that they weren’t prepared for the trials ahead.
Exhausted and ready for my trek to end, I indulged in a bed for two nights and lots of pizza, tubs of ice cream, and beer. I spent way too much on resupply but Monson had little to offer so the hostel prices were what I had to contend with. I hoped that my fellow hikers would send me lots of pictures from the coming days since my phone was out of commission. I used the hostel’s computer to email my buddy who was to pick me up from Katahdin. I was guesstimating my finish date.
At last I had to bid farewell to the comforts of civilization and return to the trail. The shuttle from the hostel dropped a group of us at the trailhead and we embarked. I was hiking with Honey Bear, Relentless, No Shoes, 2-Clicks, Trademark, and Myagi. We ended up sticking together and formed a loose trail family. I was not looking forward to the last few days on the trail but hiking with the others lifted my spirits.
The strange thing about the 100-Mile Wilderness was that it wasn’t so much of a wilderness. I nearly got run over by a logging truck as I crossed one of the many forest service roads. At the tops of the few peaks in the wilderness I could hear the logging operations down below. And the remoteness was ruined by the food drops offered by several hiker hostels. In my head I had imagined the wilderness to be more of a challenge but it was only a mental challenge. I had packed enough food and the terrain was relatively easy after 2,000+ miles. There were few climbs and the only thing that was difficult was the mosquitoes.
Nevertheless, we continued on and enjoyed many a dip in the lakes we passed. It was beautiful and no one in our group was victimized by a leech. It was interesting hiking without my phone. I was alone to my thoughts, without any music or podcasts or audiobooks to pass the time. I sang songs to myself or talked with my fellow hikers when we ran into each other. At least I had a paper AT guide and wasn’t relying on an app like Guthook. The worst part was not knowing what time it was. I liked to set up camp about an hour before sunset but without a clock, I never knew how much time I had left. For the first time on my thru-hike, I had to lean on my fellow hikers for support. They let me know what time it was and offered to send me their pictures when we finished since I had no way to document these last days of my hike. Each night we all gathered at the same campsite and enjoyed each other’s company. It was nice to be a part of a tramily after hiking on my own for four months.
I was climbing Whitecap, which was the last big climb before Katahdin. I caught a glimpse of the latter peak on the way up. It was my first time seeing Katahdin and I was so excited to see the end of my journey, the final destination just 75 miles away. It was crazy to think I’d hiked over 2,100 miles and would be finished in four days. I couldn’t believe what I was now capable of and how far I’d come and how much I’d grown. It had been such a great day: trail magic, easy climbs, views of Katahdin, amazing weather, and my infected toe was starting to look better on its own.
After three days in the wilderness my infected toe was flaring up and was very painful. We were all so tired from 2,100+ miles and I felt our bodies knew it was almost over and were checking out early. It was like the last week of school when you’ve still got five more days but you stopped paying attention. That was what my body was doing to me. It was one last climb just 500 feet up Rainbow Ledges before we descended to camp at Hurd Brook Lean-To. All seven of our loose tramily were there, the magnificent seven. We were finished with our last “real day of hiking” as we called it. The following day would be a quick three miles out of the 100-Mile Wilderness to a campground with a restaurant and then ten easy miles to our camp at the base of Katahdin. Almost there!
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