Southern Maine – big mountains and big-hearted people

Big Mountain Time

From when I started, people told me about southern Maine. Other than Mt Katahdin, southern Maine is where all the “big boy” mountains of the Maine Appalachian Trail are. Having now passed over almost all of them, I can attest that this is true.

There have been some long climbs and descents, rock climbing, calf-aching rock faces and dodgy rock jumps. Other than the part where a section of steep downhill rock face turned into a stream due to recent rains and I was worried I would tumble to my death, it has been amazing. Due to a large part to my recent times in the Canadian Rockies, hiking uphill is something I enjoy (almost) all the time. I am still a pretty cautious descender, but even these have moments of joy. The approach to these mountains is really no different to the trail itself. That is, one foot in front of the other. And so it is that I have made it to Bethel, Maine with so many epic views of endless trees, lakes and mountains.

As a SOBO, I have saved the best/hardest of southern Maine for last, with the Mahoosuc Arm and Mahoosuc Notch to come. The Mahoosuc Notch is often referred to as the most difficult mile on the AT. One step at a time, one foot in front of the other, I’m looking forward to getting it done.

Big Mountain Hearts

The other thing I have loved about southern Maine (and really Maine in general) has been the generosity of Mainers to me as an AT hiker.

I turned up at a trailhead at the base of the Bigelow Mountains only to be greeted with hot dogs, burgers, chips, Gatorade and beer for thru-hikers (thanks Mtnlifer and friends).

Finishing up a big day, I was greeted by the local chief of police with cold drinks and tips and advice on the area (thanks Bourbon Batman from the Carabassett Valley Police).

After another big descent, I arrived at a setup of chairs, drinks and snacks for tired hikers, and was gifted a US flag headband (thanks Patriot).

I arrived in the outskirts of trail towns and had friendly locals give me a lift into town (thanks Scott and Maine Rune).

At a supermarket in a trail town, I had a lovely lady approach me and offer me not only a lift back to trail but a stop off at her house for a hot shower (thanks Michelle).

And when at a hardware store in Bethel that only had large fuel canisters suitable for use with my stove, one of the employees not only rang a local sports store to see if they sold the small ones I was after, he gave me a lift to and from the store after his work day as it was too far for me to walk (thanks Brooks Bros).

Some of these people are past hikers themselves but others are just regular people with big hearts. I had never been to small-town America before this trip, but all these experiences have warmed my heart at the generosity of strangers.

In the next day or so I will cross the border of Maine and New Hampshire and enter a new state with new experiences. So signing off from Maine – it’s been amazing, you and your people are beautiful x

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Comments 3

  • Michael : Aug 14th

    Get these Trek posts showing up randomly and happened to read this one and right off sounded familiar!
    Hope the notch was fun metric! Enjoy the whites!

  • Michael : Aug 14th

    Ooops I was your ride into bethel aka Maine rune

    • Bec on the AT : Aug 18th

      What a coincidence! Thanks again for your help 🙂


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