Thoughts from the Plane to Maine Before Our AT Thru-Hike

I’m sitting on the plane to Bangor writing this on my phone’s notes app, realizing that this is how I’ll be documenting our Hike the Borderline project Appalachian Trail adventure for the next six months. Wow.

I woke up to get ready for our flight at 3 this morning with my heart pounding. The gravity of this endeavor is sinking in and I keep having to remind myself that I’m not doing all 2,200 miles tomorrow, but that it’ll be a journey that’s doable in bite-sized pieces, day by day, step by step.

I’m prepared (at least I think?). I’ve changed my address with my credit card companies, student loan servicer, insurance company, etc., to a friend to get all my mail for me while I don’t have an address of my own, I’ve written instructions to the kind people taking care of our bearded dragon, Cleo, while we’re away, I’ve double triple quadruple checked my gear and know I’m not forgetting anything, I took the advice of many curly-haired hikers and shaved a good portion of my head for ease of taking care of my hair, and yet, I’m still nervous that I’m not ready for this. I don’t know that anyone truly feels ready for a thru-hike.

Once we land, we’re going to get a ride to the grocery store in Bangor to grab about a ten-day supply of food each and head back to the airport to wait for the shuttle to the Appalachian Trail Lodge. Then, we get our packs set up for tomorrow and try to sleep. It’ll be an early morning tomorrow to Baxter State Park in another shuttle.

Our first hike is going to be Mount Katahdin, a five mile in,  five mile out hike with 4,000 feet of elevation change. All in right off the bat, right? It’s said to take most hikers 13-15 hours to complete. Luckily, we can leave our packs at the ranger station and just take day packs, or slackpacks, to cut down on weight for the day. We’ll be taking our water bladders, water filters, food, first aid kits, and headlamps in case we end up having to finish in the dark. Then we camp at Baxter State Park and the next day head another ten miles to the only place we’ll be able to camp that night. Twenty miles in two days is a tough way to start, so we’ll probably take a zero (a no hiking day) on day three to give our legs a rest.

Then we’ll enter the 100-Mile Wilderness. It’s called that because there is nothing for 100 miles. No towns to stop and resupply in, no hostels to shower and do laundry in, nothing. Don’t worry. The folks at the Appalachian Trail Lodge will bring us a mail drop (a package of food we already sent ourselves to the AT Lodge last week) when we’re halfway through. That’s why we need ten days of food at first—we won’t get much chance to resupply. Then the mail drop has another eight days of food in it for us. We’re hoping to conquer the 100-Mile Wilderness in 15 days or less, but it’ll depend on how our legs feel.

So we’ll be going about three and a half or four weeks without a shower or laundry right out the gate. Try not to imagine that smell! Katahdin and the 100-Mile Wilderness are why going southbound from Maine to Georgia is so much harder than going the other way—because we’re starting with some of the toughest parts of the trail before our bodies are used to hiking so strenuously.

Some of the things we’ve been told to be wary of are pacing ourselves well (not doing too much too fast), and the bugs in Maine. Apparently the black flies are awful this time of year, and yes they bite and yes it itches. I’m hoping it’ll be cool enough for me to hike in long sleeves and pants while we work through the flies. I do have a face bug net to protect my face and neck from bugs. We got our clothes professionally treated with Permethrin to help keep bugs away, so fingers crossed that it does us some good!

I’m counting on our phones dying in the 100-Mile Wilderness even with our power banks, so don’t panic if you don’t hear from us! We’ll do our best to post updates as we can, and we’re so happy you’re following along! Send us love on Facebook and Instagram. The support will help us push through.

A huge THANK YOU to those who have recently donated to our cause—Paul at Arbor Experts in Dayton, OH, and two anonymously. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate you! To learn more about why we’re hiking the Appalachian Trail, visit our website here.

Mason coined our signout phrase at Red River Gorge, and I’m going to beat it to death over these next six months, but here goes: woodlums out!

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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Sir Mix A Lot : Jul 3rd

    Hi,
    Don’t worry too much, just check the weather before going up Katahdin. The 100 mile wilderness is pretty flat with lots of water and you can swim every other day. Also, you can get picked up in the Wilderness even if it’ll cost you. Take a shower and laundry at the end of the 100 mile – Sobo’s coming out of there last year were STINKY!
    Good luck
    SMAL

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Faircaster : Jul 4th

    I think you are way overthinking it and falling into the “pack your fears”… I believe at most 10 days of food will get you through the whole hundred mile wilderness even out of shape unless you’re truly trying to not put miles in during those days. I am sure I fell into a similar boat a little when I started NOBO Feb 22nd. I guess you just might be eating a ton or carrying way more than needed. The first 55 miles of the wilderness SOBO is really flat (doesn’t really mean easy though) before the first small climb. Yesterday I just ran into a 73 year old and his son further south that did it in 10 days with no problems without being conditioned for it. I am very close to starting the 100 mile wilderness northbound and hope to run into you on my NOBO adventure to chat more! Everyone is different though so props to you starting the AT SOBO because you are way ahead of most and best of luck! I hope it is the best adventure and you make it to the end!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Richard : Jul 4th

    Hope all goes well.
    Every sobo should have read “The Barefoot Sisters, South Bound” my favorite book about the AT.
    Good luck, enjoy, I’m jealous.

    Reply

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