Well That Just Happened! – First Thoughts After the 100 Mile Wilderness

It’s day 11 of this journey. I am at Shaw’s Hiking Hostel on my second day of zero miles. I’m Staying a third night. Fuck it right? Who’s rushin? I got 6 months and this place is amazing. Plus it’s hard to leave a place where the owner greets you with a cold beer in your hand upon arrival.

Poet, the owner of "Shaw's Hiker Hostel" welcomes thirsty hikers with a cold beer. This guy knows how to run a business.

Poet, the owner of “Shaw’s Hiker Hostel” welcomes thirsty hikers with a cold beer. This guy knows how to run a business.

Well I guess I should give you a recap of this 100 mile wilderness. What a journey it’s been. 11 days later I have so much to talk about but I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of shitty play by play details. Lets just say it’s been swell, and hard, and exhausting, and hilarious, and rocky, and rooty, and muddy, and up again and down again and up again and down again. It was also wet, thoughtful, and musical. Here are some highlights.

Mt. Katahdin

This was not hiking. It was rock climbing. I underestimated it. I tried to get brother Travis to go up the whole 5.2 miles to the summit but he declined. He did go a mile in with me to the first waterfall however. “I just want to say I walked a mile in your shoes” he said. And he did. Luckily I was able to use a day pack provided by the state park and only bring essentials. You know, like a bottle of water, 3 cliff bars and 3 beers. It would have been hell with a full pack. It was a little discouraging having to hike northbound on the AT up a 5200ft mountain before officially starting my SOBO thru-hike. It was well worth it.

View of Katahdin 10 miles hike away from it.

View of Katahdin 10 miles hike away from it.

100 Mile Social Life

So I guess I expected this 100 mile wilderness to be a long lonely hike where I don’t see a single human soul and gypsy camping in random spots in the forest. It was the opposite. There is a lean to shelter with a fire pit every 5 miles and everynight there were at least 6 other hikers in them. I don’t think I’ve met a shitty person yet. Everyone has some sort of unique quirkyness to them. And the fact that everyone goes by a trail name like Mouldy Beans, That Guy, or Woodchuck makes it even more ridiculous. I have been givin the name Clawhammer by a guy called Gonzo, a really intelligent southerner from Johnson City, Tennessee with perfect pitch. I’ve been testing him with really obscure banjo chords and he’s calling them out no problem. I could stick with this guy and throw out my tuner!

As for some other notable characters, there is Crocfire, a West Virginian with a thick southern accent and constantly fantacizes about food, specifically BBQ. He’s an electrical engineering masters student who once interned at NASA. We had good space talks.

Crocfire cookin' at the lean to

Crocfire cookin’ at the lean to

There is also Rooster and Woodchuck. A hilarious couple from NYC with a knack for writing hiking songs.

But lets not forget Mouldy Beans, my fellow hiker also doing it without trekking poles, or any logical thought into lightweight hiking. With a subtle, dry Demitri Martinesque sense of humour he keeps us laughing every night.

 The Food Drop Story

And of course there is Banshee. His name was almost Eor because of the emotional state he was in when I met him. He needed help finding his food drop. It’s a service where some old guy hides food by a logging road for you so you don’t have to carry a full 10 days worth with you. He gives you instructions that are similar to a treasure hunt like “walk 250 paces until you see a rock on your left… But turn right and walk past a lone pine tree, your food is behind a mossy stump.” Something like that but more complex. Weird right? He was looking for 2 hours when I met him. So I tried to help. I came across a square box on the ground with a green tarp around it and thought for sure this was it. I yelled to him that I found it and let him come and do the honours of uncovering the tarp. To his disappointment, it was just an old shitter hole! I felt bad. I gave him some plain white rice, some bug dope and wished him luck. He arrived that night at the lean to. Apparently some girls helped him and found it in minutes.

Those are only to name a few. Its a busy trail. There are no normal, bland ordinary people out here. Everyone is extraordinary in their own way. It’s a good community. Everynight we eat, laugh, compare gear, and sing songs. Stompin’ Toms “The Good Ol’e Hockey Game” seems to be a hit amongst these Americans. I am so glad I have my banjo.

Terrain/Hiking

I just walk everyday. Sometimes it’s a nice path. But rarely. It’s usually either rocky, rooty, swampy, a really steep climb up a mountain or a really steep descent down. There are also rivers to ford. No bridges, ever. In fact there was once a spot with a really nice metal stair case leading right down to a stream with no bridge. The trail makes no attempt to contour up a hill. It just goes straight up, right over the top. It’s like the guy who made it looked for the most difficult way through the land. But in the end, I didn’t expect it to be easy.

Selfie while fording the river.

Selfie while fording the river.

Open Mic

Yeah that happened last night. Best luck. The pub in Monson had an open mic so I pretty much got to play tunes in a bar all night long. It was amazing. The place was packed with locals and hikers. I sang a bunch of Canadian folk tunes then the local house band joined me about halfway through “Hobo’s Lullaby”. I jammed with them for the rest of the night. It was a hit. I am hoping that kind of stuff happens the whole way down the trail. No better way to end the 100 mile wilderness. Next up I have a 3 day journey to Caratunk. Stay tuned!

 

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Comments 3

  • Avatar
    Christopher : Jun 11th

    Hey Josh, thanks for that interesting and entertaining post. I will begin my own SOBO thru-hike in 2 weeks. I know the beginning will be tough but you somehow made it seem less foreboding. I look forward to hearing about more of your journey!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Woodchuck : Jun 12th

    I seriously cannot even tell you how happy I am that I can read the food drop story whenever I please. I can hear your voice telling it. Your posts have been great! Sitting in Caratunk with sonic, rooster, moldy beans, croc fire and sarge. Hope you, Gonezo & the gang enjoyed more of Monson. Catch up with ya on the trail!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Eman : Jun 23rd

    Great writeup Clawhammer!! Here’s to more safe adventures and story-gathering!

    Next time you’re around ol’ Ontariballs give me and my brother a shout and you gotchurself a jam session!!

    Much love from Eman 🙂

    Reply

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