Wilderness Fever

Early the morning of October 7th, Riley and I finished the 100 mile wilderness experiencing a wide array of emotions.

This was an enormous milestone for us individually and as a group. It was the furthest distance we had traveled in a single direction, we had encountered terrain far beyond our wildest dreams and we were on a weary trail high that can only be described as blissful exhaustion cultivated from multiple days hitting 20+ mile days in a row from the start of our sobo hike.

The 100 mile wilderness is not flat!

In case you are one of the NOBOs who had heard otherwise.

We encountered rock srambles hundreds of feet high and wide, boulders so large I had to hoist all 70lbs of Riley plus her pack full of food onto or over objects, and miles of terrain that literally traveled vertically up rock faces and jumbles of roots and boulders to only descend another few feet to do it all over again. All of this we had never experienced until we came to Maine.

To say we were exhausted would be an understatement, but we were also elated to be seeing such incredible views and making progress along the trail. It never hurts to summit a tough climb and see views like this.

Also, the leaves changing color really brightened our moods!

Lastly, the Appalachian Trail has quickly made me comfortable being uncomfortable. And homesick. And disgustingly dirty. Setting out so late for the sobo season, the trail got rather lonely considering the only company I had other than Riley is passing nobos periodically throughout the day. We were essentially the only ones using the shelters, and at night it managed to get a little depressing knowing we were going to be living in these conditions for the next five months, away from our family, and severely questioning my sanity and purpose for coming out here in general.

Reality began to set in and it took some time to adjust.

Seeing all the nobos and their upbeat mentality for almost being finished with their hikes had its ups and downs for a recently started sobo. It was wonderful seeing how high of spirits they were in after being on the trail 4-7 month, but at the same time was upsetting because I was only just beginning and during a not so ideal time of the year.

*Giggles, a perpetually happy, Nobo fords a river in the 100 Mile Wilderness

With each day it got easier. The trail got better with every step and each night when we laid out that sleeping bag it finally felt like home; until the next morning when we packed up and headed out to all new and uncharted lands for us.

The desire to quit hit me at least once a day, but everyday my desire to make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity outshined that negative thought and prospered as the day continued and gave me even more reasons to love the life I’m in that second. This is where we’re meant to be right now and where we’ll be tomorrow is where we’re meant to be then. So for now I’m going to make the most of this moment and worry about tomorrow later.

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Comments 9

  • Mark Cummings : Oct 9th

    Following your posts. You are inspirational. Will be Sobo’ing 2018 late Sep, early Oct with dog as well. Hope you keep trekking and look forward to more of your articles please. Interested in knowing how you’re managing your dog’s food supply? If you need trail magic or a ride in southern Vermont area give a holler as I’m nearby.

    • Kelly Ann Baird : Oct 20th

      I’ll definitely be looking for trail magic in VT! And I do a mixture of her normal food, dehydrated high protein food, dehydrated peanut butter and olive oil for Riley’s diet. I’d be happy to explain it in more detail if you’d like at some point.

      • Mark Cummings : Oct 20th

        Thanks for the response. Also read your other article on Riley’s diet, very informative! Sounds like you’re doing just well, keep trekking!

  • Becky : Oct 11th

    I was just reading this and I realized I may have met you in the hundred mile! I was headed nobo and complaining about how it wasn’t the nice flat victory lap I thought it would be. Your dog was super cute!
    So much good luck to you!

    • Kelly Ann Baird : Oct 20th

      Haha were you going down the rock scramble?! Hope your finish was incredible and congratulations!

  • Elle : Oct 13th

    You and Riley can do this Kelly Ann. Have you heard of Pam Flowers and her dog Ellie? They both completed a SOBO thru-hike which she began in September of 2008 at the age of 62! She wrote a children’s picture book, Ellie’s Long Walk: The True Story of Two Friends on the Appalachian Trail. I am a section hiker, currently working on completing my home state of CT, which is a moderate hike for the most part. I love to hike with my golden retrievers. Maybe I’ll see you when you pass through CT. Be safe. Peace, love, warmth and hugs to you and Riley.

    • Kelly Ann Baird : Oct 20th

      I have not but I will check that out thank you! And hopefully we’ll see you out on the trails!

  • Sarah : Oct 18th

    Great updates Kelly Ann! I miss you greatly but I love to read your updates. You are such an inspiration to everyone – your mom posts many updates on fb and everyone gets very excited about your story and journey. Keep up the great work, this trek will be totally worth it.

    Much love,

  • rhinestone : Nov 5th

    The pic with giggles crossing makes me want to get somewhere soon to catch the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. Thank you for posting that wonderful scene.


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