8/14 Monson, ME to Scout and Birman’s Cabin (13.3 miles)
We got off to a late start today since the hostel didn’t start shuttles until 830. Sadly it rained on us all morning. This hasn’t happened in awhile, so we can’t complain too much, but it still put a serious damper on our first day in the 100 mile wilderness.
The terrain today was also rocky and rooty, which was made much more challenging by the the wetness. I had two pretty good falls in the morning, but thankfully I was able to get up with just some scrapes and dirty legs.
We also did our first real ford of a river today. With all the rain the last two days, it was impossible to get across without getting your feet wet. The rocks on the bottom were very slippery, so I had to force myself to go slow and make sure the foothold was secure.
About two miles from our planned stop we came across a trail magic sign. We had been told about this at the hostel, but it was still an awesome way to end the day. Every year Scout and Birdman come out for a few weeks and have hikers over to their cabin (0.2 off the AT) for food and drinks, in memory of Scout’s son who was an avid hiker. It’s these sorts of places that I will miss most about the trail. People opening up their homes to a bunch of random people who are hiking the trail. It’s awesome to hear their stories.
8/15 Scout and Birdman’s Cabin to East Chairback Pond (15.2 miles)
We got off to a late start this morning because Birdman made us (6 total thruhikers) a great blueberry pancake, sausage, and bacon breakfast.
The day ended up being surprisingly challenging. The rocks and roots were still mostly wet, and there were a lot of short and steep ups and downs. It was much more like southern Maine than the type of terrain we have had more recently. There were some pretty good views, and wild blueberries, but nothing as good as what we have seen in southern ME.
We ended up at an awesome campsite right along a pond. It was super peaceful and one of the few times I have had a really nice view right out of my tent.
8/16 East Chairback Pond to Logan Brook Lean-To (15.2 miles)
Today we had our last real climb before Katahdin up White Cap Mountain. At the top we had our first real view of the whole mountain and it’s crazy to know that I have walked all this way and can now finally see the end (even if it looks really far away). I have definitely reached the point of having mixed feeling about finishing. I am excited for it, but also don’t want this experience to end. Listening to other thruhikers talk about when they are finishing(and their attempt to delay it) lets me know I’m not the only one feeling this way.
Stitch and I decided to call in quits early today since we are already ahead of schedule and it is supposed to pour rain tonight, so we wanted to make sure we had space in the shelter. It was nice to have a lazy afternoon, and be in my sleeping bag early.
For the first time on the trip I am nervous I won’t have enough food, and might still be hungry after eating my daily rations. This is in part because we were carrying so much food at the start, but also because I have been extra hungry. I am not sure why, but at least I will be finishing with an empty food bag.
8/17 Logan Brook Lean-To to Antlers campsite (19.6 miles)
I was thankful to be in the shelter last night since it did end up pouring rain. The day started off quite dreary, with light rain until a little after lunch. However the terrain has really flattened out and become a lot less rocky and rooty. Despite the longer distance (at least compared to recently) we were in camp by 3:30 since we were able to move so quickly. It felt more like the mid-Atlantic states than the rest of New England, which was awesome.
When we arrived to camp another thruhiker (Monster) was there with meat that had been left by some other hikers. We got a fire going and reheated it. I probably wouldn’t have eaten it in normal life, but I was pretty hungry and it looked delicious.
The evening turned out to be one of the prettiest on the trail. The sun came out and this campsite is on a lake, so I spent most of the afternoon and evening looking out over it all, taking in my last few days on the trail.
8/18 Antlers Campsite to West Shore of Nahmakanta Lake (13.2 miles)
I woke up to a beautiful sunrise and then got off to a later start since we were doing a shorter day to get back on schedule.
The walk today was very rooty, but since it was so flat we still managed to make good time and were at our campsite by 2pm. It has been really cool in Maine , particularly northern Maine, that we spend so much time walking along larger streams or lakes. It makes the flat sections a lot prettier.
Since it was hot and sunny we decided to go for a swim in the lake when we got here. It was very refreshing, and nice to wash of the sweat and dirt from the past 5 days. However, much to my disappointment, it started to drizzle just as I was drying off. I quickly set up my tent and got myself and belongings inside. It started to rain a little harder, but stopped after about 20 minutes and nothing got too wet. However, the clouds stayed for most of the rest of the afternoon.
It ended up being a beautiful evening to lookout across the lake. The campsites that we have had the last few days have been some of the best on the trail. Sites like these are probably my favorite part about ME.
8/19 West Shore of Nahmakanta Lake to Hurd Brook Lean-To (20.0 miles)
Today was my last day waking up and going to sleep in my tent. I still have not fully comprehended that tomorrow I will be at the base of Katahdin, and will be done the following day.
Today started off with another great sunrise over the lake. The morning had a small climb which once again gave us great views of Katahdin. We were 15 line of sight miles from the peak, but 36 trail miles. Part of this is terrain, but most of it is because the trail zig zags its way up there.
The terrain for the rest of the day was pretty flat and easy once again giving us great views of different bodies of water. We are still running into people who we haven’t seen since the southern states, which has been really cool.
The last few days have been good reminders how much terrain plays into a day’s difficulty. There have been other days when we have done far fewer miles, but climbed mountains over tough terrain, and gotten into camp way later and exhausted. The last few days we have not had any ups and downs and been able to move a lot faster.