Monday 10 Sept to Tuesday 20 Sept 2017
Total Distance: 2189.8 miles
States and AT Mileage: Maine 164 miles (from Monson to Katahdin) 113.4 miles
Mountains: Barren Mountain 2660 ft, Fourth Mountain 2380 ft, Third Mountain 2097, Columbus Mountain 2325 ft, Chairback Mountain 2180 ft, Gulf Hagas Mountain 2681 ft, Hay Mountain 3244 ft, White Cap Mountain 3650 ft, Little Boardman Mountain 1980 ft, Nesuntabunt Mountain 1520 ft, Katahdin 5268 ft
I stayed at Shaw’s Hiker hostel in Monson which has one of the best breakfasts. Monson is just before the hundred mile wilderness therefore the hostel was packed as most hikers wanted to get in either a zero or to resupply before heading out.
It was an interesting atmosphere as we gathered before the last 113 odd miles. I’m pleased I stayed as it gave the opportunity to speak with other hikers who understand exactly what it is that you’re going through as the journey winds down.
Although there is some reflection on the journey itself, you still have the daily functions of figuring out how many miles you need to do etc. You also hope you have enough food to last the length of the hundred mile wilderness.
The terrain was nothing I haven’t experienced before however my body was just so tired it was still labour-intensive. Although I have loved every minute of the trail, heading into this last section I was ready to stop walking and be done for the moment.
People ask what were the favourite sections or sights… but to be honest it is just a green blur. You walk in a green tunnel of vegetation for much of the trail and so much has been seen and experienced the mind boggles to choose one or two moments out of a journey lasting over five months.
Some of the greatest moments to be had, not understood by anyone other than thru hikers, is when ‘loitering’. Hiker trash loitering (loitering while stinky and grimey):
- Hanging in McDonald’s for four or six hours trying to charge your phone and battery charger/s
- Waiting around inside the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet knowing this is going to be the best place to catch your fellow hikers, while trying to cram in breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Loitering around trailhead carparks trying to hitch a ride into town
- Sitting along the pavement en masse outside a venue offering free wifi
- Pacing outside the post office first thing in the morning waiting for your resupply box
- Taking up space breaking down your resupply outside the supermarket
Ending with 100 mile wilderness and Baxter Park made the trail complete. These sections contained a little bit of every part of the trail such as fording rivers….
As I past the sign which indicated there was only 14.3 miles left I couldn’t help but think back to completing the first 100 miles and how the trail seemed to stretch out endlessly in front of me. I didn’t do anywhere near the physical preparation I needed to make the walking easier. I reckon I’m probably in a good condition now to start the trail.
I have become so accustomed to sleeping in nature it’s going to take some adjustment sleeping in town in a bed. As one hiker commented, ‘I only get a really good nights sleep in my tent’ and I have to agree. The air is so fresh, and while it isn’t exactly quiet outside, there are cacadas, owls and other creatures making noise and roaming around, it is harmonious making you feel in sync with the natural world around you.
All this was going around in my mind as I set my tent up for the last time beneath the shadow of Mount Katahdin. The water from the stream running through the Katahdin Stream Campground was cold and extremely clear – something else I will miss, cold clean spring/river water. Although there are times the water is yellow, so it’s handy to have some coloured flavourings to fool your brain.
Katahdin is all the challenge you hear it is. A couple of us were laughing that those going Southbound may be a bit let down by Springer mountain.
Walking hasn’t been the biggest challenge for me, rather it has been having to haul my ass up mountains. Not just the mere act of walking up a mountain, no that would be too easy – it is having to haul my body and pack weight up rocks/steps where my knee is bent above waist height. Needless to say my arms, shoulders and elbows have also coped a workout.
Katahdin bought all that to a new level. There were many times during the 5 1/2 hour climb where I had to take stock of how I was getting up. From trying to crawl up sheer rocks to rock climbing by jamming your body between two boulders and inching your way up. One couple had a rope, which the lady required to assist her up.
As I neared the summit and famous sign, I had tears in my eyes and my voice caught in my throat. What a journey, what a long freakin walk! So much walking! Now it is done, over…that is a lot to process. So many emotions flowed through me I sat up the top for some time taking it all in and processing it.
- The better shape you are in the easier and faster you will walk
- If coming from overseas, buy any winter gear you need in the States
- Recognise that no matter how much gear research you do prior to the trip only the experience itself will truly inform gear choices
- You will spend more money then you think you will – from gear replacements/upgrades to accommodation and food costs, once completed you better understand how to curb costs and what the true cost of thru hiking is
Other than that thru hiking is something you have to experience to gain experience from. We all start out thinking we have it all pretty nailed, we’ve done some hiking and camping before, we have life experience and by the time you summit, every one of us shakes our heads and smiles over our cluelessness.
- I lived out of a 55ltr pack for five and a half months. Which contained everything I needed to exist comfortably…I wanted for nothing
- Walking along the footpath in town people have the attitude of ‘my footpath, my space you move…mine’, people walk the trail with the attitude of ‘ours in the collective sense involving all creatures; past, present and future…where you wait with a smile for people and animals to move by you
- I really like my own company
- As a species we seem to be made to move around and climb stuff
- We bond with one another quickly
- We are nature and nature is us – organisms connected and dependent on working in harmony
With all that said, it was well worth the walk and I enjoyed every minute and met some great people 👍🏼👊🏼 😊