2192 miles – done

Maine has been blessed with plentiful lakes. Although I’ve never dipped my toes and taken a swim they’re enticing in their serenity.
The glass-like surface caught my eye as I hiked by this picturesque lake.
As the title of this post says… I completed my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on September 8, 2019 at 10:35 AM when I summited Mt. Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine. I hiked from Georgia to Maine in 148 days starting on April 14th for an average of about 15 miles per day. The adventure is not reaching this goal instead it is the journey itself. And boy it was quite a hard journey. Steep climbs, massive descents, roots, rocks and mud to the last step. I have an deep appreciation for those who have gone before.
Instead of going back down the ascent trail we asked the ranger for the easiest descent trail. I knew I did not want the height challenging Knife Edge. So I was told to take the Saddle trail. Well I got here and realized that I was going to descend a massive rock slide for over 1000 feet. For me this WAS NOT EASY. But I did it. It took me 2 hours to descend the rock slide and then I was expecting a smooth trail. Wrong again. It was one of the most rocky and rooty trails yet. By the time I got to my dear sweet daughter I was totally depleted both physically and emotionally.

Moose droppings

At the entry to the Hundred Mile Wilderness another hiker took my picture. I’m carrying 7 days of food even though I hope to do it in 6 days.
I wondered what these marble shaped dropping were from. One of the other hikers said MOOSE! Wow, I would never had known. So far I’ve not seen a moose. I’ve only seen these dropping all over the trail and around the shelters.

Hundred mile wilderness

Crossing the Kennebec River can be dangerous. There’s a dam that can release water that swells the river to dangerous levels. The ATC pays a man to ferry hikers across from 9 AM to 2 PM. I just got ferried from the far side to where I took the picture. Maine is a much more rugged trail. For example I had to ford two small rivers by wading from one side to the other. Wet feet and pants! Reminds me of the many PCT crossing I did five years ago. Then it was into Caratunk for my resupply to Monson.
Yesterday night I realized that today was Saturday of Labor Day weekend. I had to get to the Monson Post Office today or I’d have to wait until next Tuesday. Egads! So I got up and raced down the trail to town. Luckily I got a hitch near town and made it with only 30 minutes before closing. Whew! Tonight I’m sleeping in a bed in a bunk room with 6 other hikers at Shaw’s Lodging. Tomorrow I enter the Hundred Mile Wilderness. No resupply for 100 miles. The longest section like this. Wish me luck.

Major mountains done

I’ve stayed at various hostels during my hike. Some have been so-so and others are like a resort. This one, Hostel of Maine, was wonderful. Shuttled me to and from the trailhead. Got laundry done. Had a shower. Ate lots of food including 2 pints of Ben & Jerry ice cream. And resupplied for the next 4 days
Today’s mountains were the Bigelows. The weather was great. This was taken on South Horn.
More panoramas from one of the Bigelow summits. The Horns are the peaks on the left.
And the last shows the summit sign. The Bigelow Avery in on the right. I didn’t complete Little Bigelow which I’ll do tomorrow. Instead I’m camped between Bigelow Avery and Littke Bigelow at Safford Notch Campsite

2000 miles

Well I needed another pair of hiking shoes. These are again Oboz brand and are similar to the ones I just tossed. I got them in an outfitter in Rangeley ME. These are the 5th pair I’ve bought. I started with three pairs of Brooks Cascadia trail runners and now switched to two pairs of Oboz Sawtooth hiking shoes
Recently I’ve been going from valley to valley with a 4000’ mountain in between. At the summit there is typically a sign posted. Here is one for Saddleback.
And tidays’s summit of North Crocker Mountain. Tomorrow is the Bigelows and then things seem to get a little bit less mountainous. Here’s hoping.
Major major major accomplishment: I got to mile 2000. Less than 200 miles to go.

Up and down I go

Maine has been very hard. The climbs and descents have been very steep and rocky. Yet there is beauty in this ruggedness.
The sunbeams caught my attention. I thought they looked eerily beautiful.
Sometimes there is a sign at the summit. This one required me to climb on sloped sheets of granite for hundreds of yards where you felt if you fell you’d slide down the mountain

In Maine

Last state… I made it to Maine today and oh boy it was a tough day. The trail was up up up and down down down. I only completed about 9 miles in 11 hours.

Over Madison

I left the Hut early. Again the wind was gusting over 40 mph. There were times I just had to stand still. Facing the wind. Leaning into my poles which were on the rocks. This picture is messed up because the wind was jiggling the phone so badly.
The traverse was a multi mile rock/boulder field. Each step I had to watch where my poles and feet were placed. I followed cairns miles after miles. It took me hours. It was exhausting. In 5 hours I climbed and descended only 3 miles.
I needed a break. So once I got below tree level and out of the wind I called a local hostel in Gorham NH. Tomorrow I’ll be taking a zero day. I need a respite from the mountains to get my head straight. On the way down I hiked with Little Engine. I met her a day ago at Madison Hut. Her bright spirit helped me. She was going to the Rattle River Hostel and I asked if she would mind if I too went there.

At the hostel I took another foot picture. I’m about to lose toenails on my right foot on the two toes next to my big toe. That’ll be nails 4 and 5. And that’s with my new Oboz hiking shoes. Sheesh

Hiking buddy

Kathy’s cousin, Mark, came to hike with me on the weekend of 8/10. It was so great to meet up with him and his dear wife, Maria, We met on US 302 trailhead on Saturday morning after I hiked 3 miles from my campsite. After greetings, packing some goodies from home we were off. Our goal was to begin the ascent of Mt. Washington. He only had the weekend so I would continue on to the summit the day. After several hours of hiking we could see US 392 far far below.
Along the way was a lookout so I snapped a picture. We are still far from our goal of our tentsite

After hours of hiking we arrived at Nauman Tentsite . We had option of going even farther but 6 miles was all we could handle. The climb was steep, wet and slippery. Nauman Tentsite is next to the Mizpah Hut. We set up our tents next to each other on a platform. While cooking dinner it started to rain so we each ducked in to our tents. We had barely talked on the ascent. It was hard to hear over the noise of the rain. We were cold, damp and exhausted and soon got into our sleeping bags. That night a cold gusty wind blew all night. I put on my puffy jacket and gloves while in my sleeping bag to stay warm. By morning everything was damp or wet – my sleeping bag, and my tent. Regardless I packed it up. My tent weighed more with all the water in it. Since Mark had to work the next day we said our goodbyes. I was sad to see him go. It was just too short and the weather was icky.
After leaving Mark I then continued the climb in rain and fog and wind. On the way I started to worry about getting too cold. In the lee of some rocks I put on my puffy under my rain jacket. That and gloves helped keep my core warmer. The wind was so strong and the fog was thick. On I marched. At the Lake of the Clouds Hut after only 4 miles I stopped to rest from the gale outside and re-evaluate my goal. Typical of me I decided to press on but skip the side trail to the summit of Mt. Washington, which is known for awful weather. It took me 12 hours to get to my goal the Madison Hut. I was beat and my body was aching but I made it. There I washed dishes so I could stay the night (work-for-stay) and sleep on the floor of the dining room.

1800 miles

I’ve not had much cell service in the White Mountains. These pictures are delayed as are most from the past two postings.

On 8/6 I passed the 1800 mile mark. The trail has gotten exceedingly more difficult. The mileage has dropped accordingly. Instead of 30 minutes a mile it is now taking me up to 60 minutes a mile
The next major mountains were South and North Kinsman. When you summit there are still trees nearby. However shortly I’ll be summiting above tree line. The trees provide protection especially from the wind
I resupplied in Lincoln NH. At the post office I got a new tent. It’s a Zpacks Duplex. The old tent was leaking in the rain. This tent is so much larger inside. I got to the Liberty Springs Tentsite which has platforms and was able to pitch it the first time on the ground. Pitching it was quite easy. Notice the rocks all around and you’ll know why they provide platforms.
The next peaks were Lincoln and Lafayette. The weather was foggy and rainy. I just summited and continued on because there was nothing to see. The weather for the next few days was like this. It makes it hard.
A small break in the clouds otherwise you wouldn’t know you were up so high.
I said that in the mountains my speed has slowed. This is why. The trail at times is just a jumble of rocks and boulders. I have to be very careful. Falling on them is painful. They are rough like gritty sandpaper. One day I fell three times. I’m getting bruised and cut up when I do. My knees and ankles are taking a beating.