Got up and ran to the store to pick up some things for breakfast. Cooked as much of a southern breakfast as possible with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns(not breakfast potatoes) and orange juice. Left the motel and headed to the Inner Eye Coffee house in town as it started pouring rain. Hung out inside for quite a while until the rain let off then headed down the road with our thumbs out. After a mile of walking we got a ride from a gentleman leaving IGA. Back at the trailhead we ran into Mighty Blue and some other friends before setting out for the shelter just 1.8 miles away. We got to the shelter as it was starting to rain again but settled in and setup. Maverick hung his hammock in the rafters and we all goofed off through dinner until it was hiker midnight.
After a chilly night we stayed huddled up in our bags until 12. Then we went and explored some caves and rocky overhangs ¼ mile behind the shelter. We then headed to Stratton and found a local hotel/bar that allowed hikers to camp out back. We found a nice campsite for all 4 of us Poho, Beirut, Maverick and I. In the process of looking though a local asked for our help to free his boat. The water on the nearby lake had fallen and we helped push his boat back out. We returned to the Plaza Hotel for drinks, Pingpong, and pool until they started Corn hole and karaoke later in the evening. After a fun night we all retired late to the campsite.
Another cold night but an earlier departure we returned to the plaza to charge electronics and eat breakfast before hitching out of town. The couple that picked us up pointed out the bad weather incoming and invited us to their property for the evening instead. We all hopped back in the SUV and headed down the road to their property in the works. They had been working on a cabin/house on a piece of land similar to what you’d imagine a homestead would look like. We helped stack and split wood and built a fire. The entire evening it rained but we had a shelter and an air mattress! Fun night full of lots of stories from the local Mainers.
9/14 15.3 Miles
Woke up to a neighbor and son bringing us some fresh coffee and conversation. The couple arrived back at the property with muffins and then brought us to the trailhead. We started off hiking after a two day venture in Stratton, ME. It was pretty chilly and the wind chill didn’t help we were hiking in all our insulation and still cold. We made our way up in elevation to the Horn and over the Bigelows. The wind was intense over the horn and knocked us to the ground several times. We made it back below tree line and overlooked a big lake below for the rest of the day until arriving at a shelter for the night.
9/15 17.7 Miles
Woke up to a hole covered food bag but luckily the mice hadn’t found their way to the food and just ate a few ounces of plastic bags! Started off in the cold but turned into a beautiful day passing several lake shores on mild terrain.
9/16 4.4 Miles
Got up and packed up but hung out at the shelter for a while because we had to cross the Kennebec River via ferry just two miles away. We got to the river and waited for the ferryman to arrive as he worked only 2 2 hour shifts. Once we crossed we walked into Caratunk, ME and hit the post office, where there was a giant hiker box that had the usual junk but also sandwiches and cookies that the locals had provided. We ate some pb&js then headed over to the Sterling Inn. We split a room with Beirut and Maverick for the night.
Got up early before checking out of the cozy B&B. Made our way to Monson and had dinner at the Hostel before discovering a group of our friends was there also. We split a room between the 4 of us again and had a good night catching up with everyone.
9/18 13.5 miles
We got up and resupplied for the daunting 100 mile wilderness. We got the most food we had bought at one time along the entire trail. It was supposed to last us for 7 days and our packs were bulging I had 3 food bags to my usual 1 and food crammed in every pocket and hole i could fit it. We set off with our thumbs out to get to the trailhead and got a ride from a couple from the Augusta, GA area ironically enough, they were here in Maine to find a moose as the husband was an avid photographer. We wished them luck and set off into the Wilderness.
We walked past several large ponds with the beautiful touch of autumn brushed on all of the trees. We had to ford a river which was up to my knees and bitter cold. We made our way over the rough but non elevated terrain until we reached a forest road where our friends were camped. It was going to be below freezing tonight and we could feel it already. We got a good fire going to warm everyone up and stayed up sharing stories as the stars appeared blanketing the northern sky. We could see the cloud of the milky way and it is the most incredible thing I have ever seen with my own eyes. I wish a camera could have captured it.
We woke up to a frozen tent and everything else around us but luckily we stayed warm through the night. We started off hiking to warm up and waited on our friends for 2 hours at a stream but then headed on convinced they had hitched out of the hundred mile "wilderness".
We had a rough day of hiking over tough terrain but had fantastic views and found a place to camp and watch the sunset on Monument cliffs.
Woke up to a wind rattled tent and set off for chairbacks. We hiked over some beautiful country and ended our day early falling to sleep by 7 just as dark closed in.
Started moving by around 9.We went over white caps in the mist and fog and missed our first view of Katahdin due to only being able to see maybe 15 feet ahead. The wind was whipping hard and knocking us off our feet at the summit but we pushed through our last major peak before MAMMA K. We made it to a shelter right before it started raining harder. There we found a platypus bag in excellent condition! We kept moving and found a beautiful place to camp by a lake hoping to see a moose.
9/22 18 Miles
We woke up early and moved quick at 4 mph until 3 across flat terrain that was covered in roots. We stopped early already having done 18 miles, and laid in the tent as it misted and the wind howled above. We made a list of all of the people we had met along the way until we made dinner and fell asleep.
9/23 13 Miles
We got up early again but took our time a little more. We ran into our friends still asleep at 11 by the edge of a lake. Thankful for bumping back into them they explained the adventure they had been on while we were hiking! Regardless we all hiked on to a view of Katahdin but we could only see the lower half. We were only 16 miles by air away from the mountain we'd been dreaming of since GA. We made it to another forest road and camped for the night. Poho made the decision to try to hitch out as her foot hurt to much to walk any farther and we had run out of food not to mention we still had to get up Katahdin pain free hopefully.
The next morning we waited for a truck to pass on the road and got a ride to a hunting and fishing camp where we called a taxi service to come get us from the hundred mile wilderness. We had thepleasuure of riding with an older gentlemen out of the hundred mile wilderness which had more roads more frequently than many of parts of the trail so much for a wilderness! Anyway we had a long conversation about our journey and his past days of trucking these same roads for lumber. We made it to Millinocket, ME and found a local pizza place first, then the Katahdin Inn. Where the rest of our friends just happened to also be staying. We soaked in the hot tub and got Poho some new insoles so she could climb Katahdin.
We vegged out all day resting Poho's foot and celebrating with friends how close we were and also with people who had already summited. Many trips to McDonald and lots of feels going around as it hit everyone how we were days away from heading home and most likely not seeing each other again.
It was difficult to get any sleep with all of the energy around.
We woke up early and ate breakfast before stashing our packs in the hotel and cramming ten of us plus benny the badass dog into a ford explorer. We headed up the road to Katahdin Springs campground to conquer Katahdin. We got our day packs, signed in got our finish numbers and heaed up the 5 mile trail to the summit. After a mile or so of easy lead up we headed straight up hand and foot over huge boulders and rock scrambles. There were a few false peaks but then we could see it after the tablelands our destination lay in the distance with people crowded around the sign. We broke into a quick run past day hikers and to the sign. Poho was crying tears of joy and I was beginning to understand the momentous challenge we had completed. We got to the sign with all of our friends around us cheering and hooting and hollaring. We had made it we had Thruhiked the Appalachain Trail!
As it settled in people were busting champagne bottles and cracking beers celebrating the achievement. We cheered on several more friends before making our way to the Knife's edge trail a 1 mile of trail about a yard wide with 1000 cliffs on either side. It was exhilarating and a blast. We made our way down to a parking lot and returned to Millinocket Thruhikers.
Needless to say we celebrated at the hotel for the last night.
We woke up early to catch a Taxi saying goodbye to all of our friends. The same older gentleman drove us to Medway a few miles out of town where we would catch a bus to Bangor, ME then to Boston then a train to DC and a train to Savannah where my family was waiting to pick us up and bring us back to Augusta, GA.
We traveled for 36 hours total arriving in Savannah, GA at 9:00 on Sunday evening.
I would like to say thank you to everyone who we encountered along the way and to everyone who helped us out from home or anywhere along the trail. I really felt the backing of dozens of people as we completed our journey. On to the next adventure possibly CDT 2016!
Thanks for reading.