Monson to Millinocket

Day 187- 9.24.15

Fuego: We hiked 14.3 miles today (2074.7-2089).   We woke up early in the hostel and ate some yogurt and Life cereal for breakfast. There were many goodies left behind in the hiker box, but I couldn’t bear adding more weight to my pack. I’m just always hungry and seeing extra/free food gets any hiker excited. I also had a cup of coffee, because I felt like a zombie waking up. I think I got a little too excited with the hiker friends last night. Everyone else that was awake looked rough too. Guess everyone needed one last hurrah before starting the 100-mile wilderness.

 

We started on the trail at 8:40. Seeing the 100-mile wilderness warning sign got me excited! We have never gone 100 miles without hitting a town (or anything else!) this whole trip. There wasn’t too much of an elevation change on the hike today. We have been starting out with long sleeved shirts and then shedding as we warmed up. Every time we stopped we had to put our warm clothes back on though. We talked to Rocket Man (not the one we met down south) and his wife Stockings for a while on our break. They live in Morrison, Colorado and gave us a few pointers on where to live and get jobs. He is currently finishing the last section of his section hike! Rocket Man thought Fancy Pants was Hobbit. Both being short, brown haired females. They each had a purple t-shirt and the same running shorts. Hobbit actually has some real fancy pants too, which probably threw him off as well.

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The wilderness is so beautiful! The air is so clean and everything you see is gorgeous! We forded 2 rivers today. We keep looking at the ponds hoping to see a moose. Fancy Pants still hasn’t seen one yet.

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We camped just after fording the river so we wouldn’t have to deal with that in the morning. We found a hidden spot right by the river just out of sight of the trail. We’ve been around a lot of people for the past week and needed some quiet time as we near the end of the trail. At night you could hear nothing but the quiet wilderness and the river. It doesn’t get anymore relaxing and peaceful than that. I wish everyone could experience this sound while sleeping.

Day 188- 9.25.15

Fuego: We hiked 15.7 miles today (2089-2104.7).   We heard other hikers fording Long Pond Stream this morning. It sure sounded cold! You could hear a lot of high notes coming from them in the distance, haha! Once we got hiking, we came along the Barren Ledges and Barren Mountain. There were many great views here although we got super cold the second we stopped moving. For some reason, we got a huge kick out of the mountain names here. Between Third Mountain and Fourth Mountain, there is a Three and a Half. It’s like they named the mountains, but then later realized they missed one!

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Grouse in the tree

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Our last 100 mile marking

We were going to camp at Chairback Pond, but someone wrote on the sign that it was further off trail than specified and it was muddy. We camped along Henderson Brook, just before the West Branch Pleasant River (ford). The guide specified that you cannot camp along the north side. Guthook’s guide gave the reason that there is a 2 mile long area of indigenous pines. Sputnik and Fair Enough came to our campsite right when it started getting dark and we welcomed them to camp beside us. We made dinner together and talked for awhile before heading to bed. I remember before they came to the campsite that I was too lazy to put up a bear line and I just wanted to deal with taking the risk. While eating dinner, I remembered Sputnik and Fair Enough had a recent bear incident in the Whites in New Hampshire. The bear came to their tent and pulled away Fair Enough’s pack and shredded it! They lost all their food and had to go back into the town of Lincoln to resupply. This was one of the worst places to lose your food and having to back track into town. Just thinking about it stressed me out knowing their situation and location. With that said, I ended up hanging our bear bags at night. It was a pain, but I felt better.

Day 189- 9.26.15

Fuego: We hiked 16.7 miles today (2104.7-2121.4). We started the hike in Crocs, because we knew we had to ford a river first thing in the morning. Walking across this river in the morning was definitely a replacement for my coffee- it was &%^#@*$ COLD!!!! After we got our shoes and socks on, it took almost an hour to get the feeling in our toes again! Passing through the indigenous pines were amazing! These pines were over 100 feet tall and all wider than my arm span. Reminded me of the trees out west for a moment.

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We had a snack with Rocket Man, Stockings, Peg Leg, Happy Baby, Bear and Chuckles. The next 4 miles (+4 mountains) looked like our last challenging terrain before Katahdin. We were surprised how quickly we hiked it. We were on a roll for sure. Today was also our first amazing view of Katahdin from the distance! It is so big and everything around it is so small! It was just hard to believe that we were seeing our ending trophy right in front of us after all this time we have spent in the woods. The view from the top of White Cap Mountain was so surreal. How the hell have we gotten so far to this mountain??? I’ve driven from Virginia to Maine before, but the thought of the long drive compared to walking on foot doesn’t seem possible, especially when considering walking up and down mountains the entire journey. dscn3227dscn3230

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Katahdin in the distance

We camped at East Branch Lean-to. On the way there, we saw 4 moose!! A big bull in the pond (probably 200ft away from us), two cows and a calf pretty damn close to us. It’s unbelievable how big these animals are once you actually see them in front of you. It can be a little scary being close because they don’t see very well and if you scare them, you have a good chance of them charging you. I could tell the mother saw us, but she obviously didn’t seem concerned with us so I wasn’t too nervous. I wonder how they get through the woods due to how gigantic their antlers are and how big they are. They literally destroy the trees if they feel they need to squeeze through tight areas.

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At the shelter, I decided I wanted to make a big, warm fire for everyone. A big fire wins everybody’s heart and it always brings a happy group together. We had Happy Baby, Peg Leg, Bear, Chuckles, Sputnik, Fair Enough, and Bobby Hill all around the fire. We were mostly talking about our journey’s end and how much we were going to miss the trail. The hype of the night’s conversation was talking about Magicians Halfway Wilderness party tomorrow. We had a lot of great conversations that night by the fire and had an awesome night.

Day 190 – 9.27.15

We hiked 5.1 miles today (2121.4 – 2126.5). The most exciting part of this day is that it was bucket day! We also made it halfway through the 100 mile wilderness. Getting these buckets was kind of exciting like a town day, except we were still on the trail out in the middle of nowhere. The Magician was at the drop area and was super excited to show us the campsite he chose for the middle of the 100 mile wilderness party. As of last night, we were ready to hike on after a few hours of hanging out, but got sucked in immediately. It was before noon and no one was even there yet! There was a long, skinny beach along Crawford Pond with a flat, wooded area surrounding it. I got started collecting and sawing wood as the other hikers started showing up. Magician packed out three 30 packs of beer and two handles of liquor. The final group was Magician, Stache, Mismatch, Beerman, Happy Baby, Bear, Chuckles, Bobby Hill, Peg Leg, and Chords. Hobbit and her two stopped by for awhile, as well as Chesapeake, Horse, Sputnik, and Fair Enough. We were all excited for the Super Moon lunar eclipse, but we ended up falling asleep around 8:00 (because hiker midnight and drinking beer by the pond).

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Day 191 – 9.28.15

We hiked 24.5 miles today (2126.5 – 2151.0). We were happier than ever not being hungover this morning. We definitely could see a few others hurting. We were very thankful for the Magician putting all his time and money into this. Everyone had a great time!

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We had such a great hiking day today! The trail was flat and we had some amazing views. We stopped for water at Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to and one of the trail maintainers, Mr. Don gave us a brand new Sawyer squeeze water filter! He noticed our old filter was pushing out water only by the drop, so he handed us a new one. After seeing how much water comes out of a normal operating filter, we couldn’t believe how long we managed to deal with the crappy filter. It was a great moment receiving that gift. It literally made our day (and the rest of the hike!) that much better and couldn’t have been more thankful.

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We had lunch at Antlers campsite with an absolutely beautiful lake view. We had a view of Katahdin at Pemadumcook Lake. Katahdin is getting so big! After seeing a weather report, we decided to aim for a shelter to avoid setting up in the rain. We arrived to Wadlegh Stream Lean-to just as it was getting dark. We ran into Parks and Mooch at the beach and got water there. We left to head to the shelter and it was getting dark quick as we arrived. I had to get my head lamp out on the last mile, because I could barely see the trail. Even though it was only 7pm when we arrived to the shelter, someone was already asleep in there! I was guessing this guy had a rough hike and probably wasn’t feeling well. Hikers do go to bed early, but this was the first time I’d seen someone asleep in a shelter this early. With that matter, we ended up eating dinner and did our noisy chores at a respectful distance. To tell the truth, I don’t think we would have disturbed him if we sat right next to him. He snored so loud that we ended up making a few extra drinks and I actually had to wear earplugs. Sometimes I slammed my fist on the wood floor to startle him awake a little so his snoring would change. His snoring was kind of scary to where I thought he was going to die in his sleep. He definitely had sleep apnea.

Day 192 – 9.29.15

We hiked 19.6 miles today (2151.0 – 2170.6). It was a pretty cloudy, dreary day and it wasn’t the best hiking day for us. We would have done a shorter mile day, but the threat of rain sped us up to get to a shelter so we could avoid packing up in the rain. It seems like Fancy Pants and I are both on edge, being so close to the end and back to Virginia. Fancy Pants was rushing me and I got moody. There was light rain off and on throughout the hike, which really doesn’t help with Fancy Pants. She literally didn’t want to hike. We met up with Parks at lunch and he and Mooch were stopping for the day. We wanted to do the same, but pressed on. The rest of the hike appeared easy on paper, but there were a ton of roots to watch out for and a bunch of small hills. Terrible for when you are having a bad day hiking already. We missed some Katahdin views because of the clouds.

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We were so happy to be at the shelter when we got there. Only 3 miles to the road and a chance for a zero day tomorrow, but we had such a bad hiking day and we were so hungry that we decided to stay at Hurd Brook Shelter. Smoky (a flip flopper) was already there. We started dinner and were surprised at the number of hikers there! If we came any later, we would’ve had to set our tent up in the rain. There were 7 hikers in the shelter and at least 5 other tents! It started raining around 6:30 and rained hard over night.

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This potted salamander is like 8″ long!

Day 193 – 9.30.15

We hiked 3.5 rainy miles (2170.6 – 2174.1). We were so excited to get to Abol Bridge today! I called up the AT Lodge in town to get some information. We were planning to press on towards Katahdin, but the weather looked so awful and threatening that I wanted to take a nero into town instead. I had to walk a quarter mile at least down the trail to get service. Thankfully once I got ahold of someone I learned that hitching was nearly impossible to town so I scheduled a shuttle for everyone who stayed at the shelter. Fancy Pants and I decided to hike in our Crocs so that our shoes would be dry for tomorrow’s hike. We arrived to the Abol Bridge store and the shuttle came by and picked up 9 of us to go to Millinocket. Fancy, Me, Happy Baby, Peggy, Bear, Chuckles, Mismatch, Bobby Hill, and Last Chance all squeezed in the van. The driver was upset at first, because he had a bigger van and wasn’t aware of how many hikers there was. I did actually tell him there was a big group over the phone, but I knew the cell service probably had something to do with the confusion. He got over it once he saw our “cramming hikers into the car” skills.

We were so happy to get to a warm, dry place! Everyone also seemed sad/mad that we got the last private room. We showered up, did some laundry, showered, and hung out. We watched Armageddon (again) and picked up a few things at the grocery store. After the movie, I went and hung out with Bear, Happy Baby, Bobby Hill, Peggy, Mismatch, and Chuckles for a little bit. Fancy Pants worked on the blog a little with some wine. She also talked to her mom and FaceTimed her sister. It’s always nice to have some alone time away from the group. The rain and wind was so intense! All day and night you could hear the rain and wind kicking. I couldn’t imagine the hikers who were out there in that mess. It would’ve been so miserable if Fancy and I decided to stay out there.

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It was crazy to know that this would be our last town and hostel we would be staying at before completing the Appalachian Trail. It made me sad to think that we were only a few days from completing this trip. I definitely didn’t want it to end. It seemed like we’ve been on the trail forever, but at this moment that notion now felt like time flew by!

 

 

 

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