Tragedy strikes my electronics as my fellow hikers and I continue on the Appalachian Trail into the 100-Mile Wilderness. Enjoy reading my latest journal entry as I backpack the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. If you missed it, here are my previous entries and videos from the trail.
If you missed it in the last post, here’s the latest video as I hike through Maine, the final state on the AT!
I woke up pretty early and set off. I thought Transformer was still at camp and would catch up but I never saw him the entire day. I climbed up Pleasant Pond Mountain which didn’t seem that difficult. Afterwards I hiked a ways through flat terrain to Moxie Bald.
At the summit was a panoramic view of Maine. It was beautiful. I met up with Honey Bear, Relentless, and No Shoes who were lunching at the top. They eventually hiked on and I stayed and soaked in the view. I wouldn’t be getting many views after this as the trail is mostly low and flat through the 100-mile wilderness coming up.
With the flat terrain I cruised onward. I reached a small river I had to ford. This was the first time I’d had to ford on the trail. Before I started the trail, I had heard that the rivers in Maine were high and you constantly had to wade through water carefully. So far I haven’t had to ford any rivers so I was excited for my first time! I switched to my Crocs and waded in, holding my shoes and trekking poles. Halfway across I remembered I wanted to video the experience. I whipped my phone out to record. The rocks were covered in algae and very slippery and the water was knee-deep in parts. All of a sudden I slipped. It all happened so fast but next thing I knew, my shoes were underwater and my trekking poles were floating away. I grabbed onto the poles but my phone fell into the water. A Croc floated down the river and another hiker ran off to fetch it. It was a hilarious moment. I felt like I was in the game Oregon Trail, when you ford the river and your wagon sinks. I was losing all my stuff! I was embarrassed as there were several other hikers who witnessed the whole scene!
As I wrung out my socks and shoes, I realized my waterproof phone case had leaked. The headphone jack cover was open and water had gotten inside. I tried to turn the phone off as quickly as I could. Long story short, my phone screen stopped working; it was only black, yet my phone still turned on and off. So, despite having a generally good day, I was frustrated that now I don’t have any way of knowing the time, taking photos, taking videos, writing my journal, or contacting anyone.
I hiked on and the trail was very easy. There was another river to ford and I was much more successful this time. I caught up with Honey Bear and Relentless and we all had been planning on staying at the next shelter but changed our plan to push into Monson for the night. It was nine miles to the main road but only five and a half to a side trail to town. We were exhausted but ran into a NOBO hiker who had finished the trail and was giving out trail magic. The Oreos, bagels, Gatorade, and candy lifted my spirits. We made it to the the first road into Monson and were able to get service to call a hostel for a ride.
In Monson we stayed at Shaws Hiker Hostel. The family that ran it were super cool and nice. They gave me a bag of rice to put my phone in. We ordered pizza and beer from the nearby gas station and a woman gave Honey Bear $40 for being a thru-hiker. Free dinner for us! There were a lot of SOBO hikers at the hostel who were partying pretty hard. I didn’t think a lot of them would finish the trail. It was a hot night but I was glad to be in a bed and showered after my phone debacle.
Day’s Mileage: 27.7
Total Miles Hiked: 2,081.9
Remaining Miles: 117.8
The hostel had a huge breakfast of eggs made to order, bacon, home fries, and unlimited blueberry pancakes. Afterward, Relentless, Honey Bear, and I were driven back to where we left the trail and hiked the 3.3 miles to the main road we had wanted to get to the night before. We were then picked up again and taken to the hostel. So technically it wouldn’t be a zero day!
Back at the hostel I had to get on their computer to contact my friend Michael and explain my phone situation to him. Because of two-step verification for most of my accounts, I was only able to access my email. Facebook and WhatsApp would not work without my phone. Michael was planning on coming out to Maine to hike Katahdin with me. It seemed fitting since he’d hiked the first two weeks of the Appalachian Trail with me so it would be cool if he finished with me.
We were able to pound out a rough plan for my last days on the trail. Unfortunately I decided to move my summit day up one day. The weather wasn’t looking good for July 17th and so I decided to try for the 16th. This is what most of the other NOBOs were planning to do as well. Michael wouldn’t be with me until the day after, if this happened.
Transformer came around the hostel and had been staying at a free church down the road. He had the same plan to summit a day early with me, Honey Bear, Relentless, Trademark, 2-Clicks, and No Shoes. He was bored on his zero-day which I thought was silly. I loved having the time to relax and without my phone I was really forced to chill out. It thundered and rained briefly as he and I walked to the AT information center in town and talked to a guy about Baxter State Park and all of their restrictions for hiking Katahdin. They are very strict and have had a lot of conflicts with thru-hikers celebrating too much and breaking the park rules.
FYI, Katahdin is the final mountain on the Appalachian Trail. The trail’s terminus is at the summit. The mountain is located in Baxter State Park which has very strict rules for AT thru-hikers.
I had leftover pizza for lunch and then bought a tub of ice cream and ate it promptly in the 80-degree heat. The sun was out again and after I bought my food resupply, Relentless, Trademark, Honey Bear, and I walked to the dock on the lake in town. They swam and I got my feet wet. Afterward I went to the Lake House restaurant and had a pork chop special for dinner. It was a beautiful spot on the lake with mountains in the distance. Without my phone, I was really taking in everything in a new way. I was still bummed that I wouldn’t be able to video the last week of my hike but it would be an interesting lesson to go without my phone. I just hoped I would be able to retrieve the thousands of pictures on my phone once back in society.
Back at the hostel we all sat around and talked, swapping stories, drinking beer, and relaxing until dark. It was a fun end to a good day. Next up is the 100-mile wilderness. It is a fairly easy section but there are no towns and pretty remote roads that are far away from civilization. So I will be hiking for five days until I reach Baxter State Park, the end of my journey. Once in Baxter, I will hike up Katahdin where the trail ends.
Day’s Mileage: 3.3
Total Miles Hiked: 2,085.2
Remaining Miles: 114.5
My last night in a bed was pretty nice. It was interesting to see how much extra weight I had in my pack. Not only was I carrying around a phone, cord, and battery pack that was now useless, I realized I had four pairs of socks and I’ve only been wearing one pair over and over. My Aunt Andi and Uncle Bill had given me some Darn Tough socks and at first I preferred the thicker socks I brought but now I’ve switched and prefer the Darn Toughs. I also have convertible pants but with the weather I end up wearing a pair of shorts that belonged to my friend Michaela’s brother that were given to me when I visited her in New Jersey. I also had a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable soap I’d never used. I thought I’d be using it to wash myself in some lakes or something, but all of the hostels have provided soap and I’m pretty okay with rinsing off in the ponds in Maine. And so I carry close to 40 pounds into the 100-mile wilderness. Who knows how much of that is dead weight!
I started the day off by eating another of the hostel’s amazing breakfasts. Their shuttle dropped us off at the trailhead at 8:30am. I had joined up with a small group of six other hikers since we all planned to summit on the same day. In my head I called our rag-tag group the 16ers because we all planned to finish on the 16th: Relentless, Honey Bear, Trademark, 2-Clicks, No Shoes, Myagi, and Transformer. I figured Transformer had found his way to the trail and we’d meet up with him again.
At first I wasn’t loving six more days in the woods. This was the start of the 100-mile wilderness and I’d be hiking through the mud and bugs for days. I wasn’t looking forward to it. However, hiking with the others lifted my spirits and it passed the time talking with them and getting to know everyone better.
We had to ford a river and passed a big waterfall. It was great weather, sunny with few bugs and good temperatures. We had lunch by a river and it was not a very strenuous day. I was trying to savor these last days.
We had to hike up Barren Mountain but were rewarded with great overlooks of beautiful Maine. We decided to push on past the planned shelter one more mile to a stealth campsite. A SOBO joined us; we had been seeing a lot of them lately, though it was getting late in the season for them to be starting their hike. We ate dinner and went to bed after a good day of 20 miles. The 100-mile wilderness wouldn’t be so bad after all, I thought. I was 20% through the wilderness with five days left! Less than 100 miles to go!
Day’s Mileage: 20.1
Total Miles Hiked: 2,105.3
Remaining Miles: 94.4
Daily Average: 15.7
A special thanks to my hiker friends that graciously sent me their photos after my phone went for a swim.
I discovered this Australian band while hiking and have really enjoyed their latest album. Let Me Down Easy is one of the songs I’ve been listening to a lot lately.