Day 140. After a nice evening bonfire at Shaw’s last night, it started to rain hard. This was the 4th separate time it poured yesterday, confirming my wise decision to Zero at the hostel. But this morning was blue skies and sunshine, everything the soul needs for a great day in the trail. Well, that and a hearty breakfast … which Shaw’s also delivers well. Honestly, this may be a top 3 hostel from the whole journey. Up there with Woods Hole in Pearisburg and the Hiker Hut in Rangeley.
As discussed yesterday, a small army of us NOBOs all descended on the 100-Mile Wilderness together this morning. I’ve talked about this section many times in the last few days, so let me explain. These miles are no more or less difficult than the previous, they just lack any public access. I thought perhaps the AT here would be overgrown and poorly groomed, but that is not the case. The trail is the same, with similar mountains, lakes, and conditions to the prior miles of Maine … the difference is, you can’t escape them. No way out but through. You still cross dirt roads at times, but they are private, and cars wanting to gain access need to pay a fee to do so. There are no towns to stop in, no trail magic to anticipate, and no good resupply options available. It’s just you in the woods until the end.
There are two ways to resupply halfway through, but both are pretty expensive. The first option is to have a hostel in Maine drop food for you at a predetermined location, which will cost you between $50 and $80 dollars. The second option is an expensive private hunting camp hostel called White House Landing. You could stay there too, but most accounts I’ve read put any stop there at over $100/person when added up.
Fortunately, most NOBOs can get through these 100 miles in 4-5 days, which is our plan. So we all packed the full food amount, with no need for either resupply option. Near the trailhead, an ominous sign warns you to bring 10 day’s food (photo above), but I’m guessing that’s meant for non-thruhikers. After 1 day hiking, I have no doubt we’ll get through this as quickly as expected, if not faster. We took a group photo at the trailhead, then jumped in.
Today’s 20 miles were great in the cool sunny weather. It is a bit chilly at night while I type this, but the day was gorgeous. I managed to fall 2 more times on the slick slate rocks, bringing my total to 10 … but who’s counting? It was still pretty wet everywhere from yesterday’s rain. We also had to cross 3 different rivers. Each was about 20 feet wide and between calf and thigh deep in areas. I managed to carefully rock hop 2 of them, but did have to ford the other. That was a fun time, as it was pretty fast moving water and near a waterfall. Someone got a photo of me crossing but I need to get it from them.
The only real challenge today was at the end, climbing up a pretty steep Barren Mountain. However, halfway up was a rest area with one of the most spectacular views I’ve seen in Maine. No Katahdin sighting (that comes tomorrow), but a breathtaking landscape over a big lake that would be a dream to live on. A friendly SOBO hiker walked up just as I arrived, so he took a fantastic photo for me (below).
From there it was another couple miles down to the gap between Barren and the fourth peak of the Chairback Mountain Range we take on tomorrow (4 successive climbs). We are stealth camping near a stream/bog here because the other option is a shelter 0.4 miles off trail. and it’s plenty big to hold the 6 tents of our large group. We all sort of hiked together today, though everyone else passed by that ledge vista quickly, so I was the last into camp. I simply had a hard time leaving such a great view so soon, and wanted to take it in for as long as possible.
Side note, less than 100 miles left!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 2076.4
- Start Time: 08:15
- End Mile: 2097.0
- End Time: 05:20
- Miles Hiked: 20.6
- Miles to Go: 93.9
- Lodging: Stealth Site (near Fourth Mountain Bog)