APPALACHIAN TRAIL: 01-30 September 2013
01-Sep-2013, 14.1 miles: Hiked to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. The day started with flat terrain to a descent to Crawford Notch. The ascent over Mt Webster was steep in sections and technical over 3 miles. But, I am in the presidential range which is great and the weather has turned sunny and mostly clear! This is good as t-storms had been predicted. Did a work-for-stay at the hut. There are no camping spots on the ridge and your options are staying at a hut (holds 30-90 people) or dropping off the side of the ridge below treeline to camp. The huts cost $125 a night and includes dinner and breakfast. The huts try to accommodate 2-4 thru-hikers with the work-for-stay option. You need to be there after 4pm. Work is usually doing the dishes, sweeping the hut, folding blankets, etc. You don’t get to eat with the regular paying customers though. You have to watch them eat and then wait until the hut crew eats. After that you get to whatever is leftover. You also do not get a bunk. Instead you use your sleeping bag and sleep in the dining room where they expect you to be up and out of the way by 6:30am. This hut also has the Dungeon option. This is a windowless cellar area where thru-hikers can sometimes stay for $10 without any food options. It was somewhat a pain but it was nice having a roof and warm room to sleep in. During the night rain and clouds moved in also.
02-Sep-2013, 7 miles: Hiked to Madison, Spring Hut. Our goal was 15 miles but the endless rocky terrain and descents and climbs slowed us down. The day started cloudy and rainy but by the time we left the hut it was only cloudy on the top of Mt Washington. We stopped at the top and had lunch. After 30 minutes of climbing down the weather started clearing and we had some nice views of where we were going. It was cloudy most of the day after that. At Madison hut we could not do the work-for-stay deal as we were there too early. So we paid. It was nice as there were only 6 paying guests and the capacity was 50+ people. We had an excellent dinner and breakfast the next day.
03-Sep-2013, 7.8 miles: Hiked to Pinkham Notch, NH. We stayed at the Joe Dodge Lodge. This was another short mileage day. The day was very sunny as we climbed up and over Mt Madison. But the terrain was also very rocky. This was not too bad as the rocks were dry. However, once we went below tree-line, the rocks and roots were all damp and wet which slowed us significantly. Even though most of the day was downhill we could just not make good time. At the Notch we decided to just get a room at the lodge and call it a day as the next section of trail was 2,400 feet up Mt Wildcat.
04-Sep-2013, 13.1 miles: Hiked to Imp Campsite. I felt really good physically and made pretty good time. The climb up Wildcat as very steep the first 1-1.5 miles. After that there was a series of moderate ups and downs over the various peaks of Wildcat. After Wildcat the trail had some very steep climbs and descents. The last steep descent before the shelter was very technical in spots. The weather was mostly clear until mid afternoon and the were some great views of Mount Washington across route 16.
05-Sep-2013, 8 miles: Hiked to Gorham, NH. I decided to stay in Gorham to resupply and because there were minimal spots to stop if I kept hiking after resupplying. The night was rainy and cooler than it has been for quite a while. There was no rain while hiking but low clouds and wind for a while. After an hour or so the sun came out and it was a nice short hike out. I caught up to a local guy who was just out for a couple hours of hiking and we chatted on the way down. He gave me a ride to Gorham which was nice.
06-Sep-2013, 11.8 miles: Hiked to Gentian Pond Shelter. Great sunny and cool day for hiking. Met a couple from Portsmouth, NH at the shelter. This is the second couple from Portsmouth I have met on the trail. The next morning I went down to the pond around 7:20am to get some water and saw 2 moose. A mother and young one. I went to get my camera and told everyone and we all went to the pond. We watched them for 20+ minutes and the young one eventually came over to within 10-12 feet from us!
07-Sep-2013, 9.6 miles: Hiked to Full Goose Shelter. I snapped another trekking pole on a very steep section. I was not happy about this because I rely on them so much in this type of terrain. It was a stupid pole plant and move on my part. Some of these climbs and descents are incredibly steep. What a pain.
passed 1,900 miles
crossed NH-ME border at mile 1,904.1
The AT runs through 14 states and I am on the last one!
08-Sep-2013, 9.7 miles: Hiked to Bethel, ME. 9.7 miles to Grafton Notch. Stayed at the Chapman Inn in Bethel, ME. Did the Mahoosuc Notch. The guide book I used says “Most difficult or fun mile of the AT. Make way through jumbled pit of boulders.” It rained the night before and sprinkled a bit in the morning so everything was wet. This made the way harder also. The boulders range in size from a VW bus to a small 2 story house. There was no easy way to get through and I would spend 3-4 minutes at a spot trying to figure out my next move. Then I would start that direction and sometimes would have to turn around and rethink my approach. There were 3-4 sections were you actually had to take your pack off and push it through a hole under the boulders or pull it through after you. I estimate it took me around 2 hours to go this one mile. If it wasn’t so wet I possibly could have done it a little faster. It was a long damp, cool, windy day.
09-Sep-2013, 10.3 miles: Resupplied in Bethel and an outfitter fixed my trekking pole for free by using Lexi parts on my Black Diamond poles. He was pretty awesome for doing this! In the afternoon hiked 10.3 miles to East B Hill road and camped for the night. It was a great day of hiking with nice temps and occasional sun.
Looking at Mt Washington from the top of Mt Wildcat
Another really nice day to be hiking.
10-Sep-2013, 10.1 miles: Hiked to Andover, ME. 10.1 miles to South Arm road. Stayed at a hostel in Andover, ME. It was a good day with no rain!
11-Sep-2013, 11.5 miles: Hiked to campsite near dirt road. Tough day. Warm and sunny until late afternoon. Lots of thunder and a little rain after 6:30pm. I fell twice while hiking. The first time I was sideways and my head was downhill. I had to remove my pack before I could get up. Luckily no damage other than a couple scratches on my legs.
12-Sep-2013, 16.7 miles: Hiked to Piazza Rock Shelter. OK day except for lots of roots and mud from rain. Big thunderstorm 35 minutes before we got to the shelter and we were soaked. But we had a roof and only one other person in the shelter.
13-Sep-2013, 11.6 miles: Hiked to campsite near Orbeton Stream. We camped for the night. It was a wet rainy day and night. The peaks were socked in. Some very steep sections coming off Saddleback mountain. Another tough day. Got two 4,000 foot peaks in New England. There are 48 in NH, 5 in VT and 14 in ME.
14-Sep-2013, 11.5 miles: Hiked to Crocker Cirque campsite. Forded first 2 streams. Fording required us to walk in a fast stream up to mid-thigh in depth. All the rain made the rivers high and fast. Had to be really careful.
15-Sep-2013, 7.3 miles: Hiked to Stratton, ME. Weather clears up and we had some sun all morning. Resupplied in town and dried out all gear.
16-Sep-2013, 10.4 miles: Hiked to Safford Notch campsite. It was a cold windy day going over the Bigelow mtns. The peaks and some of the ridge was all exposed and above treeline. I finally remembered I had some rain pants and put them on over the last peak to stay warm. They were predicting night temps into the teens but I don’t think it got below 25 degrees.
passed 2,000 miles
17-Sep-2013, 15.1 miles: Hiked to campsite near gravel road. The day started cool and cloudy but by mid-day the sun was out and it was perfect hiking weather.
18-Sep-2013, 11.5 miles: Hiked to Caratunk, ME. There is a ferry service (canoe for 2 people) over the Kennebec River which we have to take since there is a dam upstream that releases multiple times a day and it is very dangerous to ford this river. Got to the ferry site at noon and had to wait until the 3-5pm ferry time. Weather was great though so we didn’t mind and relaxed by the river. Stayed at the Sterling Inn and resupplied.
The toughest mile on the AT. It took my around 2 hours to go one mile. The pictures below give you an idea of the terrain. The second picture show my trekking pole and a spot where you have to take your pack off and crawl through under the rocks and either push your pack through or pull it behind you. Crazy stuff!!!
Camping with Krispin.
Waiting for the ferry to cross the Penobscot River.
19-Sep-2013, 14.7 miles: Hiked to Bald Mountain Brook Lean-to. A cool day for the first hour and then perfect blue skies and no wind after that. Had some great views from Pleasant Pond Mtn. Forded another stream.
20-Sep-2013, 22 miles: Hiked to Monson, ME. Another day of perfect weather. Forded 3 rivers. Two were mid-thigh in depth. The other was knee deep.
21-Sep-2013, 15.3 miles: Hiked to Monson, ME. Slack-packed 15.3 miles back into Monson from the north. Cloudy and cool to start but sun came out later for another great day. Forded 3 rivers. Terrain was lots of short ups and downs which can be harder than sustained climbs and descents sometimes. But it was nice not to have a full pack! The trail was a lot of roots and muddy spots with occasional boulder sections reminiscent of PA.
22-Sep-2013, 0 miles: Hiked to Monson, ME. Zero day in Monson due to rain and to resupply.
23-Sep-2013, 10.7 miles: Hiked to Chairback Gap Shelter. Had a very cold (mid 30’s maybe) and wet night at the shelter. Very windy all night long but at least we were dry in the shelter. The trail had lots of small ups and downs which slowed progress a bit.
24-Sep-2013, 9.9 miles: Hiked to Carl A. Newhall Shelter. Another very cool, cloudy and wet day. Not pouring but damp and misty in the clouds. Had to ford the West Branch of Pleasant River. This was pretty shallow (maybe up to the mid-calf, and wide. Not flowing real hard so it wasn’t too bad. Met Chiquita and Spider who I hadn’t seen in weeks. It was nice to catch up with them since most of the people I know where behind me.
passed 2,100 miles
Krispin taking a break on a beautiful day.
Fording a river in Maine
25-Sep-2013, 15.9 miles: Hiked to campsite near Crawford Pond. The day started out cold and wet but was cooler later. No sun at all but warmer at the lower elevations. I fell once and almost fell 2-3 other times. Luckily it was a minor fall and I didn’t break my trekking poles. Had a few climbs at higher elevations but the last 10 miles were mostly downhill or level.
26-Sep-2013, 18.7 miles: Hiked to Nahmakanta Stream campsite. Another overcast day but no rain. Very flat terrain with some rocks and rooty areas to deal with. Finally got some higher mileage though and that was nice.
27-Sep-2013, 17.7 miles: Hiked to Rainbow Lake campsite. Beautiful, sunny and warm day. Lots of color in the leaves. Another really flat day of hiking which helped. On top of Nesuntabunt Mountain we had a 16 mile line-of-sight view of Katahdin.
28-Sep-2013, 11.2 miles: Hiked to Abol Bridge campsite. Fantastic day in the 70’s and sunny. No clouds at all. Great views of Katahdin. Mostly flat hiking so was at the campsite by noon. There was a restaurant and store at the campsite. I was going to push on another 10 miles to camp and summit Katahdin Sunday but there were no campsites left at the Birches or Katahdin Stream Campground. So a few of us got a tent site and camped out. We also got our name on the list for the Birches shelter which is only available to thru-hikers.
29-Sep-2013, 10 miles: Hiked to The Birtches Shelter. The trail was very flat. Had to ford one stream and was able to rock-hop the other one instead of fording it. Was at The Birches early afternoon and saw a bunch of people that had summited during the day. The weather was perfect – warm, minimal wind and no clouds.
30-Sep-2013, 10.2 miles: Hiked 5.1 miles up Katahdin and 5.1 miles back down. We all started around 5-5:15am and I hit the summit at 8:46am. We did night hiking with our headlamps for the first hour. The terrain was pretty flat the first mile and then gradually got steeper for the next hour. After that we had two very steep sections with lots of bouldering. However, almost nobody took their regular backpacks. We had day packs on that were available for free at the ranger station. Just water, snacks, camera and an extra warm shirt and windbreaker. Parts of the climb were challenging but once you got over the last steep section, it was a pretty flat mile over to the summit. Another perfect day for weather. Minimal clouds, very warm and sunny with minimal wind.
Katahdin 16 miles behind me as the crow flies.
Katahdin from Abol campground. About 10 miles away from the final night of camping.
Final mile approach to the summit.
2,185.9 miles later. Made it. As a bonus, it was a perfect day.