The infamous 100 Mile Wilderness of northern Maine, the only thing standing between us and the base of Mt Katahdin. What is the 100 Mile? It is advertised as an isolated and remote stretch of virgin wilderness through marshy moose bog habitat with easy rolling terrain connecting pristine lakes. The idea of hiking completely through this section originated almost a century ago in connecting several hunting camps situated only a day apart. As time passed the hunting camps slowly disappeared and the 100 mile experience changed from something geared toward the upscale outdoorsman to a rugged, self reliant wilderness trek. The foreboding reputation of this section of the Appalachian Trail has created a sense of fear and anxiety amongst the pool of modern AT Thru Hikers and it has now become an almost impassable barrier. Mentally at least. With communication technology developing and an influx of thru-hikers with greater disposable cash, the 100 mile has morphed once again to something different. The distance between Monson, Maine and the Golden Road on the boundary of Baxter State Park is still 100 miles but the mystique of a true wilderness experience has become a thing of the past.
Maine. My home state, the final state on the northbound Appalachian Trail, the second longest state on the AT and arguably the most primitive and natural section of trail on the entire 2200 mile journey. Within miles of crossing the New Hampshire border we came face to face with what we call the most difficult range of the AT, the Mahoosuc Mountains. As we hiked the northern New England section of the AT our fellow hikers talked about two sections of the upcoming trail more than anything else: The White Mountains and the Mahoosuc Notch. The Mahoosuc Notch, or Mahoosuc Mile, is considered to be the hardest mile of the entire AT. With the Notch buried deep in the middle of the Mahoosuc Mountain range, the range itself gets very little attention and is consequently a very underestimated section of the trail. The Mahoosuc’s only take up about 75 miles of trail but it made us earn every one of those miles the hard way. As opposed to many of the other mountainous sections where we would make a big climb and then attempt to follow a ridge line, the Mahoosuc’s did not have a ridge line to follow. Making it through them and getting to Andover took five days of long and difficult hiking, with never-ending steep ascents and descents on rock ledges, boulder fields and a few stone steps if we were lucky!
On the morning we left Andover for our final two week push to Katahdin we did what any responsible hiker would do: check the weather report. We made sure we had the proper gear for the forecasted temperatures, which were daytime highs in the 60s and lows in the mid 40s. Since we knew we would be sleeping in the mountains we figured on nighttime temperatures to be more realistically at about 40. Perfect! Low chance of rain, and decent temps allowed us to trim our clothing weight by a few pounds and travel a little lighter for the first week of our final two. We have good gear and generally err on the side of caution so we took off figuring we would be a-okay. I don’t know why I actually trusted the weather man.
Continue reading Why you don’t listen to the weatherman
I know we haven’t fully recapped our 2,185.3 mile hiking adventure but we couldn’t delay putting this up any longer. On September, 27th Lindsay and I summited Mt Kathadin in northern Maine, finishing our 2014 Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike. We took off our well worn boots and hung up our quite smelly backpacks after 5 months and 3 days of rain, sun, sweat, cold, tears, beers and most importantly stories and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Discussing and writing the blog became a regular part in our day to day life on the trail and if you’re reading this then you played a role in our success. Thank you for following along with our misguided adventures, pretending that our pictures aren’t terrible and not tearing up my writing… most of the time at least!
We’re going to keep writing about the journey for the next few weeks and plan on spending our winter updating the blog every week so keep checking back!
40 miles north on the Appalachian Trail past the Maine/New Hampshire border lies the infamous “Mahoosuc Mile”. Nestled in a deep notch between Speck Mountain and Goose Eye Mountain is what many refer to as the most difficult mile on the whole AT. With steep cliffs on either side and what appeared to be no other alternative, trail builders routed the pathway through a mile long boulder field before climbing steeply back into the mountains on both the north and south sides. Traversing the Mahoosuc Mile is the epitome of two common themes on the AT; choose your own adventure and that weather makes the difference between a good day and a bad day . One thing is for sure when you get to the end of the Mahoosuc Notch, you either loved it or you hated it and not much in between!