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!
Leaving the Green Mountains of Vermont was one of the more bittersweet moments we had on the northern part of the Appalachian Trail. Lindsay and I both looked forward to tackling the looming challenge of the White Mountains partly because of the beauty that the big peaks and ridge lines of New Hampshire held on a clear, sunny day but also so that people would stop talking about how hard they were going to be. It seemed like “The Whites” produced a near-paralyzing fear for at least 100 miles before the first climb. Considering the fact that a blind man (Bill Irwin) had thru-hiked and people in the 80s thru-hike every year we assumed that some of the anxiety might have been from slightly exaggerated stories and tales. Nonetheless, we decided to err on the side of caution and take a rest day to load up on calories and resupply our food in the beautiful New England town of Hanover, NH. As long as erring on the side of caution is having a self-cooked pizza feast at the community pizza ovens with a case or two of Long Trail Ale then we were very safe in our preparation for embarking on our White Mountain Adventure.
Ahh, Vermont. Delightfully scenic, unique, varied and a bit one-off, Vermont. For the first 100 miles of this state, the Appalachian Trail and Long Trail share the same pathway separating just past Rutland, Vermont at the Maine Junction. As you may have read in our previous post, The Slackpack Experiment, we ended our 230 miles of hiking sans-backpack in Bennington, Vermont. Bennington is located only fifteen miles past the Vermont border, resulting in our purposeful decision to put backpacks on at the start of the Green Mountains. Not only did we start back up carrying our houses on our backs again, but we did so at the reappearance of real mountains. This led to a bit of apprehension about the endeavor to come and whether or not we would be able to make the mental and physical transition to backpacking again.
As you may have surmised from the previous couple posts, we did not have the best mental state going into the last 1/3 of our Appalachian Trail thru hike. Our feet hurt, we had less then spectacular scenery and to be perfectly honest we simply were not having fun anymore. We had just spent two days in town in complete bed rest and after four days of hiking it seemed like the down time didn’t help to rejuvenate us in the slightest. Every time we took a zero day it seemed pointless, ineffective and even worse, a waste of time. Walking for a week and taking two days off had proven fruitless twice now, and doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is often referred to as the definition as insanity.
We knew that our current method of getting to Maine by foot wasn’t working. We also knew that the last thing either of us wanted was to quit the trail. We knew that our bodies and minds were beaten down and probably the worst of all, hiking the Appalachian Trail stopped being fun for about 200 miles. If fortune favors the bold then the time had come to think outside the box but still get our butts to Maine!