A Northern Farewell: Days 87 – 94

Mile 1052.5 – 1167, 7/27/19 – 8/3/19

Day 87: 10.4 miles

ME 15 (Monson) to Wilson Valley Lean-to

We got a very late start on trail today, due to a combination of Salty having to resupply since he couldn’t yesterday, our general laziness about getting out of town, and the fact that the folks at Shaw’s were pretty busy. We were finally dropped off at the parking lot around 11 or so. Almost as soon as we left the parking lot we came upon the famous “100 mile wilderness” sign, informing us that we shouldn’t enter without at least 10 days worth of food. Like good thru-hikers, we ignored this sign, entering with about 3.5 days worth. We had arranged with Poet (the owner of Shaw’s) a food drop that far in. We didn’t want to rush the wilderness, but we also didn’t want to have to carry 6 days worth of food.

About 3 miles in we stopped for lunch at a shelter, and then it was an easy 7 miles to the shelter. We passed some nice lakes and streams on the way, and a nice waterfall.

When we got to the shelter, there were already 2 groups there. Both were groups of about 8 or so pre-teen to teen girls with counselors. We’d seen one of these camp groups before Monson, but it was a little jarring to have that many people around here. Luckily they weren’t staying in the shelter, so we set up in there. As the sun was setting, a large family of about 7 or so came in, filling up the shelter and the last few tent spots. Pretty amusing (and annoying, if I’m being honest) that in our first night in the 100 mile “wilderness” I saw more people at a shelter than I ever had before.

Day 88: 15.6 miles

Wilson Valley Lean-to to Chairback Gap Lean-to

The 100 Mile Wilderness is known as being easy, compared to the rest of Maine, but there are some mountains. Today, we had the Chairbacks, or most of them. As we left camp the trail followed the stream that had been the water source the night before. It ended in this pretty cool beaver dam.

It was an easy 5 miles to the next shelter, were we had a short break. Then we started the climbs. Hotman and I had lunch on the top of Barren Mtn, which actually had a lot of trees and the remains of a fire tower.

Water was pretty scarce, so we all had to go a ways off trail on a blue blaze to get water from Cloud Pond. After that, it was up and down a few more mountains.

Got some nice views and then the rain came in. I was at a viewpoint just as the weather was coming in, so I got some nice views and then I got very wet.

We got in to the shelter to see the worst sight you can see when it’s raining: a full shelter. Luckily is stopped raining a few minutes after we got there, so we were able to set up our tents and stay at least a little dry.

Day 89: 17.1 miles

Chairback Gap Lean-to to Logan Brook Lean-to

We had a climb to start the day, going up to Chairback Mtn. We got some nice views from there, even with the fog that was still in the area.

Then it was down to the bottom of the mountain, with a nice flat section for a while. We passed Katahdin Ironworks Rd, where my mom and I had come in for an overnight last summer. It was a real easy few miles to Carl A. Newhall Shelter, where we had stayed last year. Had lunch here this time around. I remember the hike being not too easy last year, but now it felt like great trail. Funny what 1000 miles on trail can do to your sense of perspective.

After lunch, it was a steady climb to the top of White Cap Mtn. White Cap was awesome because we got great views of Katahdin! Heading down, there was a section of trail where the white blazes truly felt like they were heading to Katahdin.

Coming down from White Cap there was some beautiful trail work in the form of stone stairs.

We got to the shelter, and enjoyed the fact that the rest of the way to Baxter would be flat and easy.

Day 90: 19.6 miles

Logan Brook Lean-to to Antlers Campsite

It was downhill in the morning, and then just pretty flat for the rest of the day. We had our food drop at 4:30 at a lumber road crossing about 16 miles into our day, but we ended up getting there around 2. Amazing how fast we can go when it’s flat. Luckily someone else had requested a food drop earlier, so the person from Shaw’s was already there when we got there. It was good for him too, I guess, since he didn’t have to wait all afternoon for us.

After restocking on food and just hanging for a bit, we moseyed on to Antlers Campsite. This campsite had been recommended to us from two different people and it was pretty nice. It’s situated on a peninsula, with the lake all around a really nice place to take a dip.

Day 91: 13.6 miles

Antlers Campsite to Wadleigh Stream Lean-to

We only had 13 miles to do today, so I had no desire to get out of camp quickly today, so I was actually the last one out. Once I got started the terrain was so nice. That, and the potential for rain in the afternoon, made me decide that I was gonna just hike straight to the shelter, not stop at all. Passed quite a few nice beaches.

When I got to the shelter around noon, I was surprised to find it empty.

Since I hadn’t passed Hotman or Salty, I had assumed I would find them there. I waited around about 15 minutes or so, and Hotman appeared. We figured I must have passed him when he stopped at one of the shelters we had passed, that I had just zoomed past. We had lunch, and discussed where Salty might be. He had been the very first to leave this morning, but Hotman hadn’t passed him anytime either. We didn’t really worry about it until it got to be around 4 and there was still no sign of him. We remembered a side trail to a beach about a quarter of a mile before the shelter. We decided to walk down there to see if he was taking a nap (our biggest suspicion was that he was taking a nap somewhere). After was maybe a couple hundred feet down trail, we see Salty heading towards us. He had in fact been just hanging at the beach all afternoon.

The only other thing of interest to happen was we met Levi, a NOBO long-distance sectioner. We’d continue to see him all the way to Katahdin.

Day 92: 19.6 miles

Wadleigh Stream Lean-to to Hurd Brook Lean-to

We had a few climbs to nice views in the early part of the day, but no hard climbs. Also passed some real nice lakes and cascades.

Around lunchtime I was just wondering where I would stop for food when I saw a trekking pole stuck in the ground near a side trail. Hotman had left a note with his trekking pole to say he was going to have lunch at the dam that was about .2 miles off trail. Normally that would be too far for me to want to walk off trail, but I wasn’t feeling any rush today, so I went down to join him. It ended up being a beautiful lake, with great views of Katahdin.

We had lunch and then, since Hotman want feeling anymore rushed than me, took naps too. After that it was an easy 10 miles or so to the shelter, still getting in around dusk, despite stopping for more lake views and lots of blueberries.

Day 93: 13.4 miles

Hurd Brook Lean-to to the Birches

While yesterday I felt no pressure to rush, today I felt a lot of pressure. The Birches, the campsite that Baxter State Park has for thru-hikers about to summit Katahdin, only has space for 12 people, so to get a spot there, you have to be one of the first 12 people to get to Abol Bridge (where the AT enters Baxter) so you can sign up. It was only 3 miles but I was still worried. We ended up getting to the register with about 4 people signed up ahead of us, including Granddaddy and Just Greg. We got some coffee at the camp store at Abol Bridge, then walked the 10 more miles to Katahdin Stream Campground, which is where the Birches is. We signed up with the ranger there, and then just hung out for the day.

Dy 94: 5.2 miles (plus down!)

The Birches to Baxter Peak, Katahdin

We (and most of the other people staying at the Birches) woke up before the sun. Felt very weird to be getting ready to hike for the last time in awhile. Can’t imagine what it was like for the NOBOs. We borrowed some daypacks from the ranger station and started the climb. I’ve heard that Katahdin is the hardest climb on the trail and I can certainly believe it. I could try to describe it, but I don’t think it would do it justice, so I’ll let my pictures do the talking.

After lots of celebrating and taking in the views at the top, our crew headed over the Knife’s Edge and down a different trail. Felt very weird to be following blue blazes and not white ones. At the parking lot, we were picked up by my friends Dave and Nikki (thanks again guys!). We went in to Millinocket, where we had McDonald’s and met up with Twinkletoes, who had summited with Buckles a couple days before us. Salty stayed with Twinkletoes, while Hotman and I headed to the coast.

1166.5 miles down, 1025.5 miles left!

One thought on “A Northern Farewell: Days 87 – 94

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