The 100 Mile Wilderness
We totally enjoyed our nero day in Stratton. Nowadays we realize that our bodies are kind of running out of energy. My body feels just like the battery is getting empty. I’m pretty much exhausted all the time. Because of all the big climbs the last 200 miles (320 km) – my knees are really bothering me right now. They definitely hurt a lot, especially going downhill. Thinking about all that stuff gets me in a bad mood. On the other hand – I know I have less than 200 miles (320 km) to go and there is absolutely no way I would quit the trail right now. Even with a broken leg I would try to summit Katahdin! We also realize that we’re almost done with our journey. We all have mixed feelings about that. Speaking for myself, I’m looking forward to see my family and friends again. On the other hand I made some amazing new friends on the trail. I might not see them ever again, or for a long time. Also, going back to normal life will be weird. There is definitely going to be a tradition period. All these little things which are normal to most of the people. Running water, a flushing toilet, food to order, etc. Out on the trail you realize how special these things really are. I’ll have a different perspective for sure!
Out of Stratton we should have 80 miles (128 km) left to the start of the 100 mile (160 km) wilderness. There was a set of another climbs. After these climbs we should have an almost completely flat stretch. Yes, no climbs at all for at least a whole day! We haven’t had such a terrain for weeks. We always have a late start out of town. The last minute before the checkout is used wisely with relaxing time. That’s why out of Stratton we only did the first big climb up and to the first shelter. This shelter has a caretaker to maintain the site and educate the people about proper leave no trace principles. We were all surprised that we all knew the caretaker, Master Splinter. He’s the guy who did the introduction at Amicalola State Park, right at the start of the Appalachian Trail. It was very foggy the next morning as we started the climb up to our last 4000 footers, the Bigelows. The Bigelows are very popular for day and weekend hikers. The view from the top is simply amazing. You can see Mt. Katahdin (on a clear day), the target of the AT, and some beautiful lakes down in the valley. Just as we reached the second summit the view cleared up. We were standing up there just stunned. It was amazing to be up on the summit not seeing anything and suddenly having this amazing view. Sadly, it wasn’t clear enough to see Katahdin. A local said the view distance was limited because of all the wildfires in the western United States.
We were flying the next two days. No mountains at all, just some little speed bumps. The trail gets so flat because it’s routed alongside some ponds. Speaking about ponds in Maine… we asked ourselves what is the difference between a pond and a lake? We thought it’s the size. But man, these ponds here are huge lakes! We took the opportunity, enjoyed our time and camped just besides a beautiful beach. It almost felt like a vacation trip. Sherpa just bought a fishing license in Stratton and carries a fishing pole. Of course, he went fishing. He caught two little ones and let them back in.
The next day we had 14 miles (22 km) left to Monson. Monson is the last town before the 100 mile wilderness. Seven miles in, the trail crosses a road. Sherpa’s parents surprised us with cold beers and a lot of food. We dropped our packs and switched to some light day packs. The last 7 miles to town felt so good without a heavy pack. We spent the night in town. Sherpa’s parent took care of everything. They booked the motel rooms and drove us around in town. What an amazing help! We did our last resupply and bought food for 10 days. As Sherpa’s parents should be in Maine the rest of the trip, so we basically have a support vehicle, even the 100 mile wilderness is not easy accessible via car.
Guess what? We headed out late again the next day. This time the clock already showed 5pm. We only did 1.2 miles (2 km) in. A new record for the shortest day on trail for all of us. And again we camped just besides a pond. The days are getting shorter it’s definitely getting way colder during the night. Temperatures are close to the freezing point. I’m glad I carry all my winter gear these days! We did 19.2 miles (31 km) the next day. We haven’t done such a long distance for weeks. We were all pretty exhausted and tired this evening. This lead us to a great night sleep.
Sherpa’s parents should pick us up the next day. They rented a lake cabin at the base of Katahdin. You can see Katahdin from the backyard. As it was supposed to rain the whole next day, we planned our last zero day. What an opportunity. Getting out of the rain, spend a zero day in an awesome cabin at a lake with a view to your goal, for which you walked over 2000 miles (3200 km). Thank you Robert and Rosemary!!!
70 miles (112 km) left in the 100 mile wilderness. 95 miles (152 km) left in total. 4 days of hiking and one day to summit Katahdin. We’re almost done with this journey!