The Last State
Our zero day in Gorham was amazing. Big Bunny’s parents came to visit us and payed us a wonderful hotel room, food and gave us some rides. They are both very kind persons! We went to Walmart, which should be the last one on our way to Katahdin, and bought a bunch of food. As we basically had a car, because of Big Bunny’s parents, we drove some of our stuff to an upcoming hostel. We headed out pretty late. The upcoming stretch of 21 miles includes some steep climbs up to the Wildcat Mountains and it’s also the last stretch in the Whites. We hiked up to the very last hut, filled up on water and went on. Initially we wanted to find a spot on our next climb. Finally we ended up on the first summit. The spots up there weren’t to good and there were already some guys camping. We pushed on to the next summit and found an awesome spot just before the alpine zone. My last day in the White Mountains and I enjoyed a 360 view including sunset and sunrise. It really couldn’t be any better than that!
The next day we soon reached the hostel and grabbed all our forwarded stuff. We hiked all the way to the border to Maine. The last state on the entire Appalachian Trail. We were all so excited about the state sign. It took us to a long day. We set up our camp just besides the state sign.
Maine had some great stuff on our first day. We should reach the hardest mile and the steepest climb on the entire trail. All that within a day. The hardest mile on the trail is called Mahoosuc Notch. It’s basically a lot of big boulder climbing and there are also some holes where you need to climb through. I had a lot of fun going through that stretch. Just after Mahoosuc Notch there is the steepest climb on the trail. We went up pretty fast. There were some sketchy stretches in between which were crazy steep and there was very little to get some good footing on. Pretty much – just never look down!
As we waited for some rain to go over, we ran out of food. We initially wanted to hike one or two more days to a further town. But, we had to go into Bethel, Maine – a distant trail town (a 30 minutes ride from trail). It all worked out perfectly. We got a hitch to a restaurant brewery. Enjoyed a huge burger and a well deserved “welcome to Maine” beer. After the meal we received a ride to the grocery store. From there the plan was unknown. Coincidentally, there was a nice little motel just besides the store, and just in waking distance an amazing cafe! This cafe had an amazing breakfast. New York style, hand-made bagels. Oh, it was delicious! Months without quality food will really make you appreciate a fine meal when you have one.
There really wasn’t anything special the next few days. The terrain just kept being pretty tough. Big elevation gain and losses mixed with some pristine bald alpine vegetation. It’s peaceful walking through these areas. You get lost in the environment. At least until you step on these bridges that seem to be sink holes that eat hikers. Out of nowhere you will be walking along these boardwalks until you see a wet board. Along side these wet boards is a swamp with craters of footprints from fallen hikers. Here is where you need to get off trail to save yourself (your dry shoes and “clean” legs). Sherpa crossed a false board and was nearly eaten by the mud swamp creature going crotch deep on the fall.
It seems to be an ongoing challenge out here, staying dry and relatively clean.
Every day seemed to have some rain, even if it wasn’t in the forecast. But every day we seemed to avoid it perfectly. That was perfect and so were our campsites. One was by a 40 meter (120 foot) waterfall that assisted us in a restful sleep. The other was on a mountain with a prime sunrise spot – to which we took full advantage of.
This time we got to our planned town without running out of food. We hitched into Stratton, Maine. Big Bunny already booked the rooms the night before as we camped on top of the last mountain. Just two miles before town we crossed 2000 miles. What an epic mark on the trail! We were all se excited! It also means we got less than 200 miles to go. This should lead us to about two weeks until our last climb to Katahdin. For a decent day hiker 200 miles sounds like a lot. For us it means we’re almost at the end of our journey. We all got mixed feelings!
Nevertheless there’s some amazing stuff waiting for us. In about 80 miles we should reach the “100 mile wilderness”. A 100 miles without any town nearby. Sounds like fun. All the exhausting climbs should also end pretty soon. We’re looking forward for the last 190 miles!
Co-Author “Big Bunny”