Days 19-21: Nahmakanta Stream To KATAHDIN

Day 19: Nahmakanta Stream Lean To to Rainbow Spring Tentsite

I’ve been thinking a lot about sinking in to things. Just sitting and wallowing in the dirt, the hiker smell, the sounds around me, the feelings. There’s something so relaxing about giving up on keeping your feet dry and just stepping into the mud. Or laying down in the dirt and kicking your shoes off. Jumping into the lake with your dry clothes.

We set off this morning intending on hiking 21ish miles. But we stopped for a snack break (the hiker hunger had fully hit) and then we found a beach perfect for swimming.

So we hopped in. We swam. I had a VERY dramatic encounter with a deer fly that lead to me running and screaming down the rock beach and then violently sitting in the water and splashing my head to keep him at bay.

After the deer fly let me escape, we laid on the rock beach in the sun. We talked some. We dozed a little. Beetle and Friendly Ghost and Gandalf eventually arrived. We convinced Beetle to take a quick swim and then eventually we all pushed on.

We sat at an overlook for lunch. We talked to Gandalf about the feelings and thoughts we had about finishing. How hiking had changed him. What would come next.

We decided to stop a little early to tent with Beetle and Friendly Ghost. We grabbed our tent sites and got set up, luckily before a horde of teenagers arrived on a group trip. I built a fire and we ate dinner, talking about all sorts of things. It was a very good night.

We got ready for bed, but FD and I got caught up with some of the campers talking about hiking. They’re writing about us in their group journal! It’s so funny, to be “the AT hikers.” One kid said he thought we looked like we were in our early 20s. Bless him.

The loons are calling to each other on the lake. The Danes are discussing their day (I think; they’re speaking danish so I really don’t know). FD is snacking in his tent, I think. And I am lying in my tent, resting my bones and smiling about the day. I feel excited and peaceful all at once. Tomorrow I will finish the hundred mile wilderness.

Miles: 17.6

MVP: dinner (all of it)



Day 20: rainbow springs Tentsite to Katahdin Stream Lean To 8

I woke up to birds. My favorite way to wake up! We packed and sorted and all gathered by the fire pit to make breakfast. We spoke quietly, as the camping teens were all still asleep.

(I take a picture every morning so I can tell when a day starts/stops for uploading pictures to my blog. Some days are… more flattering than others. Oh well!)

Beetle and Friendly Ghost left first, and we made plans to meet for lunch at Abol Bridge.

FD and I left only after a MAGNIFICENT performance by the loons. Truly incredible!

We stopped to watch two woodpeckers do their work. They were so unconcerned with us! The male was harder to spot but the female was just right in front of us.

Before we knew it we were at Rainbow Ledges. I literally said, “I know this is too easy to be the climb to rainbow ledges but I wish it were.” And it was.

I found blueberries!

We saw Katahdin again. It’s so close and so big!

A quick stop at a Lean-to with the old “baseball bat” floors. In the early 60s and 70s, the first hikers of the season would gather spruce and fir boughs and line the floors. Other hikers would freshen it up, but that gave them a soft floor to sleep on. There are too many hikers to do that now, so we just suffer on hard, flat, smelly floors.

Almost before I knew it we were at the end of the hundred mile wilderness. We raced to Abol Bridge.

I have no pictures from lunch. We were too busy eating and chatting with Friendly Ghost and Beetle. I will miss them so much!

I grabbed a cone (blueberry and fly fishing fudge) and off we went for the last few miles into Baxter. (The cone is almost half eaten at the point this picture was taken.)

It was suddenly so close. The last few miles felt forever long and startlingly quick at the same time.

We stopped to watch a giant beaver swimming in front of us. He was so big!

We slipped into camp and registered at the ranger office. We dropped our packs off at our Lean-to and went to find MuddyFeet and Safety Chute and Mr P. They were at a nearby site with a spaghetti dinner to share! It was delicious.

And now FD and I are listening to the stream (no birds here) and I’m stewing on the climb tomorrow. I’m nervous about it. Will I be embarrassingly slow? Will my socks manage to stay knit long enough? (There is already one hole and likely two more tomorrow.) Will the scrambles be hard? Will the summit be crowded? Will I have to descend in the rain?

I don’t know. But I do know that I’ll climb up that mountain tomorrow and come back down. I’ll have completed the entire Appalachian Trail. And then I’ll be heading home to see my family.

Plus I owe my younger sister quite a bit of money for taking care of my cat and sending me packages!

Miles: 21

MVP: lunch. All of it!

LVP: these deer flies are stalking me and a mosquito bit me on top of an existing mosquito bite. Also, I smell so bad.


Day 21: Katahdin

I set an alarm last night. And good thing, too! Walking this much makes you tired.

We woke up and had coffee then set out for the Hunt trail up to Katahdin.

The trail starts off nice enough, but quickly turns into a scramble.

The scrambling was actually kind of fun for a while. Going up is better than going down, for sure.

We took a break at the Hunt Spur, a brief flat bit that lets you recover a little bit.

And then it was the last ridge walk up to the summit.

We ran into some friends on the way up — Gandalf, DayGlo, No Break, Mr P, Safety Chute, Muddyfeet… I loved seeing friends during that last little walk! They kept telling us we were so close, and then finally… we were.

We sat and ate for a bit, taking time to sing Beetle “happy birthday.”

And then the Abol trail back down. This trail is shorter than Hunt. It starts with a long scramble over an old avalanche slide. Lots of sitting and scooting. I eventually ended up crab walking a lot of it.

We finally got back into the tree line (after 3 coats of sunscreen for me!). The flat was nice but my knees and feet were just shot.

We got a hitch back into Katahdin Stream to pick up the rest of our gear from the ranger office. We sat and chatted with DayGlo and No Break for a bit, then walked out to try to get a hitch to Millinocket. We eventually got a ride to a gas station a few miles from town, stopped in to say hi to Poncho and grab snacks, then got another hitch to town (from an old Maine couple — the husband sounded like he could have hosted Car Talk).

Checked-in, showered, and in clean clothes, we grabbed dinner, walked to the pharmacy, got more ice cream for me, and then, as we were walking upstairs to go to sleep, we found Beetle and Friendly Ghost!! They’d checked the weather and made a quick decision to summit today instead of tomorrow and managed to get up and down Katahdin super fast. A great birthday for Beetle!! We went to dinner with them and enjoyed more time with our friends.

Sunday morning we grabbed breakfast with Beetle and Friendly Ghost. When I first woke up, my first thought was, “oh no. I have to climb Katahdin today.” And then later, “wait. I’ve already climbed it. I have to go down it.” It took a while to sink in that I was just… done. I’ve done it all. After 3.5 years, there’s no part of the AT I haven’t walked. I’ve been to all the big hostels. I’ve swam in streams and ponds. I’ve hiked in snow and tornadoes. I don’t even know what’s next (jk, of course I have a plan for next year). It’s such a weird feeling.

Our room at the AT Lodge in Millinocket is the same room where Earl Shaffer stayed once. He was the very first person to thru-hike the AT, and they still have his old VW bus (the original #wanderlust Instagram influencer). This poem of his was framed in our room:

Hiking the trail has meant so much to be. Being able to finish it has meant even more. I am so grateful for all of the love and encouragement from you, my friends, while I’ve fallen in beaver bogs, injured myself way too many times, felt the deep grief of having eaten all of my good food when I’m still 3 days out of town, been lonely and sad, too hot to sleep, too cold to get up, and too sore to do more than hobble in the morning.

I couldn’t have asked for a better end to my AT life. I suspect it’ll be a while before I write here again, but I’ll be back eventually, with new shoes, new trail, new stories, and new typos.

I love you all! Thank you for being with me. Happy trails!

Miles: 10.4

Trip Total: 319.4 (+ the 5.2 back down Katahdin)

MVP: that SIGN

LVP: none. I am grateful for the time, eager to be with my family and at work, glad to feel the pain and soreness from working hard, and lucky my shoes survived enough to get me back down the mountain (they are now in the trash).

Days 15-18: Monson to Nahmakanta Stream Lean To

Day 15: Shaw’s to Long Pond Stream Lean To

Shaw’s has a great breakfast. Blueberry pancakes, eggs, bacon (which I skipped), and home fries. They even made FD vegan pancakes! Coffee, water, and OJ rounded it out. I ate too much.

We had a lot of errands to take care of in the morning. I wanted a new water filter (I am very cavalier about filtering water — I usually don’t — but the sheer amount of moose poop in Maine has me convinced all water is contaminated now). I also needed a pair of socks to replace my lost socks, some fuel for my stove, and we needed to schedule our food drop. As well as settle up on the hostel stay. Luckily, poets gear emporium had everything we needed.

We hopped in the car to drive to the trail head. Gandalf decided to take a zero, so we likely won’t see him again. At the trail head, poet gave us a rousing speech. I cried. We set off into the hundred mile and not even 30 seconds in, it just hit me. Here I was. In the hundred mile wilderness. The last section before Katahdin. You hear about it all the time. I’ve been hearing stories about running out of food, getting helicoptered out with a broken leg, swimming at every pond, running in to friends you haven’t seen in hundreds of miles…. and I was finally hiking it.

It’s not a wilderness. The smokies are probably more remote. We ran into day hikers and Girl Scout troops and lacrosse bros out for a weekend. But it does feel different.

We stopped for lunch at these falls. I laid back on the rock, my feet in the water, slowly eating peanut butter off my spoon. To think that after three and a half years of hiking, I’m so, so close to the end. It boggles the mind, really.

At the falls we spied Beetle and Friendly Ghost heading our way. We’d said goodbye to them at Hostel of Maine (they arrived a day after us with cheerleader). They came over and told us they’d yellow blazed (ie, ridden in a car) from Carratunk to Monson to give themselves more time to enjoy the hike before they had to go back to Denmark. I was so happy to see them. They’re so fun to talk to!

Beetle and Friendly Ghost headed on, and we followed eventually. We forded a river, just like in Oregon Trail.

I wasn’t feeling well, so we took it slow. We took it REALLY slow when we came to this detour.

The entire trail has been rerouted because some BEAVERS had constructed a massive dam.

Honestly I thought it had been logged.

We happened to catch the three beavers swimming around their incredible mansion/pond.

As an engineer, I admire the beavers for their ability to keep to a tight schedule and still construct such a well-made dam. Alabama Power, hire these beavers!

To drive this home, there was no beaver pond in 2017. It was likely only built this winter, judging by the duct tape detour sign and hastily flagged new trail.

I dont think I’ll ever get over that.

Anyways, we ended up at the shelter, nabbed the last tent site, and I went to bed early.

Miles: 15.1

MVP: beavers

LVP: my entire body


Day 16: long pond stream Lean To to tent site

We slept late. I had no regrets, because I was exhausted.

We knew today was going to be rough. Today was all of the chairback mountains.

We sat at the top of the first mountain (barren mountain, not even a chairback!) and were soon joined by Beetle and Friendly Ghost (below, you’ll see FD, Beetle standing up, Friendly Ghost in front with his head turned). It was a real party soon, with a bunch of other NOBOs showing up. Eventually we even saw Just B, whom we hadn’t seen since we slack packed the bigelowes. We figured he was way ahead of us, but it turned out he was slacking with a couple he had been hiking with — the wife broke her arm on trail so they were trying to finish.

One of the things I love most about hiking is how present you are in nature. When we need a break, we find a log or a stone or a tent site with a tree and sit on the ground. We lay in the sun, we stop to enjoy a breeze, we watch the bugs flying around our heads. Our (temporary) home is in the woods, and our furniture is whatever we find.

My Achilles was getting really painful, so we stopped to try to fix that. It got a little better, but I’m looking forward to a few days of not hiking through pain. Whenever that may happen.

We started looking for tent sites and happened to find Beetle and Friendly Ghost already set up in their tent. We nabbed some flat space nearby and gulped down dinner. My feet are still aching, but my favorite bird is in a tree near me, singing. I’ve never seen this bird, but its call is so beautiful! This is a good way to fall asleep for sure.

Miles: 15

MVP: dinner

LVP: my decrepit body


Day 17: tent site to Little Boardman Mountain

We meant to wake up early but that didn’t happen. Whatever, I slept great.

We headed out of camp before Beetle and Friendly Ghost. We took a quick detour to hike .2 to a parking area with privies. They were very clean and even had TP and hand san! I stocked up.

We started up the first climb and ran into Just B and his slackpack tramily. Beetle and Friendly Ghost caught up and we hiked with them for a bit.

Today was the Whitecap range. It would be our last big climb before Katahdin and would also give me my first view of the northern terminus, however distant.

The climbs weren’t too bad, actually. The last day or two I feel like I’ve really started to get my trail legs. It takes longer for my legs to tire. My feet are willing to hike further. I recover faster in the morning. It’s amazing, being out here long enough to notice that change. I rarely get that, as a section hiker.

We spent quite a while at the top of Whitecap. It snuck up on us, actually. I figured we had another 4 miles to go, but no. There it was, just 1.1 ahead.

We hopped down the mountain and stopped in at East Branch Lean To to have dinner and say goodbye to Beetle and Friendly Ghost. Tomorrow we would start our hard drive to Baxter, and we would arrive a full day earlier than Beetle and Friendly Ghost. We made dinner, chatted, and I secured promises from them to show me a great Danish when I eventually visit Denmark.

FD and I hiked on. We wanted to get to this mountain tonight, as that would only leave us 8.4 easy miles before our 10am food drop. We scouted out a little stealth spot on the summit and settled in.

It’s hard to believe that I’m still hiking. Or that my trip is winding down. I am rapidly approaching Katahdin! What an incredible feeling.

Miles: 20ish

MVP: dunno, just a fun day I guess!

LVP: black flies


Day 18: little boardman mountain to Nahmakanta Stream Lean To

It’s a good thing FD set his alarm as well, because I would have slept through mine. It went off. I heard it. I didn’t even press snooze. I just went back to sleep.

Anyways, we were up and hiking by 5:30am. That’s insane. More insane: it was fully light out the whole time we were packing up.

The trail was easy, and we almost floated down to Jo Mary Road to our food drop. We got there an hour early. DayGlo and another NOBO whose name I can never remember (edit: No Break) were already there, also waiting for their food.

We sat by the road and did what we do best — took a break.

Shaw’s came with our food and a cold coke for us. We gobbled it up and packed food away. While that was in process, MuddyFeets came in to the road with a cloud of mosquitos behind him. He’s supporting his wife’s hike; he drives the car a few days away, hikes south until he meets her, then hikes north with her to the car. We’d eaten breakfast with MuddyFeets, his wife Safety Chute, and her hiking friend at Shaw’s a few days before.

After an exchange of bug spray for peppermint soap, I got to wash the front part of my hair. It felt amazing.

We hiked on, nabbing some trail magic from boy scouts (candy!!).

The trail was boring. Honestly this part of the trail could be in literally any state.

We found a series of notes left for one hiker by another. They were a source of constant amusement and curiosity. I am happy to report that I was able to confirm that they WERE left by the hiker I thought they were left by.

We stopped for a quick swim in a cold lake with a gorgeous view of Katahdin.

And then a few quick miles later and we were at the shelter. MuddyFeets and co were already here with a raging fire. When FD and I went to get water we ran into Friendly Ghost and Beetle! They’d had a long 24 mile day to the shelter, but we were excited to get another night with our friends.

We had a long, luxurious night by the fire. I tried to convince Beetle to eat peanut butter by the spoonful (she remains unconvinced). We talked trail and Denmark and accents and just had a great time with a bunch of friends. I’ll miss this.

Tomorrow is our last big day. And then Friday we’ll have an easy hike into Abol Bridge and Katahdin Stream, and then Saturday the hike up Katahdin. And then Sunday I’ll be home!! It’s hard to believe it’s almost over. It’s amazing how much my hiking has changed these last few days. I’ve started to get trail legs just as I’m about to finish the trail. C’est la vie d’une section hiker.

Miles: 20.6

MVP: drink flavors. I got to hand those out like Oprah handing out cars. Friendly Ghost is not a fan of Fruit Punch, but Orange Crush was a hit.



Days 10-14: Spaulding mountain lean-to to Monson

Day 10: Spaulding Mountain Lean To To Hostel of Maine

We meant to wake up at 5:30, but we all slept until 6:15. We had an awkward encounter with a guy in a tent near us (“Do you all have something to say to me?”) but otherwise had our coffee and packed up, then said goodbye to Caitlin.

FD and I needed to stay focused and actually finish our hike by 4:30 today to meet the shuttle. Plus, we didn’t have any good snacks left so breaks were less appealing.

We climbed Spaulding Mountain. The trail got a little frustrating.

We took a quick break at the river, where I soaked my feet. I’ve turned my ankles so much this trip. I’m also starting to get a little tendinitis I think, so the ice cold water felt amazing.

Up to the first of the Crockers

And back down

And finally to my official 2000 mile point!

We got down to the road and waited for the shuttle to the hostel. Day glow, a NOBO who had slacked the Bigelowes today, joined us. And then all of a sudden Gandalf popped out of the woods too! We met Gandalf our first night at Rattle River and didn’t expect to keep seeing him, but somehow we have!

We got to the (beautiful!!) hostel and unpacked our stuff with polar pops.

I got my shower first. It was incredible.

We placed our order for dinner and sat outside chatting. Dinner came and I INHALED it. We hadn’t had lunch today!

We mostly just sat around and relaxed. This is easily the most relaxing hostel I’ve ever been to. I want to come vacation here.

Miles: 13.5

MVP: dinner

LVP: my entire body, at this point.


Day 11: slackpacking the bigelowes

We slacked packed today. I fell and hurt my leg and my hand. It really hurt. I’m using voice transcription to type this injury. I didn’t take many pictures because I almost died.

Miles: 16.5

MVP: FD, Anne with the band aid, Dr Anna Foust for the free phone consult

LVP: the ground/gravity


Day 12: Hostel of Maine to Pierce Pond Lean To

Here are true facts:

1. Breakfast was amazing

2. I was so sad to leave the hostel

3. The trail was flat

4. The trail was dumb

5. My feet are aching

6. Everything hurts

7. I heard a loon!

8. FD went swimming but I abstained because I don’t want to infect the massive cuts on my legs. I’m still jealous.

9. Tomorrow we have to do way too many miles

10. Actually we have to do way too many miles for the next 10 days.

Miles: 16.4

MVP: chips!

LVP: mosquitoes


Day 13: pierce pond to bald mountain brook Lean To

It rained last night. That meant we woke up to the last bit of it drumming on the roof of the Lean To. We had coffee, ate our breakfast, and then packed up.

The trail was pretty good and quick to the Kennebec. Once there, we saw Gandalf shortly before he stepped into the “ferry.” The ferry is a canoe. It can take two hikers, and one has to paddle.

I loved it.

We stopped in at Carratunk for a milkshake and a sit, and then carried on with the walking part.

More flat, and then a long climb up to pleasant pond mountain.

I’ve been struggling a bit recently. My knees are sore and tight. My left hand still isn’t ready to use a trekking pole. The cuts on my shins ache when I land too hard. I’ve got some Achilles BS going on in my left foot, and honestly I don’t even want to entertain that issue. Blisters are threatening my feet, mosquito bites cover most of my body, and whenever my back gets hot (like, you know, walking with a pack), it feels like burning needles all over. Who knows what that’s about.

It’s inconceivable that I stop, though. I’m so close to being done. Tomorrow we’ll be in Monson, and the day after that we enter the 100 Mile Wilderness. If I have to drag my lifeless legs over the top of that brown sign on Katahdin, I will.

Miles: 18.7

MVP: milkshake

LVP: my aging body


Day 14: bald mountain Brook to monson

There’s something about walking to Monson that makes me feel like the trip is over. The whole day I just kept thinking “wow, this is it, amazing.” But of course that’s not true at all.

Still, the mostly flat terrain and easy walking had me convinced that things were winding down.

We got off trail at the OLD AT which takes you directly in to Monson. We lucked out again, because only half a mile into the two mile road walk we got a hitch.

In to Shaw’s, showered, laundered, and then back into monson for food.

We sort of got a little bullied into staying in the yurt. It was cool, but a regular bunk would have been fine. It was nice, though, to have our own space for sorting our food. Shaw’s (run by Poet and Hippie Chick) does a food drop in the hundred mile wilderness, so FD and I needed to split up our food into the first half and second half of the hundred mile. Food is probably the most complicated part of hiking, honestly.

Miles: 18.5

MVP: Diet Coke

LVP: Maine’s definition of “flat”

Days 5-9: speck pond to Spaulding mountain

Day 5: speck pond shelter to tentsite

I’m writing this as I sit next to a fire, drying my clothes after a quick, cold dip in a swimming hole under a waterfall. We are sharing this tent site with Sunshine, a SOBO who is very nice.

So, this morning. We woke up to a morning. It was unremarkable, really. We slowly got around and made coffee and stuffed everything in our bags, then headed out.

We had a climb, I think. We must have, because here’s a picture.

We had a VERY long descent down, but it ended at a looooong waterfall, so we took advantage of that for a little self care.

And then, at the ACTUAL bottom, we got trail magic! That was good, because I was almost out of food.

Another way too long climb gave us TWO snakes (only the first one pictured).

It also gave us Baldpate West and East. Let me tell you…. this was a climb. Also, I was already sunburnt and now I’m more so. The backwards hat is my attempt at protecting my very red neck.

We hiked down to Frye Notch Lean To and had an extended break. I was kind of over it. Maine is hard, it’s hot, the bugs are awful, why am I doing this instead of, idk, sitting in an air conditioned house?

We all have our bad days and this was likely mine.

But after a good meal and a lot of rest and some chatting with Stinkles (LASHer finishing up her thru from last year), we finally headed out. Again. For another long descent.

We made our way to “Brook,” mile 1935.1. It’s a beautiful area, with big trees and a gorgeous brook and water fall.

Tomorrow we got into Andover, and I think that will be good. I wish there was a little more wiggle room in the schedule, but apparently I’m just going to have to suck it up.

Miles: 14.8

MVP: trail magic

LVP: black flies


Day 6: Tentsite to Human Nature Hostel

We woke up late. Well, I woke up earlier but just turned over and went back to sleep.

When I finally did get up, it was breakfast and packing and hitting the trail. So, to give you some context, this was our day.

We started at the little waterfalls on the left. We went up and up to Wyman Mountain. That wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. I don’t know what’s been going on but I’ve been super dehydrated recently. My camp nurse always had the “3 by 3” rule (pee 3 times by 3pm) and I’ve been SUPER failing. Because of that, I feel sick and sweaty and low energy and it’s just rough.

Anyways. We went up. Apparently I took no pictures. We spent a long lunch at a lean-to (Maine for shelter) and went down, then we went up and down again.

By the time we got… well, barely any amount up the last mountain (Moody Mountain, supposedly named for Mr Moody who jumped off, presumably because the climb is so terrible), we were tossing around the idea of a town day. We had a package in Andover, so we had to go in, but hadn’t planned on staying.

Well, frankly, when you can’t go 10 steps without needing a break and when you drink 3 liters of water and STILL don’t have to pee, it’s time for a town day.

We stopped at South Arm road and prepared for a long wait. Happily, a truck drove by soon after we got there, I stuck out my thumb, they said sorry no room, but then pulled over and rearranged their truck to give us a ride.

We got to Andover, grabbed our boxes, and went down to Little Red Hen. This restaurant offers free tenting, $5 showers, and $5 laundry. We showered and headed in to eat.

No sooner were we done than it was time to meet our shuttle for the hostel. Human Nature is a new hostel, built pretty far out of town, and is a giant dome. It’s kind of a lot. I was a little overwhelmed but things calmed down.

So. Now I’m in my bunk, ready to sleep, and ready to make up some miles tomorrow. Hooray!

Miles: 10

MVP: salad bar

LVP: moody mountain


Day 7: human Nature to Bemis Mountain Lean To

The day started when other people started waking up. I was already awake, but I was unwilling to be the first up. Heaven forbid I have to actually MAKE coffee in a regular pot??

Anyways, I packed up, had some pancakes, and eventually we loaded way too many people in an SUV and drove to the trail head. The trail immediately went UP. This was the last “arm” of the treacherous W that Wilson Wilson warmed me about. It was no easier than the rest of the W, really. It was still SO humid and miserable, but at some point we started getting some wind.

And then I fell. We were discussing our ideal hostel when a toot grabbed my toe. My knees hit, my shoulder hit, and my triceps saved me enough that my head only barely hit (thanks, Rich, for all the tricep work!!). I sat for a minute and then eventually managed to pull myself together.

The wind turned into thunder and more wind. And then that turned into rain, which turned into a downpour.

We were drenched by the time we made it to the shelter. There were already some people here — two SOBOs, Cruise and Alpaca, two LASHers from the hostel, Friendly Ghost and Beetle (or Beatle? Both Danish) and more SOBOs arrived soon after.

We looked at the elevation profile, looked at our plan, and decided we could stay here. The terrain is supposedly easier coming up, the weather will be beautiful tomorrow, and the shelter had a lot of really cool people. SOBOs and LASHers are very fun to talk to, and we had a cool group.

So anyways, there are 8 of us crammed in here. There’s moose poop all over the area, so I’m hopeful that I may get to see one tomorrow.

And frankly, I’d better see a massive bruise on my shoulder or I’ll be annoyed at the pain I’m enduring with absolutely no physical manifestation to impress people.

Miles: 8.7 (Hahahah)

MVP: having chips again!!

LVP: falling 😦


Day 8: Bemis Mountain Lean To to Piazza Rock Lean To

FD and I finally got a morning to drink our coffee in the shelter. Hallelujah! The day broke cool and fresh, so cool we could see our breath.

We enjoyed the cool air and the warm sun. The hiking was pleasant and fast, and the day sort of sped by.

We took a long break at this view, on a bench next to a road. I dried my socks.

After that, the trail sort of stayed a regular forest/mud blend. Nothing too exciting. The only real exciting bit was the mileage. Somehow we managed a 19.5, which only leaves us a couple of miles short of our original plan. I think we can make it up tomorrow.

We’re at the shelter now with a SOBO and a NOBO we met last night. My feet and knees are aching. I have a wide variety of bruises blooming all over. I’m incredibly dirty — I keep stepping in the mud! I’m craving coleslaw and a giant salad with mountains of blue cheese. Tomorrow we climb Saddleback, though. I can’t wait to see that view!

Miles: 19.5

MVP: BioFreeze

LVP: mud that looks like a rock


Day 9: piazza Lean To to Spaulding Mountain Lean To

Ok, today has been great.

We woke up and immediately went up Saddleback. The view was incredible.

We went over the horn and saddleback junior.

It was good hiking.

We sat in Poplar Ridge Lean To for lunch and read the EXTENSIVE FAQ from a maintainer who has been working on the AT for over 50 years. I learned a lot! A lot of the trail in this section just follows old moose trails. Which explains all the poop.

From there it was downhill to Orbeton Stream, then up to Lone Mountain. That climb wasn’t bad but it was long.

We made it to the shelter. I built a quick fire, we ate dinner, and then a SOBO came in.

So. This SOBO is like my dream dinner companion. She is a huge gear nerd, like me. She knows all the same weird gear makers that I do. She has so much experience. She is so chill. So basically we’ve just nerded out all night and it’s been SO MUCH FUN.

Miles: 16.5

MVP: Shelter fun!

LVP: knees 😦

Days 1-4: Pinkham Notch to Speck Pond Shelter

Day 1: Pinkham Notch to Imp Shelter

It was a long day of travel — I was up at 4am, to the airport at 5:30am, had THREE flights, met FD at the Boston airport, then we rode a bus for over 5 hours. We were dropped off at a gas station in Gorham, where Rattle River hostel picked us up.

The hostel was booked up, so we got the last available room. It was a private room with an en-suite bathroom and wow was it nice to not sleep with a bunch of strangers.

Anyways, we woke up rested today and got ready for our “half slack.” A slack pack is when you basically do a day hike. A hostel will drop you off and pick you up at the end of the day and all you have to carry is food and some layers. A half slack is a made up term for doing just two days. You don’t have to carry as much food and … that’s probably the only benefit.

But we took advantage, because the whites are hard and section hikers always have a steep curve of adapting to the trail again. It was a beautiful morning. We hit the trail and stopped a mile or so in for breakfast at this gorgeous pond.

We had a few miles of nice terrain and then we started going up wildcat d. It was rough.

Right around the next wildcat we got some HAIL. We threw on our rain gear and hiked on through a down pour.

We made it to carter Notch hut and dried out inside. The huts are nice because they sell baked goods and drinks for a couple bucks during the day, so we supplemented with a chocolate chip cookie bar (me), peppermint tea (me), and vegan cake (FD).

Back into the rain, which followed us most of the day, and it was just a dreary, foggy, soggy day. No views to be had.

We had fun, though. I was ALMOST ready to say I kind of liked the whites and then this kind of trail BS came up. If the whites wanted people to like it they should have made fewer GIANT BOULDERS.

We finally got to Imp around 8pm. A quick dinner (lentil soup for me!) and some dry clothes and now here we are, snug in the shelter, with some dude listening to a sports podcast next to me.

It’s weird to be back on trail. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve got THREE WEEKS of hiking, and then I’ll be done. Just done with the trail, after three and a half years of sectioning.

Miles: 13

MVP: every squat and lunge my trainer Rich made me do

LVP: ziplock. Idk what’s going on with them but all of my ziplock bags are just ripping apart. My toilet paper ziplock is destroyed.


Day 2: imp shelter to rattle river hostel

The thing about hiking is that, like most public spaces in the world, it is primarily inhabited by white men. Generally middle-aged white men, at least, if you’re in a space before or after the bubble of NOBO hikers (in which case it’s early 20s white men).

And the thing about white men in the woods is that they take FOREVER to get around in the morning. They wake up at 4:30am and stumble around for a while. They cook breakfast, they sit. They wander around, they pack some stuff. They unpack some stuff. They eat a little more. They discuss philosophy and morality (“yeah, I like the blueberry flavor best”) and stare off into the middle distance.

And finally, after a solid 2.5 hours, they’ll eventually wander off and end up on a trail and just decide to keep walking.

All this to say, FD and I sat in the shelter and just waited for all the old dudes to clear out. And once they had, we ate breakfast and headed out ourselves.

We climbed Mt Moriah and, on reaching that summit, officially completed the Wildcats and Carters. It was downhill the rest of the way, and it went fairly quickly.

We ended up with some good trail.

And then…. we were done with the whites. We walked down to rattle river hostel and went about the business of getting things in order. First you shower. Then you hand over all of your dirty laundry. Then, if you’re me, you take literally everything else outside to dry in the sun. You sit and eat, you charge batteries, you drink water, you do yoga. And then suddenly it’s time for bed and you honestly don’t know what you did all day (I gnashed my teeth at how heavy my pack was but didn’t know what to drop so I’m just going to suffer).

Tomorrow we’ll head over some unnamed peaks to a shelter where I’ve been told there is a resident MOOSE. Fingers crossed!

Miles: 8

MVP: one of the workers here at the hostel

LVP: loud NOBOs


Day 3: rattle river hostel to gentian pond shelter

First, I had coffee. Then, I waited over the injustice of my exorbitantly heavy pack. And finally, we started hiking.

As with most sections out of a town, we immediately went up. And up.

But really, it was a good hike. The whole day I was just happy and tired and grateful. The views were incredible.

We took several breaks today, but made good time.

There was a LOT of moose poop!

There were tiny orange flowers and alpine ponds and lily pads blooming.

There are some days on trail where you’re covered in sweat, the gnats are dive bombing your eyeballs (I inhaled at least 2), the water tastes a little funky, your mosquito bites never stop itching… but then you walk up to the shelter and see a whole world unfold.

We sat down by the pond for a while, then took over the front of the shelter. We met hikers, a giant school group came, and eventually it settled out to be me, FD, a section hiker named Wonka, and a calendar year triple crown attempter named Scooby.

We traded trail stories, talked about food, discussed privy preferences, and then made up “hiker trash commercials.” We were in stitches!

I’m tucked into bed now, with the frogs peeping and the water rushing over the beaver dam.

Tomorrow I will finish New Hampshire and hike into Maine!

Miles: 11.8

MVP: scoobys fake commercials

LVP: black flies


Day 4: gentian pond shelter to speck pond shelter

Today I was telling FD about Sarah Ferguson. He thought I was talking about Fergie from Black Eyed Peas.

Now that we’ve covered that, here’s the rest of the day.

I woke up EARLY. Like 4:45am. The sun was already coming up, so I got up and went down to the pond to see if there was a moose. There was not.

My hair has reached an entirely new level and I love it.

FD and I had a leisurely breakfast and then packed up. We were on trail by 6am.

I’m not really sure how to describe today. It was very, very hard. I had so, so much fun.

You know what? I’m tired, my feet are aching, here’s a bunch of pictures!

This next bit is from Mahoosuc Notch, aka the hardest mile on the AT. There’s not a trail, just a general suggestion. FD chooses high routes. I choose low routes. Love a good cave.

we survived, after only 1h28min to go 1 mile.

Next came Mahoosuc Arm, the steepest climb on the AT. Because of course. No pictures, it was awful, we made it.

But seriously. So much fun.

Miles: 14.7

MVP: deet

LVP: black flies