In August 2009, I set out to hike the 100 mile wilderness in Maine. This is the last big section that AT thru-hikers have to hike before they arrive at Baxter State Park, home of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the 2,178 mile Appalachian Trail.
I didn’t make it through the entire 100 mile wilderness back in the summer of 2009 and had to call it quits at mile 74. I used to have a lot of problems with ITBS and my left knee had locked up making it difficult to walk. This was exacerbated by unusually severe weather, including 9″ of rain which had flooded the trail and turned my leather boots into virtual cinderblocks. I was disappointed, but determined to come back and hike the remaining 26 miles sometime in the future.
But last week, I returned and finished off the missing 26 miles (twice!) and hiked another 15 miles in Baxter State Park, including an ascent of Mount Katadhin. It was a great trip, though a little more relaxed than many of my other solo backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail.
On my way back north, I also met some really nice thru-hikers who I spent a few days with, named Vegan, Special Delivery, Moosehead and Captain Planet. They were easily a month ahead of most the other thru-hikers hiking the AT. Of course, they thought I was insane to hike south from Abol Bridge to the southern end of Nahmakanta Lake where I finished in 2009, and back north again over the same miles. Thru-hikers would never hike the same section of trail twice.
But I guess Section Hikers are a little OCD, at least the ones who go back to where they left off last and keep hiking the trail. Short of a amphibious plane or an expensive shuttle, there was no way to get back to where I’d left off in 2009. Hiking the extra 2 days back again was kind of nice too, because I could do it at a leisurely pace, stopping to swim in lakes and hang out in camp for longer than normal.
The Trip Report
I thought about writing a separate trip report for the 26 mile section of the AT I hiked last week, but decided in the end to append it to my original 2009 trip report about the 100 mile wilderness. I think adding my latest account to that old post helps illustrate the tenacity that AT Section Hikers have for hiking the entire trail, even if they have to backtrack years later to complete a missed section.
If you only want to read about the section I hiked last week, click here, and you’ll be taken where it starts in the longer (7500 word post.) There are some great photos there from my trip last week that you should also check out.