AT Days 173 – 179 (Maine part 2)

Day 173 stealth camp to another stealth camp (Mile 2071.4)

I am getting closer to Monson, ME, the last town before the 100-mile Wilderness. I am about 27 miles away, so my plan is just to get as close as possible and get into town tomorrow morning.

I made it about 21 miles before stealth camping for the night.

Day 174 stealth camp to Bodfish Farm Tote Rd (Mile 2091.8)

I woke up early and hiked 6 miles to ME Route 15 where I got a ride to a hostel in Monson where I reserved a room for the night. I planned on taking the rest of the day off before tackling the 100 mile wilderness. I want to summit Katahdin on 9/30, and the next 3 days after that are supposed to be cold and rainy.

When I got into town around 9am, I stopped at a store and got some breakfast. A friend of mine was there and mentioned she was about to slack-pack the first 14 miles of the 100-mile Wilderness and asked if I wanted to go with her. I really wanted to rest and take the day off, but I was also stressed about getting to Katahdin before the bad weather days, so I agreed to go.

She had arranged for a shuttle to drop us off 14 miles north, and we would take small daypacks and leave our full packs in Monson. We would hike southbound back to the road I arrived at earlier in the morning.

On the first part of our hike, we passed by 2 of my friends, Lights and Spiderman who I hadn’t seen in weeks. They were hiking northbound and we passed them southbound. They said they were planning on finishing 9/29, I told them I was trying to finish 9/30. I walked away thinking I’d probably not see them again since they were a full day ahead of me and it would take some big miles to catch them in the small number of remaining days.

As we kept hiking we saw 2 beavers! It was hard to get a good picture but 1 is pictured above (bottom left of the pile of sticks.)

We had to ford a river where a loose rope was provided to help with balance. This part was kinda fun. It was definitely easier with the small daypack. I’m glad the weather wasn’t cold when I crossed this river.

At the end of the day we got a ride back into Monson and stayed in town for the night. Instead of doing a small mileage rest day I ended up doing a total of 20 miles altogether. I felt good though about getting 14 miles ahead of where I planned to be.

Day 175 Bodfish Farm Tote Rd to Katahdin Ironworks Rd (Mile 2107.4)

The next day, we shuttled back to the road we slack-packed from the day before and started hiking northbound with our usual full packs.

I ended up falling behind everyone in my shuttle and really didn’t see anyone the whole day.

I covered about 15 miles today and caught some good views. Also trudged through some muddy trails. I ended up camping near a dirt road just after dark.

Day 176 Katahdin Ironworks Rd to Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to (Mile 2132.3)

Not only did I get to camp after dark last night, but I also hiked out in the dark in the morning. Only 84 miles to Katahdin!

I stopped for a break at Logan Brook Lean-to and looked at the shelter log. I saw that my friends Lights and Spiderman wrote in the log indicating that they were here on the same day in the morning! It was about 2pm when I got there. It started to seem possible to catch up to them, but would still require big miles from here on out.

I ended up making about 25 miles today which is the biggest mileage day so far! (My previous record was 24 miles.)

Day 177 Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to to Rainbow Stream Lean-to (Mile 2161.9)

I got up early and hiked out in the dark. I achieved my 2nd “10 before 10” on the trail! (10 miles before 10am).

I started to slow down when I met a guy on the trail who hiked with me for a while. We chatted for about 2 hours which was a nice distraction. The trail was pretty flat and I was feeling good covering lots of miles earlier in the day than usual.

I decided to push to do 30 miles today.

I passed by a pretty beach by a lake!

View of Katahdin!!

Another river crossing. It doesn’t seem possible to get through a day in Maine with dry feet.

I made it after dark. Technically 29.6 miles, but a new personal record (I mean it’s basically 30 miles.) My feet are so water logged they look like they are decaying.

Day 178 Rainbow Stream Lean-to to The Birches Campsite (Mile 2186.7)

It is starting to seem very possible to push my summit date up to 9/29 (tomorrow) and catch my friends. I have 15 miles to finish the 100 mile wilderness, then 1 mile to the sign-up sheet for The Birches Campsite. The campsite is another 9 miles from the sign-up sheet at the base of Katahdin. If I get to the sign-up sheet and it’s full, then I’ll have to hike back a mile and camp at least 10 miles away from Katahdin. Most people try to get there first thing in the morning to secure a spot, but I have to hike 15 miles before I’ll get there today.

Ideally I’ll get there, sign up, see my friends tonight at the campsite and summit with them tomorrow!

On my last full day, I got to see a moose! (Video is not great. )

Crossing Abol Bridge I got another view of Katahdin!

So many roots!

Moment of truth! I made it to the sign up sheet at about 1pm. To my surprise there were three spots left!! I took a moment here to let it sink in that I’m about to finish the entire AT tomorrow, day earlier than I planned! I’m also going to see my friends at The Birches Campsite tonight!

With less than 9 miles to go until the campsite, and a nice flat trail I was feeling pretty good and hiked at a fast pace.

I checked in, got my permit and set up camp for the last time on the AT!!

Day 179 The Birches Campsite to Katahdin! (Mile 2192.0)

I woke up early and made my last instant coffee in a Gatorade bottle.

I hiked with Lights and Spiderman on our last day! We all left most of our stuff at the ranger station, before starting our hike up Katahdin.

Of course even on the very last day there would be another river crossing. I took my socks off here and put them back on later.

The moment when we reached the iconic sign was truly a surreal and exciting moment!

Katahdin is truly the finale to the AT. We had fairly ideal weather, but still experienced very strong winds in places that were also very steep. While it was the toughest climb on the AT it also had the most amazing views at the top, unlike any I’ve seen previously. The day was made even more special because I was able to share it with two of my amazing friends.

After we hiked back down the mountain we managed to hitchhike all the way to Bangor, ME (it took 4 hitchhikes altogether!)

We got a hotel in Bangor and I was able to book a flight home the next day!

Altogether on the trail I’ve seen 6 bears, 1 moose, 2 beavers, 27 snakes (18 just in Maine!). I lost 21lbs since I started 6 months ago. This was an unforgettable, amazing experience! I am fortunate that I was able to do the trail this year and will never forget the amazing people I’ve met. While I will miss the trail, I’m also happy to see all my friends and family back home.

The end!! 🙂

-Sundown

3 thoughts on “AT Days 173 – 179 (Maine part 2)

  1. Sarah,
    you are an amazing woman – and I am super impressed that you did this. Thank you for sharing all the highs and lows of the trip.
    Linda

    Liked by 1 person

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