Tuesday, October 7, 2008

into the wild?

Here we go...the last 100 miles or so... the 100 mile wilderness. with sunny days ahead, rivers, lakes and waterfalls to enjoy and a near peak color of foliage, we were in for a real treat in the final stretch. brahma bull and sweet potato working hard for a hitch out of Monson.

The hitch turns out to be a logging truck and we join in!

And we walk into the wild. Now entering the 100 mile wilderness. We carried all our food and supplies for 100 miles planning to take 7-8 days.

Little Wilson falls. We camped here our first night in the wildnerness. Just a preview of the beautiful sights to come.

Brahma contemplating the ford across Big Wilson Creek.

The sun started to set as we descended Fourth Mountain.

The fall colors were emerging more and more everyday.

We wanted to explore a side trail in the wildnerness, the Gulf Hagas Trail. We made it to the first waterfall and realized it was hard to justify hiking more miles when we were already exhausted. We plan to come back when we haven't just hiked 2,000 miles.

Hiking down White Cap Mountain. This was our first major view of Katahdin and the last big climb until Katahdin.

Rock steps leading down White Cap made for some easier hiking.

And there we have it, 2,100 miles marked with Moose poop.

Not only was the lake a beautiful view, but it was a great place to take my first bath in the wilderness!

Cooper Falls. We stayed the night here at the lean-to. Labeled as the best swimming area next to a lean-to on the whole trail. The water sure was cold though!

Moose tracks in the mud and moose pellets were everywhere. However we never actually saw a moose!

There she is! The best view of Katahdin we had.

Perfect timing, we needed a little uplifting and this reminded us what we were hiking for.

On a misty morning we passed Rainbow lake where a couple was out fishing.

Beautiful fall day with a rainbow of trees.

One of the last shelters on the trail, Rainbow lean-to. the register entries got a little soppy here!

this is what it looks like when we walk...we're that fast...110 miles in 7 days (we we're running out of food)

Moose hunting is allowed in the wildnerness. Unfortunately hikers saw more dead moose in the back of pick-ups than live ones in the woods.

Entering Baxter State Park. Nine miles to Katahdin Stream. We found out this day that the Katahdin was closed. Therefore, we decided to hike the nine miles to the summit trail and then go in to Millinocket to wait out the bad weather.

The rainfall caused the water levels to rise causing us to ford some streams that normally aren't fords.

Due to the rain and wind, Mt. Katahdin was a class 4 weather situation, meaning the mountain was shut down for the first time this season. we had to wait it out a couple of nights in the nearest town to Baxter State Park, Millinocket. In Millinockett we stayed at the Applachian Trail Lodge of course.

And we slept.

And we recieved our mail drop from Kevin's mom with our celebratory wine. We also sorted out all our gear. With only the 5 mile summit to complete we packed up our tent and sleeping bags for good!

The Summit

the final day. september 30. day 188 since starting our hike on march 25. the day we've been waiting for . but really it didn't feel any different from the rest of them (except we had to drive 20 miles in a minivan to get to the A.T. trailhead)!
all-in-all, it was a perfect day. as the remnants of the hurricane stopped thru-hikers for a few days summitting, a bottleneck of us decided to climb on the same day. and what a day it was. there were low lying clouds for the first couple of miles as we started a steady climb along side Katahdin stream and waterfall. but once we hit the boulders and scrambling, we broke through the cloud to see another set of broken clouds above us, with the highest mountain peaks breaking through the fog below. outstanding. once we got up to the flat heath called Table Land, the fog rolled in and out with our last couple of miles on the trail.
as we got to in sight of the sign our pace quickened to the cheers of the other hikers already up (since 5 in the morning for Borders, Gonzo, Wurm and Just Mike!) we got to the famous Katahdin sign and got our summit picture just as more hikers followed us up. we stayed up with the band of 35 or so hikers to summit for a couple of hours or so. the best part was cheering everybody else in. you can see how much it means for some people who completed the trail. some tears were shed (especially by our good buddy Blaze), but it was a celebratory and humorous occasion with beers and wine passed around as the views peaked in and out of the mist.
even though we were done, we weren't done...we still had the 5+ miles to get back down the mountain - a good day hike i guess you could say. we went back to Millinocket for a celebratory meal and drinks. and as simple as that, its over.
but stay tuned as we now have time to add a few more things to the blog, like what our plan is now(not much here yet), a day in the life of a thru-hiker and why our walk north should affect you?! check out one of our most memorable days:

we won the A.T.

...and so did mr. winky?!

and so they say - the journey is not over.....
it has just begun....

Monday, September 22, 2008

2,000 Milers!!

we made it....to Maine and the 2,000 mile mark! but we still got just over a 100 miles left through the so-called "100 mile wilderness" (though other hikers are still slackpacking and coming back into town for the night by way of logging roads - wilderness?)!

the last week or so has been fantastic, some of the best on the trail, but Maine hasn't been all sunshine and views. the first few days once we stepped over the NH/ME border have probably been the hardest both physically and mentally.

Smiles of relief, we finally made it! Unfortunately the weather turned on us and we found entering Maine to be some of the hardest hiking we had encountered in a long time.

The legend of the moose in Mahoosuc notch was true. Apparently this moose fell into the notch and didn't make it out. Rest in Peace. ( well until a fellow hiker packed out the skull and is taking it to Katahdin)

A mile through the notch took us over an hour. It was kinda like a rock obstacle course!

I went under and Hoot went above. We hikers get annoyed when we have to take our packs off.

The fall foliage is becoming a pleasant sight.

In Rangeley, Maine we caught a ride with Detour (the animated guy) and stayed at Gull Pond Lodge run by Bob (older man). What an interesting pair to listen to. Detour probably talked more in one day than I have on the whole trail. Great place.

So from time to time we make bad decisions. For example, leaving a shelter at 4:00pm when it starts to rains, then climbing some of the highest peaks, and looking for campspots in the dark. Here is the aftermath....wet everything.

A two-seater privy with a cribbage board in between, Maine doesn't mess around with their privies!

Happy 60th Birthday to Brushstrokes! Ron, Brushstrokes, Serene and Ravon were celebrating and relaxing in Stratton, ME.

Beautiful day on Mt. Bigelow. There is water everywhere in Maine. This is the hiking that keeps us motivated and smiling!

Hoot is brave enough to test the chilly waters. I however just admire the scenery.

Wooh! 2,000 miles!

Tim Harrison runs a sportmans lodge and camp near Caratunk, ME. He also serves a 12 pancake breakfast for hikers. We definitely took part in this. He also let Hoot and I take out a canoe on the pond.

And here is Dave, aka HillBilly! The official white blazed trail is crossing the Kennebec River by Ferry and Dave is the one in charge. There are still some crazy hikers who attempt to ford this river, not smart.

And after crossing the ferry, we headed to Northern Outdoors in The Forks, ME. Split a room for $9 each, relaxed in a hot tub, drank some beer from the Microbrewery and ate some good grub. Take notice of the large moosehead above us. In order: Hoot, Sundance, Gonzo, Borders, Just Mike, and Worm.

Our first real "ford". Southbounders who passed through Maine earlier would laugh at this, but luckily the water levels have been low. The water was freezing at 7:30 in the morning!

And here we are in Monson, ME. The last stop before Katahdin. We received our 3 boxes of food from the post office and relaxed here at the Lake Shore Lodge and Eatery. This is a view of the lake behind the lodge.

And of course we woke up early when we heard there was an All You Can Eat breakfast at Shaw's, another hiker hostel nearby. It was delicious!

Worm and Sweet Potato point out that we have come a long way.

So if you look close, in the far distance, there is a silhouette of our future, the Big "K", Katahdin.