Thank you, Susan and Dave! Others have expressed the same sentiments. After
we get home and settled in, I'll be writing several "post" entries, so check
back periodically on the topics page for those. I'll also give you the websites
of other thru-hikers so you can read their accounts, too.
Wouldn't want anyone to get withdrawal symptoms! (I'll be reading those other
accounts, too. I haven't had time to do it while I've been on the Trail.)
We're down to (hopefully) just four more sections now. I'm ambivalent because
I've loved most days on the Trail and I'll have to adjust to "life after the
AT." But both of us are so tired we're ready to go home. We haven't been there
in almost three months!
Jim found the perfect campsite yesterday at the Jo-Mary Campground in the
Katahdin Ironworks/Jo-Mary Multi-use Management Forest that I wrote about
recently. We are camped fifteen feet from the shore of Upper Jo-Mary Lake and
could hear loons calling to each other this morning. We haven't seen any moose
here yet, just along the roads.
This is our view across the lake:
That's the massive ridge of Katahdin, looking at it from the south!!!!
so foggy yesterday that neither of us could see it. This morning I looked
outside (we got up later and it was already light) and there it was.
Very exciting for both of us, very inspiring. The end of the journey is
Yesterday when I finished Jim told me we had a problem with today's
rendezvous point. The logging road he was planning to use to pick me up at the
south end of Nahmankata Lake is gated. So we spent a couple hours consulting all
of our maps and written information about access points in the Hundred-Mile
Wilderness and revised the mileages for three days.
The result was a short seven-mile section today. That was fine with me,
because I was so tired from pushing myself hard the last two days - and the
stress from Saturday's efforts through flooded rivers and creeks. My knees and
shoulders were so sore last night that I had difficulty sleeping again.
I'm not thirty-five any more! (Jim and I frequently tease each other about
High winds during the night didn't help. Even with ear plugs in I could hear
(and feel) the awning flapping in the wind and I was concerned it might fly off
or damage the camper. I prevailed upon Jim to go out and roll it up about 2:30
AM. At least it wasn't raining! Guess that's the downside of camping right next
to a large lake.
The weather today was gorgeous - windy, but mostly sunny and in the 60s
during the day on the Trail.
This section was fairly flat with a net downhill
elevation change from about 1,200 feet to 700 feet. Five of the seven miles were
on an 1800s tote road that is just a wide trail now. Except for periodic wet
areas with slick bog boards, it was mostly runnable. That was nice!
This section is in the pretty pine-and-birch eco zone. In dry spots, running
over soft pine needles, it looked almost like trails in the redwoods in northern
California. The Trail went by two bright blue ponds (lakes to those of us in the
other forty-nine states) and followed close to the raucous Cooper Brook most of
Despite being in the multi-use logging/recreation area, the AT is situated
such that I rarely hear any lumbering activity, nor have I seen any from higher
elevations. Jim sees the logging trucks as he drives to and from trail heads,
however. The information we received at the gates where we pay our entry fees
makes it clear the logging trucks have the right of way at all times, just as
would a fire truck or ambulance.
Recreation is encouraged but definitely secondary in this area.
I stopped by the Cooper Brook Falls Lean-to halfway through the section to
read the register and see who had signed it. This shelter is in a very beautiful
setting right next to a large waterfall. Many of the shelters on the AT are
close to streams that are not only convenient water sources but also a great source
of "white noise" to lull hikers to sleep.
"Godspeed" and "Aslan" were right ahead of me but I didn't catch them. Jim
spoke to them at the road; they left only about ten minutes before I got
there. I wrote about this father-son team several weeks ago. Aslan nearly died
several years ago during his first thru-hike attempt. Brain surgery saved his
life and he's back with his dad to finish the Trail this year. I'm so happy
that they're gonna make it!
"LB," "To-Phat," "Sundance," and "Butch Cassidy" spent the night at the
shelter. I probably won't catch them before Katahdin. "EM" was there on the
18th. He'll be summitting in a day or two at that rate.
When Jim dropped Cody and me off at the start today at 9:30 AM we
found "49er" sitting on a log eating a snack. Jim hadn't met him before. We
talked a bit then and later on the Trail as we played leap-frog when he took
another break and I spent a few minutes at the shelter.
49er got his name because he resembles an 1849-era gold rush miner (see photo
below). He hails from Houston and was interested in Cody because he also has a
As I was leaving the shelter, "Tumblefoot" came in. She's the woman crewing for "Kokomo" and
"Bigfoot" in Maine. She met them on the Trail several months ago and
later got the idea to see if they wanted to slack the last two or three weeks in
Maine. Tumblefoot has been hiking the Trail for several years and decided this
was the way she wanted to "give back."
Bigfoot had by then paired up with "Santa," and I think Kokomo was hiking
alone. Kokomo and Bigfoot took Tumblefoot up on her offer to
crew them in her small RV. (Santa decided after a short time that he'd prefer to
do traditional backpacking.)
Crewing has been more difficult for Tumblefoot than she
expected. The stress is primarily finding suitable logging roads where she can
drive the RV in Maine. The advantage their group has over us is being in a small
enough vehicle to park near many trail heads in the AT parking lots, like the
one on Jo-Mary Road where Jim got me today. Our rig is too big and we end up
camping a lot farther away from most trail heads.
Jim again played "Trail Angel," asking hikers if they needed anything as they
crossed the road and leaving soft drinks and snacks in a bucket that he'll
retrieve when he takes me back out there in the morning.
appreciate trail magic in the Hundred-Mile Wilderness since there are no
re-supply points until they get to Abol Bridge on the outskirts of Baxter State
Park, where Katahdin is located.
Since I got done so fast this morning we decided to take a (long) ride this
afternoon to the town of Millinocket to get our e-mail at the library and check
out Baxter SP and nearby campgrounds. We found a very convenient campground
right at Abol Bridge that will probably work this weekend.
At the campground store we got to meet three thru-hikers neither of us has
seen before: "Sam I Am," a young female, and her two male companions, "Origami"
and "Proteus." They plan to summit Friday. Rain is predicted in the morning but
they say they'll go up anyway as long as the park personnel allow them to go. If the
weather is too dangerous or someone wants to go up too late in the day, rangers
won't let hikers proceed on the AT.
There is so much interesting information about Mount Katahdin and Baxter
State Park that I will write a separate entry about them.
For now, Jim and I are fascinated with the massive mountain. Our views have
been from the south and east. We can easily see the shape of the route we'll be
taking soon. The first part is the most difficult, with the most elevation gain
and worst footing. The part above tree-line (from 3,000 to 5,267 feet) is more
hoping for clear weather so we'll see the advertised great views from this, the
highest point in Maine.