July 3rd 2014

We have a bridge! This is a new development! Thank you M.A.T.C.

July 3rd 2014

This is “Bones” fording a small river. Most of them have ropes and are ankle deep. Unless it just rained, then expect currents! We like to clip our packs onto the rope and push them across. It’s safer if we fall and any chance to take off our packs is a good one! I swear they just get heavier as the day goes on.

July 2nd 2014

Happy early 4th of July everyone! We will be in the middle of Maine wilderness on the 4th (probably on top of a mountain somewhere) so we won’t get to shoot off fireworks this time around! I was really hoping to get invited to a small town American Bar B Que (are you listening Mainers?). Actually, Caratunk looked like the perfect town with only 68 residents but alas we had a resupply to make in Stratton.

We were delayed a day just outside of Monson because of the rain. So far it’s not too terrible hiking in a drizzle but when it rains, that means all the run off flows into the rivers. We were stuck for a day waiting for a river to lower because it was way to high and fast to ford for us newbies. It turned out fine waiting back at the lean to with new friends and stories all around. The next day the river was 2 feet lower and the ford was not an issue. We were able to make up time with an 18 mile day later on.

The lean tos and camp sites we’ve been staying at have all been beautiful! We try to make it to a lean to for the night because they are usually in very worthy locations and all have a reliable water source as well as a privy. As you can see from our pictures we like to camp next to lakes. They make for buggy nights sometimes but it’s nice to wash up after a day of hiking. Sometimes we make a fire and the smoke drives the bugs away for a pleasant evening.

We usually meet a lot of hikers at the lean tos and I love hearing their stories! We are starting to meet about 4 to 5 north bounders (NOBOs) a day now and some play up the fun rivalry but they are all friendly and helpful (not to mention fast!) It’s amazing how fast news travels on the trail. We like to check the log books at every lean to - it helps us leave notes for those behind us and keep track of how close we are to those in front. We have fallen behind some of our friends but we’ve caught up to a few people too. I miss camping with the small group we made in the 100 miles but it’s fun to meet new people every night.

Now that we’re out of the 100 mile wilderness we can see the trail is better maintained in some parts. More bridges, less roots, switchbacks, etc. It’s still tough hiking sometimes but there is clearly more effort to keep the trail tidy.

My favorite part of last week’s hike was going through Caratunk. We had to catch a ferry to get across the Kennebec River and it turned out being a guy in a canoe. I LOVED the fact that they painted a white blaze on the bottom of the ferry. We made it a short day and only hiked 4 more miles. It was a very pretty hike along some waterfalls and the lean to was just gorgeous. We had to stay by Pierce Pond because we were told to visit Tim Harrison and have his AT Hiker 12 pancake breakfast. It was SO WORTH IT. We split the breakfast of rasberry, blueberry and apple pancakes with eggs, sausage and juice. I was full till lunch which is rare for a hiker! That morning is my favorite part of the trip so far! He was the nicest guy and a legend on the AT - he’s been at this for 25 years now.

Now that we made it to Stratton, we are just starting the dreaded New England mountains. Yesterday we climbed the Bigalows and peaked 4 mountains. We had a 2 mile climb that really slowed me down but I promised myself a honey bun once I reached the top and that helped me keep going. I can tell I’m stronger than where I was 2 weeks ago and I think I’ll adapt to the mountains quickly.

The towns up here are so different than what I’m used to. I’ve traveled through towns like Waldo but I didn’t really get what it meant to be small town until I had to do some grocery shopping and the only option was a gas station. They have general stores up here instead of Walmarts! Yikes I wonder how that sounds. I’m enjoying my experience - I promise.

We are going to try to finish up Maine before we resupply (which will include the famous hardest mile on the AT!) so it will probably be another 10 days or so before I post again. I swear it will become more frequent soon! Just got to get past all these stupid mountains. Wish us luck!

June 24th 2014

Hello friends!

We finally made it through the 100 mile wilderness and decided to take a zero day to resupply and recover in Monson, ME. What a trip so far!

The first day on the trail we climbed Katahdin. It took us 4.5 hours each way - we were above 5,000 feet in a cloud by the time we reached the peak! I was not expecting how much rock climbing we had to do. I know how silly that sounds, but I thought the trail would be more well groomed in some places. Most of the other trails up the mountain are easier to climb, but the AT follows the hard way up. We were literaIly climbing up the middle of a small stream for about a mile at one point. It gave us a taste of pretty much everything we can expect on the trail except the bugs. It isn’t the tallest mountain we will climb on this venture, but it is the steepest continuous ascent we will have to face. Going downhill is way easier for me but requires a lot of jumping down rocks that are too tall to naturally step down. We’ve gone through our advil pretty quickly to combat our knee aches. Ten days in and I can’t feel one of my toes but I think we’re finally getting stronger.

Once we climbed Katahdin I thought it was going to be smooth sailing. Turns out I was wrong. The miles aren’t bad by themselves but add in LOTS of mosquitoes, some rain, roots, mud, rock hopping and cold nights, the days start to wear on you. We’re generally ready for sleep about 8 pm and up the next morning at 6 am. Sunrise is at 4:50 am here so we’re actually sleeping in. I like getting an early start to the day. If we can start hiking by 7:30 am, we can get half of our distance done by lunch. If it’s a warm enough day, we like to swim in the many lakes we pass. The water is really cold still so it perks us up enough to keep going.

I’m trying to enjoy the little things like having lunch on a mountain peak or brushing my teeth looking out over a gorgeous lake. That’s why we’re out here in the first place.

I have a hard time believing we’ve only been out here for 10 days or so. I feel like I’ve learned so much and grown as a person already. We’ve been keeping pace with another couple and that Australian kid we met the first day. We did the whole 100 miles together and I doubt we’ll stay together much longer but I’ll follow them in the trail logs and might catch up on other zero days. They (along with Magic Hands the massage therapist we met) are our first semblance of a trail family. The north bounders and south bounders we’ve met so far have been so friendly! Everyone out here is in it together. When you strip away all the distractions of daily life and frivolous problems and can go back to the basics, you see a lot about human nature. We stop and chat with people we see and the most impromptu viewpoint lunches turn out some really noteworthy conversations.

So far we have tentative trailnames. Drew has been deemed Bones because he’s been collecting moose and beaver bones we found. I quite like that name :) Mine is smooth sailor but I don’t think it fits so I’m holding out for a better one. I mean, we met a guy named cloudwalker. How cool is that name!

Tomorrow we’re starting back on the trail just the two of us. We have about 180 more miles to hike until we hit New Hampshire and the White Mountains - yikes! But we’ll be hitting towns every few days. Sometimes you’ve just got to have a slice of hot pizza for lunch!

June 12th 2014

I finally got my lobster roll! Captian Nick’s was right down the road from our bus stop. To get to the lodge, we had to take 3 flights to get to Maine and then a bus to Millinocket where we’ll spend the night and prepare for our climb tomorrow.

It was supposed to be an easy trip but it was delayed almost immediately. The first delay let off a chain reaction of more delays and cancelled flights in DC and Philadelphia. We missed our flight to Bangor yesterday by 5 minutes. Argh I learned what it feels like to sleep in an airport! We were blessed with all our sleeping gear so it wasn’t half bad.

Now that we are in Maine it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere. We met an Australian student attempting to hike the trail and had lunch with him, discussing the difference in our cultures. This is his first time in America and had lots of funny questions. We learned hoodies are called jumpers in Australia and Game of Thrones is truly a world wide phenomeon. 

We had at least 4 people ask us about our packs and struck up a conversation about the AT and their experience on parts of it. I couldn’t believe we were out of the airport for less than 30 minutes and we were already experiencing the sense of community hikers talked about on the forums.

It’s in the 60s and lightly raining right now. Nicer than hot and humid but I do wish the sun will come out soon. I probably won’t post for a other 10 days as we take on the 100 mile wilderness. I’ll see you on the other side.

June 12th 2014

I finally got my lobster roll! Captian Nick’s was right down the road from our bus stop. To get to the lodge, we had to take 3 flights to get to Maine and then a bus to Millinocket where we’ll spend the night and prepare for our climb tomorrow.

It was supposed to be an easy trip but it was delayed almost immediately. The first delay let off a chain reaction of more delays and cancelled flights in DC and Philadelphia. We missed our flight to Bangor yesterday by 5 minutes. Argh I learned what it feels like to sleep in an airport! We were blessed with all our sleeping gear so it wasn’t half bad.

Now that we are in Maine it finally feels like we’re getting somewhere. We met an Australian student attempting to hike the trail and had lunch with him, discussing the difference in our cultures. This is his first time in America and had lots of funny questions. We learned hoodies are called jumpers in Australia and Game of Thrones is truly a world wide phenomeon.

We had at least 4 people ask us about our packs and struck up a conversation about the AT and their experience on parts of it. I couldn’t believe we were out of the airport for less than 30 minutes and we were already experiencing the sense of community hikers talked about on the forums.

It’s in the 60s and lightly raining right now. Nicer than hot and humid but I do wish the sun will come out soon. I probably won’t post for a other 10 days as we take on the 100 mile wilderness. I’ll see you on the other side.

June 3rd 2014

It’s weekends like this that make me miss Florida before I even leave it. We camped and swam and surfed and soccered and horseshoed and footballed and cooked out at Huguenot Park with about 8 of our friends this weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better time. 

The cool thing about this park is its right on the Atlantic Ocean and the St Johns River - our campsite was right on the water. You could watch the big freight ships coming in and out of port, like they were floating on land. You can drive on the beach here and we had to rescue someone who was stuck in the sand - we kind of felt like heroes.

I might miss the flat lands and late sunlight for a time, but at least I have weekends like this to look back on.

June 3rd 2014

It’s weekends like this that make me miss Florida before I even leave it. We camped and swam and surfed and soccered and horseshoed and footballed and cooked out at Huguenot Park with about 8 of our friends this weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better time.

The cool thing about this park is its right on the Atlantic Ocean and the St Johns River - our campsite was right on the water. You could watch the big freight ships coming in and out of port, like they were floating on land. You can drive on the beach here and we had to rescue someone who was stuck in the sand - we kind of felt like heroes.

I might miss the flat lands and late sunlight for a time, but at least I have weekends like this to look back on.