Thursday, September 1, 2011


Hello everyone!
 It has been one week since Eats and I summited Katahdin!  We climbed the mountain on a foggy, windy, cold day, but we had a great time and finished our hike with some of our friends who we have known since the beginning of the trail.  It was an exciting and thrilling day but also sad as it was somewhat of a reality check that we were in fact coming to the end of our hike. Here are a few summit photos from Thursday:

Both our families were in Baxter to celebrate the end of our journey.  They had planned to hike Katahdin with us, but due to the weather they decided not to which was a good decision because it was a slippery and steep climb.  Both the night before we summited and the next evening we had a big celebration with all the thru-hikers who were at the base of Katahdin.  Here we are with some of our friends the day after we summited:
Brazil Nut, Eats, Jetpack, Twigg, Prescott, & Tigger in front

Well I couldn't just stop hiking abruptly, and my sister Courtney wanted to do some hiking while we were in Baxter, so the next day I decided to summit again with her and my trail friend Brazil Nut.  The weather was much better, and although we did not have views from the top, we had beautiful views most of the way up and again going down.
Courtney and I on Katahdin the next day

Jetpack, Courtney, and Brazil Nut and descending the Hunt
So my family and Eats stayed in Baxter State Park for a few extra days which was a great way to start re-entry into the real world.  We stayed in a cabin at beautiful Kidney Pond near Katahdin, and enjoyed our time canoeing, kayaking, going on short hikes, swimming, star gazing at night and eating lots of food.   It was the perfect way to end our hike.
We last blogged in Monson, Maine at the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness.  I enjoyed the wilderness- it was as beautiful as the rest of Maine had been.  Despite a few nights of pouring rain, the terrain was surprisingly good and I met up with Eats a few days in and we hiked the last four days together.  One of my favorite spots in the Wilderness was a place called Rainbow ledges, about 20 miles from Katahdin.  We got there in the evening, and as we were hiking up we found a HUGE volume of blueberries around the trail and spent an hour just picking and eating them.  But at the top of Rainbow ledges was my favorite view we had approaching Katahdin.  Here are Eats and I enjoying the it:

So now I have been home for four days, and it hasn't really hit yet that the trail is over.  For the first few days it just felt like I was zeroing at a hostel and giving my body a break.  I know that soon it will sink in, as I start to miss people, and the trail and the peaceful simplicity of the woods.
 Thank you to everyone who read our blog and supported us along the way, it was the most incredible journey!!
  Happy Trails, 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Last Stop!

Well well, as we have seen from Jetpack's post, we are in Monson! Well, I am, Jetpack just left here this morning. After playing some serious catch-up, I strolled in last night to surprise Jetpack at the hostel in Monson. It was so great to see each other and catch up, swapping trail stories, etc. After hiking so much in the last couple of weeks I totally needed a zero day today, but JP zeroed yesterday so she pushed out just a short day and we will meet up Saturday night at a planned shelter. Sunday morning we will hike Whitecap Mountain and if it is a clear day, get our first view of Katahdin!!! (75 miles out).

My experience of Maine hasn't been quite the same as Jetpack's, having to catch up and hike all day, every day has left me very little time to enjoy the ponds and scenery, not to mention that every day that I hike, it happens to be rainy, and when I get the chance to be off the trail, it is nice out. I haven't had a view since Saddleback Mountain a few days ago and missed some of the supposed best views on the trail. OH WELL! Today was a great zero day in Monson with some of our older friends from the Trail - Vinca and Poncho Verde, Kenyan, as well as Sweet Pea and Sage. We had a great night in the pub with all-you-can-eat tacos.

So I have some reflections regarding the coming end of the trip. I have noticed that whenever I catch a glimpse of a full AT map (they are in all of the trail towns, everywhere), I get really sad/nostalgic. I remember looking at those maps and seeing how far we have come and then how much we have left. I now look at them and see memories throughout the trail. I see the South and think about the beginning of the trip, the newness of it and the hiking with our good friends Lady Pants, Who Knows, and many others. I look at Virginia and think of the beauty, fun, and great weather, etc. etc. I have enjoyed so much of this trip, but I think at this point I am ready to not hike every day, that is the only qualm I hold with this trip. I am ready to just relax and exert a little bit less every day! I will, however, miss so so much about the trail including the people, the towns, the spontaneity, the relative low mental stress of the lifestyle, etc. So this will be a bitter-sweet end, but I have also learned so much. Mainly, that if I ever do any kind of long-distance hike again I will not give it a timeline and let it take as long as it needs to. I have found so much stress in trying to reach a deadline, one of the very things that I intended to leave behind. I know that I missed out on a lot of things, views, experiences with people, swims in ponds, afternoon naps outside, etc. because I was trying to get somewhere by a certain time. I almost feel like I could give it a go again next year on a full, solo, thru-hike...but that's a long way away and my body needs to do a lot of healing before then.

So I am now half-heartedly looking forward to the '100-mile wilderness' because of its rough terrain in the beginning of it, but with the promise of the end to the adventure, the accomplishment of an enormous feat, and now some time to slow down and enjoy Maine a little bit. So stay tuned, as always, because in a little over a week, I will be back home in Boxford with my computer uploading the rest of my pictures and attaching titles to all of them so you can see what I have seen and actually know what you are looking at! Can't wait to see many of you when I get home. Thanks for reading and supporting us and stay tuned for Katahdin pictures and some follow up posts!

Happy Trails,


Monson, ME

Apologies for not blogging for so long, there has been a serious lack of internet access.  So much has happened I don't even know where to begin, but I should probably start  by saying that I am in MONSON, yes Monson, Maine.  Monson is at the southern entrance to the 100 mile wilderness- I am only 114.4 miles from Katahdin, and that is so hard to believe.  Honestly, where did time go? I remember back in MA saying to Eats, "I know the rest of the trail is going to go by so fast and I don't want it to, I want time to slow down."  I knew full well that it wouldn't, but I still can't believe that I am this close to the end.
   That being said, the last few weeks have been AMAZING, some of my favorite moments on the trail and Maine has been by far my favorite state.  But going back a bit, I really enjoyed New Hampshire as well.  As many of you know, Eats and I had to separate back in Hanover, NH, so I was on my own, which I surprisingly enjoyed.  Through the Whites I had a mixture of weather- about half the time I couldn't see  more than five feet in front of me, but the rest of the time when I did have views they were phenomenal. Here I am on top of Moosilauke in the beginning of the Whites:

 I love the Whites but they are less fun as a thru hiker because while the huts offer work for stay to thru hikers, it was a competitive rush each day for each of us to get to the huts at the right time. I only did work for stay once, at Lake of the Clouds hut in the middle of a crazy wind storm and rain with twelve other thru hikers.  It was an adventure and I'm glad I did it but once was enough- I prefer the peace and solitude of my tent.
  There is a wonderful new hostel in Gorham, NH where I stayed before I headed into Maine.  It was a wonderful stay with great company, there were about twenty other hikers.  It never ceases to amaze me how many people there are on the trail,  I have met a whole new group of people who I've been hiking with.
  The most exciting thing recently has been Maine-it has been absolutely amazing, such a beautiful place.  I wanted to put a quote in here from my guide book for the trail.  When describing Maine, the author writes, "Hikers in Maine encounter approximately 281 miles of lakes, bogs, moose, loons, hand-over-hand climbs, and a 100 mile wilderness that is neither 100 miles nor truly a wilderness.  It is a mystical, magical place to begin or end your A.T journey."  I loved this when I read it because I think the author could not have been more accurate with his description.  Maine has been absolutely beautiful.  The southern portion was difficult with steep climbs and descents, but spectacular views from rocky mountain tops.  The forest in between the high peaks is bright green with moss covered rocks and ground and an abundance of spruce forests.  There are numerous bogs with moose and in the last few days each pond we've come to has had a pair of loons which I get to listen to each night, I love the sound of their calls.  In the last few days we have come to more beautiful ponds and lakes with perfect swimming than I could have imagined.  I think I have swam in every steam, lake and pond the trail goes near- they're irresistible with their crystal clear water.
  As you can tell from my blabbering I am thoroughly enjoying this part of the trail.  I've been hiking with a woman names Brazil Nut who I've been having a blast with.  A few days ago we crossed the 2,000 mile mark which was really exciting.  That also really put things in perspective-2,000 miles sounds like a lot to me!

  Lately many people I meet along the trail ask what I'm going to be doing when I get back and what I think re-entry into 'the real world' will be like.  Now that I am 7 days away from being on top of Katahdin I am being forced to think about it. I know what I am going to be doing after the trail, I've had plans since we started,  but how this re-entry thing will go I'm not sure, I just know I'm not ready yet.  Thru-hiking is hard, it is so hard, there has not been a day on the trail where I said to myself, "this is easy."  Both mentally and physically it is a challenge but in some ways it is much easier and so much simpler than being in the 'real world'.  Most NOBO's (north bounders) at this point are racing to the finish-they are all ready to be done, but I'm begging time to slow down.  I just want a few more weeks to spend in the beautiful, peaceful mountains with the wonderful people I've met along the trail.  Of course there are things I am looking forward to having back- running water to rinse my toothbrush with, food to cook, where cooking doesn't mean just adding boiling water to dried food, and drinking water straight from the faucet without having to filter it.  But overall, I'm not ready  for it to be over.  I have 114 miles until Katahdin and I plan to enjoy each mile of it to the fullest.  So here's to 114 miles of happiness and to being on top of Katahdin next Thursday!!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Maine? Already?

Well folks, here I am, in Maine. Yes Maine, state 14 of 14, but not without some troubles. After much deliberation, soul searching, and talking to others, I decided that it is much more important for me to finish with Jetpack. To have the memory of summiting my favorite mountain with the person with whom I have been planning this trip for 4 years as well as hiked 1,700 miles of the trail. In order to make this a reality, I took a shuttle from Franconia Notch to Gorham, NH and essentially passed a large portion of the Whites. It was definitely a tough decision, but I have already hiked a large part of that section, my favorite section, and can easily go back up and finish it in the fall. I did get to hike the southern part of the Whites that I have never seen including the Kinsman ridge area and Mount Moosilauke. Both offered me the amazing types of views that made me fall in love with hiking and that I have missed so much over the past 1,000 or so miles.

-View from Mt. Moosilauke summit heading north on the AT

- View from South Kinsman Mountain looking south towards Moosilauke

So since I arrived in Gorham, I have been playing catchup and putting in some pretty big miles. NOT EASY. Northern NH and southern Maine are MUCH MUCH harder than I had expected. Every day was filled with rolling mountains where when you reach a summit, you start to head down, and when you reach the bottom, you head right back up again, sometimes 2,000 or more feet. I usually don't mind this type of challenge too much, but when you throw in large, seemingly unending stretches where the 'trail' is nothing more than a straight up/down wall of rock slab where you choices are to either walk straight up/down the middle of it and risk sliding or face planting, or to work your way along the sides holding onto trees, roots, whatever you can grab. All of this becomes much more enjoyable when you do it in the rain...not. So for the last week or so I have been trying to put in as many miles as possible, constantly being discouraged by my now usual 1-1.5 mile per hour pace as opposed to my usual 2.5-3 mph. Ouch. I also have slipped and fallen more times in the last week than I have in the last 4.5 months. Ouch again. In Maine's defense however. It is gorgeous, the mountain summits afford fantastic views to the surrounding ranges, lakes, ponds, etc.

And speaking of lakes, I am currently writing this post from the wonderful DiBenedetto family's house on Mooselookmeguntic Lake. I can't tell you how great it has been to stay here, reading and overlooking the lake, going for a boat ride, listening to loons as I fall asleep, and socialing with such great people. Another example of the extreme generosity found on the trail. It is going to be hard to get back on today. BUT, I only have about 200 miles left and should be catching Jetpack within the next few days. So hopefully you will soon be getting a post from the reunited duo of Jetpack and Eats.

Now, I cannot end this post without talking about the traumatizing hike through Mahoosuc Notch. Oh man. This is known as the hardest or most fun mile of the trail. I can totally see it being fun - if you weren't wearing a 30+ pound pack, if you weren't by yourself and hoping you don't hurt yourself because your phone is dead and no one is around, and if you weren't doing it stuck in the rain. I wish that I had pictures to share with you dear readers, but again, it was raining so I left my camera buried in my pack. So Mahoosuc Notch is a mile long stretch between peaks that is a valley of enormous boulders which you are expected to climb around, over, under, and any other way you can think of. So there I was, soaking wet, hauling myself and my pack up and over boulders, then having to shuffle down the wet rock, or slide on my butt, then jumping down, trying not to smash my face on the boulders in front of me or above me, taking off my pack and dragging it behind me through tiny caves underneath more boulders, etc, etc. So again, sounds sort of fun without the weight and the rain, but it just felt more dangerous than anything. But it is behind me and I am stronger for it! Perhaps I will go back to the notch one day and redeem myself on a nice dry day with a teeny tiny pack filled with only water and snacks. Maybe.

So I hope to write you all again, faithful readers, from the town of Monson, Maine, our last town before we ender the '100-mile wilderness', the last 100 miles of the AT that lead into Baxter State Park without coming closer than 30 miles of a town. Hopefully I will also be with Jetpack while writing said post. So stay tuned, we are almost there!!!!!!

Happy Trails,


- Self explanitory.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ah, Sweet New Hampshire

- Some fun trail magic outside of a house on my way into Hanover, NH.

I made it! After hiking through 12 states, I am finally in NH. Vermont was cool and all, but it was a bit of a let down when I think of the mountains and the views that I know are coming up this state. I thought that maybe VT would have been similar. Oh well...It didn't take long after I left Hanover, NH to see the sudden changes around me. I could take deep breaths of sweet spruce and pine while stepping up using roots as stairs or tip-toeing up slabs of granite and other rock. It felt like home, and it still does. The last 2.5 days of hiking since Hanover have been so happy for me due to the little changes in my surroundings such as those aforementioned. Yesterday I climbed Smarts Mt and Mt Cube which both afforded some pretty fantastic views. I can't remember the last time I got at least TWO good views in one day. Today I am taking a half day at the hiker hostel in Glencliff, NH at mile 1,782. I still cant believe I have hiked that many miles (more than 2x what the average American walks in a whole year: 730 miles). It has taken a few days since getting back on the trail to 'get my legs back', but I am just about there and feeling better each day on the trail. Only 399 miles left to go and starting the White Mountains tomorrow - my favorite part of the trail so far as well as Jetpack's and my home turf. Ah yes, and I lost my cell phone in Hanover so I won't be doing any rapid blogging until a replacement comes from my mom on Saturday. And that's hoping that I can blog from that phone, we will see! Stay tuned and happy trails!


-View of Smarts Mt from the south summit of Mt Cube yesterday evening.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

"Welcome Back" Said the Trail

So as some of you may know, I stopped hiking a week ago Tuesday due to an infection on my ankle that became quite serious. Unfortunately, Jetpack and I had to split up last Thursday because I didn't know if I would be able to get back on or not. Well, here I am, back in VT after quite the welcome. I enjoyed a lovely ride up with my mom and lunch at the Inn at Long Trail, only to be welcomed afterwards with high humidity, limited water sources, one of the steeper climbs I can remember, and then extreme downpours. Typical. I am writing this from my air mattress in a run-roof shelter however, where I am thoroughly enjoying the rain from here and couldn't be happier to be back!

Happy Trails,
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mail Drops

Hey everyone, just a quick post for our next mail drop locations. Thank you to Gram and Peter for the mail magic in Hanover it is greatly appreciated!
 Our next one will be at Pinkham Notch, NH, they only accept UPS mail there. This address is:

Kaitlin Allen/Dan Roach
AMC Visitor Center
c/o Front Desk
NH 16
Gorham, NH 03581
Please hold for AT thru hiker, ETA 7/30

Kaitlin Allen/Dan Roach
C/O White Birches Camping Park
218 US 2
Shelburne, NH 03581
 Please hold for AT thru hiker, ETA 8/1