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!!