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.
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!!!!!!