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After our epic climb of Mt Katahdin, we continued 13 miles southbound on the Appalachian Trail through Baxter State Park to Maine’s 100 Mile Wilderness. This is the longest expanse on the trail without hitting a town. It is an isolated section full of lakes, bogs, rocks, and mountains. And of course, no shortage of exceptional beauty.
We spent our first night camping at the Hurd Brook Lean-to site. I loved our dinner spot best. While Ken worked on filtering water, I settled in on one of the many giant flat slab rocks sprinkled throughout the river to make dinner (ie: heating water to rehydrate food and keep the critters away). I was mesmerized by this crazy dragon tree opposite where I sat.
This will become our evening ritual - Ken filters water while I cook dinner.
In addition to the white trail blazes (vertical white rectangles that regularly mark the trail), signs in various forms let us know we were heading in the right direction- southbound on the Appalachian Trail.
We walked over many types of terrain throughout this 100+ miles, from soft pine needle covered forest floor, to bog bridges, to jagged rocks, to slippery slate.
We passed prolific ferns, fields of alpine plants, and rock hugging trees.
We crossed extensive beaver damns and unexpected railroad tracks.
We hiked across high slabs of rock with gorgeous vistas and forded shallow and knee deep rivers.
Much to Ken’s dismay (I’m always hiking too slow!), I was repeatedly stopped in my tracks by the striking, unusual, and brightly colored fungi.
We ate our fancy, homemade, dried then rehydrated dinners on mountain peaks, lake beaches, riverside, and tucked deep in the forest.
We summited peaks dripping in sweat and had moments of relaxing respite high up on rock ledges and at waters edge.
There were quiet, peaceful, dusk and dawn moments from the top of rock ledges near mountain peaks, sitting among the majestic trees, and standing at the glassy edge of lakeshores.
The weather was generally sunny, hot and humid with some days more overcast with afternoon rain showers.
The abundant lean-to shelters provided cover from the rain. Though we mostly set up camp in our tent, twice we had fitful sleep in these shelters (where raucous mice prevail!), and occasionally waited out afternoon lightening/thunderstorms.
As we approached the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness, the rain and rocks started working against me. I had several bad falls during the last few days, slipping on the infamous Monson slate (made even more slippery by the rain). I hurt my hand (and general hiking motivation), so we stopped ahead of our planned destination to camp on a mossy bed among the trees. I was so thankful to stop early, the dramatic fog and rainy mist made this spot one I’ll never forget.
I limped along, only able to hold one hiking pole and generally ready for a backpacking break on our last day of this section. Fortunately we still walked by interesting beauty to motivate our final steps, including Little Wilson Falls and it’s fascinating rock formations.
Drenched in sweat but feeling accomplished at the end of the 100 Mile Wilderness. As we waited for a ride to Shaw’s Hiker Hostel (and a much needed shower!), it was hard to believe our hiking adventure was only just getting started. This hike alone felt like a lifetime of memories.
A well deserved zero (hiker term for a day off from walking) awaits! And then we look forward to what the rest of Maine holds in store…
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