Miles from Springer Mountain: 2093.7
Miles to Mount Katahdin: 98.3
I’ve entered the Hundred Mile Wilderness and now officially have less than 100 miles left to hike on the Appalachian Trail! When I look at a map or a calendar, it is difficult to fathom the magnitude of what I’ve been working towards over the last few months – that this accomplishment is real and is less than a week away. It started to sink in this morning as the hostel owner dropped some other Nobos and I at the trailhead, I got emotional as she took a minute to congratulate us; she impressed upon me the reality that completing the Appalachian Trail is just one more short walk.
I woke up in my tent on the morning of the 10th and relaxed, I took the morning easily. My goal for the day was to set myself up well for an easy walk into Monson, ME the next day. Only one mountain lay ahead: Moxie Bald Mountain, there’s been many moons that have passed over my tent since the last day I only had to ascend one mountain. The trail after Moxie flattened out, but required the fording of two rivers – now I usually don’t even bother to take off my shoes, relegating my feet to a destitute life of dampness. I made it to the Horseshoe Canyon Ridge Lean-to, I had intended to hike further, but I could feel my body telling me to stop so I listened.
Although I didn’t hike as far as I intended the trail towards ME 15 was mostly downhill or flat, trail miles on Nero days always fly by- my mind is on getting to town! So the 11th I set off early and met the shuttle to stay at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson, ME. Monson is the last trail town on the AT, the final stop before the Hundred Mile Wilderness and Baxter State Park. I picked up my very last resupply, bought a new pair of shoes, ate way too much food, and relaxed with trail friends.
Shaw’s is one of the more famous hostels on trail, it’s the end for Northbounders and the first for southbounders. Monson itself is a fanciful town with few amenities, but nice taste – perfect for hikers who either just left civilization or are ready to reenter it. I enjoyed my time there, but with one week left I could feel Katahdin looming and never did truly rest.
The hostel provided a huge breakfast that was anchored by the endless Maine blueberry pancakes, I’ll make the call and say that this was my best breakfast on trail (Elmer’s in Hot Springs, NC is a close second). I took a shuttle back to the trail, entering the famous Hundred Mile Wilderness – a true wilderness only interrupted by old unkept mining and logging roads. The HMW is the last hurdle before Katahdin, a ceremonial passage for northbounders and an introduction to trail life for southbounders.
After an overnight rain the forest was damp and roots were slick, my new shoes took some adjusting to, but I was able to put in some good miles on a shorter day. I crossed the one hundred mile mark of the trail – it was odd to see it written facing north for Sobos to see. I understood that reaching 100 miles is powerful to any hiker, whether you’ve got 100 left or you just hiked 100 miles further than you thought you could. Tomorrow I’ll be able to conquer the Chairbacks and get close to White Cap Mountain, the last peak before Mt. Katahdin. It’s raining tonight, but the weather looks favorable for big days until the finish!
The final countdown is here! Officially less than one week before I complete my 2019 Northbound Thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail! Thank you for following along on my journey, the end is in sight.