After yesterday's trauma on the Trail Jim and I both agreed we needed a day
to rest physically and recover
psychologically; yesterday completely drained me in both ways.
I still have to figure out how
to do the remaining 4.4 miles of that section and must wait an unknown length
of time for the water to subside. I'll probably be out there again tomorrow. No more rain is predicted until Tuesday.
Today was an overcast, misty day with a bit more rain, but nothing measurable
where we were in the valleys. I hope that will give some time for the streams to
After a relaxed breakfast and computer time enjoying the Wi-Fi connection
right at our site, we went into nearby Greenville, Maine. Jim ran near Moosehead
Lake and through town while I did a couple loads of laundry. We also got
Most of the afternoon was spent driving to AT trailheads. We had to figure
out how best to get me back to the northeast shore of Big Wilson River AKA
"Stream" without hiking another tortuous route like I took yesterday. I doubt
there's any more of a "trail" there than the bushwhack I did going out on the
First Jim showed me the northern route he took off KI (Katahdin Ironworks)
Road that goes to the trail head at Long Pond Stream. Jim said the double creek
crossing looked better today, although the far side was still churning.
Next we drove to the Hedgehog Checkpoint, one of the "gates" in the
170,000-acre KI/Jo-Mary Multiple Use Management Area. Thirty miles of the AT
traverse this combination logging-recreational area. Some of the dirt
logging roads that Jim will use to get me to and from trail heads have user
fees and certain times they are open.
We talked to the woman manning the checkpoint and got a bit more information
than we already had. She also told us KI Road wasn't graded this year as usual.
That explained all the holes and bumps! It takes a long time to negotiate these
roads, whether they are currently used by logging trucks or not.
Our last route was from the south side of the AT. We hoped to find a
mile-long side trail that would get me up to the AT faster than trying to follow
Big Wilson. The first gravel road was a dead-end but the second one was
correct. Jim was able to drive up six-tenths of a mile before the road got too
bad. We walked up the remaining four-tenths of a mile and found the AT -
We saw a hiker walking on the road. He had hiked down the trail Jim was on
yesterday that follows Little Wilson Stream to the bridge across the Big Wilson
Stream. He by-passed about five miles of Trail to avoid both creeks, upon the
advice of a south-bound hiker he met this morning.
The hiker's trail name is "Fido." He rode up the side trail in the truck and
we walked up to the AT together, talking. My philosophy is different than his.
Fido just kept going north without back-tracking to do the part of the AT he
missed. He probably did the same mileage on the side trails and roads, and I
suppose this is legitimate.
However, I feel compelled to back-track a mile and a half tomorrow to catch
the piece I missed from Big Wilson to the new side trail. Both will add a couple
miles to tomorrow's section, but I'll feel like I covered the whole Trail.
My current plan is to do the remaining 4.4 miles from Big Wilson to Long Pond
Stream, then the next 15.6 miles through the Barren-Chairback Mountain Range to
the West Branch of the Pleasant River.
JUST TELLIN' THE TRUTH AS I SEE IT
Sometimes I worry that journal readers will think I'm a "Drama Queen,"
exaggerating the difficulty of the Appalachian Trail through New Hampshire and
Maine. Although I sometimes take a bit of "literary license" describing my
reactions to things, I've never deliberately exaggerated facts about the Trail
I've tried to give an accurate description of the entire Trail to benefit
others who want to hike all or part of it. Obviously, YMMV - "your mileage may
vary." My perceptions may be quite different from yours, especially if the
weather is appreciably different on the day you are there.
Today I've been reading some of my friends' recent entries on the Trail
Journals website (and I'm delighted to see entries by some hikers I didn't know
were doing journals, like "The Honeymooners," "Hareball," and "Still Walking").
I wanted to see what their reactions were to the Whites and Mahoosucs, in
Believe it or not, some hikers had even stronger reactions than mine! Now I
know I'm not a "Drama Queen." For example, read "Longhaul's" August 28 entry as he
carefully climbs up Mt. Webster in the Presidential Range. His detailed
description of the difficulty of finding hand- and foot-holds is very vivid. The
fear he feels looking back down where he's climbed is palpable.
When I saw "Goat" and "Buffet" a few days ago I whined a bit about the
difficulty of the Trail in NH and ME. They concurred. Since they live in NH, I
asked them how much of the AT they'd hiked there before their thru-hike. Most of
their mileage was done on other side trails. I mentioned how much more civilized
the side trail was that I took down from Madison Hut twice. They said that is
typical; every side trail they've hiked is appreciably easier than most
of the AT
through New Hampshire.
CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?
I guess I just don't "get" it. I'm not alone, either. I don't understand why
the AT has to be so user-unfriendly, even dangerous, in New Hampshire and Maine.
What's the point? Bragging rights?
Not only is the Trail steep and rugged in New Hampshire, it is also difficult
to find the way with all the different trail names, poor signage, and minimal
blazes. In Maine, the Trail is well-marked but the bogs, swamps, and rivers are
a major hazard. Why risk peoples' lives in these wet areas, which must flood
fairly regularly? Isn't it worthwhile to build some decent log or wood plank bog
bridges through swamps and footbridges over large streams?
I expected the distance and elevation change of 2,175 miles along the
AT to be a big enough challenge for a 56-year-old woman with arthritis. Five
months ago I had no clue if I could finish. But I knew I'd give it my best shot.
Now here I am with just over 100 miles to go, and in some ways the goal seems
farther away than it did on Springer Mountain in Georgia.
I can't believe some of the things I've forced myself to do to keep moving
forward - the tough climbs and descents; the rugged trails; the dangerous
"suicide slabs" (these current slate slabs are the slickest yet); near-vertical
rock walls; boulder fields; Mahoosuc Notch; swamps and bogs with rotted
"bridging;" and now having to fight my way across raging creeks and rivers, my
life hanging on a half-inch rope strung fifty feet between two trees.
Can I possibly face anything more hazardous in the next 104 miles? Will I be
able to overcome similar challenges ahead? Is my will to finish strong
Stay tuned to find out!