Hiking the Appalachian Trail: 100-Mile wilderness

September 22

Hiked 9.1 miles.

I’m in the 100-mile wilderness.  I hope to average 11 miles per day and make it out in 10 days.  I’ve decided to do a 10 mile loop off the Appalachian trail which follows the rim of a canyon.  Its nickname is “The Grand Canyon of Maine.”

Got a late start, went slow, and finished a little early so doing 11 miles a day shouldn’t be too bad except when I’m going over these dang mountains like I did today.  But I only have to do one more which I’ll do tomorrow.

100-mile wilderness 9

Yes, this is the trail and it continued to be difficult and rocky.

September 23

Hiked 15 miles.

If I keep this pace up I’ll be Kahtadin a week early.  Don’t know what I’ll do with myself.  They don’t accept anything but cash in Baxter State Park since they don’t have phone coverage and can’t verify credit cards.  I don’t have a lot of cash but have lots of food so I’m not sure what I’ll do.

Had a great day of hiking.  Climbed up into a mountain range and will be in it all day tomorrow.  After that there’s only one more mountain to climb before Kahtadin.

100-mile wilderness 8

Atop a peak with a spectacular view of the lakes and colorful fall leaves.

September 24

Hiked 9.5 miles.

Forgot to mention that when I was at Shaw’s (the hostel in Monson) and was sitting around the breakfast table, the subject of bicycle touring came up.  Many of the hikers are also bicycle tourists.  Of course I mentioned our trip from Alaska to Argentina.  To my surprise as soon as I mentioned this two people immediately recognized me.  As it turned out they had read at least one of our books and browsed our website.

Today was a tough day of steep ups and downs with lots of rocks and roots.  Many times I had to use all 4’s to climb or descend rock faces.  It’s very slow and tiresome hiking like this.  But the views were spectacular from Barren and Chairback summits.  One day the trail can be slow and cumbersome and the next day easy.  I can’t really tell what it’s gong to be like from the trail guide I have.

100-mile wilderness 7

In the morning when the air was still, the reflection of the fall colors was superb.

September 25

Hiked 9 miles.

Didn’t get very far on the trail today.  Took a 5.2-mile detour loop in the Gulf Hagas region.  It features a narrow, deep gorge with many waterfalls.  Took more pictures today than any other day because it was so picturesque, yet I know photos could never capture the beauty of this gorge, especially with the added beauty of the leaves starting to change color.

100-mile wilderness 6

September 26

Hiked 10.6 miles.

Hiked through the last mountain range before Kahtadin.  It was a crystal clear day with deep blue skies.  A warm fall day that I think they call an Indian summer.  But by far the most beautiful thing I saw today were the leaves.  It seems that almost overnight the forest went from all green to green with a myriad of large patches of flaming red, orange, and yellow.

When I reached the top of White Cap Mountain a scene of spectacular beauty unfolded before me.  Grooves of maple, birch, and beech wood exploded with color below me.  I was so astounded by this sight at first I thought I was in some kind of fantasy land.  I took lots of pictures but I don’t think there is any way to capture this stunning landscape.

100-mile wilderness 5


September 27

Hiked 11.7 miles.

What a day!  Today is what it’s all about; it’s justification for all the woes, aches, and pain endured on the trail.

Another sunny warm fall day.  This day, however, was spent not looking down at fall colors like yesterday on the mountain, but walking through dazzling groves of deciduous trees.  The sun shined on the fall leaves setting them aglow in colors so bright I almost had to shield my eyes from them.  The deep blue skies in the background accentuated the surreal forest.  All day long I walked, mesmerized, in a tunnel of stunning colors.

I’m in my 5th day of the 100-mile wilderness and getting a bit stinky.  Passing a lake today I just couldn’t pass up the chance for a swim/bath.  After I dove in the cold water took my breath away.  After the initial shock, it was extremely refreshing.  Walking in a clean body was much more enjoyable.

100-mile wilderness 4

I couldn’t stand the smell of myself after 5 or 6 days without a shower so I went for a swim and washed off in the cold lake water.

September 28

Hiked 11.4 miles.

Indian Summer lives on.  It was up in the 80’s and actually uncomfortably too warm.  Whenever I went uphill and exerted myself I sweat.  Fortunately there was another lake with a sandy beach and I went for a refreshing swim. Was a beautiful lake with fall colors around the shore reflected in the water.  Took a bunch of photos.

But all good things must come to an end.  And so it is with Indian Summer.  Tomorrow a front is supposed to come through bringing rain and lower temperatures.  In fact there is supposed to be a 22-degree drop!  For the foreseeable future it is going to remain that way.  I don’t think the temps will reach 70 degrees again until next summer.

100-mile wilderness 3

Because of the rocks, roots, and sloped ground there were few places to spend the night other than at or around these lean-to’s. I could usually find a good place to set up my tent near a lean-to and preferred to do that since I am such a light sleeper.

September 29

Hiked 18.2 miles.

This was my highest mileage in any day on the trip.  It wasn’t the easiest trail I’ve done, but Rich & I got up early and started off at about 7:00 AM and arrived at the shelter at 5:15 PM.

There were awesome views of the valleys with patches of fall colors and many lakes.  There would have been stunning views of Katahdin but I didn’t see it because it was shrouded in clouds.  We were lucky it didn’t rain.

100-mile wilderness 2

My first good view of Kahtadin


September 30

Hiked 11.1 miles.

I’m now camped in a lean-to only 3.5 miles from the Abol Bridge and Baxter State Park.

We got an unexpected close up view of Katahdin today atop Rainbow ridge.  Was supposed to be cloudy but all of a sudden it cleared up and there was Katahdin in all her glory.  She even had a bit of snow on her peak from the previous night.  Spent a good half hour staring at this magnificent but intimidating mountain.

100-mile wilderness 1

Katahdin Stream as it exits Baxter State Park

October 1

Hiked 3.5 miles.

Made it out of the 100-mile wilderness, said good-bye to ‘Shoes’ (real name: Rich), and set out to figure out what to do next.  The problem is that it’s supposed to rain Saturday and Sunday which gives me only Thursday (tomorrow) or Friday to climb Katahdin.  I chose Friday since I wanted a rest day before the climb.  So I’m at a campground just south of Baxter Park.  Tomorrow I’ll hike the 10 miles to the Birches where I’ll start the climb.

Now the only problem is what to do after the climb.  I’ll finish on the 3rd and wait for Karen on the 7th.  I’d go back south on the trail but the weather will be bad and there’s supposedly over 100 hikers headed this way.

If I finish the climb before 4:30 I can get a free shuttle ride into Millinocket and stay there 4 days at $25/day.  I’ll try that.


Here are the other posts from John’s Appalachian Trail adventure:

Pinkham Notch to Gorham

Gorham, NH to Stratton, ME

Stratton to Caratunk

Caratunk to Monson

100-Mile wilderness, Maine

Climbing Mt. Katahdin

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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2 Responses to Hiking the Appalachian Trail: 100-Mile wilderness

  1. Tim November 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    Such a small world in this internet age … would you think that even five years ago, total strangers would regonize you from a book you wrote and a blog you had on the web?

    • Nancy Sathre-Vogel November 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm #

      @Tim, It is pretty crazy, no? We’ve run across that a few times, and it always blows us away.

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