I just walked 2185.3 miles.

12 July 2014 (Day 129) – 2185.3 miles. 14 States. 129 days. My Appalachian Trail thru-hike ended on the summit of Mt Katahdin, Maine on a glorious, bluebird day.

By far, this adventure has been the most challenging thing I have ever done. I physically hurt all over but the feeling of accomplishment is overwhelming. The euphoria I felt as I approached the summit sign was worth every mile walked. Tears were flowing freely during the last 25 feet. It felt great!

I will spend the rest of the summer recuperating and regaining some of the 35 lbs. I lost. Give me a few days and I will post a few more thoughts and pictures.

A “Thank you!” to everyone who supported me on this adventure! Your support got me through the hard times and I sincerely appreciate it. Knowing you were behind me made all the difference.

Current Location: Mt Katahdin, ME. Northern terminus for the AT. Miles Hiked: 2185.3
Miles Remaining: 0.0 (woot!)

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End Game

4 July 2014 (Day 122) – Monson, ME is the last town near the Trail before the Hundred Mile Wilderness (HMW). For Southbound (SOBO) hikers, it’s their first opportunity to get off the Trail, shower, resupply, and sleep in a real bed. Most SOBOs take 10 days to transition the HMW. They need the shower!

Northbounders (NOBO) will use the same town amenities, but we will only need 5 – 6 days to transition the HMW. We’re conditioned for longer miles and the pull of Mount Katahdin is undeniable.

Unless the weather impacts my hike, I should complete this adventure on 12 July 2014. I won’t have phone connectivity so the next time you will hear from me, I will have summited Mount Katahdin. Wish me luck.

I passed 2000 miles this past week. Twice. There are multiple locations along the Trail which proclaim the 2000 mile mark. In truth, neither is correct. I don’t care, it felt good to see it in writing. Both times.

Current Location: Monson, ME
Map Location:
http://goo.gl/maps/6Ngde
Miles Hiked: 2070.8
Miles Remaining: 114.5

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Don’t Pay the Ferryman

3 July 2014 (Day 121) – The Appalachian Trail in Maine has many, many river crossings. Most hikers ford them by simply walking through the water in their hiking shoes. The shoes are probably already wet, so they cannot get any wetter. If the shoes are dry, I might switch to my camp shoes (Crocs) and ford in those to keep my hiking shoes dry.

The Kennebec River is a different animal. It’s wider than most and the river’s flow is controlled by upriver dams with unscheduled water releases. In the past, hikers have been caught fording midstream when the dam releases and the water rises 4 feet. Not preferred. Also, the dams are bottom release so the water is cold enough to cause cramps. We’ve lost a few hikers that way. Therefore, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) hires “Hillbilly Dave” to ferry hikers across the river in his canoe. He’s a quintessential Mainer and yet another character on the Trail.

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Mahoosuc(k) Notch

25 June 2014 (Day 115) – Crazy days in Maine. Two days ago I traversed Maine’s Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm. The Notch is considered the hardest mile on the A.T. and the Arm is an extreme climb that immediately follows. The Notch is a ravine filled with huge boulders, fallen trees, ice (all year long), flowing water, and narrow caves. The path flows through, over, under, and around the obstacles. There’s many areas where one wrong step would end in disaster. To make things even more sporty, it rained on the day I hiked the Notch. It took me almost 2 hours to complete a single mile. I had fun for the first half but wanted out after that. The Mahoosuc Arm was not as technically difficult but long and steep.

Today was a beautiful, bluebird day. The view from Baldpate Peak at 8 AM was of fog filled valleys and mountain tops like green islands in a white sea.

The previous days view of the Rangeley Lakes was equally spectacular.

Current Location: Andover, ME
Miles Hiked: 1918.1
Miles Remaining: 267.2

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MAINE!

24 June 2014 (Day 112) – I entered Maine today – the final State of 14. Woot! Maine has 281.5 miles of the A.T. I have to temper my excitement somewhat since few of these miles are considered easy. The southern half is punctuated by mountains similar to to White Mountains in New Hampshire. The northern half contains the 100 mile wilderness – a very remote section of Maine. Although fairly flat, the Trail though the HMW has multiple river crossings, bogs, roots, mosquitos, and ubiquitous piles of moose poop (no joke). I can’t wait.

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Top of the World

22 June 2014 (Day 110) – Amazing day hiking! Climbed 7 peaks within the Presidential Range of the White Mountains: Mts Pierce, Franklin, Monroe, Washington, Clay, Jefferson, and Madison. It was a bluebird day with unlimited visibility, 5 MPH winds, and plenty of sun. Days like this are very rare on Mt Washington. In summer, there are an average of 4 clear days per month (2 per month in winter). Winds are rarely below 20 MPH. I got really lucky.

The view from the summit of Mt Washington was awe inspiring. The White Mountains stretching into the distance surrounded by green valleys were beautiful. Pictures do not do it justice. I’ve always wanted to climb Mt Washington and am thrilled I had the chance to do so on this hike.

Looking toward Mt Washington from Lake of the Clouds:

View from the peak:

Me just happy to be there:

Panorama from just below peak:

Current Location: Pinkham Notch, NH
Map Location:
http://goo.gl/maps/0Twj7
Miles Hiked: 1865.9
Miles Remaining: 319.4

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The Moose is Loose.

18 June 2014 (Day 106) – Wow. What a day in the mountains. The summit of Mt Moosilauke was fogged in and 40 degrees with a wicked wind blowing at 30+ MPH. The hike up was long, steep and punctuated with lots of rocks. The weather outlook is good for the next few days so I’m hoping for some longer views.

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Trail Magic

17 June 2014 – Trail Magic is an unexpected gift given along the A.T. It can be as simple as a container full of candy left beside the trail:

Fruit left at a rest area (the box of donuts was sealed when I got there):

A church offering a free pancake and bacon breakfast (no sermon attendance required):

Besides food, trail magic can be a ride offered into town, a patch of lawn to pitch your tent, or a hose to refill your water bottle. It’s abundant along the trail and most likely to come from people “giving back” from a previous gift they acquired.

On 14 June, myself and another hiker (Indiana) were traversing the White River bridge into West Hartford, VT. We had hiked the last 9 miles discussing what sandwiches, ice cream and soda we would eat at the Yellow Belly Deli in West Hartford. While we were on the bridge, a woman standing on a porch near the bridge rang a bell and called out “Would you like a soda?” We stated that we would but we were headed to the deli. “It’s been closed since March but I can cook you a meal. Come on in.” 10 minutes later we were in Linda Hart’s kitchen eating scrambled eggs, sausage, toast, and drinking root beer soda.

Linda and her family lost their house, garage and family van in hurricane Irene (2011); washed down the river while they watched from a hill above. Their house is only partially repaired and will be completed as funds are available.

Even though funds are tight, Linda and her family continue to provide trail magic to legions of hikers. Her son thru hiked in 2002 and she’s still giving back 12 years later.

There are many stories just like this along the trail. The A.T. is a magical place.

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Protein FTW!

17 June 2014 (Day 104) – I get plenty of carbohydrates on the trail. Pop Tarts, candy bars, granola are typical fare. Protein is far more difficult to pack but I eat a half jar of peanut butter per day and so much tuna I’m practically a thermometer. Fruits and vegetables weight too much and are only eaten in towns.

I’ve had my fill of beef jerky except for the Steve Paleo (stevespaleogoods.com) versions sent to me by my friend Debbie Monahan (thanks again, Deb!). Their unique jerky flavors are mixed with sweet fruits and nuts; not your typical dried meat. Helps tremendously with rebuilding my depleted muscles. I’m not a shill for the company, just a fan.

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The White Mountains of NH

17 June 2014 (Day 105) – I will enter the White Mountains of New Hampshire in earnest tomorrow. The first mountain in the chain is a doozy. Second only to Mt Katahdin in length and steepness of climb, Mt Moosilauke ascends 3800 feet in 5.5 miles and descends in only 4 miles. The descent is punctuated by steps cut in the granite and rebar handholds. The peak is above tree line. I look forward to the challenge and will post pictured soon.

The last 2 days have been perfect for hiking. Clear trail and beautiful vistas over the Green Mountains.

Current Location: Glencliff, NH
Map Location:
http://goo.gl/maps/9uB0T
Miles Hiked: 1786.6
Miles Remaining: 398.7

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