Day 102 – Gorham, New Hampshire – Carlo Col Shelter – 17 miles
My mom and I stayed at the Town & Country Inn and Resort last night and I had a hard time getting out of the comfortable bed this morning. I slept great, and we went to get breakfast around 7:45. I had a huge fully loaded omelette and cleaned up a couple pieces of french toast my mom couldn’t finish. I chilled in the room for a couple hours, watching tv and getting my things ready. We left at 10 am to get a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and then my mom dropped me back off at the trail down the road. I was hiking by 10:30 and it was a perfect day to be outside. The sky was looking like a painting as I made my way in and out of exposed woods. There were some steep parts today, but nothing like what I was hiking through before so it felt nice to be able to hike at my normal pace. I passed a bunch of northbound hikers in throughout the day and only saw 1 southbound hiker in the afternoon. By the evening time it started to get really windy so the air had a chill, but as long I kept moving it wasn’t too bad. Around 6:30 I hiked 16 miles and crossed the New Hampshire/Maine border! It feels so crazy to be in the last state out of 14 and to be 280 miles from finishing this hike. Before I came out here 280 miles seemed crazy to me, but now it feels so in reach that I get excited. I hiked another mile to the shelter and campsites and all the camping areas were taken up so I decided to sleep in the shelter tonight. There’s no one else in here which is nice for a change. I had ramen, bread and avocado, and a Hershey’s chocolate bar for dinner and ate with two thru hikers from Sweden. They’re around my age and speak really good English, so it was cool eating dinner and having people to talk to. Excited for my first full day in Maine tomorrow!
Day 103 – Carlo Col Shelter – Stealth Camp – 20.9 miles
Today was a long grind, but it set me up good for tomorrow. It was nice waking up early in an empty shelter because I didn’t have to tip toe around and try not to wake people up. I did the usual pack up things and was on trail by 7:45. The day started with just a 300 foot ascent to the summit of Mt. Carlo. It was a nice day, a little bit sunny, and pretty hazy skies. The trail dropped down and then went back up to hit Goose Eye Mountain’s west and east peak which stand close to 4,000 feet. There’s a lot of open grass areas up in these mountains and looking up and seeing them mixed in with the mountains had me feeling like I was in the Lord of the Rings. The next part of the trail was Mahoosuc Notch, which is said to be the hardest, slowest, or most fun mile. The Notch is like an alley way that’s been filled with hundreds of boulders. It had me jumping from rock to rock, climbing through little crevasses, and making sure I don’t slip and crack my head open! It took me about an hour and a half to go through the mile long stretch and at first I was having a lot of fun, but towards the end I was ready to be done with it so when I got to the other side I was happy. I’ve been seeing a bunch of groups with some younger hikers and I passed one after I was out of the notch. I asked what it was all about and they said they were doing orientation for school. I got a lot of funny looks when I asked what school they were from and they said Harvard, and I replied, “What is that a Maine community college?”. I continued hiking up a steep 2,000 foot climb on the Mahoosuc arm. On the way up I bumped into a hiker named Ben who I hadn’t seen since the Smokies, about 1,800 miles ago! It was so cool bumping into him as he is now hiking south back down to Harpers Ferry to complete his thru hike. It’s cool how everything happens on the trail. I hiked back down a steep descent and got to Grafton Notch around 7 o’clock. It’s been getting dark around 8 and I knew then I was going to have to get some night hiking in. I hiked another 5-6 miles up Baldpate Mountain, hitting both the West and East peaks which are close to 4,000 feet. It was a beautiful, clear night and the moon was shining so bright that when I turned my headlamp off I could see my shadow. On the West Peak I got some great footage of an owl sitting on a branch. It was one of the cooler animal encounters I’ve had out here. I eventually found a spot to camp around 1 am and I can’t wait to fall asleep!
Day 104 – Stealth Camp – Human Nature Hostel – 4 miles
The reason I hiked so late is because I wanted to be a good spot to make it to the next road crossing for a free 9am shuttle to a hostel where I sent a new pair of shoes. All of the towns in Maine are anywhere from 5-15 miles off trail so it’s hard to get a hitch sometimes. I wasn’t completely sure where I was when I woke up, so I made sure I had more than enough time to make it. My first alarm went off at 4:30 and I was in a deep in and out sleep until I finally got up and was on the trail at 5:30. It was dark so I used my headlamp for maybe the first 20 minutes into the morning. Turns out I was closer to the road than I thought and with some easier terrain I was there at 7:20. Even though I could have gotten another hour of sleep, I was happy I was there and would make the shuttle. It was cold sitting there waiting, so I ate a couple packets of ramen to warm up. Drinking the warm broth is always nice. A hiker I met the other day named Ping showed up as I was waiting and was going to the same hostel as I was. My original plan was to get my shoes and get back on trail, but when the shuttle came and we started talking I thought it’d be nice to just enjoy the day and relax off my feet. The shuttle took us back to a pretty cool dome shaped brand new hostel which sits on 42 acres. The guy Yukon who owns it was on the tv show Naked and Afraid and I thought it was funny meeting him as I probably watched his episode. I took an outdoor shower and then had some coffee with a few left over Maine blueberry pancakes. I was lucky I made the morning shuttle because my shoes went to the post office and the Saturday hours were from 9-11:45 and I got there around 11:40. The rest of the day consisted of going to the last WalMart on trail, watching Netflix, hanging out with some really cool people, and then went into town for an AYCE Italian buffet. I put on about 10 pounds throughout the whole day of eating and relaxing. I’m happy I chilled here for the day and looking forward to some more Maine trail tomorrow!
Day 105 – Human Nature Hostel – The Cabin – 10.1 miles
I woke up around 6:30 and went up to have some coffee upstairs. Yukon was already making pancakes and soon after I was up there Ping and Stretch came up. I ate two huge pancakes and then got all my stuff together to get back on trail. It was a bit of a late start and I didn’t get started hiking until about 9:30. It was a beautiful day, sunny and a few clouds. The temperature was pretty cool, but I still worked up a good sweat. Compared to how the trail has been recently, the terrain was relatively flat and smooth and it reminded me of how the trail is down in the southern states. My pack was heavy and the climb up to Wyman Mountain was pretty uncomfortable, but I pushed through it and got to the top. I took a break and had some lunch and then Ping and two southbound hikers joined me. I ate some guacamole and bread I packed out and it was nice not having processed food on the trail. The trail took a steep descent, about 2,000 feet, and then went back up another 1,500 up to Moody Mountain. The climb down was long, but not too bad on my legs, and got to the next road around 4:30. There was someone doing trail magic and a few hikers already there hanging out. I ate about 5 hotdogs, cookies, chips, corn on the cob, and a bowl of chili. I heard about this hostel called “The Cabin” which would pick us up at the road, so I decided to stay another night indoors and enjoy it. An older man named Bear came and picked Ping and I up and brought us back to the house. There were about 5 other hikers there and we all enjoyed some brownies and ice cream before watching some Netflix for the rest of the night. It’s been nice hanging out and meeting all these people and definitely taking advantage of it before this trip comes to an end.
Day 106 – The Cabin – Piazza Rock Lean-to – 28.2 miles
After some lower mileage days I was happy to get a big day in. It was close to perfect weather all day and thoroughly enjoyed hiking through this stretch. I woke up around 7 and went upstairs and had breakfast with everyone. There was a huge spread and I ate so much to fuel myself for the day. A man named Warren Doyle was at breakfast with us and it was cool to meet him because he is a known hiker out in the thru hiking world. He’s hiked the Appalachian Trail a total of 18 times. I got my things ready after I ate and then got brought back to the trail just after 8. The day started out with an immediate climb up Old Blue Mountain and I had to really work for it. It was really windy and cloudy when I got to the top, but the conditions would really improve as I made the descent down and then hit Bemis Mountain. I passed a few northbound hikers and one southbound hiker, but didn’t really see anybody all day. Around 12:30 I got down to a road and there was a man and his wife doing trail magic. I had a cold drink, hamburger, hotdog, chili, and a cookie. The guy actually knew my college baseball coach which I thought was cool! I kept hiking and crossed ME 17 which had a great view of Rangeley Lake. After this road the trail became very easy with not too much elevation change and pretty smooth besides some rocks and roots. As I was hiking I bumped into Imua who is last seen in New Jersey. He flip flopped and is now hiking down from Katahdin. It was sweet catching up for a second before hiking on. I passed a few ponds the rest of the day, but other than that I was just all woods. I got to camp around 8, cooked some ramen and washed it down with some peanut m&ms, and then set up my tent. Another big day tomorrow!
Day 107 – Piazza Rock Lean-to – The Stratton Motel – 30.4 miles
Today was another long day, but fulfilling. I woke up early and was on trail by 6 am, eating a pop tart as I was leaving camp. It was raining for a little bit, but it stopped just after 7 like the weather had reported. After that it was cloudy for an hour or two, but then the sun would come out for the remainder of the day. The first climb was up Saddleback Mountain which is one of Maine’s 4,000 footers. It was one of the tougher climbs so far in Maine, but was nice at the top. The trail got a little more rough compared to the two days prior, but I heard that it will go back to flatter elevation and easier terrain further north. The next 5 miles down Saddleback had me hiking up and down a few sub peaks and then dropped down to 1,000 feet before climbing back up Lone Mountain and Spaulding Mountain which is close to 4,000. I then hiked up Sugarloaf Mountain and then North and South Crocker Mountain which again are above 4,000 feet. From North Crocker is was a 6 mile, 3,000 foot descent down to ME 27. As I got closer to the road I passed the 2,000 mile mark! I can’t believe I have hiked all that way. It’s pretty surreal as I think about it right now. I got picked up at the road and went to the Stratton Motel/Hostel and got a bunk for the night. The gas station down the street cooked food so I got a steak and cheese with a few snacks and then called it a night. Getting close!