Franconia Ridge - amazing views above treeline. Intense winds that will knock you off your feet if you are not careful.
Up on Mt. Garfield
View from Garfield
Going across Guyot to get to Zealand Falls
View from Zealand Falls Hut
Presidential Range South of Mt. Washington
Did work-for-stay at the Lake of the Clouds hut, right before Mt. Washington.
Sunset through the clouds
Next morning, a storm coming as I go up the Mt. Washington
Totally socked in
Mt. Washington Summit photo. (1st summit)
Mt. Washington scenery
We didn't want to hike across the Northside of the Prezzies socked into clouds, not to mention how F**king dangerous it would be. You can't stay the night in the Washington Visitor's Center, and to take the train or auto-road down the mountain it cost an outrageous $25 - $30! (and we're all super poor at this point). We decided to try hitchhiking down the auto-road, which is illegal because its an expensive payroad, but no way in hell we were staying at 6,200' during a T-storm. Megan, one of Pebbles' friends hiked the Whites with us and she is a professional photographer, here are some of her pictures. Me on the Mt. Washington observation deck
Me, Cherry Cheeks, and Pebbles trying to hitch down the auto-road
Finally got a hitch, and the people that did had a few extra beers in their cooler. Cheers!
It was easy getting a hitch down, because of pity. No one wanted to be up there during a storm. Getting a hitch back up the next day. That was difficult. We had to bushwack around the toll. And we were on the side of the road for 30 minutes, having to jump back in the bushes everytime a ranger drove by. Finally we got a hitch back up.
After the Presidentials, Every hiker was forced to evacuate the White Forest because of Hurricane Irene. Section hiker Cherry Cheeks had an aunt and uncle in Bethel, Maine, and we (Pebbles, Cherry Cheeks, and I) stayed there for three days riding out the storm. Afterwards when we started hiking again, we were still in the Whites, but the fun part was over. Now it was time for Wildcat Mountain and Carter Notch, considered by many to be the most difficult part of the Whites, lots of hikers skip over them.
Pebbles climbing over some Hurricane Irene debris
Up on Wildcat
The pond at Carter Notch Hut. Only six miles in I would stay here for the night, after getting my butt kicked by Wildcat. Carter the next day would be even worse
Going up Carter
at the peak
Looking back at the Presidentials
a dam, as I walk along the road to the Mahousic Range, the last section of the Whites which leads into Maine
storm came in the next day as I made my way to Mahousic Notch. Socked in to a cloud
Mahousic Notch- said to be the most difficult or the most fun mile on the entire AT, depending on how you look at it. It's the giant boulder scamble from hell, where you have climb over, around, under, between boulders for a mile. It can take anywhere from 1 to 5 hours to do, depending on the person. It took me about 80 minutes
after Mahousic Notch, you have to make the brutal 1000'+ ascent up Mahousic Arm, which is mostly boulder slab. And that is damn near impossible on a wet day at the summit
Over the arm and Old Speck Mountain, the weather begins to brighten up on the descent
Maine is like a fairytale. There is the overwhelming euphoria that comes from being in the final state. There is the extreme sense of isolation and retreat. There is the strange and unfamiliar wilderness. The eerie sound of loons on the lakes as you drift to sleep. It's 280 miles of bog, boulders, moose, mountains, lakes, loons, river fords and a 100-mile-wilderness. Easily my favorite state, but also the most difficult. At this point my body is beyond maxed out. The Whites more or less destroyed me. The joints in my knees and ankles feel like jello. My waist has slimmed so much that my waist belt for my pack is too big for it, causing my pack weight to fall more on my shoulders. Being full from meals doesn't happen anymore. No matter how much food I eat it isn't enough. Heavy rains from Hurricanes Irene and Lee turned most of the trail in southern Maine into a bog, so my socks were always soaked --something that destroys your motivation to hike big days.
Going up the Baldpates
A tempting swim, but storm clouds and the sound of thunder forced me to move on.
Trail after a rainy night
There are no bridges in Maine so every water crossing, whether a creek, stream, or river had to be forded. I hate hate HATE wet socks, so I would always do mine barefoot, which is highly discouraged.
Looking off the peak of Old Blue
Going over the Bemis Range
one of those lakes that was in the background of the last pictures
I mentioned bogs earlier; the next 15 miles were atrocious with mud, sometimes going knee deep. When we got to the road for Rangely, we got an apartment-styled hotel room and stayed there for a couple of nights to recover.
Going over Saddleback
Next up, The Horn
I had to ford this f**ker. Wasn't fun.
Going up Crocker
Next is the Bigelow Mountain Range. One of my favorite parts.
MADE IT TO 2000 MILES
Next morning - Avery Peak, last 4000' mountain. last actual mountain
Kinnebec River. Largest ford in Maine.
People have drowned trying to ford the Kinnebec, so someone runs a canoe-ferry.
looking back at the Bigelows
Pleasant Pond Mountain
up on Moxie Bald
I want to say this was Ethan Pond? Don't remember the name
same pond, next morning
Lake Shore Hostel in Monson right before the 100-mile-wilderness
Some would argue that the 100-Mile-Wilderness isn't really a wilderness, due to the fact that you cross several logging roads throughout the 5 - 8 days it takes to go through. But nevertheless you are dozens of miles from the closest sign of civilization. This is northern Maine. The most isolated part of the entire trail. The most difficult part of the 100-mile-wilderness (for me at least) was rationing food. 7 days worth of food on my back (the most I'd carry on the whole hike) is quite a burden, and threw off my balance for the first couple of days. You would want to eat most of it in the first couple of days to lighten your load, but by the last couple of days when you are at your hungriest, you have barely any food to spare, and you are pretty much starving yourself.
warning sign upon entering
hey a little bridge.
Big Wilson Stream ford first thing in the morning. Lots of fords in the 100-mile
view going up Barren Mountain
going up Columbus Mt. on a dreary day
another ford (one of the easier ones)
Peak of Whitecap Mountain
First view of Katahdin!!!
Fall has come
View from Nesuntabunt
Rainbow Ledges. Oh My God. 21 miles left to go!
Abol bridge. Out of the 100-mile-wilderness.
Here's a view of Katahdin from Abol Bridge. But it's a cloudy day.
Trump and I hitched from Abol Bridge to Millinocket. 20 miles, 12 of which were on a dirt road with little to no traffic. Took almost 2 hours to get a ride. We got dropped off at the highway and then got another hitch into town. There we met my with mom at the hostel. We stayed the night got rested and would have my mom take us back up to Abol to do the last 15 miles of the trail.
In the back of a pickup towing a boat, on my hitch into town.
Part 15 - (Baxter State Park, Mt. Katahdin, Knife's Edge)
This is it. Day 175. The last 15 miles. When my mom dropped Trump and I back off at Abol Bridge it was a beautiful day and many of our friends who were a day behind us were there drying out some of their gear. We walked over the border into Baxter State Park and signed the sheet to stay in The Birches, the last shelter on the AT, 5 miles before Katahdin. Baxter State Park is a very scenic, very easy hike along the Katahdin Stream, with a couple of fords. When we got to Katahdin Stream, many hikers' parents were there along with other campers greeting and congratulating us on our hike. With only 5 miles left, there was no stopping us.
View of Katahdin from Abol Bridge on a clear day
In Baxter State Park: Katahdin Stream
Katahdin Stream Campground, (me, Trump, and Tom A. Hawk)
So we decided to do a night hike up Katahdin. End the trip on a huge epic Bang and see the sunrise from the Greatest Mountain. We left the birches around 2am and had what was without a doubt the most terrifying, exhilarating, adrenaline-pumping hike on the whole trail. Intense winds, wet boulders. All rational thinking was telling me to turn back and that this was suicide. But it was the last 3 miles of the trail. I HAD TO DO IT.
sign at Spring, 1 mile to go
there's no way to get a good picture of a night hike, but I thought I'd share one just to give you a hint as to the visibility.
And then I was there
It was too cloudy for a good sunrise, but seeing the sun come through the clouds the way it did, with that huge euphoric feeling of finishing the entire AT. Nothing quite like it.
I summited around 5am and stayed up on summit till around 11am, to watch the clouds break and take TONS of summit photos.
GROUP SHOT. I love these kids. (L to R, Bottom to Top, Charter, me(Poncho), Trump, Tom A. Hawk, Spicoli, Catalyst, Aces)
Goofing off on the summit.
So that's it. Mt. Katahdin. But we weren't done yet! We still had to get down. Most people go back the way they came on the AT, but all the COOL people go down a different trail called the Knife's Edge. A thin, bumpy, rocky, ridgeline with sharp,steep drop-offs on either side.
Aces making her way over to the Knife
A view from the top
Trump sittin' on the edge.
Myself on the Edge
Trump and Catalyst making their way down the Edge
Mt. Pamola, the end of the Knife
Descent back into the Park. A bittersweet farewell to Katahdin and the Appalachian Trail.
Back in Millinocket at the AT Cafe, signing our trail names on the ceiling tile.
Well that's all folks. If anything I hope this thread has inspired or motivated someone to go out and give it a shot. Whether you make it 2 miles, 20 miles, or 2,000 miles, I guarantee you won't regret it.
Unbelievable! I just spent an hour and a half reading through this thread, loved every second of it! I may never meet you, but I want you to know that I'm so proud of you, and beyond inspired by this. I've debated doing the AT for the past two years or so, and your photos and journal may have finally just swayed me. Thank you for all the time you put in sharing this with us!
Thanks! Also what was it like going from the trail straight to bonnaroo?
ohmygod i've been waiting for someone to ask me this ;D
When I hitched out to harrisonburg, I immediately ran into tons of people going to Roo. In the hotel I stayed at there was a big group of girls going for the first time and I got to know them pretty well. I think because of how I smelled and how I looked I gave off a sketchy vibe to them. preventing me getting the hitch from heaven. I eventually got a hitch out to Charlottesville and caught a bus. Anyone who has taken the greyhound to Roo knows that the bus is made up of nothing but Rooers. and IS 'The Bonnaroo Bus'. When we made a connection at Knoxville I actually met a couple of other AT thru-hikers. (We can immediately tell each other apart by the Backpacks, trekking poles, beards, boots, etc.) A lot of people took time off of the AT to do shows and festivals, especially the Phish fest in New York.
I LOVED being able to walk up to the gate instead of waiting in line forever. Didn't even get searched.
A few people were laughing at me when I walked in because of my trekking poles. "Dude why do you have trekking poles? have you ever been to Bonnaroo before?" .....open minded youth.
As I mentioned before in a few other threads, with the beard, funky smell, and goofy tan lines, a lot of people thought I was a wook, and tried to get me to sell them corn and other such things.
I remember at Deerhunter lighting up a j, this girl turned around and was like "hey can you sell me some?" I remember going through the security patdown in Centeroo the security guy was like "yeah i know you got some corn... i can smell it on you.. you're going to sell me some right?" I also recall many people trying to make friends with me, asking me about how long so-in-so was going to play... how long it took to grow my beard... trying to make small talk so I would sell them stuff. And of course just walking down Shakedown street and people being saying all the drukq lingo but asking for sale instead of to sell? ...Anyway I got a kick out of all that.
But to answer your question more specifically. Roo was an amazing experience after 10 weeks of hiking. I got to see some of my friends from home for the first time since, which was GREAT. the most interesting part was not having an ipod or any form of music-on-demand for so DAMN long (this is seriously maddening at some times)... and going to a music festival and having it EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS just made the music so much more special and important to me.
-Also I didnt get a good glimpse of the schedule until the wednesday before bonnaroo. So i had to like make my conflict decisions very late in the game. almost like a blind bonnaroo.
the bad part was being thrown into that huge societal party and then having to be taken away from it. I think it partly contributed to my wanting to quit about about 10 days later when I got to Harper's Ferry.
I want to know what your mom's reaction was when she saw how thin you were.
Now that you posted through the end of the trail, please don't stop talking about it! Keep posting favorite pics and stories.
I'm overweight and lazy as hell and have zero hiking experience, and I want to do this so bad! Carrying my backpack just from train stations to hostels in Europe was miserable to me. I can't imagine carrying it all the time! I don't even know you, but I'm so proud of you for this. It will be a great accomplishment, memory, and story for the rest of your life.
My mom when she first saw me at the hostel in Maine. LOL well that was her first time seeing me since the day before I left April 1st. I had told her on the phone that my appearance had differed dramatically, so she was somewhat ready, but she thought it was pretty funny I guess because she started laughing when she saw me, and then started crying.
My dad had a similar reaction to when he saw me in Massachusetts. I was on the side of the road and when he pulled over to pick me up he sat in the car for like 20 seconds in disbelief. Then got out of the car to give me a hug. Then we drove back to Boston the whole way with the windows down.
I had always been skinny, but the last time I had weighed 125 lbs was before high school. And a 25 lb weight loss is VERY modest. I know a hiker that lost 60 lbs in the first month.
And as for the backpack. I'm not going to lie, it's a burden. It's always a burden. By the time you get to New England, you hate backpacking. No matter how light you can get your pack it's always too much. I started out with a 33 lb pack, which is perfect, and that was with 6 days of food, 3 liters of water and a 5 lb pack, and 3 lb sleeping bag. After I switched out my gear for ultralite and started carrying less food and water (usually about 4 days of food at the most and only 1.5 liters of water at a time) my pack probably weighed closer to 25 lbs. But it was always too heavy.
Mad respect for you Jpbrez. I've been on and off reading this thread for a few months and I just want to say What a hell of an accomplishment!! I'm glad you shared your story with us at Inforoo. I'm also glad you got to see some good wildlife when you were the Shenandoahs in my good ol' state. The area is protected and that stretch of Virginia is filled with hunters. Such as Front Royal and Winchester. The animals know this so it's always a pleasure to see the variety of wildlife.I hope you enjoyed your time in Virginia and again thanks for all the pics.
Jpbrez amazing adventure! The pics are priceless. It was cool to see the parts I knew growing up in CT. I know a lot of portions being a New Englander but I've also been amazed at the scenery I get to see on the way to Roo through WV, KY and TE. Your thread reminded me about how fortunate I am to be living in an area with so much beauty. Awesome!