Dear Herm’s Hikers,
Go tell it on and from the mountain - MOUNTain KATAHDIN that is! As promised, it’s time to backtrack (That’s the last thing an AT hiker wants to do, but we do as we must.) and fill in the gap between Monson and Millinocket. After arriving in Monson, I quickly grew restless (That’s an AT affliction that makes the transition to the civiiian world difficult.) while waiting for the arrival of Rainbow Brite (RB), also known as Mrs. T, Mrs. Travers, or simply Cathy. So instead of relaxing and recupurating for a couple of days, I decided to hike part of The Wilderness so that RB and I would have only 50+ miles to go. This proved to be a wise decison because it definitely saved time and some wear and tear on my new hiking partner. The first 50+ miles of The Wilderness had some mountains that reached a top elevation of 3,650 feet at White Cap Mountain, but after The Whites, the difficulty of climbing any mountain in the north seemed to decrease. No doubt, most of this was psychological because after New Hampshire and Southern Maine, anything and everything seemed less difficult. So for a seasoned AT hiker, “The Wilderness” was in reality “The Milderness.” However, once again, I kept chanting in the back of my mind the AT mantra “there are no easy miles on the AT.” The main difficulty with this 100 mile stretch was resupply. Basically, a hiker is on their own until the White House Landing, a lodge and hostel that requires a boat ride across a lake, about 48 miles from Katahdin. There were a number of deserted logging roads that crossed the trail but they were 16+ miles from the main road and any chance of hitchhiking to civilization was non-existent.
After meeting with RB in Monson, we drove to Millinocket, our departure point south for the rest of The Wildernerss. Except for two days of rain and one rainy and cramped night in the woods (Thank goodness for the Big Agnes. The SL2 tent once again proved to be waterproof.), the hike was a sheer delight, a dream-come-true for AT hikers. For the last 50 miles, the trail snaked around a number of ponds and lakes on “relatively” flat ground with a trail bed of pine needles and leaves. Throw in an occasional glimpse of Mount Katahdin and you had a hiker’s paradise. Of course, there were sections of R&R, rocks and roots, but nothing like the past 300 miles. At Abol Bridge, a squat, unimpressive wood traffic bridge across the Penobscot River that looked like it came out of the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, we were able to get a panoramic view of the mountain only fifteen miles in the distance. It was almost as if you could reach out and touch it. It seemed that close after hiking over 2,000 miles. Inspiring and intimidating were my immediate thoughts! So close and yet so far away! But RB and I were confident about finishing. At last, I had my old hiking partner by my side and all was well. For the past week, I had spent most of the time hiking by myself, catching up with some other hikers at one of the shelters or hostels. Hiking by yourself is good at time, but it gets old in a hurry, especially in The Wilderness. Read more »