Miles Hiked: 12.9
Miles Left: 181.2
Miles of the AT Hiked: 2000.1
Ending Location: Stealth camping along Nahmakanta Lake near mile 2146.1
Music: “All Good Things” by Nelly Furtado
I was happy I hit the two thousand mile mark today as the day was eventful enough by itself that I could have picked a host of different titles for this post. I didn’t of course since, well, two thousand miles is a hell of a milestone! According to ALDHA, (The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association), I could break my leg right now and my through hike would still be considered sucessful. Hopefully nothing drastic like that happens, and in the end I did this for myself and not to get a patch from ALDHA, but still this takes a huge weight off my shoulders.
So on to the rest of the day! The morning was cold so I slept in. That’s been the story of my hike in a nutshell. While breaking camp I noticed someone coming by in a powerboat and had grand visions of all the awesome trail magic a fisherman could provide but he didn’t stop. Hey, I can still dream though!
Hiking Southbound is interesting since I’m running into a lot more people now as all the North-bounders are passing me by. Almost every one of them looked absolutely miserable, just trying to make the miles so they can finish up. Luckily the one North bounder I recognized, Late Start, was immune to this and in a really good mood. I shared a shot of victory whiskey with him and caught up from the last time I saw him, somewhere in New York. It turns out Katahdin is not his final destination either since he is going back to true up some of the miles he skipped, which was actually the origin of his trail name. He didn’t start hiking the AT until after the Smokies when he joined some friends. It’s always amazing seeing who really takes to hiking the AT. He also has some miles to make up around Monson so hopefully I’ll see him again before I finish. Side note, he confirmed my belief that everything tastes better in the woods as he thought my bargain bin alcohol was of some rarified vintage. It was a sentimental sort of day as seeing all the north bounded and reading the shelter journal entries made me think about how I will confront the end of my own hike. I’ve been truly blessed to do a flip flop as it’s let me view everyone else’s reactions while I still have a way to go.
After the first shelter the trail followed a stream downhill through some interesting rapids. As noon approached I had my eyes glued to the river looking for a good swimming hole. I wasn’t disappointed and found a nice deep spot next to a waterfall to take a dip. I probably only spent ten minutes in the fringed water but that was enough to wash the miles right off me. I then lounged around for the next hour drying off. I’ll admit, while it was fun in its own right, there was an element of “Dammit I’m going to enjoy this while I can”, mixed up in that. See, now I’m getting all nostalgic and I still have I’ve a hundred fifty miles to hike!
The remainder of the trail today was fairly easy, meandering around lakes and up one mountain that I’m convinced was only added to the trail to give northbound hikers a view of Katahdin. That actually was a better reason then most of the mountains I’ve climbed on the AT, but I don’t think many North-bounders appreciated it. We at least one didn’t who made it very clear he hated all these views and just wanted to summit already. As I said, at this point they are a surely bunch. Even with all the lakes though, no moose were seen.
Near the end of the day I stopped by Wadleigh Lean-To to read the journal entries. It was jam packed with hikers who were sheltering from the rain predicted for tomorrow. As several of them were near the end of their hike I ended up being able to score a chunk of pepperoni and a homemade freeze-dried curry dinner. I have no idea if I’m carrying enough food given my slow pace so that was much appreciated. I didn’t want to stick around though since it was only 5:30ish and I do like camping away from the pack. Eventually I found a stealth campsite overlooking the pond that I was happy with so I stopped for the night.
After cooking dinner I updated my milage and then read for a while. Getting up one last time to answer the call of nature, I noticed what looked like a lighthouse on the lake. Walking down to investigate, I realized it was a nearly full moon reflecting off the water looking like a spotlight. Combined with the stars above it was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen on the AT yet. It almost dispelled all the fear I had of finding my tent again in the dark while only clad in my boxers ;p
Once back in my tent the realization hit me that I had actually hiked over two thousand miles. I hadn’t been planning on hitting that milestone until tomorrow so it was a huge shock. There may have been a few “Not appreciate for this time of night” shouts given. While I still have nearly two hundred miles to go, they are really just a victory lap now. I’m done! Thank god I still have some whiskey left!