Nahmakanta Stream Lean-to to Abol Bridge
Miles Hiked: 28.9
AT Milage: 2176.9
Doc and I made plans to be on trail by 7am today but I was not motivated at all to get out of my sleeping bag. Once again I was awake before the sunrise because it was so cold outside. Eventually I had on my soaking wet clothes and began hiking to stop my shivering. Today the rain had stopped and the sun was out. All of my belongings were still soaking wet, my shoes waterlogged and the trail a wet muddy mess.Doc and I stopped at a shelter to eat brunch and listened to music. I hadn’t listened to music for the whole state of Maine since I lost my headphones at the beginning and have been hiking with someone. After going so long without it, it felt like such a treat to hear it again. Today I actually had enough food to eat comfortably for the first time since leaving Monson. Doc and I planned to make it to Abol Bridge tonight where we could try to hitch into town tomorrow for more food so I was free to eat everything I had left. I’ve never been worried about how much food I’ve carried on trail until I left Monson and my hiker hunger increased more than I thought it ever could. I let myself eat all the food I had left which was quite a bit, yet I know I would have still eaten a lot more had I had it.Again, Doc and I stopped at every single shelter for a snack and to sign the log books. I sure am going to miss these three sided structures! I regret not taking pictures of the more unique ones throughout the whole journey. In the middle of the day we climbed Nesuntabunt Mountain where we got to see our first very clear view of Katahdin over a lake.It was kind of shocking to finally see our destination and end of the journey so close for the first time. As if this week wasn’t already emotional enough. Doc and I were struggling to get through the long day so we sat down to take a five minute break. My feet and shoes have been wet for what seems like ages but it has really started to irritate my feet. The skin on them is getting rubbed raw and pink. There were lots of bogs that we had to walk though today but still, no Moose were to be seen. These animals are a myth! I wonder how the moose van tours can promise their customers to see a moose when we and our friends have walked 200+ miles through the backcountry of Maine and still haven’t seen one.The 100 Mile Wilderness fall count went up today. I took two not so fun falls on slippery roots, the second of which caused me to snap my already broken trekking pole in half. Of course this would happen when I’m so close to the end! I walked the rest of the day and the trail without using my poles.
Doc and I took our second to last ten minute break of the rocky edge of a very large lake. I needed ten minutes to rest and pull myself together after snapping my trekking pole in a fall. It was about 6ish more miles to the last shelter, on our way there the sun was setting as we hiked across “rainbow ledges”. We were provided with one of the best sunsets I have ever seen on the trail and another view of Katahdin. It has been incredible with how much good weather, timing, and views Doc and I have been blessed with as we’ve hike the 100 mile wilderness. This last sunset felt like icing on the cake.It was dark and we were hiking with our headlamps on by the time we arrived at the last shelter. First I filtered water before walking up to the shelter where there was a surprising amount of hikers sitting around a fire. I was happy to have a moment of warmth while I took a break to eat the last of my food and air out my raw, wet feet. At this shelter, I learned from a thru hiker who had flipped to summit Katahdin and walk the rest of Maine southbound, that the camp store at the end of the 100 mile wilderness that hikers depend on for a resupply before entering Baxter State Park and climbing Katahdin had closed for the season. All of a sudden the 100 mile wilderness turned into the 120 mile wilderness. A five day supply of food needed to turn into a seven day supply. This really messed up a lot of hikers plans. Pretty much everyone has been running out of food in the 100 mile. We were all desperate. I can’t believe a store that lists themselves in the guidebooks as being open until a later date and serves as a sole source of food in the middle of nowhere would cut off an important resource to hikers with no advance warning.Doc and I hiked on from the shelter to do the last three miles and finish the 100 mile wilderness in five days. Our final fall count was 7 vs 7. Honestly I thought I was going to fall a lot more but I started to get competitive about it and make more drastic efforts to save my falls or watch my step.
Around 9:30pm Doc and I emerged from the forrest of the 100 mile wilderness onto a moonlit dirt logging road. We did it! Now were we on the outskirts of Baxter State Park and it felt so surreal.I soaked up every moment of that night as we looked around for the campground. I enjoyed the sound of the small stones on the dirt road crunching under my feet, the dark waters of the river rushing under Abol bridge, and then I looked up to see a breathtaking image of Katahdin drenched in moonlight and surrounded by stars. It was incredible. My eyes teared up as we took a few moments to stare at Katahdin. Had Doc not been there, I probably would have let loose with some sobs. I have stage fright when crying infant of other people. This was one of my favorite single moments of the whole trip. I felt so trail worn and distinctively tough from the past six months.
Doc and I didn’t even have to turn our headlamps on as we walked down the moonlight dirt road. We were not having any success finding the lean-tos that we were looking for. We walked around for about a half an hour searching for them. Suddenly two headlights appeared far down the dirt road along with the headlamp of another hiker making their way across Abol bridge. Doc and I decided to try and get a hitch into town since we needed to go in tomorrow anyways for food that we have none of. It was amazing that a vehicle was traveling down this dirt logging road so late at night. When we arrived at the road we wondered how on earth we would get a hitch tomorrow because we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere. According to comments on the guide, this is a tough hitch at any time of the day just because so few cars travel down it. The pick up truck pulled over for us as we stuck our thumbs out and the headlamp of the mysterious hiker behind us got closer. It was Mismatch. The three of us were able to get a ride into town from the extremely kind couple driving the truck. They were exiting the woods after spending a week out in the middle of no where doing whatever it is they do. We got to sit in the back of the pick up truck with our packs, coolers, and some small fishing boat motors. They gave us blankets to stay warm and drove a little slower. The ice cold wind whipped through my body but I was having a fun time. It was an 18 mile drive down dirt logging roads before we entered “paved road land”.
The three of us got dropped off at the Pamola Lodge, a cheap hotel in the town of Milinocket. We walked into a mostly empty bar looking completely exhausted and filthy from the 100 mile wilderness. There was a room available for the night and the three of us got drinks and hung out until the bar closed at 11pm. It was nice to sit down and relax in a warm place for a minute after 30 miles of walking! Everyone wanted food first and then showers so we went to circle K where I picked up town snacks I’ve been craving (hot chocolate, chocolate milk, bananas, and salt and vinegar chips). When I took a shower I realized my raw feet were way worse than they had felt, it looked like they were bleeding a bit in tiny spots all over my ankle/heel. Happy to get all the mud cleaned off and have a bed to sleep in! No shivering and trying to fall asleep hungry tonight.