Day 178: Entering Baxter State Park

Day 178

October 9th

Abol Bridge to Katahdin Stream Campground

Miles Hiked: 10.0

AT Milage: 2186.8

This morning I woke up in town, happy to have been able to sleep on a mattress in a warm building last night. Mismatch, Doc, and I ate breakfast together and we realized that the three of us would have been able to eat the entire continental breakfast by ourselves without even trying. Not that there was much breakfast to eat, it’s just that the hotel probably expected the breakfast to feed more than three guests. I guess if the guests are hikers it’s a different story. Doc and I walked to the grocery store together to pick up snacks and I bought food for my last resupply. It was sad knowing it was the last time I would be buying trail food and that I only needed 1.5 days of food. My cart was significantly empty compared to normal. I felt a little empty on the inside as well.

Around 11 the three of us got a shuttle back to the trail. It was a long ride but it was neat to see the dirt logging road we had driven down in the daylight. When we arrived at Abol Bridge, there were a few other hikers there whom we talked to before heading into Baxter State Park. Crossing the park boundary felt very surreal. At this point, trail life felt like it was over when I walked out of the 100 mile wilderness. The last 15 miles through BSP and up to Katahdin just felt like a symbolic last step to take to finish the journey rather than part of the actual journey. On our way to Katahdin Stream Lean-tos where my Dad had reserved us a camping spot for the night, Doc and I made the decision to take a zero to wait for Sponge and Great Fish, his tramily to catch up so we could all summit together. Honestly this was a hard decision for me to make because I didn’t know Sponge and Fish at all and I was risking missing great weather conditions to summit in. At the end of the day I realized it was important to me to summit with Doc who had become a really good friend in a surprisingly short amount of time. I reminded myself that although having a perfect day of weather on Katahdin would be nice, the journey has been about much more than the miles, scenery, or gaining a title.

The trail between Abol Bridge and Katahdin Stream Campground was amazingly flat, dry, and covered with pine needles. It felt like a sweet reward after all of the difficult terrain, slippery roots, rocks, and mud I have walked through for the past 300+ miles. The path followed a rushing and unblemished river. At times the water was cascading over waterfall like features. I enjoyed listening to it as I hiked and wondered how long until I would listen to or see water like that again. Doc and I hiked the last few miles together and arrived at the campground where we met up with Mismatch. The three of us checked into the ranger station and set up our things at the tiny lean-to. It is supposed to hold four people but the three of us felt pretty cozy in it. It was just like the lean-tos on the trail but miniature in size. The ranger had to give us permits to hike up Katahdin and we received a number on it, just like our numbers at Amicalola Falls State Park and Harper’s Ferry West Virginia. My number was 1124. This means that 1124 other AT thru hikers had summited Kathadin, or at least received a permit before me.

Doc, Mismatch, and I all hung out at our lean-to for the night roasting hotdogs and drinking wine we packed out around the fire. I was thankful we had such a good fire because it was freezing cold outside as per usual. If we didn’t have the fire I probably would have to go to bed super early in my sleeping bag because it was so cold I would shiver constantly. Mismatch was really fun to hang out with and I’m glad I got to spend time with him last night as well. This is actually his second time doing the AT. He attempted a thru hike about ten years ago I believe and only ended up hiking 1700 miles. He skipped a ton of sections to spend time in town and hike with friends. This year he came out to make sure he did the whole thing. He still has four very small sections to go back and do this year (the largest being 50 miles) but I have no doubt he will since he came out here a second year just to make sure he hiked the whole thing. I admire his will to hike the trail with integrity and come back a second time to earn the title of a true thru hiker. I’m glad that he should have a great summit day tomorrow!

Happy Trails!

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