maine-100 miles wilderness- a week in the woods


Aug 31, 2015
i hiked 68 miles on the applalachian trail in maine's hundred mile wilderness with former thru hiker violet beauregarde, class of 2013 from 10/4 to 10/10.
i met violet at gulf hagas parking area on katahdin iron works rd.we left her car there and drove to monson.we had made arrangements with phil pepin to stay with him at his 100 mile wilderness adventure camp.phil has built 5 cabins , each of which is split into two rooms with 2 bunks to a room, unheated but has electricity. he also has showers and bathroom, communal kitchen and communal den to hang out.phil marked our maps with a number of stealth sites not in the guide books to give us more flexibility. he shuttled us up to abol bridge to where we started our hike, and then dropped our food drop at a hidden locker off jo-mary rd.we paid $200 for the cabin, shuttle and drop, and phil was a warm welcoming host.

the summit of mt katahdin had a light coating of snow/ice on top as we started our hike, with temps close to freezing at abol.
we met our first nobo at rainbow ledges, where we decided to take a short break and enjoy the view of "the greatest mountain". she was a middle aged woman, and she didnt really seem like she had found whatever it was she was looking for during her hike, certainly didnt look very happy. she moved on, and we continued till we got to the shore of rainbow lake. although it was early and we had only hiked 8 miles , the site was beautiful so we made camp

the next day was another crystal clear bright sunny day.we continued on through beautiful lakes and streams. the foliage had just barely started to turn due to a late spring, and the maples carpeted the ground with their red leaves in an otherwise verdant mossy green landscape. we passed a few more nobos, congratulated them on their success. everyone seemed excited/bittersweet about finishing. we warned about bsp cracking down, and all of them were already aware of it. word of the jurek "scandal" had spread up and down the trail, and the atc had put up posters at the shelters outlining bsp rules.we camped near pollywog stream that night under another clear starry nighttime sky.made a small fire to take the chill out, along with a nip of captain morgans, it was getting dark early and we retired to our tents by 7:30.

every day was bright sunshine, and we were flying high on the beauty that surrounded us . we continued to pass nobos hurrying to finish, a few would stop to chat, others were just intent on making miles and finishing, as they wanted to beat the weather.we went over nesuntabunt mountain and again were treated to great views of the entire katahdin massif.we met a former thru hiker doing some trail magic for his sister who was finishing the trail that week, and we were treated to a coupla beers.we ended the day camped alone near nahmakanta stream under another starlit sky.

the next day we were headed to jo-mary rd to get our food drop, although we both had plenty of food still left. another day of lakes and sandy beaches, clear blue skies, with the foliage increasing day by day. passed another half dozen nobos along the way. we got to jo mary rd late in the afternoon, following phils directions to come to his locker hidden away in the woods. we resupplied and left our trash in his bucket for him to retrieve, and camped just off the rd near the bridge right above the stream.we got spooked a few times in the evening when we heard a loud thump, like something falling down near the stream. this happened several times, and we wondered about bears, but didnt hear another peep. i think it may have been a log or rock dislodged in the stream.we slept with our food every night out. no problems at all with critters. even the red squirrels were finding enough to eat without having to bother with lousy hiker food.

thursday, we packed up early as it was cold and started hiking. for the most part the trail was pine duff with some roots, but you would always hit stretches of rocks roots and bog bridges that were tedious to navigate. we passed a group of nobos, and one of them looked at me and said "wait a minute, i know you . you're hikerboy right?" i smiled, he said he had been thinking about me just the night before, as i had met him at hiker hostel in dahlonega,ga. in the spring."you were hiking the benton mackaye trail, right?, i was thinking back to the sart of my hike, reminiscing, its wild to meet you here just as i'm finishing!!". i congratulated him, warned him about baxter( he was already aware), and we each continued on our ways.
a little while later we passed another group of nobos, and one stopped, looked at me and exclaimed"hikerboy!! i met you in the smokies!" violet was cracking up . here in the middle of nowhere 2 people within an hour knew me.
late in the afternoon we got to east branch shelter, and met an older section hiker named "noseflute". he told us he was conservative, and combed his hair in one direction, " not like these guys with hair going every which way". i decided not to remove my cap.he was pretty annoying, setting up his hammock in the shelter, even though the weather was great. violet pitched her tent in one of the few flat spots nearby, and i decided to just sleep in the shelter, as tent space was at a premium here.
noseflute showed us his nose flute, kinda like a kazoo you play with your nose. he also told some really bad jokes, and several nobos couldnt take it anymore, so decided to nighthike and make a few more miles.

the night before , we had heard the forecast for friday was for rain from 9am to 9pm, then clearing out again. we started out early, as we were looking to get over whitecap, our only big climb, before the weather hit.
we made it all of 4 miles when a cold windy rain started up. we got to logan brook leanto around 10am, and there we met 4 nobos who were holing up out of the weather. violet and i were both cold and wet, so we stopped to warm up and converse i made some ramen.we talked somewhat with hoot, luigi, and tank, and a girl who's name escapes me.violet wanted to get moving to go over whitecap, but with a day and a half left to go some 12 miles to gulf hagas,i really couldnt see the sense in going over in freezing rain, when the outlook for the next day was so much more promising. after eating some hot food and an out of control safety meeting. we pulled out our bags and sleeping pads and settled in for the rest of the day and night. i took what had to be one of the best naps i ever had, as its rare you can nap with absolutely nowhere to go and nothing to do until the next morning. we smoked ate and drank. the girl said she ws getting out early, if we didnt mind ,around 5 am, we knew most of us would be up anyway after 16 hours of dozing.
the next morning was cold, right around water was crystallized, but not yet frozen.the early bird girl was still in her bag at 6am, but we all decided it was time to get going.
we packed and headed up whitecap, we climbed through fragrant spruce and balsam forest, as we got higher we could see the trees were frozen over with ice, as we made our way over the summit, the wind picked up and we were both hurrying to get back down. it was bitter cold. not much of a view as the weather hadnt quite cleared yet, but soon we were over it, crossing hay mountain and as we mad our way over west peak, the sun again returned.

once we were over whitecap and west peak, we just scampered down the trail . it had turned sunny and cool, and we were no longer running into nobos.violet told me she was glad we waited to go over whitecap, thinking we might have died if we had tried it during the storm. fortunately that safety meeting had brought some sense to our decision.
we eventually came to the end of our hike, with just the pleasant river to ford before reaching the gulf hagas parking area. at the crossing sat this years gulf hagas area ridgerunner, moxie, who had thru hiked in 2012. i laughed as i had just started reading "of moose and men" the day before while we were at the shelter, written by another former thru and her experience as a ridgerunner in the same area the year before. moxie told me she had read the book , too , as a kind of primer as to what she could expect.violet crossed the stream, as moxie and i chatted, and she yelled back for me to shut up and cross already.
we got to her car, and drove back to monson. we picked up my car at phil pepin's place, and thanked him again for his hospitality and his help. we decided to stay at lake shore house,where i met rebekkah, the proprietor, when i introduced myself, she said she knew me from somewhere, but i dont ever remember meeting her.she is a warm inviting personality.
we had a great dinner and went to bed early again. the next morning we had breakfast, went to find rebekkah to pay her,left for home shortly after.

it was a wonderful trip. violet is a strong hiker and it was a joy to have her as company for the journey.
i love maine.

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You've captured so much in only a few pictures and words. Thanks for sharing! Her smile about half way through lit me up inside because it made me think of the excitement I feel when I'm in the backcountry. Centered and Happy!

You've captured so much in only a few pictures and words. Thanks for sharing! Her smile about half way through lit me up inside because it made me think of the excitement I feel when I'm in the backcountry. Centered and Happy!

we didnt stop smiling the whole week, except for going over whitecap mtn. we fed off the energy and excitement of appalachian trail thru hikers coming to the end of their hikes. violet thru hiked in 2013, and ive been section hiking the trail since the 70s and we both understood the bittersweet euphoria of finishing a long hike .we both have hiked thru there before and had planned a leisurely pace, not having to average more than 10 miles a day, allowed us to linger without the urgency of making miles we sometimes feel on a long section hike or a thru more of a backpacker than a camper, but for me, its more about the journey than the destination.

the hundred mile wilderness isnt really a wilderness,simply one of the longest stretches of the appalachian trail that doesnt pass through or near any towns or resupply spots. there are numerous logging roads crossing between abol bridge and monson,me. there are a few outfitters that can be hired to do food drops to avoid carrying 7-8 days of food.
the terrain from abol bridge south to gulf hagas is mostly flat, with the exception of nesuntabunt mtn 1650' and whitecap mtn 3654'.
the trail is mostly a jumble of rocks roots and bog bridges, with nice stretches of pine duff.the lakes are shining jewels in an otherwise emerald green boreal forest with a liberal sprinkling of maples and birch.although ive seen moose and bear on numerous occasions through there, we didnt see anything larger than a red squirrel this time around.
there is nothing quite like the sound of a loon, camped by a lake with the milky way mirrored in the surface of the lake.
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