Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Storm (Moe) has completed his Appalachian Trail thru-hike. He started hiking the Appalachian Trail on April 6, 2016 at Springer Mountain in Georgia and finished on September 21, 2016. Along the way he kept a journal, which we are putting up in parts. Here’s a look back at his hike through Mahoosuc Notch and into Rangeley, Maine. To see all of his journals, click here.
September 6, 2016 – Saddleback Mountain
Had a great nights sleep at the Farmhouse inn. Woke up around 6 and took a shower and had a breakfast of waffles with Hazel. We got a ride to the IGA grocery store to do our resupply and then got a shuttle back to the trail. The Farmhouse Inn was amazing and the owners were so nice. I definitely would come back.
Hazel and I got on trail at about 9am. Our first climb of the day was up Saddleback Mt. We stopped at Piazza rock shelter for a snack two miles in. We then continued the climb. It was sunny and the terrain was steep but nothing we aren’t used to. We stopped at Eddy Pond to have lunch and it was such a beautiful spot. Old Timer stopped and had a snack at the pond as well. We continued on and began the steep climb up Saddleback. The clouds and fogged moved on when we got close to the summit as well as the mist. Descending down the other side was tricky with the wet rocks. We went slow and began the climb up the horn. This wasn’t too bad as we only descended a few 100 feet down from saddleback. On the summit of the horn the sun came out. We descended down the horn and stopped at a campsite at the bottom to fill up on water and to have a snack. Our last climb of the day was up Saddleback Junior. The climb was steep and got right to the point. At the top Flash and Wolverine caught up to us. We chatted for a bit before descending down to the shelter.
The climb down was hard with a lot of rock slabs and holding onto trees and roots. It took us some time but we made it to the shelter. The shelter was pretty full and the few campsites were taken. Our guidebook said there were more sites up on the knoll so we continued on walking and found a good spot. We set up camp, I built a fire, Hazel got water and we made dinner and roasted marshmallows. Yummy. We headed to bed and I passed out. Today was a tough day of hiking.
September 7, 2016 – Under the 200 mile mark
Today I woke up much earlier than normal. It was 4am and I said no this is not gonna work go back to bed. I did and woke up at a much reasonable 6:30. I heard Hazel say “Good morning Storm” We made breakfast, broke down camp and were on trail before 7:30. We had the best campsite on the knoll by poplar ridge lean-to.
We had a steady downhill to start our day and then a steep climb up lone mt. We stopped at Spaulding Mountain lean-to for lunch and then climbed Spaulding mountain. It was a tough climb and I was dragging big time. It feels like everyday I’m getting weaker and weaker even though I’m eating and eating. After summiting Spaulding we had a gradual descent and stayed on the ridge until we reached the view right before Sugarloaf Mt. We passed a plaque commemorating the completion of the last section of the Appalachian Trail. There was a side trail 0.70 up to the summit of Sugarloaf. We did not summit as it was getting late and we knew we had a very steep downhill from Sugarloaf.
We began the downhill and it was slow going with lots of rock slabs to make our way over. It was all in the sun and we were cooking. We both ran out of water 1/2 way down. Finally we arrived at the south branch of the Carrabassett River where we were able to filter water and drink generously. We forded the river and found a camp spot too perfect to pass up. We set up and Hazel started a fire. Flash and Wolverine joined us and are a couple. They are so cute and remind me of Jeff and I when we were in our early 20′s. They set up their tent and came and made their dinner by the fire. We all chatted about our hikes and who’s where that we know all together. By 8:15 we were all yawning and ready for bed. Hiker midnight is now officially 8pm.
September 8, 2016 – Crossing over the 2000 mile mark
There is nothing like sleeping near a body of running water. I had the best nights sleep ever. I got up and made breakfast with Hazel. Wolverine and Flash came over and joined us for breakfast.
We started off and began the steep climb up Crocker Mt. We hiked into the clouds and had no views. After going over South Crocker Mountain and North Crocker Mountain we began the 5 mile descent down to Maine route 27. The descent was gradual and nice. At about .90 miles from the road we crossed the 2000 mile mark. It was quite the moment and a bit emotional. We got to the road and sat and ate our lunch and took a little snooze.
We got back on trail and pushed another 6 miles to Horns Pond Lean-to. The view from the knoll overlooking horns pond was simply amazing. We walked down and arrived at the double shelter. One shelter had a couple in it that hiked up to the pond, the second one was empty. Hazel and I set up in the empty shelter. The caretaker for this site which is very popular came down to chat with us. She said it was unusually quiet. We started cooking dinner and sunshine showed up. I hadn’t seen him since Shenandoah Park. We all made dinner and chatted before we all passed out at about 8:30.
September 9, 2016 – Trail Magic
I woke up at around 5:30 to the morning light starting. It looked nice shining around Avery Mt. We got up and made breakfast and chatted while packing up. Sunshine was planning on doing 18 or so and Hazel and I cringed. He flip flopped from Harper’s Ferry and said that he’s at the peak of his hike and in shape. We are at the end of our hike and our bodies are in the decline stage so big miles are just not possible. It’s taking everything I got to get up the climbs and the energy level is really low. It makes sense as after 2000 miles I’m pretty tired.
We headed out on trail at around 7:30 and began the steepest 1/2 mile climb on the whole AT supposedly. It wasn’t too bad and we summited Avery peak. At the top we met Otter who was a flip flipper. I had heard there was another Otter on the trail, not to be confused with my Otter from Hot Springs.
We continued in our way going up and over the horn and little Bigelow. We then had a three mile descent down to the road where we were going to meet Stephen. We got to the road and there was trail magic given by past thru hikers. It was such a nice thing to come out to. Stephen was not there yet and we had hamburgers, pasta salad, doughnuts, cake, soda, iced tea, ice cream sandwiches. It was simply amazing.
We met the guy who created the Guthook app for Thru hikers. He was part of the group doing trail magic. After about two hours and Stephen wasn’t there we began to worry. I tried calling him up on the hill and got nothing. I even had home try and call him. We sat for another hour and finally he pulled up. The guidebook coordinates for the parking area sent him to a completely different parking area where he sat for four hours. He finally saw a caretaker and asked if the AT passed by here and was told it was 5 miles north. Ugh we all laughed at the ridiculousness of it. We headed to Kingfield and stayed at the Grand Hebert Hotel. We had dinner across the street and it was 9:30 when we finished so all the errands will have to wait until the morning. We headed back to the room and crashed.
September 10, 2016 – The last resupply
I woke to the sun rising on Main Street in the Grand Hebert Hotel. I slept so darn good last night. We got up about 7:30 and I showered and got dressed. We checked out of the hotel and went to do our laundry. While the clothes were washing we went and had breakfast across the street. I got a meat lovers omelette and lots of Mt Dew. We finished the laundry and Stephen drove us to Walmart in Farmington so we could do our final supply on our thru hike.
We split the food into three days to last to Monson and 7 days for the hundred mile wilderness. I can’t believe this hike is almost over. We are down to the last ten days. It’s so surreal that I’m almost to the end. I’m ready to go home and be with Jeff but I’m also not ready for this to be over. Hazel is feeling the same way and when I mention it she tears up. We finished up at the Walmart and headed out. Stephen drove us back to the trail head where we got off. The trail magic guys were still at. Hazel said goodbye to Stephen and we got back on trail. We will see him in Millinocket in 10 days. My brother in law Doug will be up in three days to hike with us thru the 100 mile wilderness. I’m looking forward to sometime with him.
We headed back into the woods at 3pm and planned to walk to 6. That brought us to West Carry Pond Shelter. When I got to the shelter no one was there. I think we are in the middle of an empty bubble. I arrived at the shelter first followed by iron face and then Hazel. I went down to the pond for a swim. We set up in the shelter due to the possibility of rain and made dinner. Later on in the evening Fish and two girls showed up and stopped for a rest before moving on. We settled in for bed around 8:30.
September 11, 2016 – Crossing the Kennebec
It poured at around 2am. It was so loud it woke me up in the lean-to. This lean-to has a tin roof at west carry pond so the sound of the rain was louder than normal. I fell back asleep and woke up at 6:30. Yikes so much for getting up early and having an early start. We quickly packed up and ate a fast breakfast them jumped on trail.
We had 13.6 miles to cover before 2. To cross the Kennebec River you need to use the ferry service. It only runs between 9-2 everyday. The river is too dangerous to ford. We got on trail at about 7:30 so we had about 6.5 hours to get there. The terrain didn’t look too tough in the guidebook. We started out with an easy trail around west carry pond and then the trail continued to be easy to east carry pond. Then the thunderstorms rolled in at about 9:30 am. It poured and poured and we got soaked as well as the trail turned into a river. We made it to pierce pond shelter at noon. This gave us 3.6 miles to the river. The last ferry leaves at 2 and we didn’t want to miss it as it would really foil our plans.
We boogied on and the rain subsided and the sun even tried to come out. We made it to the landing for the river crossing at 1:45. There were two other hikers in front of us who were being ferried across the river so we waited. The ferry guy came back and we had to fill out a waiver and wear life jackets. His name was Paul and he told us he has Ferried about 2100 hikers so far this season both north and southbounders. We were the last people to be ferried across for September 11 2016.
We stopped on the other side and sat and ate our lunch and rested. We had done 14 miles by 2pm. We continued on passing the road into Caratunk and began the small climb up to Pleasant pond. We arrived at the shelter at around 6pm. Tank and Frodo were set up in the shelter which was very crooked so Hazel and I decided to look for a tenting spot. All we could find was a spot along the path that went .20 to pleasant pond. We set up grabbed water and made dinner. It got cold quick and we were bundled up in our tents trying to eat dinner. We fell asleep before 8:30.
You can visit the National Park Service’s Appalachian Trail Park Page, which features a link to the AT brochure and map. Guides and maps are produced and sold for the AT as it passes through each State between Georgia and Maine. There are several books including the Thru-Hike Planner, the AT Guidebook, the AT Thru Hiker Companion and the Data Book to name just a few that can help hikers who are planning on hiking the entire AT or sections of it. We also maintain a section for Appalachian Trail Guides, Maps and Books at on Adventures in the Outdoors Online Shop.
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