Almost there… 99%
I can almost taste the completion of my AT hike. Summer is quickly ending and I have some more hiking trips to share to keep you all up to date.
Before hitting the Trail again, I had some family excursions. Mid July, Stephanie and I went to central Maine for several days and stayed at the Appalachian Mountain Club Gorman Chairback Lodge. No tenting for us… A nice cabin, great food and different day hikes each day.
Ed came home to Cooperstown for a visit the end of July and we made a day trip up to Lake Placid and summited Mt. Algonquin. It was a beautiful day and a great warm-up for me to begin my Maine AT hike.
Tuesday, August 6, my Cooperstown hiking partner John R. (aka Star Gazer) and I took off for Stratton, Maine. Out goal was to hike from Stratton to Grafton Notch, NH: 80 miles of some of the toughest climbing on the entire AT. Lots of very steep uphills AND downhills. Hiking up and down sharply angled rock faces, hand over hand boulder climbing and tricky descents in rainy weather just begged for slipping, sliding and falling. I’m glad we had each other for help and encouragement.
Our first night was a restful stay at the Hiker Hut Hostel. Solar heated shower available in the woods, no electricity by a comfortable bed in a nice cabin.
Our first challenge was to summit Saddleback Mountain. Up and down was an all day endeavor. Beautiful Maine scenery along the way.
A walk in the woods the next morning brought us face to face with this guy:
My first Moose! I’ve been waiting the past four seasons to finally see a moose on the AT and this was the day. He was right in front of us and was scouting us as much as we were scouting him.
What could be better than seeing a moose on trail? Well… That night we made it to a shelter just in time to save us from a fierce downpour. We stayed nice and dry the entire night. We also had to share the campsite with several young french speaking women (ages 14-15) from a summer camp north of Montreal. Along with their two camp leaders, they were hiking for ten days and nights in southern Maine. Their good spirits in spite of the rain as well as their french accents raised our spirits.
The next morning we left in the rain but were happy to see the sun come out before noon. Crossed a stream and then made it up Crocker Mountain.
That night we made it to The Cabin which is one of the “iconic” AT hostels. Our host were “Honey” and “Hopper” who provided home cooked dinner and an amazing breakfast the next morning.
Stories of the trail were shared over dinner with other fellow hikers. “Honey”, age 83 was the master of ceremonies.
The next morning …more of the same. Up and down those mountains. The views never disappointed us:
Lunch time we came across a “work crew”. These are adult volunteers who spend several days at a time hiking up the trails with heavy equipment repairing shelters and grooming the trails themselves. It’s very tough work and all AT hikers appreciate their efforts.
I’m glad I was able to help them out and do my share.
John’s tent had a small leak during a rainstorm earlier in the hike. Fortunately, he had a big tarp that served as a makeshift back up the next night. Good work John!
Only two more hiking days to go now. The views keep on getting better and the mountains get higher and tougher. We finally made it down Old Blue Mountain safely (barely), just before sunset.
Our last day in southern Maine was up and down Baldpate Mountain. This had to be one of the best days of our hike. A perfect weather day, a challenging hike and great views as a reward:
Made it home to Cooperstown the next day with a successful 79+ mile hike completed as planned.
No rest for the hiking addict. Henry and I took a nice day trip up to Lake Placid to summit Whiteface Mountain. From the top you could see all the way to Lake Champlain and beyond:
One last bit of AT hiking before the end of summer. On Wednesday August 28 I drove to Wind Gap PA for a 15 mile day hike on the AT. I’ve been keeping close track during these past 5 years of all the “section hikes” that I have completed. This was one of the very last I needed to complete the entire Trail. In fact, having completed this rocky PA hike, I now have only 17 miles to go for the entire 2191 miles trek. My math tells me that I have now hiked 99% of the Trail.
AT hikers typically label Pennsylvania “Rocksylvania”. This is why:
I’ll be taking a brief break from the AT in September. Back to work!
But mid October, the Bauer clan and AT friends will travel to Hanover NH for a two day, 17 mile hike to mark the completion of this adventure. Final Blog and thoughts then. Thanks for following.
sometimes aka The Lung Ranger