Thursday, September 11, 2014

The 100 Mile Wilderness

Tomorrow I head into the last leg of the AT before Baxter Park, the section of The 100 Mile Wilderness. I actually slackpacked the first 15 miles yesterday over choppy terrain and three stream fords. After today's rain I'm sure the bogs, mud holes, and streams will be messy. First thing is Barren and Chairback mountains. I'm not out of the woods yet.
View of Barren/Chairback Range

Yes indeed, Maine is rough. By resuming the 100 Mile Wilderness 15 miles in, my first two days hiking consisted of knocking out the Barren/Chairback Range and the Gulf Hagas/White Cap Range.
Even though lower in elevation, both these ranges (approx 15 miles long) were made up of rocky, steep crags forming multiple peaks along the range. A cold front brought significantly cooler weather which made tough hiking easier but also presented new problems of exposure and increased caloric needs. Barren Mt afforded nice views back toward Monson and Moxie Bald but even more exciting, Chairback gave me my first good view of Kathadin. Unfortunately by the second day the weather had turned really bad with temps in the upper 30s (daytime) and high winds, so I couldn't really linger on White Cap Mt to enjoy the view of Kathadin.
Looking back to the southwest from Barren

A miserably cold summit of White Cap Mt.

View of Katahdin rom White Cap

Once these two ranges are traversed, much of the Wilderness Trail passes through low elevation woodlands on relatively smooth trail, a novelty for Maine. I hiked hard, doing 20 miles and 22 miles on consecutive days in really good time, partially due to my excitement of being near the finish. The presence of Kathadin, even when not visible, loomed ever larger, both ominous and inviting. It's amazing how much pull that mountain has both on the psyche and the landscape.
Katahdin shrouded in clouds

Katahdin from Nesuntabunt Mt.

Throughout Maine I have been impressed by the water: so many beautiful springs, lakes, and rivers. It's a sweet antidote to the rough terrain, having nice drinking water and even swimming when temps are mild.
Nahmakanta Lake
Rainbow Stream

The 100 Mile Wilderness concludes at the north end near Abol Bridge over the Penobscot River, the southern entry to Baxter Park, with Katahdin ever closer in focus.
Abol Bridge

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