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My name is Lori. In August, 2014, I plan to hike the Camino de Santiago trail. Feel free to join me on my adventure by following me on this blog.

Monday, September 24, 2012


As I write this, I am on a plane back to Florida. What a weekend full of many emotions!
At about 10:30am on Saturday, September 22nd, I made the summit of Mt. Katahdin!
The 100 mile wilderness was kind to us, overall. However, seven days straight in the woods takes a toll. We were tired and hungry. We hiked to the closest point to the base of Katahdin that we could, in Baxter state park. Sparky's wife, Janet, met us there with a car which we proceeded to quickly stink up as Sparky, me, Longstride, and Silvergirl piled in.
As we hiked into the park, there was a ranger at a checkpoint to check us in. I was the first to tell him my name, and he proceeded to say, "ah, you're Passionflowers group. We thought you guys would making it here today". We had been referring to Katahdin as the "Emerald City" for a while now, and his reaction to us just confirmed how magical it was!
Just before I made it to camp on my last night in the woods, I hiked to a peak where I got this great view of the Emerald City:
My last couple nights in the woods were cold. I slept in layers of clothes, including my down pants and jacket. I don't like the cold much, so the climate helped me feel a little more happy to be finishing.
With the colder weather, I was able to get a little taste of the New England Fall.
Since we hike so much with our head down, looking where to step, it was nice to see the beautiful color changes!
Before driving out of the park, we stop at the ranger station to sign in as an AT thru hiker. In Harpers Ferry, I signed in at #545. Here in Baxter state park, I am #496. We have seen a lot of new faces in the last three weeks, it seems. Many hikers have sped up to make it to the end before the cold. Some have slowed down to enjoy their last weeks. Also there are some who skip part of the trail all together to catch up with others, or make it before their visa is up and they need to fly back to their country. Myself, and the group I have hiked most with are proud to say that we have been able to hike the entire trail without missing a white blaze.
Janet drives us to the big moose cabins where her and Sparky, Longstride and Silvergirl with two of their kids, and myself will stay for a couple nights. Janet cooked us an excellent meal with appetizers, lasagna, homemade macaroni and cheese, salad, and pie for dessert. EZ and Gravity joined us for dinner as well, with four of their friends. It was such an exciting night. We were all excited and apprehensive at the same time to climb our last mountain the next morning. It was great to all be together. The weather forecast kept changing for Saturday, but we were hoping for the best.
Saturday morning came, and we were in cars by 5:30am, headed back to the park. It was cloudy, but seemed to be looking as if the fog was lifting.
Since I was the only one without friends and family who joined me, I hiked a little quicker than the rest. I soon caught up with Voltron, who we caught up to two days before. He had been ahead of us since reaching New Hampshire. The weather was looking up.
The first mile or so is not so steep, but eventually we start claiming vertical. It is 5 miles to the summit. 
Layers of clothes come off as we get warmer climbing. 
UP we go!
Soon, as we get higher, the weather turns colder, wet, and windy. By the time we get to ridge line, it gets less steep, but it is really cold and windy. I have few pictures of the rest of the hike because of the harsh conditions.
When I reached the summit, and saw the sign I have been walking towards for six months, tears rolled down my cheeks. It was so hard to believe that I had made it. I had been hiking for exactly 6 months, and today, my journey ended with a destination.
The weather made it difficult to bask in the moment of what was happening. I touched the sign, and couldn't stop smiling!
The day I decided to do this trail, I met a southbound thru hiker with the trail name of "Whoopie Pie". Her family met her at Springer mountain and was giving out homemade whoopie pies. It only seemed right that I celebrate my summit with a whoopie pie!
I waited for all my hiker family to arrive before I hiked back down. 
Here is: EZ, Gravity, me, Silvergirl, Longstride, Voltron, and Sparky. We beat the odds and ALL made it to the end! What a perfect ending!The five mile hike back down was difficult, to say the least. Winds were high, almost blowing me off my feet at times. Rain turned to sleet. It's difficult to climb rocks, but even more difficult to get back down, especially when they are wet and slippery. I had to slide on my butt multiple times. Some of our group was fearing hypothermia on the way down. Once we got down in elevation, the weather got more mild, and wasn't even raining at the bottom.
We headed back to the cabin, had dinner, and everyone crashed out early from exhaustion. I guess it's a good thing we had a little party the night before!
We did celebrate again with a big breakfast at the
Appalachian Trail cafe. They let thru hikers sign their ceiling tiles, and that we did! We have made history. Congrats to the AT thru hiker class of 2012!!
Miles hiked: 2184.2
Springer Mountain GA 3/22/12- Mt. Katahdin, ME 9/22/12
I just hiked the Appalachian Trail!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It's day 4 of seven in the 100 mile wilderness. This is the first night that I have had service. It's raining, so I am in my tent early. Good time to catch up the blog!
We have really been enjoying the AT since I last wrote in Stratton. We have had to ford several streams, and now they are just getting annoying. I seem to waste too much time looking for a way to rock hop, then finally take off my shoes to switch to my water shoes and walk across. I never learn! Most streams have been easy to cross, and some have a rope to hold onto. There was one that was thigh deep, and a quick current, making it a bit difficult. 

One river, the Kennebec river, is one that we actually cross by canoe because it is too dangerous to ford. Hillbilly Dave runs the shuttle in the morning and early evening. 

We made a stop in the town of Caratunk half way from Stratton to Monson. We stayed at Northern Outdoors. What a great place! After two days of a cold front, we had a nice sunny day there. They have a huge hot tub and heated pool. It was quite the site because all us hikers were in the pool and hot tub in our underwear all day. 

It was a great little side vacation before the 100 mile wilderness. 

This was our welcome sign as we enter the wilderness, but we have been pleasantly surprised. The trail the first three days was tough, but well manicured. We even got trail magic one night. A sign at an old unused road instructed us to go a quarter mile one direction, and viola! It met with another road where there was a small old cabin, and a guy cooking steak, corn on the cob, and lobster! I have been vegetarian for 14 years, but have recently started to eat fish sometimes to help out on the trail. I have never had lobster before. I got the last one. I don't know about regular lobster, but this fresh Maine lobster was pretty good! (once I got over how gross it looked) the dude giving the trail magic was excited that it was my first, and helped me take it apart. 

The trail has continued to be as beautiful as can be!

I am really trying to take it all in these last days. I'm going to miss the endless scenery, and all the great people. 
Cutest couple awards on the trail: 1-Longstride and Silvergirl. Sometimes I hear them reading to each other at nigh in their tent. 2- Easy and Gravity. I hear them  giggling together in their tent. Both couples have the kind of relationship in their marriage that I hope to have some day. Also, 3-Chickadee and Lobster. Such a cute couple! Lobster helps Chickadee put her backpack on, just like Turtle always did for Snail. 
I have really enjoyed camping by streams and ponds in Maine!
Yesterday, we were on top of white cap mountain, and we could see our final destination. Mount Katahdin!

We are hoping for good weather this weekend so we can climb the big one!!

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's about 10 o'clock here in Monson, Maine. I got to the Shaws hostel this afternoon and have had a ton of chores to do to get ready for the 100 mile wilderness. Since its late, and I need to get some rest, I'm not going to tell you what a GREAT week I have had....yet. Just know it has been great, and we are all excited to enter the 100 mile wilderness tomorrow. We will have a 100 mile stretch without any civilization, but we are prepared. At the end of the wilderness, we will have one last mountain to climb. You may have heard of it.....Katahdin!!! I can't wait to tell you all about it. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

I remember my first zero day. I was in Hot Springs, and couldn't help but think  "I should be hiking". I also remember how much my body hurt once I did take a day off. It was like my body telling me, "it's about time you stop for a bit so I can show you what you're doing to me!" I listened, and proceeded to take an hour long soak in a hot spring filled tub. 
That was almost 5 months ago. 
Today is my last zero day. There is no hot spring here in Stratton Maine to soak in, but I do have a bath tub, a soft bed, and a market across the street. 
It's hard to believe this is my last day off before my AT journey ends. My body feels the stress of the last 171 days. My muscles are strong and my joints are sore. My body craves calories this week as the last few days hiking seemed to deplete my energy stores. 
I love Maine like I loved New York. It is very difficult, but it's exciting and beautiful. There is water everywhere. Unfortunately much of it is mixed with dirt, making deep sludgy mud. 

We aren't the only ones slushing through it though. It's bear hunting season, so the bears seem to be hiding well, but we still see their tracks every now and then. We also see a lot of moose tracks, but still no moose sightings for me. 
Luckily, Maine has a lot of board walks so you can stay out of the mud a little. The problem is, most of the boards are old. They get slippery, they break, and sometimes they just float on top of mud and sink when you step on them. This is when it pays to hike behind someone! Hahaha. We have heard many stories of people having boards break, or slipping off them, and falling into mud hip deep. Yuk!
The top of the mountains in Maine turn again to rock, much like New Hampshire. The views of the woods below are spectacular!

There are several places in Maine where we have to ford rivers. Bridges get washed out every year, so they don't rebuild them. Hikers are expected to walk through the water. When rainfall has been low, sometimes you can rock hop across. When rainfall is high, so is the water. We forded our first stream a couple days ago 24 hours after a rain storm. The water was up to our thighs. If we had been there the day before, it would have been higher. However, the day before we were hiking the saddleback range, that itself had turned into a river. There was flowing water on the trail the entire day. I had a tough time this day. I wasn't feeling well, and to add to it, the sun never came up. We hiked all day in a cloud making visibility slim. It was actually pretty dangerous conditions, as we had some steep areas going up and down. It was windy and wet, so I have no pictures from my phone. Along with many, those pictures will remain unseen until I can download them from my go-pro camera. 
Here is the second stream for us to ford, but luckily a board was in place so we didn't have to get wet. 

The "fun" part was that once you step on the board, you see that it bends down almost into the water. That got my heart pumping!
Nothing against New Hampshire and its lovely views above tree line, but I love being in "the woods" again!

I love how the trees, the plants, and the mushrooms greet me as I go by. 

We were excited to get to Stratton yesterday. It was Silvergirl's birthday! After about 5 minutes of trying to hitch a ride, a lady came and picked all five of us up. 

Turns out it was the same lady who owns the hotel we had reservations for, so it worked out great. 
We got Silvergirl a giant whoopie pie and a Maine blueberry pie to celebrate. 

After dessert, we went to dinner. That's right. I said dinner AFTER dessert! When you hike for six months, you earn the right to eat like a ten year old boy who was just left home alone for a weekend with an endless supply of junk food. 
Dinner was enjoyed at the karaoke bar across the street. 
Life is good hiking the AT!

Two weeks left of this journey. Exciting and a little sad at the same time. 

Miles hiked: 1996.0
Miles to go: 188.2

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I'm in Maine!! 
Don't we look like a bunch of bad-to-the-bone backpackers?

So far, Maine is difficult, but beautiful. Though the terrain is rugged and steep, I don't feel like it is quite as dangerous as new Hampshire. This makes it a lot more enjoyable for me. We have planned out some pretty conservative miles for the remainder of our hike so that we can enjoy our last weeks. Good thing we did that, because the miles are still exhausting ones. 
Some people refer to Maine as "water world". There are so many ponds and lakes, even high in the mountains. 

I have been wanting to see a moose, but still no sighting for me. Hopefully I'll get to see one before Katahdin. 
A couple days ago, we went through Mahoosuc notch, which is labeled in the guidebook as "the most difficult, or fun mile on the AT". I guess it was fun, but my body sure hurt afterwards. All night, my knees were aching despite taking plenty of Motrin. This mile took us two and a half hours to do. It is a huge rock scramble where you are climbing over and under big boulders. Many times we were squatting down or even kneeling on our knees. At one time we were laying down scooting like a worm! Sparky might kill me for this pic, but obviously I don't have one of myself, nor would I post such an embarrassing pic of myself! Hahaha

The next day, we climbed the Mahoosuc arm, which is a half mile of flat sheer rock face to climb up. Actually, there has been a lot of that, and my calves are screaming at me. The shins don't appreciate going down them either. One southbound hiker told me that she thought that Maine was like one big obstacle course. I guess she is right, so far.  

Yesterday, we had some unexpected rain, and a lot of it. I managed to take a pretty hard fall walking down some slippery rock steps. At first, I was afraid I broke my arm, it hurt so bad. After sitting a while, the pain condensed down to my right hand that tried to catch my fall. For the rest of the day, I had difficulty gripping that hand and was worried it was injured. I went to bed at 6:30 pm with a cocktail of pain remedies. By morning, it was much better. A little bruised up, but no big harm done. My trekking pole didn't fair too well though. It is now nicely bent until I can get it to an outfitter for repair. I am in Andover for the night at the Pine Ellis Hostel. It is simple, but cozy. 

Sometimes you camp in a cloud making everything a bit wet and cold. Then you hike up, and see how beautiful it is. 

Miles hiked: 1927.3
Miles to go: 256.9