Once we left Katahdin Stream Campground, we faced our next challenge- getting through the 100 Mile Wilderness. While we have backpacked a lot, our longest trek has only been about 60 miles. So I knew that getting through the 100 Mile Wilderness would be a big challenge. And challenge it was! I am BEAT! But also exhilarated and joyful as getting through this part of the hike was an unforgettable adventure.The 100 Mile Wilderness is extremely remote, with spotty cell phone reception and no stores or other support. And it is also a really rough trail in many places with mud entrenched areas, roots and rocks covering any flat spots to hike on, and unrelenting ups and downs. And this time of year the mosquitoes and black flies are seriously brutal. The remoteness, rough trail, and swarming biting bugs sincerely challenged us!
That being said, the 100 Mile Wilderness is also amazingly beautiful in the untouched nature of true wilderness. And the smack in the face aspect of taking this on at the beginning of our Appalachian Trail hike is truly a blessing in the confidence it has given us for the future challenges we will come upon on our hike.
Things I Learned Hiking the 100 Mile Wilderness-
Southbounders Are Not Isolated!
I have been told countless times that we would be practically by ourselves heading south on the AT. Totally untrue! There are plenty of fellow southbounders out here with us and we’ve already developed friendships with many other hikers. In fact, we slept in totally full lean tos several times already and there are always lots of tents set up at designated camping areas.
The Bugs Truly Are Horrific in Early Summer-
I can not stress this enough. If you are hiking in June, bring out the big guns in bug deterrents! The biting flies and mosquitoes are insane!!!! We use both Picardin and Deet and are still covered in bites. If possible, wear long sleeves and pants although we didn’t do this several days due to unseasonably warm temps in the 90s and have the bites to show for it. Also- a head net is a must. The bugs flying around your head without it is enough to drive you batty!
Take Your Time-
Give yourself time to acclimate yourself to the daily challenge of hiking. Don’t overdue it packing in the miles! We made the mistake of pushing 18 Mile days at the beginning making our planned 10 day hike only 7 days and I was exhausted by the end of the wilderness! If I was doing it again, I would slow down and take the time to swim in more of the numerous beautiful ponds and creeks. On that note, take the time to wring out your socks after fording the many rivers you will face. My feet were blister free until our last day in the 100 miles when I didn’t take the time to do this and my feet were a blistered mess after that 15 mile day.
Think About a Food Drop-
We organized a food drop about half way through our hike through Shaw’s in Monson. They hand delivered our second 5 days worth of food on one of the few logging roads through the wilderness at a time we scheduled with them. Only carrying 5 days food at a time was a God send. And Shaw’s gave us the additional blessing of an ice cold coke with our food drop! NOTHING has ever tasted so refreshing!
You Can’t Imagine How Bad You Can Smell-
Rest Up When Done-
We emerged from the wilderness 114.5 miles into our hike elated but exhausted and taking a zero day at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel the following day was indescribable in its blissfullness! Shaw’s owners- Poet and Hippy Chick are former through hikers who know EXACTLY what hikers need when they emerge from the woods. Hot showers, laundry, welcoming atmosphere and the best breakfast a hungry hiker could hope for were an awesome blessing to our tired bodies. I can’t thank them enough for their support and kindness to every hiker who passes through. So, long story short. We made it out of the 100 Mile Wilderness bruised and sore but ready for more! I’m taking a couple of days off to head to Ottawa to pick up Sophie as she finishes up her internship and joins us for a couple of weeks on the trail. But 115 miles are already in the books!
P.S. We have our trail names! I’m Early Bird. Maya is Whoopsie. And Naomi is Roaming Gnome. Fitting for sure.