This stuff is hard!

As we crossed the state line from New Hampshire into Maine, and push on through the final couple of weeks of this hike (we have plans to finish September 5th or a bit before), we find that even though the trail is not as tough as the White Mountains of New Hampshire, there is a lot of tough stuff left.

Some of the mountains here are as steep as the Whites in New Hampshire.  We also went through what’s known as the hardest, slowest mile of the entire Appalachian Trail, the Mahoosic Notch, which is a boulderfield playground if you’re in the mood for it and not in a hurry; it’s a cause for cursing if you’re one who’s trying to do big miles fast.  Some boulders you climb over, some you crawl under.  On occasion, you need to take off your pack and push it through a crevice ahead of you since you won’t fit through yourself with your pack on.  We took the Notch slowly, and still were not left entirely unscathed!  A good bumper sticker might read “I left skin in Mahoosic Notch!”  This stuff is hard!

We found ourselves on a trail detour, due to blasting for road construction.  It added about a mile to yesterday’s hike.  You try to make plans for the day so you don’t have to finish in the near darkness and someone adds another mile to your day!  This stuff is hard!

We had great weather yesterday and today, but it seems the warmth has brought out the mosquitoes.  Thought we had left those behind!  But Maine is so wet (so far), when it’s warm it’s probably as good a “skeeter” breeding ground as New Jersey.  The water makes the trail difficult.  “Roots, rocks, and mud” is all we heard from southbounders about what would greet us in Maine.  So far, they’re 100 % right!  “Bogboards” are installed on the trail in many places to keep you out of the mud, but they aren’t always where you need them, and woe to you if you slip off!  The mud can be deep.  This stuff is hard!

Then again, there are some delights, like wonderful views of the mountains and ponds, and being greeted at a parking area by two tiny Trail Angels (who already have trail names, Spartacus and Louweasel) with their dad, who thru-hiked several years ago.  The gave me whopping candy bars, and some to pass along to CLiCK! and Chainsaw.  And finally today, I got a great hitch into Rangeley from a guy named Chris and his buddy, Mike.  Chris was loaded with qustions about the hike as he is contemplating a thru-hike in the near future.  His most important question was, “Is it worth it?”  I thought for a few seconds and said, “It’s worth every minute, day, week and month on the trail, but THIS STUFF IS HARD!”

It’s hardest being away from home for so long.  I say that I can feel Katahdin pulling at me, but I think it’s home that’s pulling me.  Susan wants me home, and I miss her terribly.  It’ll soon be done!

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17 Responses to This stuff is hard!

  1. Beth Paulson says:

    Would it be right to say the most challenging part of the trail is this last section in Maine? Boulders aren’t fun as we in Colorado know, and you have to watch out for the ones that move. I love your landscape photos, Mike,especially the reflecting one. Wow! Only a little more than two weeks to go for you and Mel. Will you be weepy on the last day?

  2. Deborah Farmar says:

    Hi kids! We’re all rooting for you – is that how you spell rooting? – and thinking about you and your last and hardest state. Sorry about your boo-boo, Mig. You are a super trooper!

    Here’s to you both!

    • Mike says:

      Thanks! There are some times we need all the cheering on we can get. We have a couple of big mountains left called the Bigelows (we’ll get into the tomorrow), then we’ll have some flattish trail for a while.
      Speaking of boo-boos, Melissa wondered today what we would look like if all the scratches, cuts, bruises, black fly bites, etc. were all still apparent, or showed up at the end of the hike. I think we’d be like something out of some zombie movie. It would be scary!

  3. Tim Holloway says:

    Hi Mike and Melissa,
    Just remembwer, if it was easy, everyone would do it!
    Good luck on the home stretch.

    • Mike says:

      It may be the kind of think that’s so easy, a caveman can do it, but it really is tough for us “modern” folks! By the way, Big Agnes says “Hi!” and wants to do the trip again!

  4. If you think you got past the hardest section of the Appy, the rest should be a piece of cake.
    Nice photos, cute kids.
    Seeing the blasting zone sign, are they blasting those big boulders to make them smaller stones for everyone else hiking behind you?
    One last thought is, if you are able to conquer this thru-hike on the Appy, you should be able to overcome anything else you encounter the rest of your days on this planet.
    Take care, and please be safe the rest of the your journey.

  5. June and Scott says:


    The Mahoosic Notch, been there done that!!! I almost fell into a deep no ending hole twice. Scott saved me!!! Mike, how are your Keens treating you?

    June and Scott

    • Mike says:

      The Keens are the best boots ever, for me, WAY better than the Merrills. Funny thing, though, there’s a guy here called Buckeye Flash, who just got a pair of Merrills to replace his boots, and he said the Keens just didn’t fit! Different strokes for different folks!

  6. Val and Deb says:

    Mike and Melissa,

    With the both of you pushing towards the finish, and Katahdin pulling you in, here’s hoping the support of all your followers will also help carry you on these last miles of your journey. Take care. You’re almost there!

  7. SusanS says:

    Wow! Almost done and very well done at that! Hang in there. I guess you’re going to have an extra special birthday celebration this year. I’ve loved all of your posts and would love to have some prints but oh my, how will I ever choose? I’m cheering you on every step of the way! Love to you and Click.

    • Mike says:

      I’ll send you a CD or DVD of the whole thing after I’m home and have time to pick out all the best. I hope I’m home by my b-day! We know for sure we’ll finish the hike by the 5th, but how does a guy get home from northern Maine?

  8. Darren says:

    it ain’t worth it unless it’s hard!

  9. Hey Mike, I don’t remember you saying it was going to be easy.
    But, you’re almost there. What an adventure. I’m looking forward to the book.
    Hang in there, guys, only a few more days!

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