Weeks 19 & 20: So close, yet so far
Our feet took us 240 miles! #finishingstrong #mybodyhatesme
Video of the Week
Maine is freaking gorgeous. I had my DSLR, but unfortunately it was raining much of Maine, so I didn't take nearly enough pictures.
Grafton notch is known as the longest, yet most fun, mile. It absolutely lived up to its name. Danielle and I put our poles away and jumped/crawled/climbed/squeezed our way through the notch. I always say "anyone can do the trail, it's just putting one foot in front of the other". This does not hold true in the notch.
The 100 mile wilderness is actually an enchanted forest. It felt more pure and less impacted than the rest of the trail. It was extremely enjoyable hiking as long as you avoid tripping over tree roots.
We have been so lucky to receive resupply boxes from friends and family throughout our entire thru hike. Feeding two ravenous girls good quality food is not an easy (or inexpensive) task. In our final two weeks on the trail, we received SO much love from people back home. This was huge in helping us push to the finish line. The Hogan family made us an amazing resupply box (thanks, Mr. Hogan, for the excellent dehydrated meal choices) with an inspirational note that made our week much easier! The Crandall family send us an incredible resupply box with enough food for two resupplies. We were especially excited about the muscle brownies Angel picked out for us. It was a MUCH needed break from the usual protein bar and we were obsessed with them. I ate a brownie for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day. The Bukkhegyi family also bought Danielle and I an awesome resupply box with all our favorite foods. We were blown away by everyone's generosity and candy choices (I can't express how exciting it was to mix up the candy selection). We love you all endlessly!
In Rangeley, Maine, a Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School alumni paid for our stay in the Farmhouse Hostel and paid for us to have dinner in her Thai restaurant. There was a really fun crowd at the adorable hostel and the Thai food was everything we needed. It was the perfect morale boost to get us through the end. She truly is our trail angel!
No one talks about Maine. Holy sh*t. I got my ass kicked every single day. I'm not exaggerating. It was the hardest hiking of the entire trail and even though I'm in the best shape I've been on the entire trail, I still struggled. After being spoiled in the Whites, we were slapped with the harsh reality that we still had over 200 miles to hike (with our packs). The mountains do not get easier after the whites. I don't know why no one talks about this! Quite honestly, I was shocked in the worst way possible. I felt like Maine was the most difficult state, by far. Maybe it was because I'm in the "so over the AT" phase of thru-hiking. The trail is in the middle of nowhere, so it's more logistically difficult. When it was pouring and we were soaked, there were very few opportunities to get off the trail and sleep under a roof. Also, the mountains were insanely difficult. You know how at the top of the mountain, the trail turns to rock and you walk on rock slabs to get to the summit? Well, it felt like the majority of the mountains are rock slabs and there are very few opportunities to walk on dirt. Combined with morning dew, it's disastrous. I fell a dozen times every day. When I'd hear Danielle cursing the mountain from miles ahead of me, I knew she was in the same boat as I was. Our bodies are falling apart and the mountains are not giving us any breaks. It rained a lot in Maine. Morale was low. We wanted to get OUT.
Upon entering the 100 mile wilderness, the batteries to our Steripen (the UV light that sterilizes our water) died. Yeah, huge problem. Many thru hikers give up on sterilizing water at some point during their hike, but that was just not in the cards for me and Danielle. We have always been especially obsessed with sterilizing our water because Danielle experienced the tragedy of a water-borne parasite and neither of us ever wants to deal with that in the wilderness. In her own words, "it was like turbo jets out of my *ss". No, thanks. The 100 mile wilderness is the most remote section of the trail. Literally nowhere to get batteries without paying someone $80+ to drive down a logging road to deliver them to you. To make matters worse, much of the water sources in the 100 mile wilderness are ponds aka parasite city (moose poop, anyone?). After drinking un-sterilized water and living in constant fear of sh*tting ourselves for several days, we had someone deliver us batteries. We were too close to Katahdin to succumb to giardia.
WE ARE OVER EVERY FOOD EVER. One of our last days in the 100 mile wilderness, I went on a hunger strike and refused to eat any of my snacks because the thought of eating a protein bar made me nauseous. All I wanted was something juicy. Literally anything that had moisture. This obviously went terribly and I was a raging b*tch and feeling faint in the relentless sun. I honestly don't even like water anymore. Is cold water too much to ask for? The pond water in the 100 mile wilderness was getting old real fast. I've never wanted a soda so badly. Before you watch the video below, be warned that Danielle and I are absolutely delusional, grumpy, exhausted, and speaking without a filter. I apologize if it offends anyone, but please forgive me. I think you'd understand if you walked over 2,000 miles...