August 11, 2013
Today’s mileage: 18.2
Total mileage: 2155.8
To start off our hike this morning, we finally got our first look at Katahdin. The top was covered in clouds, but it was awesome nonetheless. We have been there before, but seeing Katahdin for the first time on your thru-hike, whether you’ve been there or not, is an unforgettable moment. It’s been every NOBO thru-hiker’s destination for months, so when you can finally see the finish line, a huge weight feels lifted off of your shoulders. There are still a few dozen miles to go, but miles that will be enjoyed and savored along the way.
The trail remained mostly flat today, but filled with even more rocks and roots than before. The balls of my feet were hurting from what I think is worn down insoles. My shoes have most definitely gotten a beating from the tough trail in New Hampshire and Maine. Good thing I only have to wear them for three more days! We hiked around Nahmakanta Lake, a vast expanse lined with a few sandy beaches. The weather has been absolutely beautiful the past two days. Low 70s and sunny, but not hot enough to be tempted to swim. We climbed only one mountain today, a 700 ft. climb up Nesuntabunt Mountain. Despite the warnings from a SOBO section hiker about the “treacherous” stone steps, we made it up just fine. It wasn’t anything that we hadn’t seen before. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that other hikers have warned us about the trail ahead, but especially here in the Wilderness. There have only been a couple of small sections that I would consider difficult, but everything else has been just like any other trails that we’ve hiked in Maine since we were kids. There is nothing to fear in the 100-Mile Wilderness.
On top of Nesuntabunt, we took a break on an overlook with a view to Katahdin. From here, the northern terminus is only 16 miles away, but because of the nature of the winding trail around lakes, ponds, and rivers, we still had to hike 36 miles from there to Katahdin. This time, the summit was in clear view straight ahead. When we saw Katahdin this morning, all I could think about was our last day of hiking up to Baxter Peak. But, the second time I saw it, all I could think about was everything that it took for us to reach that moment. I thought about all of the mountains we had climbed, all of the people we had met, and all of the states that we had hiked through. I thought back to the days when I lacked motivation, the days when blisters pained my feet, the days when I cried, and the countless days the it rained. I remembered our excitement at every 100 mile marker, our joy as we crossed state lines, the accomplishment we felt at the end of a long day, and the countless times that we’ve laughed every single day. Our summit of Katahdin will mark the end of all of those moments. And even though I have looked forward to Katahdin for months, it will be tough all the same to know that our thru-hike will be over.
My entire left foot began to hurt near the end of the day, probably because I was overcompensating for the pain on the ball of my foot. I only had to remember that this pain would only last a few more days. We are tenting near a group of French-Canadians tonight and also met Sonny, who flip-flopped from New Jersey. It’s a perfect night here in the low 50s and we are enjoying one of our last quiet nights in our tent. Rainbow Stream is providing the perfect white noise to fall asleep to. Camping by streams and rivers is my absolute favorite. They are always such calming spots.
Today was our last day of hiking over 15 miles. It was our last long day out here. Our thru-hiking days are coming to an end. The Wilderness ends tomorrow and we will officially enter Baxter State Park.
As Dave Matthews so perfectly says in one of my favorite songs, “This is the last stop.”