Month 5: Overview

I’ve finally found my way back to Dirigo Bound. I can’t say that I’ve been lounging around for the past week and a half, but I have had my fair share of relaxation and decided to take a little vacation from blogging. I had this overview written a few days ago, but internet connection issues at my house plus my preoccupation with cleaning up my room and getting things ready to move, left this post to rest until today.

It was strange not sitting down to write at night. At the end of the day, a switch would turn on in my head, alerting me to write my blog post. Then, I realized that all I would be writing about is how I got an ice cream, went for a walk with my dogs, or drove to Portland. Not very exciting in comparison to life on the Appalachian Trail. I have been busy however, and although I wish I had a little more time to wind down from our hike, maybe the best thing after all is to jump back into my normal life. Regardless, it does feel strange to be back home. I’m not sure how to describe it, because I’m so happy to be back, to eat healthy, fresh food, to take a shower whenever I like, to have clean, dry clothes, and to be with my family. But then, I miss the movement, the newness that life on the trail provided us with every day. I miss the sense of accomplishment that we felt at the end of each day. I miss the close bond that we felt with our fellow thru-hikers. We have shifted from a lifestyle that became normal for us, and now finding ourselves shifting back to our “old” normal. Sometimes, I’m not sure where we belong. I suppose, somewhere in between.

Apart from my inner philosophical discussions, we have been very busy since we returned home on August 15th. My family threw us an awesome “Welcome Home” party at my sister’s house a few days after we got back. It was so nice to see all of our family, friends, and friends who are like family all in one place. It was a beautiful afternoon as we enjoyed tons of great food, drinks, and an AT cake. Miles and I set up our tent and some of our gear and a few bold souls even tried on Miles’ 40 lb. pack. My dad put out our finished AT map with postcards I had sent and some photos that I had posted on the blog. You might think that seeing so many people might be overwhelming for us, but really, it was so great to see everyone and hang out for an afternoon.

Miles and I can’t seem to stop moving. Everyday that I’ve been home, we have gone a walk or have done some other activity. We walked around the schools, walked on the waterfront, I’ve gone on a few runs, we played tennis with my parents, and yesterday we went on our first hike since Katahdin. We climbed Great Pond Mountain in Orland, an easy 10 minute drive from my house. We took my dogs, Manny and Stella, and made the climb up on a beautiful afternoon. Great Pond is a mountain that I’ve hiked since I was very young. It’s an easy hike, but has amazing views to Acadia, the Camden Hills, the surrounding ponds, Blue Hill, and Bucksport. 

I am currently going back and forth between Bucksport and Portland until we find an apartment down in Portland. I enjoy being in both places, but it’s unfortunate that I have to drive 2+ hours between the two.

And finally, here is the Month 5 overview of our last days on the trail. Very soon, I will be posting the “Best Of” the entire hike.

Total Miles: 424.6

Average mileage per day: 14.6/14.3 for entire hike

Number of Zero Days:  1

Percent of trail completed: 100%

Best Trail Town: Monson, Maine

Favorite Mountain: Katahdin

Favorite State: Maine

Favorite camping spot: Bald Mountain Stream

Favorite Shelter: Pierce Pond Lean-To (although we didn’t stay here, I wish we had)

Best Hiking Day: Day 139 (the day we hiked over the Saddleback Range, absolutely beautiful weather, spectacular views, and lots of our friends were around that day)

Worst Hiking Day: Day 126 (1st day in the Whites was very difficult. Very, very steep going down Mt. Moosilauke, slick, thunderstorm going up Kinsman, and dangerous)

Easiest Hiking Day: Day 152 (our second-to-last day on a nice, flat trail along the Penobscot. We were cruising and we really enjoyed the hike with a stop at Niagara Falls)

Most Difficult Hike: Day 126 (I’ve never chosen the same day as the worst and the most difficult, but I think that our first day in the Whites qualifies for both. It was a very stressful day, I was tired, wet, and it was humid. Dealing with thunderstorms on top of a mountain and traversing the difficult, slick terrain was mentally exhausting)

Favorite Trail Food: Starburst

Wildlife sightings: deer, moose, bears, snakes, squirrels, chipmunks, toads, frogs, loons, ducks, and rabbits. We didn’t see as much wildlife in Maine as we did in many other states.

Favorite Trail Location Names: Hexacuba Shelter, Mt. Success, Goose Eye Mountain, Moody Mountain, Bemis Mountain (think toilets), Saddleback Junior, Little Bigelow (also known as Biggie Smalls), Jo-Mary Road (mainly because we used a Jimmy Stewart voice when referring to the road), and Donut Pond.


And there is the final month. You may remember that I wrote a Q&A post midway through our hike. If anyone has any questions for us post-hike, I would be more than happy to do a final Q&A post on all things thru-hiking. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your question and I will answer it in the upcoming Q&A post.

16 thoughts on “Month 5: Overview

  1. In what ways did your hike change you? What did you learn about yourself and others? What advice would you offer impending thru hikers? What did you learn about gear? What would you have done differently or better if you knew then what you know now?

  2. Welcome back to Maine. How did those extended wear contacts work out for you? I’m planning my 2014AT nobo now. I wear glasses but hate it when it rains on them or they slide from sweat. It was great following your and Miles blog.

  3. Congrats again and I’m so happy you guys had such a wonderful party at home! This is a relatively dry question, but jim has definitely covered the big ones 🙂 Eric and I would love to be able to blog day to day like you guys did. What service did you have and what type of phone? 😀

  4. I really enjoyed reading your posts for the entire journey. Your hike was mentioned in one of the Emerson College alumni emails so I decided to sign up to follow your trip. Especially interesting to me was the portion of your hike through the state where I live, Virginia.
    My first broadcast news reporting job after graduation from Emerson such a long time ago (1963) was in Roanoke, VA not too far from the AT.
    Congratulations to both of you for completing what you set out to do!

    Nate Custer
    Yorktown, VA

  5. Congrats again!! I’m going to attempt my thru hike next March, I was wondering how much you and Miles spent roughly for the entire trip and if there are any resources you found particularly helpful for planning your trip. I have and still am a lot of research, but any resource I can find helps! 🙂

  6. I’m wondering if you also kept a written journal or notes; content you didn’t share with everyone that you can go back and read in the future?

  7. Congrats again on the great accomplishment! How hard was it to find internet access on the trail outside of a lodge or going into town? What was your overall expenses for you? What was your favorite trail magic moment?

  8. If you are not going back to old jobs, and you are job hunting, make sure you put your AT Thruhike on your employment timeline. It is an impressive item to have on a resume.

    1. I’m a retired senior executive. Resumes with impressive challenges such as your thru hike, Oeace Corps, AmeriCorps and similar activities stand out from the rest.

      Sent from my iPhone

  9. Welcome back to Maine. It has been so fun following your journey. I will miss it. Good luck in Portland. Brenda

  10. A few questions for you: Do you think you will thru hike again, be it the AT, PCT, etc.? Also do you plan on staying involved with the AT is some way?

  11. Wanted to let you know that the BDN today (Aug. 29) in the Sports section has an article about They will be doing panaoramic views of the trails on the AT – may be of sentimental value to you someday- looks like they will start in Springer next March.

  12. Great job guys! Were u ever worried about bears or any other safety issue at night? What were ur pack weights? Did miles also wear trail running shoes the whole way? Best of luck…

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