July 8.  Four months ago today I started hiking the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia.  Today I woke up in New Hampshire, 15 miles from Maine, and 298 miles from the end.  I woke up for the second morning in a row in the same hotel bed…I was getting comfortable.  I woke up at 5 AM, and rolled over.  I didn’t want to move…even after a zero day I had no ambition to head back to the trail and put a pounding in on my feet and legs.  We finally started moving, packed our gear, and walked down to McDonald’s for breakfast.  This was the 4th time we ate there since we hit town…and we sat at the same table each time!  We were feeling too “at home” here for sure.  I am really sick of fast food and stuffing myself to eat food for fuel…but I needed it for the mountains today.  We ate breakfast and hit the road for a hitch.  Only a minute in a girl stopped and picked us up.  She said her parents had a vacation home here and she remembered growing up and spending the weekends heading to Pinkham Notch with her parents to pick up hikers and take them to town.  She dropped us off at the trail and we headed north.  We walked past the White Mountains Hostel on the AT and Rafiki ran into some guys he knew.  While we all talked I passed the Bearbell Chicken for www.warriorhike.com onto another hiker.  This morning at McDonald’s though I made sure to add an AT tattoo in red marker on the chicken’s tush!  Before we headed back to the trail I ran into J.D., a guy I had hiked with into the Deleware Water Gap.  After Amy picked me up there he had hiked on and when I got back to the trail I tried to catch him.  I put down big miles and in CT he took off a few days with his wife.  I must have passed him there and since then he had been about a day behind me.  With our zero he had finally caught up.  He was having food at the hostel and hopefully I would see him down the trail later.  Rafiki and I finally hit the trial at 10:30 AM…not too bad.  The first climb out was tough, but not nearly as tough as the Whites.  I am not sure if the trail was just easier or if taking a zero day really did it, but all day today I felt much better.  We were making good progress and by around 5 we passed the New Hampshire – Maine state line!  The last state!  We were happy to be in Maine and pushed on to the next shelter 5 miles away.  We had also caught up with Smiling Joe, Uro, and Kittens at the sign and we followed the 3 of them.  The trail wasn’t easy…some steep ups and downs including ladders, rebar in the rocks, and flat rocks that we basically slid down.  It was worth it though.  We had some fantastic views back at the White Mountains and ahead into Maine.  The sunset was fire red and with the clouds made for a great evening sky on our first night in ME.  It was pretty windy on the ridge and my beard is getting long enough that I can feel it blowing in the wind…not sure if that is good or bad!  We made it to the shelter to find a huge group of people already there.  We both wanted to tent but recently all of the shelters have been using tent platforms, which is fine for a free standing tent…but not for me.  Another hiker made a good point…all of the wood used in the tent platforms would be better used in some picnic tables, I agree!  I found a flat spot in a pathway and set up for the night.  There were people and tents everywhere…the 5 of us northbounders were way outnumbered by southbounders.  We must be hitting the bubble of hikers heading south.  Today was a good day, I felt stronger on the trail, we hiked 21 plus miles, and we made it to Maine!  We finished the day at mile 1,907.3, with 276.9 left to Katahdin!


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