July 18. Woke up this morning…there had been no storm overnight and the sky was clear…shoot. A wasted afternoon in town yesterday but now it was time to get after it. I was tired, but we had miles to do…I can catch up on sleep next week when I am done and home! We packed our bags, waited for the staff to make some coffee, then had the shuttle take us back to the trail. We were back on the AT by 6:30 AM, a bit of a late start, but ok. We headed out and the first thing we passed was the welcome sign to the 100 Mile Wilderness. It read: “DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS SECTION UNLESS YOU HAVE A MINIMUM OF 10 DAYS OF SUPPLIES AND ARE FULLY EQUIPPED. THIS IS THE LONGEST WILDERNESS SECTION OF THE ENTIRE AT AND ITS DIFFICULTY SHOULD NOT BE UNDERESTIMATED. GOOD HIKING!” Hmmm, we are planning to do it in 3 days, is that bad? We headed on and within the first hour my feet were soaking wet from stepping in puddles. Throughout the day we would ford 4 streams so they really wouldn’t dry out.
Just past the 1st shelter we came to a fully stocked cooler with soda, beer, and candy. The guy keeps it stocked and it is on the honor system so I bought a Mountain Dew. We had heard about this cooler…but I thought it was somewhere in the middle of the wilderness…not within the first few miles. Speaking of the wilderness, we crossed several dirt and gravel roads, passed 2 parking lots, a railroad track, saw signs about having your dogs on a leash, could hear traffic, had cell phone service, and passed a section of trail that is part of a popular guided map tour. For some reason I don’t really feel like I am in much of a wilderness. We passed several other north and southbound hikers weighed down with 7 to 10 days of food, but we only had 3…were we missing something? I talked to one southbounder who said he had pushed 16 miles yesterday and he was hurting pretty bad…should I tell him we were doing 36 miles today? A ridge runner at the shelter 25 miles in asked Rafiki where we had started today and she was very surprised when he said Monson. She was even more surprised when he said we were hiking on another 10 miles to the next shelter. I fell down a few times today, hit my knee pretty hard once. The climbs were not too bad but through the middle of the day the trail got really dry and I couldn’t find good water. After the shelter I was empty on water and the spring there had been in bad shape, I thought I would have to walk 4 miles to the next river crossing for water but 2 miles in I found a slow dripping spring and in 5 minutes I had about half a liter of water, perfect! I had caught up with Rafiki but JD was a little behind us.
We made one more water crossing, got our shoes wet, and then headed the 5 miles up to the shelter. The sun was setting and we raced the daylight. Rafiki and I made it to the shelter trail around 9 PM without headlamps but quickly threw them on to find tent sites. We started setting up the tents and 10 minutes later JD arrived. JD said he had been right behind us most of the way and could see my foot prints in water and mud on the rocks and knew he was close. Every now and then he yelled out “Tarzan” but we must have been just far enough ahead to not hear him. We all ate dinner in the empty shelter and instead of worrying about bugs we kept and eye on the pack of mice getting closer to our food bags. It was 10:30 before I was in my tent, I was tired, it had been a huge day, tied for my biggest mileage day on the trail. A 36 mile day…the first day into the 100 Mile Wilderness and we had a third of it done! Success! We finished at mile 2,105.6, with only 78.6 miles to the top of Katahdin!