Ta Da

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Well, as you could see from the previous posts, we made it. Our journey along the Appalachian trail is complete with the final ascent—Mt. Katahdin. What an adventure!!! But I’m glad it is finished.

Thanks so much for the welcome party (aka the support team) who greeted us when we got to the back to the bottom of the mountain.

As I continue my re-entry, I’ll write some more posts about what I/we experienced in New Hampshire and Maine. Stay tuned….

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DONE! FINISHED! COMPLETED!

October 5, 12 noon.

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After a four hour climb we summited Katahdin and celebrated with thru hikers and day hikers.  I cried.

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It was very emotional to see in person the sign we had seen over and over again in photos all along the way.

We were particularly blessed in our last days on the trail to reconnect with Midway who we had known at the very beginning of our journey but hadn’t seen since before Virginia,  and Tune who we hadn’t seen since Pennsylvania. It added a bit of poetry to our completion and the hugs were wonderful.

A few views from the day which was sunny and mostly clear:

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I suspect it would be nice if I had more to say at this point but I am still digesting the fact that we have hiked, rock scrambled, and cliff climbed for 182 days and now we are done. 

Done? Or maybe just ready to start a new adventure at home.

Blessings on the journey,
Dragonfly aka Rev. Kristina Hansen

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Happy Trails:The 100 Mile Wilderness

What a joy to be off the rock scrambles and back on trails! The 100 Mile Wilderness reminded us that we like to hike!

A sign at the beginning of the wilderness alerted us to the seriousness of our undertaking and the importance of being prepared with plenty of food and all other necessities since resupply in the middle of wilderness was not an option – at least when the sign was erected. 

In more recent years, more tote roads have been built through the wilderness, which I am sure helped with rescue efforts of the injured or under prepared,  but has also helped resourceful hikers figure out resupply options. The most common is paying someone to drive in on one of these very basic roads (bump bump bump bump bump) and hide your resupply in a metal barrel in the woods with a map for you so you can find it.  Yah. Right. Like I’m going to do that; I’m from New York!  We carried our 8 day supply.

Prairie Dog staggered for a few days each time she saddled us up (how we refer to putting on our backpacks), but at least we had everything we needed.

The wilderness immediately began to reward us with beautiful ponds and lakes:

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and Autumn colors:

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It was awesome!

Even more awesome was our first sightings of “Big K” – Katahdin!  The 5267 foot mountain we would climb up as our finale!

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My, my, my!

Other amazing sights along the way included this “fairie land” up on the Ledges:

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And we enjoyed our final trail whimsy experiences by participating in it:

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I am quite sure someone will be reassured knowing that the privy has been sanitized for their protection!

We stopped at our last shelter (called “lean tos” in Maine) at lunch time on our last day.  The journal there read like a book of wisdom and blessings as thru hikers said goodbye to those behind them and also gave there real names.  It brought tears to my eyes to read notes by those of whom we had become so fond. Of course I left my “Blessings on the journey” too!

I think this graffiti at an earlier lean to summed up what many were saying in their own words:

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As we came out the North end of the wilderness on Friday, October 4, the same warning sign was there to greet the southbound hikers.  We took a picture of it although it is probably too weathered for you to read:

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One last thing to do before the fat lady sings on this adventure – CLIMB BIG K!

Blessings on the journey,
Dragonfly

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The Maine Event

(We have several new entries so read on after this.)

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So here we are in our final state!  Who would have thought almost 6 months ago that we would walk over 1900 miles up through the South, across the Mason Dixon line and ultimately through New England!

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Maine so far has continued the legacy of the White Mountains with its cliff climbs and rock scrambles.  The paths often look like this.

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We also triumphed over the hardest mile of the AT called the Mahoosic Notch.  One mile.  Four hours. I kid you not. I only took one photo at the beginning before putting the phone away for safe keeping.

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Just as people promised it was up and over cliffs and down and under through caves sometimes having to take our packs off to shove them through first.  It was quite the day!

As you can see by our clothes,  it continues to grow colder.

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When we picked up our last resupply at “The Cabin”, we told the guy there that we were heading for the 100 mile wilderness by car and Katahdin and he said,  “That’s what everyone is doing now.  Go! Go! Go!” Now,  if everyone was jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, I might hesitate; but this move makes good sense.

The rocks have left us bruised and are sapping our joy. The 100 mile wilderness is said to be a fantastic HIKING experience.  I really miss that.

So,  as we pass over 150 miles of trail I hope you will think kind thoughts of us.  When we finish we will have hiked over 2000 AT trail miles and in excess of 300 other miles given camps and towns.

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We are heading out now.  Please keep us in your prayers and thoughts.

Blessings on the journey, Dragonfly

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The White Mountains Debrief

(The difficulty of using one device as phone, camera, and blog writer is that you have to ration its use – especially if you are in the White Mountains where there is almost no electricity! So thanks for your patience; it was quite an adventure up there. Now on with our story.)

What started out with such exuberance became a testimony to endurance as we hit a number of new “extremes” in the Whites: extreme wind (read: blow you down), extreme temperature (read:  below freezing with a vengeance), extreme fords (read: raging river), and extreme landscape (read: 90% cliffs and rock scrambles). 

We planned for an 8 day hike through this section with one zero (non-hiking day) as recovery before continuing.  Instead it took us 12 days and an extra zero for our mental health. Those of you who have hiked the Whites already know the challenges we would face and that it would take us longer than our usual pace. For those of you who know no more than I knew getting into this, let me share more of our story and some photos as well.

The morning after climbing Mt. Moosilauke the Welcome Hiker Hostel was bursting with hikers going north all trying to beat the October 15 deadline to summit Katahdin in Maine.  We missed the first carload of 8 at 8 o’clock that were going to slack pack Mt. Moosilauke.  We did get in on the second carload that left at 11 o’clock heading to the trail head after the mountain where we would continue our journey.

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And, yes, there are 11 adults at 11 o’clock and all our smelly backpacks (some inside) and one dog in this car!  Four of them and the dog are in the hatch area. That’s me in the orange cap smashed against the window.   

Our journey was “only” 7.5 miles climbing up and over Mt. Wolf and ended at the first shelter/campsite we came to.  Swagger & Trail Wreck, and Future & Belch (because he does A LOT – better check out his food allergies!) stopped there too.  We didn’t have time to make the next 2000 foot climb before the sun set and the cliffs and rock scrambles it was made of didn’t allow for safe halfway camping spots. Thus we were introduced to a dynamic that would thwart us throughout the Whites.

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A few days later the weather started out great:

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But then it began to change:

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We were among 13 hikers who made a dash for the Zealand Falls hut.  A thunderstorm which had been brewing all day let loose with 2 inches of rain in as many hours with lightening strikes nearby.  We were about a half hour behind the others and had only a moment to make a decision when we came to this newly raging stream.

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With no safe place to wait out the storm except the hut on the far side of it we decided to cross.  Loosening and unfastening our backpacks as a safety measure, we held tightly onto the downed tree you can see in the background and waded across with substantial effort to the other side.  We got to the hut and joined the other weary wet hikers at the smelly thru hiker table. The first 3 had gotten work for stay but the others were told they would have to go back out into the storm unless they could afford the $125 per person.  PD pulled out her Mastercard but our 20 – something year old companions didn’t have the option.  They told us to enjoy and promised they’d be okay.

We hiked out to Crawford Notch the next day for a zero day and rented a second room so that they could all get in, get cleaned up, and dry out their equipment.

Our next goal was Lake of the Clouds hut just shy of Mount Washington but again we were thwarted by a second climb that we couldn’t complete before sunset.  We did work for stay at Mizpah hut which means we washed dishes in exchange for dinner and breakfast and the opportunity to sleep on the dining room floor. This photo was taken on the top of Mt. Webster…or Jackson…

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The next morning we headed for Lake of the Clouds hut as the weather began to turn again – as it does quickly in the Whites.

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By the time we got to the hut the only reason we knew we were there was because we were suddenly standing in front of it – the fog was that thick! The staff took in every hiker to discourage any from making a foolish climb up to Mount Washington.  We needed no such persuasion.  That night was so cold the water from the bottom of our boots froze in puddles on the floor.

The next day we climbed Washington!

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Other tourists took the famous cog train up the Mountain. 

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The views over the next days were spectacular but hard earned with the bruises to prove it!

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We took our mental health zero at Pinkham Notch and finished our White Mountains odyssey two days later when we descended into Gorham, NH.

One really cool night shot as we stealth camped on Carter Mountain:

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Another two days and we crossed into Maine – but that is a story for another post.

Blessings on the journey, Dragonfly

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Happy Birthday

…today to my sister brenda kay.  I was in first grade when she was born.  A couple of weeks after she came home, I took her to school for “show and tell”.  In our young adulthood we spent several years in a row at the Fourth of July celebration at Mt. Rushmore.  Now she is a new mom.  I miss her a lot.  I hope she has a great day.

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New Hampshire trails

Once we crossed the border into NH, things changed, well to be more specific, names changed. 

Throughout our journey we had been hiking the Appalachian Trail, but suddenly we were hiking The Ethan Pond Trail, Crawford Path, Madison Gulf Trail, Centennial Trail (just like in South Dakota), and the Mahoosic Trail, among many others. 

In the beginning it was confusing with these different trail names.  Sometimes it was unclear which trail was actually the AT.  Some of our fellow hikers took the wrong trail and ended up in places that they didn’t want to be, getting rescued at a road several miles away from their original destination.

Once we took a wrong trail, but caught our mistake, with help from a campsite caretaker and our friend Tumbleweed.  Luckily we hadn’t gone more than a quarter mile, but it could have been disastrous.  And it is the only time while hiking the AT that we went the wrong way.

We were told by people in the know, that the trails in NH were named long before the AT was created, so it was decided that those names would stay the same and the AT would “piggyback” on. 

Our maps of the trail listed the alternative names, and we consulted them frequently, making it easier for us to follow the right trail.

We are now in Maine and the trail is back to being the AT.

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