Hurd Brook Lean-to(2170.6) to Abol Bridge(2174.1) 3.5 Miles
Today felt like the last few days of high school. I've put in all of the hard work and now it's time to enjoy myself. I only have 15.1 miles until the end. 9.9 of those miles will be nice and easy. The last 5.2 miles, also known as Mt. Katahdin, aren't exactly easy, but I figure the excitement of finishing will out weigh the difficulty.
I woke up to the sound of rain against my tarp. After my ultra marathon day yesterday I had planned to sleep in, but I was too excited to stay in my hammock. We only have to hike 3.5 miles before we get to Abol Bridge on Golden Road, which marks the end of the Hundred-Mile Wilderness and the entrance to Baxter State Park. There isn't much at Abol Bridge except for a campground with cabins and a camp store, but we are staying there due to the logistics of finishing the hike. Once you enter Baxter State Park(BSP) there is a one night limit for thru-hikers to camp. Due to rain in the forcast for the next two nights we won't be summiting Katahdin until September 15, so we can't camp inside the park tonight. Since the camp store offers breakfast, Blade, Laces, and I decided to walk through the rain. For some reason hiking in the rain doesn't seem that bad when there is fresh coffee and breakfast at the end.
Laces was packed up and ready to go before Blade and I so we told her we would meet her at the store. It takes me longer to pack up my things in the rain. Blade and I enjoyed a nice and easy hike down to the road. The weather improved almost immediately and we were able to finish the 100-mile wilderness on a good note by staying relatively dry.
To say that I was excited to finally reach Golden Road would be an understatement. In all of my pre-hike research Golden Road and Abol Bridge marked the beginning of the end for this epic adventure. Walking across Abol Bridge felt like a huge accomplishment. Nothing can stop me now. As I walked across the bridge I could see Mt. Katahdin up close and I was grinning from ear to ear. Knowing that in two days I will be standing on Baxter Peak as a thru-hiker gave me a rush of adrenaline.
We hurried along to the camp store to meet Laces for breakfast, unfortunately the restaurant wasn't open yet so we settled for fresh coffee and cinnamon rolls(we might have also had a breakfast beer or two). Laces mother was meeting her at the campground later in the morning, but she had a few errands to take care of in town before she arrived. We met a few tourists who kindly offered to drive her into the closest town, Millinocket. Blade and I agreed to hang around the camp store to wait for her mom, while she went into town. While we were waiting Clicks dad arrived. He offered to take us to town so we could get breakfast and make phone calls since there was no cell reception at Abol Bridge. It was an offer we couldn't refuse. We left a note for Laces mom and headed out.
Millinocket is a cool little town. Most of the towns income seems to be reliant on BSP tourism. They really catered to thru-hikers. The local diner, AT Trail Cafe, is where a lot of hikers meet up before or after summiting Katahdin. Blade and I enjoyed a nice meal together and talked about life post trail. You would think that after 5.5 months on the trail I would have a plan for life after, but as it turns out I mostly day dreamed about pizza, hamburgers, and milkshakes.
I haven't had cell phone service in days, so I took the opportunity to update my blog and call home. Millinocket is located 19 miles from Abol Bridge and I really didn't have a plan for getting back there. Blade was staying in town with Click and his dad, 5-Way(several years ago he had a 5-way heart bypass). I didn't want to stay in town yet, it felt too much like a celebration, and I didn't feel like celebrating in town until I had stood atop Mt. Katahdin. Luckily, 5-Way reappeared and offered to take me back to Abol Bridge.
Once back at the camp store I reconnected with Laces. Her mom had already been there, but had to make the 3 hour drive back home to pick up an important package for 8 Paws. We spent the afternoon hanging out at the store and collecting hiker trash as they came through. We rejoined with Lean-to, 8 Paws, Pony Puncher, Food Truck, Zen, Huckleberry, Rusty, and Flick. It was a full blown party. We signed up for two cabins, which had a great view of Katahdin, and bought some beer. Eventually the restaurant at the camp store opened so we all went for in for a snack. I tried Poutine, a northern dish consisting of French fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds, for the first time. It was delicious and I demand that restaurants in the south start serving it.
After our late afternoon snack we were pleasantly surprised to meet Flick's mom and dad who had flown in from Florida. They brought along trail magic and we had a great time hanging around a camp fire cooking hot dogs and hamburgers. Rusty and I went back to Abol Bridge to watch the sunset over Katahdin.
We stayed up really late drinking beer and reminiscing about trail life. I'm really thankful to be surrounded by so many great trail friends here at the end.
"You have no control over how your story begins or ends. But by now, you should know that all things have an ending. Every spark returns to darkness. Every sound returns to silence. Every flower returns to sleep with the earth. The journey of the sun and moon is predictable. But yours, is your ultimate art." -Suzy Kassem