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  1. #1

    Default Trip #72 - Finishing the Appalachian Trail - Stratton - Katahdin 2 Week Trip

    Day 1 –Stratton ME27 to Cranberry Campsite 1.9 Miles
    The Beginning of the trip was from another world. Long story short our flight got overbooked due to a change in plane from Southwest, and my family of 4 got the boot. We were able to select a flight into Hartford, CT the next day (Day 1). So, after arriving in CT, my hiking partner that successfully flew into Portland, ME the day we were supposed to arrive, drove our rental car to us in Hartford, CT and back to Maine we drove (7 hours). We arrived at the trailhead almost exactly 24 hours behind schedule and so my plan B.5 kicked in immediately. (Pretty much just walk extra the first 2 days to make up the day we had lost.
    Cranberry Stream Campsite was used to stage us for the Bigelows the next morning and to keep my wife and 2 kids from having to drive all the way back out there from Greenville, ME the next morning.

    Day 2 – Cranberry Stream Campsite to Flaggstaff Road 14.8 Miles
    We woke up at Cranberry Campsite in the nice morning weather of July 3rd. We were anticipating rain for the day and we were not disappointed. As soon as we started our ascent into the Bigelows, the rain started and it followed us all the way to flagstaff road. No views, cold. Windy. Great way to start the trip. My wife and kids picked us up at flagstaff at the end of day 2 and took us the Air BNB we had rented for the first week on Moosehead Lake in Greenville, ME.

    Day 3 – Caratunk, ME to Flaggstaff Road 20.3 Miles
    We picked up on the 4th of July and headed for the Kennebec River. We chose to go southbound for this so that we could ensure getting the ferry crossing done during operating hours. It was a delightful day of mellow Maine walking in great weather. Ended up seeing about 11 garter snakes and a bunch of water!

    Day 4 – Shirley Blanchard Rd to Caratunk, ME 18.8 Miles
    Day four was our next hurdle of the trip. I will take full responsibility. I don’t know if it sipped my mind, or a didn’t know…. I think a bit of everything. But thank goodness my wife encouraged us to stop into the Monson AT visitor center where Wendy informed us that we would not be summitting Katahdin the following Saturday because we did not have a permit, and they were sold out. They were also sold out for the entire week. So that left us with the option of getting 1 of the last 3 campsites available in the park for Wednesday of week2, camping out as a family in the park and summiting Katahdin Thursday July 15th…. 2 days prior to what we had planned for. We sat down as a team for many decisions on this trip and this was a big choice. Were we going to stick with the planned hikes, summit on Thursday and hike the Fri and Sat after Katahdin to finish the whole trail? Or were we going to cram some miles and makeup another 2 days prior and when we summit K, be 100% DONE walking and have 2 days to play around in Maine….
    It didn’t take long, we would cram. It really just meant a few more 20-mile days instead of casual 12’s and we would be good to go. So, after that, we headed for Troutdale road….
    Hurdle #2 for the day. 6 miles from the trailhead/ road crossing there was a beautiful yellow gate that was locked across the road. Quick, punt. The trip is crumbling. The logistics are falling apart. Time. You are losing time. You can not afford to not get miles. Ok…. time to start cramming TODAY. We quickly added 7 AT miles to the day and headed up to the Shirley Blanchard Rd crossing and got a late start at 10am. It was time to walk off all of those bad lucks and get back in a good frame of mind. We finished the day without flaws and morale was restored!

    Day 5 & 6 – Shirley Blanchard Rd to Katahdin Ironworks Road 36.2 Miles
    We headed out from Shirley Blanchard Rd crossing and made our way in the sprinkling rain needing to squeeze the chairbacks in within 2 days making for back to back 18’s. Day 5 ended up being a 16.7-mile day as we stopped at Wilson Valley Shelter. As soon as the tarptents were pitched, the bottom fell out of it and it rained hard all night. The next morning it wasn’t done raining. We had a 19.5 mile soggy, soaking wet day through the chairbacks ahead of us and it was just one of those days to turn the brain off and walk. I shut my brain off about an hour into it, and we walked the entire day with no views, and climb after climb in the rain. My wife picked us up at Katahdin Ironworks Road at about 7:15pm and we headed to the cabin to get a moral boost lol

    Day 7 & 8 – Katahdin Ironworks Road to Jo Mary Rd 28.6 Miles
    What a great stretch of trail this was. Day 7 was spent taking our time up and over Whitecap where we got an outstanding view of Katahdin. We ended day 7 at East Branch Shelter in the tents away from the thousands of mosquitos that suddenly showed up. Day 8 was a quick 11.3 miles, a jump over Boardman Mtn, a swim in Crawford Pond and out to Jo Mary Road for pickup.

    Day 9 – Jo Mary to Wadleigh Pond Road 20 Miles
    Day 10 – Wadleigh Pond Road to Abol Bridge 20 Miles
    Day 9 & 10 were uneventful great days. Lots of ponds and streams. At this point we were grinding out the remainder with our sights set on finishing. Abol bridge has been a road crossing I have looked forward to for years and it felt so good. I sat there and soaked up Katahdin for quite some time. Afterwards a celebratory beer and ice cream cone was much enjoyed.

    Day 11 – Abol Bridge to Katahdin Stream Campground – 9.9 Miles
    A relaxing 10 miles where we were met by my wife and kids to camp out for the night in BSP. My wife told me that the park had scheduled us for the following night as a mistake but they fixed it and had space for us at Nesowadnehunk Field. We drove up to Neso and pitched our tents. Rain. We sat in the car, ate subway for dinner and watched Forrest Gump as a family. Bed at 8pm.
    Day 12 – Summit Day 10.4

    A perfect day. Nice and cool for July. Start time 6:50am. About the 7th group to start for the day. Zero breaks all the way to the top. Shared the summit with 1 nobo thru, and had plenty of time for pictures and soaking it in. Not 15 minutes after summitting, the crowd arrived and the peak was crawling with hikers. We made our way back down and were embraced with celebrations from my family. I was done.

    Day 13 – Fun Time
    Started this day out at 1am. We got up and headed for Acadia National Park. Got there for sunrise at Bass Harbor Lighthouse. After that we took the Park Loop Road around to all the great sites Acadia has to offer.
    Once leaving ANP it was off to Canada! We drove up to Lubec, ME and took in Canada across the Lubec Narrows. We could see Mulholland Point Lighthouse from here.
    After Canada was checked off the list we went right down the road to Quoddy Head State Park, known as the eastern most point in the continental USA.
    After this it was back to Millinocket, ME for some R&R on Day 14

    Day 15 was full of more Southwest Airlines rigmarole and finally back home to Dodson Branch, TN
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 148.0
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    06-25-2012
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    Lurkerville, East Tn
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    What a hiking beast you are!
    Again, big congratulations on your finish. Seems like "The Finish" should be longer, but instead it's just a final step, a moment, and then you enter the post-hike. Regardless of how long it lasts, it's still a really good feeling to be DONE!

  3. #3
    Registered User
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    04-18-2016
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    Clarksville, TN
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    Awesome, congratulations on the finish, and thanks for the trip report!

  4. #4

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    As you found out the 100Mile Wilderness isnt so wild (plenty of road crossings or near road crossings if you know where they are). Still nice to hear you had a good day and relatively crowd free summit.

  5. #5

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    Oh WOW!!
    CONGRATS GambitMcCrae! It's been A LONG time coming, but you persevered and have done it!
    No doubts you've had a lot of the same reflections and emotions we all have, and now all share.
    Huge, Huge Congratulations to you bro!!! Hi-fives, fist bumps, and hugs to you my friend!

    We both know you're not done hiking, which is a grate thing of course...

    - willin'

  6. #6
    Registered User JNI64's Avatar
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    01-23-2019
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    Harpers ferry wv.
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    What a trooper no retreat no surrender!! You are a hiking beast!!
    Again congrats Gambit and thanks for sharing all your journeys!!

  7. #7
    Registered User kolokolo's Avatar
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    04-11-2008
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    Beachwood, Ohio
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    Congrats, Gambit!
    Formerly uhfox

    Springer to Bear Mountain Inn, NY
    N Adams, MA to Clarendon VT
    Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch

  8. #8
    Registered User doodles's Avatar
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    03-07-2005
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    New Paltz, NY
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    Congratulations on your finish.

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