Day Zero: Kindergarten

Originally posted on allwomanalltrails.com; you can find the link here

As I currently reside in my 2nd floor bunkhouse bed at the AT lodge in Millinocket, it feels like I’m starting kindergarten. You know that feeling when you’re anxious and don’t know what to expect, or like when your teacher says you need a partner and you’re hoping someone makes eye contact with you? Yeah, well that’s exactly how you feel starting a long distance hike.

Handing my bag over to the gentleman at the airport felt like a seamless transition and I told him to be careful – it was my backpack or home for the next 6 weeks. I aimlessly walked to my terminal to wait for the next hour and a half to board the plane. No worries.

 

The plane landed at Bangor International airport. Still no sign of a familiar backpacker brother or sister of mine. I grabbed my pack off the belt and was relieved that everything was as I had left it. I stepped out of the airport greeted by the wind and started to become anxious. I planned to walk to the Cyr Bus station from the airport which would have been impossible at my local airport in Philadelphia. I pulled out my phone to navigate my way and my heart rate quickened as I started on my way. Walking down that kind of major road, doubting whether I was even allowed to be walking down, but told myself other hikers had done it before me.

 

I had to cross the road by strip stores like Marshall’s, McDonalds, and a grocery store. Well, I crossed the road and went left. DO NOT GO LEFT. I REPEAT DO NOT GO LEFT. I ended up heading to the wrong bus station, walking through a beat up neighbored with mattresses on the curb and spray paint on garages. If you do it right, you’d make a right and it should take you about 10 minutes to walk to the station right next to a Wendy’s.

Exhausted after lugging about 10 days worth of food, I was relieved to have made it into the station around 3:30 and boy were there a lot of people in there. I saw a handful of packers and attempted to make eye contact with one but I think he thought I was a weirdo. Hmm, definitely not the kind of hikers I was used too. I kept trying but didn’t have much luck.

 

About an hour later, most of these people left for another bus. This left four people still waiting including me. Out of the 4 of us, 3 were AT hikers. One kept his distance and didn’t want to bother with us.

Steve aka Orange, on the other hand, had his pack shipped to the lodge and that’s why I hadn’t realized he was a hiker. Orange is from Iowa and newly retired.

As my stomach began to rumble, the Wendy’s sounded good. Just as I was moving my pack to the corner of the room and headed out the door in walks another hiker. This hiker immediately starts talking to me and drops her pack to accompany me to Wendy’s. I think I found my partner because clearly she needed me as much as I needed her.

Meet Tracey aka Badger! She filled me on how she had attempted to start a flip-flop hike with a hiker she had met online. They met up in Harpers Ferry to thru hike the trail together. However, her newfound partner had not prepared enough and ended up heading home. Tracey felt defeated and disconnected from the lack of flip floppers and the inability to keep up with NOBOs.

I convinced Tracey to start a day earlier and head to Katahdin with me tomorrow June 22nd.

On our ride to the lodge, Easy drove us and shared helpful tips to make this hike a success.

  • Don’t carry more than a Liter of water with you through the 100 Mile Wilderness as water sources are plentiful.
  • Start off only doing 10 miles a day and move to 10-12 miles when you feel ready.
  • Bug nets are a necessity.
  • Don’t camp on the trail because moose use it like a highway lol

Here’s to getting little sleep and having a beautiful day to summit Katahdin.

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