While making the trek, over a treacherous footpath you could begin to hear the frogs croaking, pretty cool, despite the fact that at that moment, NOTHING was cool! At 9:30pm, we walk into the camp area with tents everywhere! I warily looked for the shelter, hoping it had room. There was ONE occupant, YES! Unloaded my gear, began boiling water, and force-fed some Mountain House Beef Stew to myself. I was so beat, I didn’t even want to eat. Ryan, found a space to set up his tent. He is not “down” with using shelters. I prefer the shelters, as I don’t have to deal with setup and tear down of a tarp/tent. It rained all night(another reason I like shelters, no wet gear in AM). Monday morn I woke to the sound of my bunk-mate around 4:30. He is a SOBO who HAD to be at Long Pond Stream to get off the trail for a NERO(near zero day, low mileage day). Turns out Phil was his pickup! I asked Luke, “tell Phil, Ben and Ryan made it to Cloud Pond, hahaha!” The trail was very slick Monday, and made for a slower pace. Phil warned us that Fourth Mountain is a tough climb,...it is hard, but not much harder than what you're already doing while on 100MW! Holy COW is this a hard hike! All morning I was consumed by the difficulty of this trail. All my research online, all my map studying, worthless! This trail is bonkers! The constant steep PUDS(pathetic ups &downs), super rugged foot path, and lots of climbing in general is a lot! There was one SOBO at Cloud Pond that gave me hope. He heard me say we hiked in from Monson the day before and was astonished. He said he had only been managing 12 mile max days. He also said that once we got over White Cap Mt, we could do some serious miles! That comment kept me going for almost 2 days. Monday our itinerary had us hiking 19 miles to the Sydney Tappan Campsite. It was clear by the afternoon we in for another very very long day. That afternoon we negotiated a very challenging, and dangerous boulder slide. Rocks the size of cars had to be climbed over, and around. Standing on the behemoths was a risk I would not take. They were slick, and the penalty for failure would at best mean the end of your trip including a ride in a helicopter I'm sure of it! We made it the West Branch River ford, that was actually not a big deal. There were several day hikers out. At this point we are in the Gulf Haggas, a popular day hiking area. The foot path for the next mile was gravy! But, that only lasted for one mile, and was the last time would walk on something that easy until we made it to the end. I would compare it to a some of what we experience here in midatlantic; irregular foot path, with rocks and roots. While resupplying our water, another NOBO thru hiker came along. He too started in Monson Sunday like us. After a few pleasantries he was back on his way. At mile 17 we made it to the crowded Carl Newhall Shelter site. I really wanted to make out 19 miles Monday, but it was almost 7, we were beat, and I didn’t want to eat dinner so late again, I begged Ryan to promise me would make up the 2 miles Tuesday. We elected to setup camp. The thru that passed us was Rocksteady and his tent was setup where we setup ours. He's from California, and started April 13th! Wow, what a pace! He aspires to completing the Triple Crown(AT, PCT, CDT). Logan and Ned made their way to our tent site too! We had some good dinner time conversations. Tuesday morning Ryan, and I left the campsite at 6:15, minutes behind Rocksteady. I figured we wouldn’t see him again, and I asked for his email address. It had rained a little overnight, but overall the foot path had more traction than Monday. This is it I thought! We will make it over White Cap, and then Little Boardman Mt, and we will hit the after burners! I was in good spirits, and felt great about adding two miles to our expected mileage for the day, and even posed adding MORE miles to Ryan. While climbing White Cap, we walked into a cloud, for me, this was a first! Another NOBO passed us. This was the last of only two NOBO's to pass us on the 100MW. Logan and Ned were still asleep when we broke camp. Ryan was excited to look for views of Katadhin from the top of White Cap. We couldn’t see it, but it was awesome being up there, windy and chilly too! We had 13 miles to go keep our schedule and we were in good shape time wise. For part of the descent from White Cap was on stone steps, its amazing what trail crews do! The rest was tiring, and were looking forward to some relatively flat walking. Eventually we made it to the shelter, but it was still “early”, and I pressed to add some miles, Ryan reluctantly agreed, but I think it was because there was already a ruckus coming from people at the shelter. We added 4 more miles! Found a good campsite next to Cooper Brook for the night. The mosquito there were horrible and seemed to enjoy 100%Deet. I ate my dinner so fast I burnt my tongue and then retreated to my tarp for sanctuary from those pests. We agreed to be on trail by 5:45am. Wednesday morning while breaking camp Ryan asked what our mileage was going to be and I said, “24”. There was a sigh, and some grumbling. At this point on the map, the trail is relatively flat. Remember, I said, as per the map! Its still full of PUDS and very irregular, rugged footpath. We spent the day walking by beautiful lakes and ponds. In the afternoon we walked past the sign for White House Landing. A hostel across a lake with rooms to rent, burgers, and pizza. Ryan said we had to keep moving, or he might blow the air horn for one of them to take a boat across to pick us up, hahaha! Around mile 24 we found a campsite great for one tent, but not so much for anyone else. I was the “anyone else” that night. I savored my Chicken A La King and then retired to my tarp for the night. Thursday morn we broke camp at 5am, and planned on knocking out the remaining 18! Early in the morning we walked along side a fast moving Rainbow Stream. The guide printed on the back of our maps said there were some good swimming holes along Rainbow Stream. There definitely were some, but we kept on trucking. While atop Rainbow Ledges, we were able to get views of Katadhin again. We ate our last lunch on the trail here as well. After the second of the two Ledges we descended to Abol Bridge. With about a mile left we talked about our time on the trail, what we liked, what me do differently if we come back. Briefly spoke about gear choice. Overall I was very happy with more choices. I would make two differences; remember my Gatorade Electrolyte Chews, and bring one 64oz, and one 32oz Sawyer roll-up water bottles, vs the two 32oz bottles I used. Ryan commented his food choices were not that good, and was envious of my lunches. At the northern terminus, we took some more obligatory shots beside the 100MW warning sign, and then stepped out onto Golden Road and high fived each other. After changing out of our funky clothes into fresh clothes we bought ice cream and hung out with a SOBO under a canopy and chatted for a few minutes. From there, we made the two hour trek south in Ryan's car to Bangor, ME to spend the night. We checked into the Econo Lodge in Bangor, got cleaned up and went out for sit down dinner.
Our dinner was great, it was awesome to get a shower, and amazing to sleep on a proper mattress again!