I didn’t fall in love with Maine until Day 6.
It didn’t hit me until I was bundled in my sleeping bag at the Sabbath Day Pond Lean-To. As the sun set, I could hear wild singing on the nearby lake.
And in that moment, cozy in my sleeping bag, I fell completely and helplessly in love with Maine.
My first days in this state were, to be honest, brutal.
I didn’t realize that anything could be harder than the Whites. Then I met the Mahoosuc Notch, the hardest mile of the AT.
I always knew it would be challenging. I heard tales of how hikers had to push their packs over refrigerator-sized boulders and through rocky tunnels.
I was ready for it.
Then it rained.
1 mile took me 3 hours to complete.
It rained for the next 4 days. It was the kind of rain that soaks everything you own. It was the kind of rain that makes your bones ache.
Welcome to Maine. You will not be granted a simple waltz to the finish line. This will be a stinky, bloody fight to the end.
After 4 days of difficult trail and rain, I snuck into town to rest, dry my gear, and spoil myself with a pizza buffet. When I hit the trail for round 2 of Maine, the clouds had finally cleared and the sun was shining.
I started to fall in love.
And since then, the terrain has been easier and the days sunny. The temperatures at night are flirting with the 30s, but I’m fine with cold, as long as I’m dry. The colors are just beginning to change, and I’m so lucky to be a thru-hiker in Maine watching the leaves change.
I think back to April in Georgia, and watching the flowers and trees spring to life. I still remember the first trillium flower emerge in Georgia… I have watched it come full circle.
When I first dreamed of hiking the AT, I felt such guilt at taking 6 months out of life to go hiking. But now? I realize I took 6 months out of life to be alive.