Hiking Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness- First Day

Our five day adventure began by squeezing into Katahdin Air Service’s little float plane for a 50 mile flight, with pontoons touching down at Crawford Pond in the middle of the fabled One Hundred Mile Wilderness segment of the Appalachian Trail.

Great North Woods
Great North Woods

Jim, our pilot, flew low enough that we were able to see good detail right to the edges of the ponds and streams below as he pointed out the path of the Appalachian Trail that we’d walk some 50 miles back to my car around Abol Bridge on the Golden Road.

Uncle Tom, Jake, Deano, and Nick
Uncle Tom, Jake, Dino, and Nick

We thanked Jim for his skill in placing us here on this beach, and I told him that I’d be sure to fly with him again next season.

Ready for lift-off
Ready for lift-off

After departing the inviting sand beach at the southern end of the pond our band of four entered a dark slot in the dense forest and started walking  north.

We enter the forest
We enter the forest

My clients came to Maine from Boston to sample the simpler life in the Great North Woods.   I’m up here guiding a father and his two sons through their first backpacking experience.  I secured my Registered Maine Guide credentials in November, and have had some luck in scoring up some customers.  Dino, Nick, and Jake have purchased, borrowed, and rented gear that they have cobbled together for as they experience trail life for the next five days.

This family has actually listened to some of the suggestions that I made to them. Consequently, we had no issues with blisters today, and I was encouraged by strong hiking from all three.

We met our first three thru-hikers at Cooper Brook Falls lean-to three miles into our hike.  We swam in a deep pool with two young women that had started the AT in Georgia.

Cool, clear, golden pool
Cool, clear, golden pool

They made it north as far as Harper’s Ferry, VA where they skipped all the way up to Maine to turn around and head south, hiking to Virginia where they hoped to complete their 2,200 mile hike.   Also cooling his body was a young man from Norway who had just left the towering Katahdin on his own southbound journey, hoping to reach the southern terminus of the AT at Springer Mountain in Georgia.

On my fifth time through here, I still love this Cooper Brook Falls shelter.  There is a broad rushing water fall to the right and a deep wide pool of water in front of the shelter.   We jumped right into the slowly flowing water and rinsed off the copious sweat that drenched our shirts in just three miles.

I had originally planned to spend the night here at this shelter, but Dino and his boys pressed me to go a bit farther on the first afternoon so that they would not be faced with walking 12 miles on their second day.  I gave in, which  ended up being the right thing to do.

Tonight, we ended up camping “au sauvage” at Cooper Pond, 0.2 miles down a blue blazed (side) trail off the AT, turning my original 3 mile plan to an 8.2 mile accomplishment.

In the end, we pushed an extra 5 miles, and walked late enough so that we were using our headlamps before we had the campsite settled, our dinners done, and the tents up.

When you reach Cooper Plond, the path ends at an old dam. I crossed the shaky , wet rocks at the top of the falls and explored past it, where the path went no further. I noticed a fresh dump area with open clam shells visible beneath the water near shore,  where I suspected that an otter had been engaged in some kitchen prep of his own.
The terrain around our campsite is fully punctuated with rocks and hummocks but we were eventually able to find two flat spaces that held the one three-man ( them) and single 1 person (me) tents.

Tarptent and Coleman tent find flat places
Tarptent and Coleman tent find flat places

The humidity and heat were unrelenting.   We later learned that it reached 90 degrees today, with close to 100% humidity, in Maine !    It was so hot that I laid out on top of my sleeping mat. The humidity and heat were the worst that I’ve ever remembered hiking in my home state.  Thankfully, we were headed past numerous ponds, lakes, and streams, which we’d put to good use tomorrow.

At least I slept.  Dino told me he was tossing and turning all night.   I listened  to the sound of the pond water rushing over the dam nearby and the strange  cry of a single loon wailing out on Cooper Pond.

Here’s the map of our first 8 miles in The Hundred:

Pink arrows- start to finish, Day 1
Pink arrows- start to finish, Day 1

8 thoughts on “Hiking Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness- First Day

  1. Yes! Thank you so much for your suggestion to take along New-Skin. Deano cut his foot on the rocks swimming, so Idried the foot, applied the product, put duct tape over it. It’s al healed up already. What do you have for me for the dreaded chafe?


  2. Robert

    U Tom, Glad to hear you’re back out on the trail. I read your first day’s description to Carol while we sit on the porch enjoying the cove and the end of the day. Safe travels. Robert


  3. Jory Squibb

    Hi Tom,

    Our 25 year old daughter Chloe will be joining some friends in Monson on Wednesday to head off on the 100 Mile Wilderness on Thursday AM this week. Great timing on this post! I read it with her yesterday….she loved seeing the wonderful water pics! The friends have been on the trail for most of the summer, though they did not get started at Springer Mtn. We will try to hunt up your old posts on blister prevention and other relative subjects. Another friend has loaned her one of those hammocks with a fly….though no screen. She would love to carry a simple stove as her friends have something for hot water only….perhaps that is what most folks carry? Funny..we’ll be driving her up to Monson on Wednesday, hoping to get back in time to catch your talk at the library : ) …. thanks for any input!! Brenda Squibb


  4. Brenda,I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but you asked.
    I hope Chloe can keep up with her hiking friends, who are likely human hiking machines right now capable of backpacking 15- even 25 miles a day. They might just want to be done. It is extremely difficult to keep a group of hikers together, particularly in The Hundred unless they all agree to stick to a plan of how many days they will take to get through there. Her shoes need to be bigger than she thinks. Her feet will swell and also get wet from the mud that is in there right now. If she does not have adequate room for her feet to stay away from the sides of her footwear, she will get blisters and possibly lose toe nails. Has she practiced carrying a weighted backpack for 10 or more miles in 1 day yet? I am also nervous about the hammock idea, especially if no mosquito netting. Hammocks take a bit of a learning curve. She should be slepingin it before she goes up there to be sure it will be OK. Hikers tend to boil up 2 cups of water now and just add Ramen or Instant mashed potatoes and protein sources and that’s it. If Chloe has any specific questions, have her call. Low pack weight, adequate footwear, and moisture management are the key up there right now. On the positive side, mosquitoes are not too bad up there right now, but Chloe should bring bug dope and benadryl if she is sensitive to bites. Marcia told me that she would lend Chloe her canister Pocket Rocket stove and cook pot if she would like to use that.


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