On Friday, I finished up my third complete backpacking adventure on Maine”s Hundred Mile Widerness section of the Appalachian Trail.
The first time I hiked through The Hundred was with my whole family: my wife Marcia, my two boys Lincoln and Arlo, and my sister-in-law V8 and Ruth, a family friend. It might have been 1989. It was tougher then, without smart phones and paid food drops. I hiked The Hundred again in 2007, on my AT thru hike. You can read about that effort from my Traijournal here.
Hiking The Hundred is difficult, with many people underestimating the challenges. Going south, the elevation gain is 18,500 feet, with elevation losses (downhills) of 18,000 feet. The slippery trail is laced with roots and rocks, and many split-log elevated walkways. Even when there is no rain, the rocks perspire, leaving the Monson slate very slippery under humid conditions.
AT thru-hikers are propelled by an overwhelming sense of wanting to be done with it all, with few taking the time to do the side trips, like the superb Gulf Hagas loop.
I had originally planned for a ten day journey, with plenty of time for swimming, and possibly a side trip to Gulf Hagas.
Here is particularly good article detailing The Hundred that appeared in Backpacking Light magazine.
I now understand that The Hundred is actually made up of two distinctly different trips of 50 miles each. The southern section is what I would term an advanced hike, with the other half (Crawford Pond headed north) a beginner’s effort, with the exception of a steep ascent of Nesuntabunt Mountain in that 50 mile section.
If you want to taste the Hundred, then plant your car at Abol Bridge and get a shuttle from Ole Man at the AT Lodge to the drop off at Crawford Pond where you would head north for 4 nights. The pool in front of Cooper Brook Falls shelter is a must swim, and may even be time for skinny dipping. Enjoy more swimming at Antler Camps, and take in the sand beach at Lower Jo-Mary Lake.
If you have the bucks, consider splurging for a night at the classic Nahmakanta Lake Sporting Camps. I haven’t done that yet, but plan to.
Make no mistake, spending most of a week backpacking The Hundred is tough. If you are wise with food choices you can carry lots, and eat your way along. My more careful plan of rationing myself out some 3,000 calories a day resulted in a 6 pound weight loss for the 7 days it took to make this trip.
Uncle Tom’s Guided Adventures is planning more hikes of The Hundred next season, halves and maybe even the Whole Hundred. If you are interested, get in touch with me and I’ll put you on the 2017 notification list. Spaces are limited.