On Friday, I finished up my third complete hike of Maine’s Hundred Mile Wilderness 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. I hiked it 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 perennially slippery trail is punctuated with beaucoup roots ,rocks, and many split-log elevated walkways.
AT thru-hikers walking through this prelude to Katahdin are propelled by an overwhelming sense of wanting to be done with it all, with few taking the time to do 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. We came out in 7 days instead, pushing the daily average to about 15 miles.
Here is a particularly good article detailing The Hundred that appeared in Backpacking LIght magazine.
The Hundred is made up of two distinctly different trips of approximately 50 miles each. The southern section is an advanced hike, with the other half, (Crawford Pond headed north) a beginner’s effort when walked at 8-10 miles a day, with the exception of a relatively short but steep ascent of the prehistoric Nesuntabunt Mountain.
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. Alternatively, catch a float plane shuttle from Katahdin Air, which drops you off on the shore of Crawford Pond where side trail puts you on the AT in 100 feet.
Three and a half miles after you depart Crawford Pond you reach the pool in front of Cooper Brook Falls shelter- a must swim. Enjoy more swimming at Antler Camps, and Sand Beach at Lower Jo-Mary Lake.
If you have the bucks , consider a side trip of 1.1 miles and splurging for a night at the Nahmakanta Lake Sporting Camps. I haven done that yet , but plan to do so the next time I go through.
Make no mistake, spending a week backpacking The Hundred is tough. If you stuff your pack with lots of food, you can eat your way as you move along. My rationing of a 3,000 calorie a day plan resulted in a 6 pound weight loss for the 7 days it took me to make this 100 mile trip.