Photo Memory: “A Point in the Right Direction” photographed by Nichole Hastings

“I concluded I’m doing this hike to be away from others and Society’s expectations.  Here, I only have my own expectations to live up to day-to-day.”


A Point in the Right Direction photographed by Nichole Hastings



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Journal Entry: June 6, 2010 – The 100 Mile Wilderness

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day 8

Woke up late, around 8 a.m.

I thought if the weather remained clear I would traverse White Cap, Hay and Gulf Hagas.  This would have been a fine plan if it had simply remained overcast.  But, not long after setting out it began to sprinkle.

I caught up with the two young high school kids Just Bob and Trout had mentioned seeing.  They were busy rearranging their gear.  We nodded hello to each other as I walked by.  Soon it began to pour, coming down at a steady pace.

The hike was brutal.  Large blowdowns littered the trail.  Maxwell was not happy.  Navigating around the dense branches of the downed trees was hard work and required a lot of coaxing to get him to follow.  I suppose if I was a foot off the ground it would have made more sense to just trot underneath them, taking the path of least resistance.

I pushed myself, hard, to get up the lower half of White Cap.  I refused to let my mind think of anything but the now of my situation.  I still felt disconnected and haggard.  In an unfocused haze.  In spite of that, a dreadful thought, a reality, continuously circled in my mind.  An unwelcome realization while packing and eating this morning.  I was running out of food.  And quickly.  Also, my caloric intake was not nearly close to what it should be.  I had read that ideally you want to be consuming 3000 to 4000 calories a day.  I would be exaggerating if I said I was taking in 1200 a day.

I was soaked, inside and out of my rain gear.  The wind, sweat and rain had me chilled to the bone.  I was exhausted.  I knew Plan A, to stop at the Logan Brook Lean-to would be the smart move.  Immediately upon arrival I hung up everything to ‘dry’ and set up camp.  I pulled all my food out.  Looking at it I realized I had much less left than I thought.  I laid out five plastic ziplock bags and I portioned out everything I had for five days.  Four days worth of hot breakfasts and dinners.  Five days worth of cold lunches and snacks.  The amounts were painfully meager.  Portioning out the trail mix was a joke, about a cup per bag.  I counted the pieces of dried fruit and chocolate pieces I put in each bag to make sure they were evenly distributed.  Two small squares of chocolate per bag and a piece or two more than that of dried fruits.  And fragments of beef jerky in each.

Around 4:30 p.m., Eli and Crawford appeared, drenched.  We all bunked down early with the sound of rain playing us a lullaby on the roof of the lean-to.  One of them, maybe Crawford mentioned a planetary conjunction this evening.  I scribbled away in my journal.

Distance: about 3.9-miles

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Journal Entry: “Endangered Wilderness! Call to arms!”

On Saturday, March 5th I attended a photography presentation and talk given by Harvey Halpern at the Vermont Institute of Natural Science(VINS) courtesy of an invite given by my friend, Maureen Sheldon about the endangered wilderness and what we can do to protect and preserve it.  I not only had the priviledge to view some amazing photography of lovely Utah landscapes that most people have not seen, I also had the pleasure of speaking with others who share my passion for the preservation of nature and the wilderness.

Some of you may be thinking, Utah…it’s so far away from me and my world.  But in fact, the desecration of our wilderness is happening close to home in Maine along the Appalachian Trail as well.  These public lands are under threat of development, being stripped for their resources and are on the brink of being lost forever.  The actions being taken by those opposing what is happening in Utah are setting a standard and model for what others can do to fight the development of these wilderness regions, owned by you, that should remain untouched by the hand of man.  Regions which, of solitude and nature, should be left to its own devices.

Here is a link that will provide more information on Southern Utah:

Maureen, Harvey, Tree(from VINS) and I are discussing putting together a hiking trip to visit this region.  If you are interested in going or would like more detailed information on what you can do to get involved please contact me at:

Now to address the threat in Maine on the Bigelow Preserve, a wind farm that would be visible within 4-miles from the Appalachian Trail.  This wind farm would not only put in place infrastructure, that in my mind is one step closer to other developments, it would dominate a  remote region considered ‘wilderness’ and for many hikers an escape, a moment of solitude from civilization.

Here is a link about the Bigelow Preserve:

Here are some other links that will give you a better idea of the current state of affairs concerning the Highland Winds LLC wind farm:

Maine needs your help!  Utah needs your help!  If you are a Vermont resident, your state reps are in support of those working to protect the wilderness in Utah.  If you are a New Hampshire resident then you need to write a letter to Jeanne Shaheen asking for her support of Utah. And while you’re at it, let’s address Maine.

You may do so here:

Support of Utah, your efforts in supporting Utah will help with what is happening in Maine.  Please write and get involved.  Nature needs your support and voice.  As the MATC points out on their website, Maine is an exporter of energy.  Le’s contemplate this.  I am a supporter of clean renewable energy but not at this cost.

Please take action and let others know who may be interested in supporting these causes.  Thank you.

Journal Entry: June 5, 2010 – 100 Mile Wilderness

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 7

The sound of raindrops splattered the tent.  It’s 4:30 a.m.  A warning of the day ahead and what’s to come?  A passing thought of going back to sleep had crossed my mind but scrambling to rescue my drying clothing had me wide awake.

I packed in the narrow confines of my tent.  There wasn’t much room in there to maneuver.  It’s inevitable I’ll wake to a full on rain storm in it, so it was good to get the drill down and be practiced.

Everything was in place and I was on the trail by 5:30 a.m.  I had a long day ahead of me if I planned to make it to the East Branch Pleasant River Lean-to.  Another big push.  I wanted to bust a move and get a good pace going.  Was I feeling motivated due to Just Bob and Trout’s presence?

My hunch was correct, it poured all morning.  The trash bag rain skirt kept the water out but the sweat had me drenched anyways.  I arrived at the Cooper Brook Lean-to around 11:30 a.m. and dried my socks over a small fire.  About 200 feet before the lean-to I had lost my balance and footing on a rock mid-stream.  To save myself from disaster I stepped into the water, up to my knees.  My feet had been dry all morning, in spite of the rain, and were soaked and boots sloshing.

I trudged to the lean-to, following two hikers that passed me after my stream ‘incident’, Eli and Crawford.  Not long after Just Bob and Trout came around the corner and joined us.  And then, a short while later, while lunching, another fellow appeared whose name I’ve forgotten.

The lean-to was crowded.  It was too crowded.  I spoke little and tended my drying socks and boots.  Dry feet are happy feet.  And I had not yet gotten a single blister.  The group finished eating.  Someone, maybe Just Bob, made a comment about ‘taking care to not let my wool socks get burnt’ before they left.  I shrugged and smiled.

I thought about staying at the Cooper Brook but there was a pause in the falling rain.  My boots and socks were dry and it was only 2:00 p.m.  I decided to mush on.  The next lean-to, the East Branch River Lean-to was about 8 miles away.  I knew I’d get in late and the shelter would be crowded.

I decided to go for it.

The hike was grueling.  The trail up Little Boardman Mountain was littered with blowdowns, many of them too high to climb over.  The brush and trees were thick making going off-trail and around difficult.  I had to rest at one point and sit down for half an hour.  I was light-headed and all the energy suddenly drained out of me.

I was shaky.  I felt ravenous and ate a mix of chocolate, nuts and beef jerky.  As I continued on, I found myself reaching down and pulling up handfuls of wild clover to eat as well.  I couldn’t stop myself from doing so.

Suddenly, Eli and Crawford were there walking at me on the trail.  I was momentarily disconcerted.  Was I going the right direction?  They said they had missed a food drop they’d arranged and were back-tracking.  After they passed I momentarily thought about my food supplies.  I found myself eating more clover.  More blowdowns.  About 4 more miles to the East Branch Lean-to before White Cap Mountain, a 3500 footer.

My thoughts churned.  I had figured I’d need to average 11 miles a day to keep myself on schedule.  With yesterday and today I was up on miles.  I wanted a ‘day off’.  My feet hurt.  The wind was blowing hard.  I caught a whiff of smoke.  The others?  Campfire smoke?  I lose myself in placing one foot in front of the other.

It’s dark.  Close to 8:00 p.m.  I think.  I walked into camp.  Everyone was settled and preparing dinner.  A radio is blaring country music.  Just Bob had caught a couple under-sized rainbow trout and was just taking them off the fire.

I dropped my gear, hooked Maxwell’s leash on to a tree, and set up my spot in the shelter.  “I know it seems cruel but it will be a huge help if you could just please ignore him.” I say.  Maxwell whined.

He’d been difficult after Cooper Brook trying to pull ahead on the leash.  Everyone had been giving him love and attention.  At lunch, Just Bob asked if he could give him a treat.  I said, “Yes, just one.” and had then caught him feeding him more when he thought I wasn’t looking.  I was adamant that Maxwell walk beside or behind me on this hike.  He’d had other ideas.  My hike and energy expenditure had doubled as a result.  I was tired.

Just Bob and Trout lasted an hour before they went over, ignoring my request, petting him.  I was too tired to say anything.  I silently went about preparing my meal and eating it.  I fed Maxwell.  I went behind the lean-to, camp clothes in my hand to change.  Just Bob walked around just as I was de-panting.  I continued changing staring him down as he quickly scuttled back around to the front of the lean-to giving me privacy.

I rejoined the ‘crowd’.  Maxwell and I settled in to the sleeping bag.  A final thought before unconsciousness…packed too much dog food.


Distance: about 15.2-miles

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Journal Entry: June 1, 2010 – The 100 Mile Wilderness

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day 3

I woke early and to an overcast sky.  Looked like rain was on today’s menu.  We packed up and headed out at 6:30 a.m.

Not far along we reached a deep and fast flowing tributary entering the river  we’d been following.  The only problem was I couldn’t see the next blaze.  I didn’t see anything resembling a path or opening on the far bank of the tributary.  And certainly no visible blaze.  I was loath to cross the stream.  It required a lot of work, removing all my footwear, rearranging gear and Maxwell would have to swim for it.  My pack was heavy and the thought of taking it off was not an appealing one.

There was a path heading upstream along the tributary  but that didn’t make sense.  I checked my map.  I saw boot prints at the stream’s edge.  What to do?  I followed the path but turned around after 100-ft when the old and fading blazes disappeared and the path appeared old and overgrown.  I tossed down all my gear and re-inspected the map.  We had just started out and already, so early on in the morning, there’s this.

Finally, I took off all my footwear and forded the stream alone.  Lo and behold, there was a path on the other side, obscured by the low hanging branch cover.   The trail turned immediately 90-degrees to the right.  Roughly 20-ft in that direction after the turn I saw the white blaze.  Relieved and fighting off frustration, I headed back across the stream to collect my gear and Maxie wondering if I should make multiple trips.  Instead, I tossed all my gear on my back and around my neck and go for it barefoot.  Maxwell swam like a champ.

About mid-morning the clouds opened up and it began to rain steadily.  Soon after my pack, jacket and pants were soaked through.  A plus was my feet were still dry.  Then suddenly, to the right there was a crashing sound of tree branches.  A bull moose, 30-ft away from us and startled, dashed off in the opposite direction.  A while later an upset grouse crossed our path.  Maxwell didn’t know how to react.  He seemed taken aback at this unafraid creature squawking and moving at us aggressively before disappearing back into the underbrush.

The trail flattened and widened.  Up ahead a kiosk with a drop box appeared.  Upon closer inspection, I realized this marked Baxter State Park‘s boundary and that I had just ‘stealth camped’ for the night.  I completed the register form.  The path became a road.  It was 12:30 p.m. and the Abol Store and Campground appeared a half mile or further along.  We entered the store, dripping and cold, signed the register and then headed back out into the rain.  The man and woman didn’t want my dripping pack inside and we needed to press on to make it to the Hurd Brook Lean-to, hopefully by 4:00 p.m.  They had a sign saying ‘No dogs’ on the entry door but smiled seeing Maxwell and offered him a treat.  Just outside of the store we took a brief respite at a picnic table with some branch cover and quickly ate lunch.  Everything on me felt soaked through, cold and heavy.  I knew I was carrying at least 10 extra pounds of water weight.  While crossing the Abol Bridge, a gentleman in a truck towing a trailer stopped to make sure I knew I was heading in the right direction.  Another 200-ft and we enter the 100 Mile Wilderness.

It was like entering a beautiful softly glowing dream of thick green moss-covered rocks.  The ground blanketed in pine needles and spotted with ferns.  Pale pink, white and purple Ladyslippers dotted the edge of the trail.  Two stood silently as beautiful sentries on either side marking the entrance into this seemingly enchanted forest.  A point of no return.
The only sound was the rain falling softly on the already soaked canopy overhead.  I felt relieved and full of wonder as I headed further in.  I studied the subtle changes of forest as I walked along.  It was peaceful here.  I felt a profound sense of satisfaction, alive and aware.

As I continued on I noted a few clearings where a tent could be set up but my mind was set on reaching the lean-to.  We walked.  A wooden sign came into view  saying ‘Spring’ and we stopped to gather water.  Not long after that, almost a mile or so I saw the roof of the lean-to.  It was heaven out of the rain.  We pitched camp and I changed into dry clothing wishing the conditions would permit starting a fire.  I snuggled into the down sleeping bag to warm up.  About an hour later a soaked older man appeared.  Limp Along was an old-timer from Georgia and had flown up to do the South bound thru-hike, a pleasant fellow.  He and Maxwell got along famously.

I prepared the first hot meal, needing it after this long wet challenging day.  I ate and then fed Maxwell in the disappearing light.  My legs ached and the bottoms of my feet hurt.  I needed all the rest I could get.


Distance: about 8.5-miles

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