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398 Mile Summary 
281.4 miles in Maine
117.1 miles in to New Hampshire

Time is flying, and so seem my feet. Everyone I meet says I'm cruising at a fast pace - I tend to believe them since I've passed a large number of Southbounders already. There were 26 ahead of me when I started, I've met maybe 14 of them, and some of those have dropped out already. It's not that I'm in a race, or hurrying, but I've come to realize I'm happiest when I'm moving fast and avoid stopping until dinner/bed time. I eat breakfast, pre-lunch, lunch and pre-dinner while I'm walking and try to carry enough water to last me the day so I don't have to stop to refill.

Starting in the North is nice, because all you know is mountains, rocks, and bugs, so when you hit the Mahoosucs at the end of Maine and The Whites at the start of New Hampshire they don't really strike you as anything special - the mountains and rocks just get more frequent but they're nothing new. A Northbounder (NOBO) has been practically running on fairly flat terrain for 1600 miles, so by the time they hit the mountains of NH and ME they're not used to it and it takes a while for their legs to adjust. If you talk to a NOBO they'll tell you The Whites or the Mahoosucs are not only gorgeous but the hardest. Talk to a SOBO and we'll just tell you they're gorgeous. Sure, our knees don't like it so much, and a mile of rock hopping down a 50 degree slope isn't exactly fun, but it is what it is. Of course this is just a generalization, there are exceptions.

Maine is known for the 100 Mile Wilderness (Adam and I did it in 6.5 days, 7-10 is the norm) because it is so remote and "rugged". We didn't find it rugged at all, it was in fact well marked and quite an established trail. Maine is also known for the Bigelow's, a small but impressive park wrapped around the Bigelow mountains, which is also your introduction to what is to come - the Mahoosucs. The Mahoosucs is the name given to a relatively small stretch of mountains and notches (think really steep valley) which also include a lot of rock scrambling and hopping. Mahoosuc Notch is the most famous portion of this area and is basically where two mountains in close proximity had very steep slopes which broke free and filled in the valley floor with boulders - of which you scramble under, over and around.

New Hampshire starts with an explosive blast to the landscape known as The Whites [National Forest]. The Whites consist of a few mountain ranges, most notably are The Presidentials crowned by the jewel known as Mount Washington (wait, Presidents don't wear crowns!). Considered the hardest terrain on the trail, the AT goes up and over many mountains, along many ridges, and down/up a number of steep notches for 100 miles. Popular with tourists, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) of NH has established a series of fee based campsites and expensive Huts (rustic lodges with beds, good dinner/breakfast, and a number of supplies for sale) througout the park. While casual and even section hikers have to cough up around $90 a night to stay in a Hut, thru-hikers can almost always find "work-for-stay" where we do dishes for an hour in exchange for a place to sleep and food. Staying at the Huts this way allows us to travel with less of our own food - however I still stocked up as if I were cooking for myself every night. In the end I spent 4 nights at camp sites and 3 in Huts.

Getting through The Whites was indeed interesting. I had some limited views on my second day, and great views on my last day, but while I was in The Presidentials I was most in cloud cover and/or rain and high winds. For two days I was mostly above tree line in 40F temperatures with 40mph winds blowing rain sideways. Somehow I stayed warm with just my nylon pants and polyester hiking shirt (sleeves rolled down to act as gloves). One day I added a thermal shirt to help - but once I was completely saturated with rain I felt pretty well insulated. Getting up and over Mt Washington was a lot of fun because of the 75ft visibility, and the fortunate fact that the rock cairns marking the trail were spaced at 50ft.

I'm now at the start of what is considered flat terrain where I should easily be able to do 25-30 mile days (I've done mostly 16-18 mile days so far, with the occasional 20+). I've met a lot of really nice people heading both directions - including day and weekend hikers. Heck, last night I got to practice French with a couple from Quebec (even learned a few new words). There are a few SOBO's behind me that I hope catch up so we can share campsites again, but I will continue to press on at my own pace. I've even met 1 Colby employee who picked me up hitchhiking, 2 Colby students working at a Hut, 1 Colby student Northbounder, and there are at least 3 more Colby students ahead of me that I hope to catch - I never thought I'd run in to so many from my alma mater.

Here are some quick thoughts to help answer common questions in closing...
- I've seen 3.5 moose. The 0.5 is from the moose that got trapped in Mahoosuc Notch and died from his injuries the day before I passed through
- Nope, no bears
- Lots of squirrels, frogs, snakes and chipmunks
- Dinner usually consists of something of the dehydrated nature - mashed potatoes + tuna, Lipton sides, couscous + stuffing + veggies, instant rice and veggies.
- Lunch usually is a tortilla + cheese + pepperoni
- Snacks and breakfast are granola/breakfast bars, Clif bars, salted mixed nuts, Snickers bars, beef jerky
- My pack is usually around 30-35 pounds, 18-20 pounds without food and water
- I crave yogurt, veggie dip, pizza and chocolate milk when I'm on the trail
- In town I usually buy yogurt, dip with baguette and carrots, chips, and chocolate milk - I have yet to get pizza or ice cream
- I do laundry in town. On the trail I always "wash" with a wet (sometimes soapy) red bandana before bed to help keep my sleeping bag and liner clean
- The orange bandana is for wiping sweat during the day
- I've got lots of pictures, but on rainy days I hardly take any

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