100 Miles of Wilderness Hike

Posted by on April 15, 2012

Vaugn Stream on 100 Miles of Wilderness Photo Credit Bob Hamer

Well folks, it is just about that time of year to get your hiking gear ready and head out onto the great and many trails of the Moosehead Lake region. One trail in particular is the 100-Mile Wilderness Hike. This hike brings you through Maine on the Appalachian Trail from Monson to Abol Bridge in Millinocket. Just short of 100 miles, this trail is known as the most remote section of the Appalachian Trail. It is maintained by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and is also part of the National Park System. Several logging roads cross the trail, as part of it is owned by Paper Companies. Private landowners own other sections of the trail and a small portion is protected wilderness.

There are a lot of things to remember before heading off on your adventure. Please make sure to tell family or friends that you intend to attempt the hike. Also, register with the MATC (Maine Appalachian Trail Club) before starting your hike. This particular hike takes most people 8 to 10 days to complete. Maine is a rough state and this trail is a sure indication of that. The trail is rough and has steep sections you are required to climb. Injuries are frequent due to wet, muddy, and rocky conditions. However, injuries are avoidable if you are well prepared and cautious along your journey.

One of the most common mistakes people make is carrying too much weight. They pack unnecessary items, causing their hike to be harder than it already is. Heavy packs cause fatigue, muscle soreness, and injuries. So please be sure to pack the right equipment and only what you will need. Many information centers about the trail suggest packing your bag and taking a trial hike to see if you can handle the weight. If you can’t, re-asses the items you have packed and see if there are items you can do without. Try to focus on items that have multiple uses. It is important to keep things light because it will prevent issues such as chafing and blistering. Some items that are key to have are medical items, a spare set of dry clothes, a tent, and bug spray. Bugs, especially black flies, are abundant in the Maine woods, so bug spray or netting is essential. Also, be sure to know how to use the equipment you have packed. Another good thing to know is that if your equipment breaks, know how to fix it. Either that, or figure out a way to do without it if it is broken beyond repair.

Bring enough food to last you to at least 10 days. You’ll be sorry when you run out of food and you are only half way done the hike. There are no places to obtain supplies or get help along the trail, so it is essential that you are prepared before you start. Some companies provide supplies for you as long as you sign up for resupply before you leave. They also provide daily shuttles and overnight accommodations for you upon request. This may be helpful as public transportation is not available to the trail. Most people coming from away stop in Bangor and find further transportation from there.

Needles and dental floss are said to make great sewing kits to carry with you incase you need to mend ripped clothing or other items. Now that I mention clothing, it is also good to note that cotton is not your friend. Due to the wet and rainy conditions that often occur in Maine, cotton becomes drenched and adds weight. Good fabrics to wear are wool and synthetics. You want to stay as dry as possible during your hike to prevent illness such as hypothermia. Hypothermia has victimized more people in the summer months than in the winter months in Maine. So take as many precautions against it as you can.

You can never be over prepared. Lots of trips are cancelled due to poor planning. It is best to expect the worst and be better safe than sorry. Maine’s weather, as I mentioned before, is often rainy. Even if you are hiking in the late summer months, it is not uncommon for it to snow, especially in high elevations. Be prepared with rain gear so that you have fewer chances of hiking with wet socks, boots, and clothing day after day. Try to hang up wet clothes at the end of the day, or from the side of your pack, to dry for the next day.

If you are not an active person and want to attempt this hike, it is highly suggested that you get in shape before heading out. It takes about 2-3 weeks for your body to get accustomed to the strains of this trail. The better in shape you are, the less likely you will be to get out of breath often, and you’ll be able to carry your equipment more easily.

Here is a list of things that you should remember so you don’t find your trip more of a nightmare than a fun adventure. If you didn’t break your boots in, be prepared for blisters. Blisters will appear when you are wearing new boots and are continuously walking around in wet shoes and socks. Also make sure you have a hunting or fishing license if you plan to catch food on the hike. Keep trail of authorized campsites to make a fire so you don’t break any laws. Don’t be without warm clothes on your hike, even if it is the late summer months- Maine nights are cold even in August. If you didn’t seal the seams of your tent with sealant, you’ll be sorry when you wake up in the morning with wet sleeping bags. You’ll also be sorry if you don’t treat your water and you develop Giardia (Beaver Fever). Putting your gear in plastic bags will prevent them from getting wet. Make sure you have a tarp or a tent to bring with you so that you don’t find yourself stuck in the rain because the shelter you found is full of other hikers. You will also thank yourself for getting in shape before heading out on your adventure too.

As I’ve mentioned before, it is often rainy here. If you encounter lightning be sure to avoid water, high ground, metal items, and solitary tall trees. Find clumps of trees or shrubs that are about the same height. Get off ledges and avoid open spaces, such as a tree line. If you hear thunder, be thinking of an escape route to get to save grounds. Some of the most dangerous areas along the 100-miles of wilderness hike are Katahdin, Whitecap and Barren-Chairback because of their extreme exposure.

I hope that this information is helpful to those of you who are planning on attempting the 100-Miles of Wilderness hike. And I really hope that I’ve intrigued some of you to research more about it. I, myself, have never hiked it but I hope to one day try to. From what I’ve read and heard, it is an amazing hike with beautiful scenes along the way. Just to say you’ve accomplished it would be the greatest feeling of all. So if you are planning a trip to the Moosehead Lake area, think about adding the 100-Miles of Wilderness hike into your vacation. You’ll have a great adventure to talk about when you return home!


Stay tuned for more hiking tips.

Lauren Fling

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