Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Epic Thru-Hike of the PMT

I've been dreaming for a long time of doing a thru-hike, which is hiking an entire trail from end to end in one continuous trip, and I finally got my chance!   I was able to compress the thru-hiking experience into a single weekend by taking on the 23-mile Pine Mountain Trail in FDR State Park. 

Thru-hiking involve serious planning and preparation.  I spent a solid 30 minutes the night before the trip packing and repacking gear, carefully weighing the decisions that could make or break the trip.
Starting out from the Country Store trailhead with fabulous hiking companions Kristen and JJ.
Thru-hiking, in the "purest" sense, involves passing every single blaze on the main official designated trail.  I expected this would be especially difficult for me because I've always been a "blue-blazer" veering down side trails at every opportunity.  Thankfully, the PMT blaze system is reversed from the AT (blue for main trail, white for side trails), so all I had to do was follow the blue blazes and avoid the white blazes, which is already instinct for me, to maintain the true integrity of my hike. 

Water crossing present major challenges for the thru-hiker.  The unseasonably rainy week before caused the banks of the normally small streams to rise to dangerous levels, flooding the trail and low-lying campsites.
Experienced PMT thru-hiker JJ fords a major river.
Luckily, we all made it to the Whiskey Still campsite and got tarps hung before the evening's rain began to fall.
Obligatory photo of camp.
The next morning the fog lifted, and we enjoyed a mid-morning feast at a scenic overlook.

Roughing it in the remote wilderness.
Then, we got ready for the last leg of our journey-- the slackpack.  Slackpacking is an advanced thru-hiker technique that many don't realize presents difficult emotional challenges.  The prospect of being separated from all my beloved gear for the last few miles was extraordinarily heart-wrenching.  While skilled slackpackers, like my companions, are able to leave most of their gear in the truck and hike with only water, snacks and emergency items, I hung on to a few "comfort" items including my treasured hammock.
Preparing to slackpack by stashing gear in the truck.
Just like Mount Katadhin, the shadow of the massive TV tower looming before us the last mile was a  symbolic and bittersweet reminder that the end of our long journey was fast approaching,   The 30 or so hours on the trail had transformed me into a real Thru Hiker, readily distinguishable from all the dayhikers by my distinctive odor.  I know I will cherish the memories of this epic adventure for years to come.
See JJ's trip report and awesome photos here.


  1. Hah, the picnic tables are my husband's dream when it comes to finding a spot for lunch or dinner. It's like winning the hiking lottery for him!