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Hi, I’m Rachel.

I’m a freelance writer, advocate, and podcast host! I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2018 and it changed my life. Check out my Podcast, hire me, or read about my adventures!

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This is Trail Name Here.

This is a space where I share life stories, educate, and connect people. I’m glad you’re here to join me by listening to Podcast Here, reading my blog, or looking back at my journey on the AT.

Instagram: @TrailNameHere

Days 201-204

Day 201: Mile 2085.0 | Stealth Camp near Big Wilson Stream

In the morning it was pouring rain. We got up early to get breakfast at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel. The breakfast was huge and I wanted to badly to eat it. It looked so good. It smelled so good. My stomach did not agree. I had two bites and I was back in the bathroom. After breakfast we packed up and got ready to go. I lingered for a bit before we left, trying to take advantage of the toilet a little while longer.

Eventually, we left. Our friends and fellow thru-hikers had almost all decided to stay one more day at the hostel, the last hostel before Katahdin, to wait out the weather. The hostel shuttle dropped Miles and me off at the trailhead, the entrance to the Hundred Mile Wilderness (HMW). I had jitters. This is the longest section we’d done without seeing a town. We hoped we had enough food, but no one could really be sure if they had enough. My pack was heavy, my stomach hurt, and it was raining, but I tried to make the most of it.

It was incredible that we were in the HMW. It felt like the whole year had somehow simultaneously gone by really slowly and very quickly. All of the things I’d faced to get here and now I just had a stomach ache, I could do this. Katahdin was in reach! All I had less was basically the distance from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Franklin in North Carolina. That seemed like nothing now.

We walked over the hilly trail in the rain. The ponds around us were foggy and gray, I couldn’t decide if the atmosphere felt creepy or cool. At the first shelter we had to drop down into a small gorge and cross a stream. Up at the shelter we stopped for a quick snack, one last check of the phone before we lose service, and I used the privy. My snacks were kind of weird this time around because we didn’t go to a real grocery store. All of my resupply items were bought from Shaw’s Hiker Hostel’s resupply room. They had a surprisingly good selection - considering the circumstances - and I’d spent way too much money on this, my last resupply.

After the shelter we kept going. My stomach wasn’t cramping anymore but I just felt bad all around. Dehydrated and bad. At the top of the hill just before Big Wilson stream I looked down through the trees and saw the perfect campsite below us. Flat, covered in pine needles, right near some water, and beautiful. I could hear the stream from the top of the hill gushing. I asked Miles if we could take another break. I told him I didn’t feel great, but I didn’t let on to how bad it was. I wanted to keep going. I wanted to finally commit to a date that we would finish. I wanted to follow through on my commitment to actually go 15+ miles per day, now we were up to like 17 miles per day to make it by the 18th… I was in denial. I still thought we could push ourselves and make it. Despite the fact that we could, and maybe should, push ourselves, I didn’t want to push myself. I knew it deep down inside. I didn’t want to push myself. I wanted to savor the last of it. And somehow hate some parts of it, too. But that was thru-hiking, right? Savoring every second while simultaneously suffering and somehow finding so much beauty in the dirtiest possible adventure.

We sat by the campsite and ate some more. I got water and filtered it. I still felt bad. An omen hung over my head. For some reason, I just knew I shouldn’t keep going. I told Miles I really wanted to camp here. “It’s beautiful,” I justified. “When are we going to get to camp in a place like this again. The trail is almost over.” Miles rolled his eyes but he wanted to stick with me. We set up our tents. I tried to set mine up right next to his but the ground proved to be too slanted there. So I set mine up away from Miles, mine closer to the trail, and we chilled out in his tent for a bit. Everything was frustrating me on this day. I didn’t want to be wet and cold and I didn’t want to feel so crappy.

With every bite of junk food my stomach felt worse. But it was all I brought, honestly all I ever usually brought. Not much healthy or fresh food holds up to thru-hiking and I needed no hassle with food. The bigger the hassle, the less I ate. So I munched on my convenient food. I read in my tent to pass the night. TMI WARNING my poop urges stayed away for the night and I went to sleep sometime around midnight.

 

Day 202: Mile 2085.0 | Stealth Camp near Big Wilson Stream

I awoke to the sounds of the gushing stream and birds. The sun shone through my tent, unlike yesterday. I got up and began eating a ProBar for breakfast. I packed my things as I ate and tried to get a move on before 8am. I woke Miles up and he began to get ready to leave camp, too. I had everything but my tent packed when the urges came back. 

TMI WARNING The urges were instant. I had no choice. I thought I could hold it for just a minute after the urge came on so I could get out of camp and try to get moving but trying to hold it resulted in literally shitting my pants. I ran into the woods as fast as I could and pulled off my boxer shorts, thankfully the pair I only wore at camp. I dug a cat-hole as fast as I could and quickly filled it. I buried it all and went back over to where my tent was still standing.

“Are you okay?” Miles asked me. I shook my head, filthy boxer shorts still on. I felt so guilty for delaying us and for not sticking to the plan. For not pushing myself. I felt awful mentally and physically. I felt disgusting. Miles told me we could wait a bit if I really didn’t feel good. I started to pull a stake out of my tent, ready to pack it up and push myself. As soon as I put the stake in my tent stake pouch the urge was back. I dropped the tent stake and ran back into the woods. I dug as fast as I could and covered what I left. Then I dug a huge cat-hole next to that one. With every urge I kept running back to the cat-hole. Every ten minutes I had to go.

Thankfully, the rain had stopped. But the forest was still very wet. Hanging out on the bare ground would get our gear more wet. Miles set his tent back up. He told me we could take a zero, that we could still make it in time to be picked up on the 18th. I had a feeling we wouldn’t.

We set our tents back up next to each other and we laid in our separate tent. Every 10 minutes like clock-work I had to go. It was miserable.

As the morning moved into afternoon, our thru-hiker friends passed our camp. Some of them stopped to talk. Krafty told me I probably had Giardia. It almost hurt to see them all go forward without us. I wanted so badly to hike with our friends. We so rarely had gotten to, just because timing didn’t always work out. I knew it’d be a fun crew to spend our last week with. We said goodbye to all of our friends as they passed us. Around noon, Butter and Jukebox came through. Butter had Immodium tablets, antidiarrheal. She told me she didn’t know what the dosage was but just take one and see what happens. So, I took one. The urges finally stopped.

We stayed at that campsite all day and by the time I started to feel better it was almost dark. I didn’t want to pay for another night in town and we were 7 miles away. So, we stayed at that camp for one more night and agreed we’d walk back to town the next day and see if one of my family members could pick us up and take us home. I felt horrible physically and emotionally. All our friends would summit a full we before us and I had Giardia…

 

Day 203: Mile 2076.2 | Erin’s House @ Bangor, ME

TMI WARNING I woke up with a diaper rash and the terrible urge to poop again. I ran into the woods and went. When I got back to my tent I took immodium again. Miles and I packed as quickly as we could. I put on a pair of his boxer shorts, because mine were all gross, and we hiked back to town. We met a lone southbounder on the way who thought we might going south too. He was sorely disappointed. When we got to town it was sunny again. A trail angel of sorts was hanging out at the trail head and he offered to take us into town.

I got in touch with my Mom. She was too busy to come and get us for the next two days. My sister offered to come and pick us up and we could stay with her. She was living in a house with her boyfriend near Bangor, about an hour and a half away. She said she’d come pick us up in an hour. While we waited for her, we went to the general store and got sandwiches, ginger ale, and used their toilet. I cannot even explain how satisfying it was to sit on that cold, clean porcelain toilet. I was disgusting.

My sister arrived right on time and drove us back to her house. She set us up in their guest room and we showered and wore her clothes while ours were in the wash. Erin and her boyfriend had to go to a concert that night, so they left us her car keys and directions to the walk-in clinic. I drove Miles and I to the clinic. After, we went to Hannaford, the local grocery store, and picked up the prescription and food. By then, we were both hangry.

Back at Erin’s house we made dinner for ourselves and ate at their kitchen table. It was weird being in their house alone. I felt like Miles and I were playing house in a model suburban home they have in those development communities.

 

Day 204: Mile 2076.2 | Home

The next day my sister drove us to the airport. My dad, a recreational pilot, flew up from our local airport to get us. We put our packs in trash bags so they wouldn’t smell up the small plane. It was a hot and sunny day. Dad flew us back to Fryeburg. I was so sick by the time we got there. Motion sick and Giardia sick. It was a rough day. When we got home I went straight to bed and cuddled my cat, Bonnie.

 

Over the next couple of days we rested, ate as much town food as possible, showered every day, and hung out around the house. I helped Sarah set up for her wedding. Went to the wedding and the reception and the party. When it was all over and I was almost done with my antibiotics, Mom and Dad drove us all the way back to Monson to start the Hundred Mile Wilderness again.

9/20 - 9/24/2018: The Last 100 Miles Part 1

Days 198-200