Hostels are a welcome sight for tired, hungry hikers along the trail. Many hostels are owned by former Thru-hikers, so they understand the important needs of hikers.
Most are located near the trail and they offer shuttle services, bunk rooms, private rooms, breakfast, laundry services and resupply opportunities. They also are very knowledgable about trail conditions.
I love staying in the hostels because it is an opportunity to visit with other hikers (especially SOBO’s to hear about what the trail is like ahead), and to get information about the local towns.
Hostels are gathering spots for Thru-hikers, section hikers ( hikers who want to hike the AT but have a limited amount of time for hiking due to job responsibilities), weekend hikers and bikers. It really is a diverse group of folks who love outdoor activities.
Hostels are like home away from home for weary hikers. I have enjoyed meeting the folks running hostels along the trail and will visit again when I return to my favorite areas.
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Meeting so many wonderful hikers. This group of young folks were so much fun to hike with. From Georgia North Carolina and Virginia and really fine people. I wanted to adopt all of them! Gumby graduated from Georgia Tech and camped near me. He is going to med school in the near future.
Love these guys, Engineer, Paperweight, Skippy, Ginga Ninga and Marathon. Hungry hikers and the greatest guys you will ever meet. Oh yes, and they eat enough food to feed an army! All headed to Katahdin!
I have completed the hardest miles of the thru-hike and headed to the final miles before I reach Katahdin. New Hampshire and Maine were definitely the toughest states on the trail.
When I entered New Hampshire I hiked Kinsman Mountain. The trail was filled with climbs up sheer rock-face trails with slick mud and stone footing. It was The White Mountains saying “Welcome to the Whites, we are tough”, and it got tougher and tougher with each day! The Whites were beautiful and I stayed in several huts along the way. The most challenging hike for me was the climb down Mt. Madison. The climb up Madison was difficult, but I am a strong hiker and can climb quickly however; my knees took a beating on the climb down the mountain and with a full pack pushing me forward the descend took over eight hours. The trip down was hiking down sheer rock-face holding on to trees and rock edges. I had to take a zero the next day to rest my swollen knees.
My next and final state is Maine and it is even harder than New Hampshire! The hike from Gorham NH to Maine was filled with high climbs and bolder hopping. Goose Eye Mountain was so scary to climb, I actually noticed myself shaking with fear. I had heard from South-Bounders that The Mahoosuc Noth is the hardest mile of the trail and it is followed by a 3770 ft climb up another rock face Mahoosuc Arm! I enjoyed the Notch and found it to be challenging, but the arm was not as hard to climb as Goose Eye!
Southern Maine was more big mountains with beautiful streams and fantastic views. After hiking through 14 states Thru-hikers are hiking machines and states that I considered difficult to hike (Pennsylvania, Tennessee and North Carolina), seemed like “puppy hiking” compared to the “big dogs”, New Hampshire and Maine!
The last challenge before the climb to Katahdin is The 100 Mile Wilderness. It should take me a week to complete and once you are in, there are no roads out until you reach Millinocket ME.
I am a little sad that my trek will be ending in a few weeks, but I am missing my family, friends and home. Hiking every day is so hard on the body and by the time a Thru-hiker reaches Maine the body is a hiking machine and is so efficient you can push yourself to amazing levels. I am not sure what my next adventure will be after Katahdin. Hiking up a mountain before lunch has become a way of life for me so I guess I will be walking to Savannah and back to stay in shape when I come home.