Day 142 – Friday, July 29: Stealth Camp (Poplar Ridge) to Stratton Motel (Stratton, ME), 21.5 miles, 2,000.9 total AT miles.

We woke up at sunrise and started packing up. You’d be surprised how much faster I am at packing in morning when I don’t have to worry about a tent. I ate a quick breakfast – Greyhound and I were ready to go by 6:00am. I ran over to the side of the cliff to find a privy and returned quickly. And just in time too – two southbound hikers joined us for sunrise as soon as I had finished.

Greyhound and I scattered. We had just enough food for one, maybe two, days hiking. And the promise of a hotel room, with laundry and a shower, lay only twenty miles ahead. The elevation profile said we could do it – we took off.

We were flying down the trail when I ran into a giant toad – he was climbing up a log to escape.

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We paused to take a break at a plaque commemorating the completion of the last segment of the AT – it was only 11:00am and we had hiked ten miles. We ate quickly (I privied again) and took off towards Stratton.

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We summited Sugarloaf Mountain at 12:45pm and kept cruising.

The hiking certainly wasn’t all easy – in fact, there wasn’t anything easy about today. We just kept pushing each other. We both wanted a night in a hotel room badly – I wanted chicken wings more than ever before. We ate snacks and joked as we tore down the mountain. And we collected more moose poop for Greyhound’s mom.

At 6:00pm, we passed the 2,000 mile mark. Not only was Stratton a mere mile away, but we were crossing the final mileage milestone before reaching the end. Katahdin lay only 189.1 miles away.

We quickly made our way to the trailhead at ME 27 and got picked up fairly quickly by the caretaker, a former thru-hiker himself. We checked into the Stratton Motel and raided the loaner clothes box so we could get laundry started as soon as possible. We were hungry – we wanted to get our chores done quickly.

With clothes in the dryer, we headed next door to the Wolf Den restaurant and grabbed two seats at the bar. We didn’t want to sit in the dining room – we still hadn’t showered and our loaner clothes looked ridiculous. We both ordered too much food – I ordered sautéed fiddlehead ferns. I had seen them sprouting up in North Carolina early in the hike and knew from experience they were tasty if prepared right. These things were awesome. We also order mussels and sandwiches. I feasted.

After dinner, we gathered our laundry and went to take showers back in the motel room. We both found a bunch of food in the hiker box in the lobby (thanks Southbounders!) and returned to the room to go to sleep. We both literally crashed – it’s been a hard couple of days.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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