Maine trio completes Appalachian Trail’s remote 100-Mile Wilderness in winter

At the end of February, three Maine men set out on snowshoes to hike the 100-Mile Wilderness, the most remote section of the Appalachian Trail stretching about 100 miles from Monson to Baxter State Park. They completed the arduous journey, over mountains and across half-frozen streams, in nine days, a feat very few hikers accomplish in the winter.

For February, the weather was mild, but that didn’t make traveling any easier. In fact, the three wished the weather had been just a bit colder. With the temperature hovering around freezing on most days, it was nearly impossible for them to dry out their clothing and boots. Snow would melt from the tree branches above, raining down on them non-stop.

They packed enough food for 10 to 12 days, but the trail was slow going, especially at high elevations, where the snow was several feet deep. To cover enough distance each day, they rose early, cooked up some powdered eggs and bacon, then hit the trail, snowshoeing often 10 hours before making camp.

One day in particular stood out to all three men as especially challenging — the day they hiked White Cap Mountain. Rising 3,707 feet above sea level, White Cap is famous for the spectacular view from its summit, which includes Mount Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain and the location of the AT’s northern terminus. Hiking toward White Cap, the three followed the ridgeline of Gulf Hagas, West Peak and Hay Mountain, where the snow was at least 4 feet deep, and the trail, cut through a thick forest of evergreens, had almost vanished.

“The green tunnel that’s normally 6 feet high was 2 feet high because we were on top of so much snow,” Koorits explained. “So we were basically crawling through the trees for 5 miles.”

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