Hiking At A Berry Slow Pace

Figure on 9 days to do the entire 100-mile hike—unless you're slowed drastically by all the blueberries.
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Figure on 9 days to do the entire 100-mile hike—unless you're slowed drastically by all the blueberries.

While backpacking the Appalachian Trail through Maine's 100-Mile Wilderness one August, my two cohikers and I found it impossible to make fast time on the trail. It had nothing to do with mosquitoes or no-see-ums or rugged terrain or too many moose, all of which are facts of life in the Maine woods.

What slowed our pace to a crawl was the constant pausing and bending to scoop handfuls of fat, ripe blueberries. The trailside berries ripen in August, and for a few weeks the delicious fruit is so plentiful that you can stroll, pick, and eat almost all day long.

The 100-Mile Wilderness is the name given to

a stretch of the AT that crosses no paved or public roads for 99.4 miles (it does cross a few gravel logging roads, which allow access

for shorter trips). It offers some of the most remote backpacking available in the Northeast, though August is the most popular month and shelters can fill up. The southern half of the Wilderness is mountainous and rugged; the northern half is mostly flat lake country. Figure on 9 days to do the entire 100-mile hike-unless you're slowed drastically by all the blueberries.

Getting There: 100 Mile Wilderness, ME

To reach the southern end of the AT that winds through the 100-Mile Wilderness, head 3.5 miles north out of Monson on ME 15. Access to the northern end is at Abol Bridge via Golden Road, a private toll road between Millinocket and the south entrance to Baxter State Park (on ME 159, a mile north of the North Woods Trading Post).

Prime Time:

August

Guides:

Map and Guide to the Appalachian Trail (Appalachian Trail Conference, 888-287-8673; $24.95). New England Hiking: The Complete Guide To Nearly 400 Of The Best Hikes In New England, by Michael Lanza (Foghorn Press, 800-788-3123; $18.95).

Contact:

Appalachian Trail Conference,

(304) 535-6331; www.atconf.org.