Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jeff Daniels crosses into Maine on world-famous Appalachian Trail

Jeff Daniels of Evergreen officially crossed the New Hampshire-Maine border on Saturday and has about 250 miles left to go in his effort to become the first Conecuh County resident to “thru-hike” the world famous Appalachian Trail.

On Monday afternoon, Daniels, 53, reported to The Courant from north of the Maine border. He covered 68 miles of the trail since Monday of last week and has hiked 1,930 miles of the trail, which begins in Springer Mountain, Ga. and ends 2,181 miles away in Katahdin, Maine. As of Monday, he had 251 miles to go before finishing the hike.

“I’m also happy to report that I’ve safely navigated the ‘Toughest Mile of the AT,’” he said, referring to Mahoosuc Notch and Mahoosuc Arm. This portion of the trail, which actually measures about three miles in length, is also called the “killer mile” by many AT veterans.

“The Notch is a steep ravine that is full of car-size, washing machine-size and house-sized boulders that have just kind of fallen haphazardly into the cut,” Daniels said. “It took me about two hours. I just took my time and tried to be safe.”

Daniels began his trip on March 13 and hopes to finish his trip in mid-September. The trail, commonly referred to as the “AT,” is arguably the most famous hiking trail in the world. The trail passes through 14 states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

During the past week, Daniels hiked out of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and hiked to the top of 3,780-foot-high Baldpate Mountain in Oxford County, Maine.

“The top was basically just flat, gray rock, and the wind was blowing 30 to 40 miles per hour,” he said. “It’s just a sheer rock face, and I also spotted a peregrine falcon from the top. That was an unusual sight.

“It’s also been raining on and off for the past two or three days. The weather’s also getting colder. It’s in the fifties now, and should get down into the lower forties tonight. I was blowing fog on my breath when I got up this morning, so it was a little cool.”

In the coming week, Daniels expects the trail to flatten out and he will likely cross the Kennebec River.

“There are a lot of river and stream crossings on the trail in Maine, but you have to ford those on foot,” he said. “But to cross the Kennebec, you have to cross in a canoe. That’ll be an experience.”

Daniels noted that he’s continuing to battle through a number of minor injuries and scrapes that a part of hiking this part of the trail.

“I’m falling about once a day now,” Daniels joked. “Everybody at this point is ‘walking wounded.’ I’ve got a bruised left ankle and some right ankle pain. That’s all part of it.”

Daniels is still on track to finish his trip by Sept. 14, which will allow him to make his Sept. 16 flight from Bangor, Maine to Mobile.

“As long as I can continue to make 12 miles or so a day, I should be in good shape,” he said.

(Daniels is keeping an online journal of his trip, and it can be read at Also, look for continuing updates about Daniels’ trip in future editions of The Courant.”)

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