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Maine portion of Appalachian Trail challenges hikers

CARRABASSETT VALLEY (WGME) -- It is a huge undertaking, and it's something only a select few people have successfully done. Thousands of hikers attempt the whole 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail. They run into a few challenges along the way.

The trail is just one beautiful mile after another, stretching all the way from Georgia to Maine. About 2 to 3 million people hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail every year, some take the challenge and attempt the 6 month, 2,000 mile journey from Springer Mountain in the south To Mount Katahdin in the north.

"I love the challenge I love the beauty of it. I love waking up and living like a hermit and seeing new things every day," said southbound through hiker Jenica Ferguson.

While thousands attempt the entire trail every year, only about 14,000 have completed it.

"It's a little tough starting in the north because it's actually the hardest part of the whole trail," said southbound through hiker Sarah Dunleavy.

Maine's 281 miles are known to be the most difficult of all 14 states. Even the strongest hikers may average only one mile an hour in Maine, with roots, tree limbs and large boulders scattered throughout the route. Maine Wardens advise hikers to keep to the trail, which is marked by a white blaze. In the past two years Maine Wardens have responded to 22 search and rescue calls along the Appalachian Trail for injured or missing hikers. Many are located within a few hours.

"93% of people are located in some fashion, either by themselves or us or another civilian within 12 hours. then within 24 hours 97% are located. So you're talking 3% of longer than 24 hours to locate," said Lt. Kevin Adam of the Maine Warden Service.

Currently Geraldine Largay is the only missing person Maine wardens haven't been able to locate in the past two years. She was hiking on her own.

"A lot of them are alone, so they need to have those safety plans," said Adam.

Hikers can prepare for their trips with guide books, and GPS tracking devices can let family members know where they are on the trail. They can even send an SOS signal if hikers get lost or in trouble. Maine wardens also say sign the trail logs. That helps them know where you were and what your hiking pace is.