There are times in life when words just can’t truly define what I wish to say. We are still in Rangeley, being well cared for by the family who took us in last Friday. But we haven’t been idle. In addition to making sure that we are comfortable, and Jess’s shoulder is being taken care of and getting better, they have been slack packing us through some of the final sections of Maine. In the past three days we’ve completed another 36.6 miles, including Bemis mountian that all of the NoBo’s have been complaining about.
Words have fallen, now, far short of the gratitude I would like to express. Our relationship has also grown from hiker-trail angel to that of lifelong friends, and it will be such a pleasure to be able to keep in contact after our hike is complete. I really hope we can persuade them to come and stay with us in Colorado.
In the wake of the recent movie theater tragedy, Jess and I have found ourselves full of our first dose of culture shock. On the trail, every person we’ve met cares about the other hikers and we have become a part of a community where complete strangers help one another. Hikers are not alone out here. NoBo’s and SoBo’s share information along the trail about what’s coming up, parts to look out for and how the water sources are. Day hikers have asked us how we are and if we could use any fresh food. We all make sure that everyone is taken care of when it comes to first aid; sharing vitamin I (ibuprofen), band-aids, antibiotic ointment, moleskin and anything else a hiker may need. It comes as a great surprise that there are people out there who wish others harm, and for no reason at all. If only life could be as hiking the Appalachian Trail is. Out here we realize we’re all on common ground, have the same basic needs and abilities to offer much needed help to one another.
Many people we’ve helped (or vice versa) we chanced meeting. They were only there for a matter of minutes, hours. We will probably never see any of them again but we feel them in the next successful step that we take. A step that we may not have been able to take without that help. Much of the success of our hike now Jess and I will owe to our new friends. We couldn’t have afforded to stay in Rangeley and Jess couldn’t have carried her pack any further. This easily could have been the end of our thru hike but instead is another step in the path. I will be forever grateful.
Day 1 of slackpacking, we found this awesome beach on the shore of Sabbath Day Pond, just south of Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to.
As I said, though, Jess and I have not been idle. Our slack packs have been great fun as each time we’re dropped off at the southern point, and then we hike back north. We passed a few fellow southbounders who looked at us oddly when we told them we were SoBos too, and then even more oddly as we crossed paths again the next day. We’ve also seen all the white blazes NoBo’s get. There’s tons of them! Often as we’re hiking south we’ll have to turn around to look for them to confirm we’re still on the trail.
|Jess coming down a section that’s just before Moody Mountain|
|There could be quite the waterfall here when it rains!|
It was a great three days, we hit four mountains (none over 4000 feet though) and are within 30 miles of finishing Maine and entering New Hampshire! Mahoosuc Notch still stands between us though, known to all as “the most difficult or fun mile of the AT”. We have one more day of slack packing left before we’re out of reasonable driving range, and we’ve taken up an offer to visit the coast of Maine this weekend. In one of the lean-tos we stayed in there was a piece of graffiti that read, “It’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles!” Jess and I are building up the latter and truly enjoying our time here. We’ve always wanted to see the coast and were a little bummed that we haven’t even been able to catch a glimpse from the top of a mountain. Oh how those tables turn.
Jess’s shoulder is getting better and we’ll be on our way soon after our visit to the ocean. Also, I cut the beard off last night and got my hair cut today. It’s like a vacation from our vacation!