Town day! I put Eye of the Tiger on for my first mile out of camp. For some reason I teared up as I powered up the first few root wads choking the trail. I let the emotions flow as I pushed on; I’m not sure why I was crying…but it was a good cry. I strided out to the song, feeling like a million bucks for about 30 seconds, then the silly steep started and I was tripping over those same roots, breathing heavy. I lost the pace, but it was a great 30 seconds.
You always know when you are the first one on the trail for the day because you get a face full of spiderwebs. The early bird gets the cobwebs on this trail.
This section needs some massive trail work… as in it hasn’t been cleared in years. There are full reroutes around fallen trees from yesteryear and the trees growing into the trail threaten to poke my eyes out.
I’ve been having lots of thoughts and conversations about trail maintenance out here. Having been on all sides of the coin: trail maintenance crew leader, volunteer, hiker, and planner, I know the tasks are monumental to adequately maintain a long-distance trail…I’d love to be able to contribute to a system that works better for everyone. So many ideas!
Back to the hardest hiking I’ve ever done; it’s unnecessarily hard. 2002 She-ra didn’t know any better, it was her first trail. 2022 She-ra does know better, mabe that makes it worse?
I imagine I am a video game character; I power up while I sleep, and for every zero I take I get an extra life. I need a life or two in reserve to make it through.
At the top of a climb I meet Inferno Man. He’s been section hiking the trail for a few years and I enjoy chatting with him for a bit. He says he’s going slow this morning, so I start down the next steep descent. When I make it to the top of the next climb I turn to find him close behind me. He’s not slow! We head out together on the next stretch of trail….a long hike down to the highway and town, and he looses me in his quick pace. He’s really not slow! For a man close to retirement he’s got legs.
We leave the forest together and start a short road walk to the trailhead where he is meeting his ride to the hostel where he parked his car for this section. The hostel owner is nice enough to give me a ride even though I’m not staying there, and I ask him about Lily. When Average Joe and I stayed in Gorham 20 years ago the previous owner’s young daughter Lily befriended us…she was super cute and curious about us. He knew her! She lives in Boston now. So fun to hear this.
Inferno Man offers to give me a ride to Walmart, a few miles out of town. I want to stock up on some treats to eat in the hotel and get a few supplies while I’m at it; I’ll do a full resupply tomorrow. I grab strawberries and salad, guacamole and a black bean bowl, coffee and wine. I’m so excited to rest up today and tomorrow.
After we shop Inferno Man drops me off at my hotel. It’s hours till check in (oh yeah, those 10 miles took me 5 hours to hike…not bad!) but I ask the front desk manager if I can stash my pack there while I go grab some lunch. She says my room is ready now, oh happy day!!!!
The rest of the day is spent eating, showering, sitting in the hot tub, and making plans with NEMO who is coming to hike with me soon.
I love this day!
AT&T: the Appalachian Town and Trail
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I remember a qualitative difference in trail maintaining standards when you passed from AMC to MATC responsibility going north at Grafton Notch in 1989. Seems like that’s still the case. MATC district managers have the obligation to walk the district every 2 years and critique the work of their volunteers section maintainers. I have not encountered this structure in any other of the trails I’ve hiked. I think that makes all the difference.
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