This is a wonderful bed…I forget what it’s like to be able to take up more than the width of my narrow one-person tent.
This morning is for business, and I get down to it.
- Where am I going?
- How many miles?
- How many days of food?
- Where will NEMO meet me in a week?
- How much food should she bring?
And then because I’m entering one of the most special, regulated, and populated sections of the trail – The White Mountains – there are additional questions like:
- Will I be able to get some food at the huts
- Will I need to hitch for resupply?
- Will I be able to get work for stay (and meals) at one of the huts?
- Am I prepared if I get to Mt. Washington and the weather says, “Not today hiker”?
I make charts and graphs, lists and more lists. These are a lot of logistics and I reference both the Far Out app and the paper AT Guide.
Then there are chores: get small change for those $2 bowls of soup the huts provide for the hikers, mail some unneeded items home at the post office, buy new shoes, and drop off some extra stuff for the hiker box at the hostel.
When I get to the hardware/gear store I find only Merrill shoes. That’s ok, I wore Merrills on the Blue Mountains Trail, and even though I developed planter fasciitis in those shoes, I have new orthotics now. Ha! I tried to get my same Oboz when I was back in Monson, but they are out of stock across the country. I need some grippy soles now for the White Mountains I will start climbing tomorrow.
On my way back from the hostel I see Gormet in the park. We catch up and it sounds like we are both aiming for the same campsite tomorrow night. I’m surprised Late Start hasn’t arrived…he shouldn’t be that far behind us.
Hikers are everywhere in town and I don’t know any of them.
Then back to the hotel: pack bag, check out, hitch up to Walmart to finish my resupply. A kindly old woman named Marge picks me up; she gives lots of hikers rides she says. I love it.
As I’m perusing the athletic wear looking for a new shirt (that light green tank top I found in a hiker box shows all the dirt; I like to be a bit more incognito in my filth) and I spot the one. Remember the song I put on yesterday morning to go to town?
I like to listen to those synchroniticities (that has got to be spelled wrong) when I notice them.
Then I hitch out of town and Julie, a bike tour leader from Vermot picks me up. She is on her way to Maine to lead a multi-day trip and knows about the AT, her roomate hiked it.
Immediately I develop a case of town belly. Too much, too rich, too frequent: all my food choices gurgle around as I walk. Good thing my intended camp is less than two miles. I want to lay down.
As usual I hike out with what seems like way more than enough food until my next potential resupply run at Crawford Notch, but if I play my thru-hiker cards right (baked goods and lunch time “bottomless” bowls of soup at the huts for cheap, and cafes at Pinkham Notch and at the summit of Mt. Washington) I might be able to make it last longer…which would be helpful! But we’ll see, effort is usually hungry, and my potential for extreme effort expenditures this week is great.
I am in love with the Appalachian Trail again. The walking is easy breezy, and I’ve been reminded that this trail is more than my experience….this is a protected corridor of nature being squeezed on all sides by humans and their cities. It’s an incredible feat that this path through the woods is as immersive and rugged as it is. And the Whites! The first mountain I will climb tomorrow is Mt. Moriah. The comment by brettcolman99 in the app puts it into context:
If I think of the AT like the epic landscapes in Lord of the Rings (that will be easy in the White Mountains), the trip takes on a different tone.
After I make my short jaunt to camp, I set up just my screen tent and lay back listening to the forest, then started a new book that Zen Quake had recommended: Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald.
The intro is 🔥
“What science does is what I would like more literature to do too: show us that we are living in an exquisitely complicated world that is not all about us. It does not belong to us alone. It never has done.
These are terrible times for the environment. Now more than ever before, we need to look long and hard at how we view and interact with the natural world. We’re living through the world’s sixth great extinction, one caused by us. The landscapes around us grow emptier and quieter each passing year. We need hard science to establish the rate and scale of these declines, to work out why it is occurring and what mitigation strategies can be brought into play. But we need literature, too; we need to communicate what the losses mean…
We need to communicate the value of things, so that more of us might fight to save them.”
Wow. I sit with that and am filled with the knowing that in addition to science and literature, I seek to do that through thru-hiking; to help people spend extended time in nature, see the value of things, and fight to save them.
That is the Oregon Desert Trail. That is what I would love to see for all trails. The context. The purpose. The action.
I listen to an absolutely lovely song, My Friend the Forest, as I watch the leaf shadows play against the screen on my tent. The barrier between me and this place is thin, or maybe that is just an illusion. There are no barriers. I belong here as much as that fern or that chipmunk. The afternoon slowly holds me in a softness I didn’t know I needed.
(Don’t you love it when I have time to think and write?…long blog posts 😁)