“We’re pathetic!” stated Auntie Mame after she calculated that we covered a whopping 5.7 miles on the AT today.
“Pathetic, well maybe , but definitely beat, ” I replied.
It was just another day on the rocky, rugged, rooty, and relentlessly escalating and elevating AT , as we moved south and up and over Avery Peak ( 4088’), West Peak ( 4145’) , and South Horn (3805’).
We started the day gaining back the elevation we lost coming over to last night’s camp site with a 1700’ climb back to Avery Peak from Safford Notch .
When we made back the two miles, we brewed up fresh coffee at the very top of Avery, finding a sheltered space from the wind to the side of the old Fire Watch building. I also snacked on pistachios and dehydrated apple slices.
Today we finally saw an array of AT thru hikers, including Dart Man ( who told us he thru-hiked in 2001, and did a big section in 2006). I talked to anyone who had the inclination to stop, which wasn’t many of them. I later heard that a group of three of the guys didn’t even stop on either of the summits on this awesomely warm and clear day. I suspect they didn’t enjoy hiking any more and might have just wanted to be done the the whole thing.
Marcia and I continue to do well together on this trip, even with our inevitable disagreements. Most of her concerns are related to her clearly stated position that I continue to beat the hell out of my body and that it might be better for both of us if I was to attempt to listen to what my body is trying to tell me. I counter that if I really listened to it, I’d be up at about 300 pounds, and focus on drinking Andrew’s beer and watching the Patriots and other sports teams beat the hell out of their own and any neighboring bodies.
Truth is, I actually don’t find all of this hiking business fun on a daily basis. There have even been days when a majority of the walking is hard, stressful, and quite a bit of work. It’s damn hard to backpack! My lungs ache, chest and neck pulse away like a runaway train, and various body parts call out for some mercy. But it sure feels good when you accomplish a spectacular summit, or complete a section of hard traveling. It’s pretty compelling stuff, I’m not sure if it isn’t a deep part of me, but I know she’s making a good point. I have some thinking to do on that.
Tonight we bucked in at the Horns Pond lean-to/ campsites ( 3160’), where we came in relatively early and were able to snag a respectable tent site.
Respectable due to the multiple on site locations that were at seating level, with large sitting logs and even one piece of huge flat stone that actually lined up perfectly well at normal chair height. They even supplied each site with a covered metal trash can for placing food in at night, due to the highly trained and intelligent food sensing resident red squirrels, and not because of recent bear activity.
I love the way the Maine Appalachian Trail Club is maintaining their presence on the AT in this state. This is a staffed campsite, with resident caretaker. There are two relatively new lean-tos, two composting toilets that actually don’t stink like crap, and clean, maintained group of sites, complete with those trash cans. No charge. The MATC feels that they want folks to stay in these developed sites, so they don’t charge for them, which in turn stimulates useage. I’d encourage anyone using the Maine AT to send them some bucks once in a while. I do.
I really enjoy the ritual of preparing supper; including getting water, firing up the stove, stirring things, even mastering the art of effortless clean up ( with the help of a couple of paper towels I placed in my food bag), and tonight’s experiment ( #2) in the saga of dehydrating food. I had a packet of Lipton’s sides, maybe a Noodle Alfredo selection? While I was “resting” in the tent, I soaked a dehydrated can’s worth of white meat chicken and a handful of garden broccoli, which I later cooked up with the noodles with some added milk powder, butter, and Tabasco sauce.
Another hit! Excellent, not rubbery in the least.
So , we ended up eating, and cleaning up by 6:30 PM. We both sat around the edges of the camp site and wrote until a bit after 7 PM, when it was really starting to get dark.
It was also colder, and I put on three layers. I put on wool tights, 2 long sleeved zip neck Ibex wool shirts , and my Patagonia Puffball jacket, plus wool hat.
We slept really well, after both talked bout the good kind of tired legs we were both experiencing. It was a cooler night, the site was perfectly flat, and the stars came out, blanketing the black sky with shimmering white lights.