Day 5, AT, Sept. 16

Horseshoe Canyon Lean-to to Shaw’s , Monson
8 miles

I walked back into the “shower world” this morning.
Before I said my good-byes to Cloudwalker and Xenon, I took the time to clean up all the trash left around the Horseshoe Canyon lean-to.  There were two sheetrock buckets that had been left there, one in the outhouse and one around the fire pit, and I suspect those were contributing factors to some one the trash, but come on!  Used tampons, discarded lighters, sodden bunches of aluminum foil around the pit, dirty wet clothes.  There is part of the user population that considers the outdoors a sort of garbage can, and I try and do my best to clean up the crap when I see it.   Cloudwalker told me was impressed that a ( former) thru-hiker would take the time to load up a motherin’ big bag ( double bagged) of crap and remove it from a place as beautiful as this lean-to could be.  I felt righteous hiking out of there.
I saw no one on my morning walk into Monson.
One aspect of completing my thru-hike, which I carried out with no blue blazing on my part, was that I can now do what I want this time around.  I decided that I’d take the road walk cutoff – off to Monson rather than do the extra section out to Route 15 several miles north of town, as I did last year.

I was pleased that I did it, as I  was able to walk past  numerous seasonal camps, some on Towne Cove, and others on the northeast corner of Lake Hebron.
I also enjoyed viewing the site of a former slate quarry, with mountains of slate still remaining .

You don’t see any of this on the present AT route, which by-passes the absolutely essential stop at Monson as it winds several miles to the north. Earl Shaffer remarks about this in his newest book. In 1998, Shaffer  made another northward through-hike (at age 79) from May 2 to October 21 (six days past official closing of the state park), in 174 days, for the 50th anniversary of his first one). He later developed his notes from this trip, into The Appalachian Trail: Calling Me Back To The Hills.  Shaffer  criticized the decision to bypass walking into actual towns and hunting camps in this section of Maine. He felt it as a  loss.   No cars passed me on my walk to town, which dumped me out right at Shaw’s Boarding Home, where I had left my car.
As I walked in  I saw someone familiar.  Sittting in the sun, and talking on his cell phone, was Ed, AKA Racoon, a soon to be thru-hiker who I had met at Trail Days in Damascus this past May.  Ed is the husband of Lipstick, AKA Cathy Benton, who I had previously met in 2007 when she was accompanying Bama. Bama, LIpstick and the core of MEGATEX were all spending the night at the Muskrat Creek shelter, some 80 miles north of my start from Springer Mountain. Ed was a greatly diminished version of the Ed that I met back when, but he looked fit and happy, and in ready shape to enter the 100 Mile Wilderness and then walk the final 15 miles to the top of mt. Katahdin.  Here is  photo of the man himself.

After I checked out of Shaw’s I went up to the Monson General Store, where I visited with proprietor Tim,  who I met last year when he graciously allowed me to use his stove, sink,  and utensils to cook up a big breakfast for Blue Sky Georgia Barbeque, Thunder, and myself.   Tim filled me in on all the local gossip, including some first hand details of the town’s conflicts with the Restore! Great North Woods proposal folks. I loved just sitting in there, drinking coffee, eating a chicken salad sandwich and saying hello to the couple of thru-hikers who wandered in and bought some food.

It has been a little over a year since I walked away from the AT .  My present life is no longer the same.  I often feel like I’m driving around the countryside with a big hole in the side of this vehicle where memories and images of the woods, trees, path, and hikers rush in when I least expect it making it difficult to even hold to the road, let along make it to my destination.
As I write this last entry from this sectional hike, I am anticipating my next foray back to the AT, which is scheduled for 5 days next week, where I hope to walk 50 miles of the 100 Mile Wilderness with my favorite hiking partner, Auntie Mame.

3 thoughts on “Day 5, AT, Sept. 16

  1. Thanks Tom for the compassion to love the woods and clean up after the trash hounds. Seems like this is becoming more and more a problem about anywhere you go these days.
    Enjoyed this series of writings as they give me a great description and feeling of the Maine woods I hope to see next year. Looking forward to your thoughts on the 100-Mile Wilderness now that you can sort of “cruise” at something less than Warp-Speed.


  2. Rangoon

    Yes Tom,

    Thanks for picking up for the pigs who disguise themselves as hikers. You display the true nature of stewardship towards the places we love and others take for granted.

    As for the hole that you feel I think that it is safe to say that every member of MEGATEX and many others feel the same way. Things just aren’t the same after you hike the trail. We all are trying to figure out what happened out there. Whatever it was it was awesome!


  3. Queso

    Exactly Rangoon, What the hell happened?

    I still love the fact that Monson General Store let ya’ll take over last year and cook breakfast – truly awesome.

    The trash is ridiculous. The other day I was walking into the grocery store and I bent down to pick up a coke can someone had trashed on the sidewalk a mere 20 feet from a bin. As I stood back up after grabbing it, a few people looked at me as if I was on probation litter duty, but one older man stopped me and it was was as if his faith in mankind was restored for the moment. It made his day to see someone pick up anothers trash. Amazing how far picking up a few pieces of trash can go.


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