I’m humbled up by hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine last week. My friend Paul invited me to join him in driving north for about two and a half hours where we the AT intersects at Grafton Notch. This was a day hike. Paul is one of those rare people who don’t mind driving long distances to walk up wet, steep trails. We saw only three other people , walking up Baldpate Mountain on a gray Saturday, in October. Tater’s back in Maine after guiding in Alaska, out of big-time Skagway. I’ve been there, and can tell you there are glaciers in every direction up there. Tater thru-hiked the AT in 2007, the same year as me. I enjoyed talking with him for the mile or so that we climbed up the 3,812-foot mountain together. Tater was set for 21 miles today. Paul and I had just 4 miles north, and then we’d double down. When we stepped out of the car at 9:15 AM, it was lightly snowing. The air was cold, like maybe 40 degree cold, with wind city to boot. Only two other cars in the lot, and a check of the trail register indicated those guys had headed south on the AT, up toward Speck Pond.
In no time, Paul and I were stepping along the rough footpath characterizing the AT up here in Maine; “wicked” steep, rocky, crisscrossed with slippery bare roots, mud pits, and perilous ice-covered bare logs. When we reached higher elevations, slippery ice flowage came to the front all the way up.
I should have packed my Stabilicers, those strap-on metal-studded Vibram soles that would have done a better job of avoiding destruction of some necessary part of my anatomy. My thin gloves sucked. Sub-freezing temperatures plus 30 mile per hour gusts around the summit resulted in significant pain in my fingers. I have to remember to pack thick mittens and chemical hand warmers for the next six months of outside. Paul and I took turns leading. We spent no time on top. It was too frigid and cold, but we did stop for a couple and downed some high calorie snacks as soon as we reached a sheltered place on the way down. I gulped down a decent chunk of Bubba Craig’s #2 home-made pemmican bar. If there ever was a pemmican-friendly environment that beats this, I don’t know.
Life passes along this last month. I hope to return to the trails in Maine when my feet settle down. Meanwhile, I’m riding my bike on the road several times a week, trying to retain some degree of fitness. We’re now in the dark time up here, clocks are turned back. It’s now dark by 4:30 PM.
I’m not sure there was anyone in America that was outside more than me these past six months, yet a blood test this week indicated significant vitamin D deficiency. Didn’t Vitamin D achieve fame as the sunshine vitamin?