Now in the back seat of the Caravan with V8 at the helm and Auntie Mame riding shotgun. We’re heading back to Maine after attending the Gathering, sponsored by the Appalachian Long Distance Hiking Association these past two days at North Adams, MA.
Incredible value for the $15 registration fee. Two days of backpacking related workshops, plus camping in a green grassy meadow that overlooked Mt. Greylock. Hiking stars all over the place: Billy Goat, Andrew Skurka, Squatch, Stumpknocker, Weathercarrot, even Ms. Janet!
On Saturday I attended Guthook’s slide show of the north- south New England Trail, which links the northernmost Cohos Trail in NH with the 200 mile National Scenic New England trail on the southern end. Many hikers are unaware of the fact that Connecticut and MA share this brand new National Scenic Trail that still is a work in progress. Guthook’s full story on this trip is on his most excellent website: Guthook Hikes!
The second workshop I attended was a panel of hikers- “Ask the Class of 2011″ where one can ask questions about thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Lots of opinions, most answers I agreed with. I disagree on the issue about the need to eat healthy food while thru hiking. I crave and consume what you call junk food while thru hiking, and eventually start reading packages to discover those with the highest caloric content.
After lunch I attended two more sessions. Warner Springs Monty asked me to sit in as a panel member for the Pacific Crest Trail discussion. There were about 30 in the audience, who were solicited for any and all questions about thru- hiking the PCT. All questions were welcome. The time raced by.
Then, over to “How to Lighten Your Load”, and get your pack weight down to 10-12 pounds by Kentucky Blue. Blue did an excellent job of charting her own progression from a 40+ pound load when she started her own AT thru hike in 2007 to less than a third of that weight today.
By this time, I needed a break, and begged a ride back to the campsite, some 5 miles away, where retreated to the tent to rest up, fired up the Coleman propane stove, and reheated some roasted squash/ kielbasa soup from home, with fresh tomatoes and sour cream thrown in for extras.
It was quiet, cool, and peaceful back at the tenting area. I chilled out and sometime before 6:30 PM yogi’d a ride to Andrew Skurka’s evening program at Williams College.
Andrew presented his Alaska-Yukon adventure that covered 4,700 miles over the span of six months, where he skied, trekked and pack rafted through eight national parks including Denali, where he skirted Mount McKinley. He descended both the Copper and Yukon rivers, and traversed the Brooks Range. Skurka’s Alaska-Yukon expedition was featured in the March 2011 issue of National Geographic. It was a supremely confident show, in typical Skurka detail.
Back at the campsite later I found my two tent-mates, comfortably settled into the roomy tent, laughing themselves silly with readings from Sole Mates, another AT book I knew nothing about.
It’s a long way to spend a weekend, humping from Maine to North Adams, MA and back again . We’ll see if this first-ever venue makes the list for future Gatherings. I’ve been doing much too much driving these past 10 days, and right now a Columbus Day at 290 in Lincolnville, ME sounds like it has to happen tomorrow.
Unless I feel like hiking up Bald Rock tonight to catch the sunrise come up over the bay tomorrow morning.