Coming through Millinocket around noon today we stopped at the Hannaford’s grocery store where down by the dairy isle I ran into Billy Goat, a former Mainer, who is best known for his perpetual thru-hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail.
I was astounded that he appeared in my life again. I had three conversations with Billy Goat on my 2010 5-month thru hike of that trail, that 2,700 mile baptism of ice, snow, and other forms of cold water.
Billy Goat gave me specific advice each time that we connected. Slow down was his main message, “You may never pass through all this again.”
Billy Goat has been out providing ground/ auto support for a friend who is about to finish a long segment from Gaspe, Quebec to Katahdin. I told Billy Goat he looked good for 75. His eyes are not worn and washed out, and still radiate hope.
The highlight of the day was sitting in the rear seat of a small 4 seat float plane with my buddies Chris and Joe when we departed from Katahdin Air Service and landed on Crawford Pond 15 minutes later to begin our 50 mile northbound section hike. The cost of the flight included a shuttle of my car to Abol Bridge, a one hour round trip. When we finish the hike, the car will be right there for us on the Appalachian Trail. Jim, the pilot, pointed out where the AT meanders between the lakes and ponds below as it carries itself along the undulating green carpet.
It was the perfect introductory backpacking day. Blue skies, except for the clouds over Katahdin.