Even though its been 6 years since I completed the Continental Divide Trail my 9 year span of experiences gleaned from backpacking three of America’s long distance National Scenic Trails continues to affect my day-to-day life.
I’ve finally caught up with clicking off 2019’s hiking and biking mileages to the point where I’m slightly ahead of pace to achieve my 2019 mileage goal – 2019 total miles for the calendar year, half hiking and the other half biking. May was a slim mileage month, where the flu whacked me down for a couple of weeks. The majority of my miles are off-road, either on trails, or gravel and/or discontinued public roads. My steps and pedal strokes generally come from places here in coastal Maine that I get to by walking right out my door.
My choices in literature are also increasingly colored by these outdoor experiences. I’m currently reading A World Apart by Gustaw Herling, a Polish author who spent two years in a northern Russian labor camp in 1940 after he was arrested for joining a underground Polish army.
The book details the people he was imprisoned with, the hardships they endured, and the will and spirit that allowed some to survive. I find myself drawn to literature that embraces struggle and harsh natural settings. I have written about the Polish suffering gene in previous blog posts.
I came to Maine back in the 1970’s when my wife Marcia and I were hired to run Alford Lake Camp’s nature exploration program. Once I experienced the deep forests and lakes in Maine, with a shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean, there was no hope of ever returning to my previous life in Massachusetts.
At Alford Lake Camp this afternoon I attended a celebratory service to honor the life of Andy McMullan, held in the Church of the Pines by the shore of Alford Lake.
Andy’s wife Jean ran the camp practically her whole life. Another circle in my life drew to a close today, and although more of life’s losses will invariably come, this day was a gem to be shared with my camping community.
My 45 year connection with Alford Lake Camp endures. I own a camp on the shore of Hobbs Pond, located a mere 1.5 miles from Alford Lake Camp, as the crow flies.
What are the chances ?