Thru-hikers, through hiking.
It was 5 1/2 months ago when I drove the Grayhounds to Bangor to put
them on a Greyhound, taking them to Georgia to begin a 2,100+ mile hike
north. Lots has happened over the past days, all documented in the Trail
Saturday morning, and I was again driving south, this time with my old
buddie Geezer, into Maine (Baxter State Park) to pick them up.
On the road at 6:30am, coffee in Elmsdale, breakfast at Mickie Dees in
Sackville, arriving in Millinocket 6 hours later (good roads and 120kms
per hour), lunch again at Mickie Dees, into the park, pick up the boys,
to the grocery store for lunch stuff for tommorrow (met Lorenzo and Emma
who had dropped down from Frederickton to join the boys), and back to
the motel, sit around watch some college football and tell stories.
Bit of a side note, at the gate going into the park we noted to Ranger
Rick we were going in to pick up a couple friends that were thru hiking.
He said, oh it must be the 'two old guys' sitting at the Ranger cabin at
Katahdin Stream--no respect for the 2,000 miles, eh!
I forgot what it was like to be in an enclosed room for a number of
hours with Ross and Gordon--Ross always amazes me how he fills the air
with his knowledge of the NFL and US college sports, Gordon just amazes
me with how he fills the air---certainly clears the breathing tubes.
Chinese supper and into bed early for an early morning departure.
Eating/drinking on the fly, we were on the road at 5:15am (local time),
and at the Trailhead ready to climb at 6:30am.
The topo map showed a climb and actual fact bore that out. We knew we
had to go up a bit over 4,000 feet but it was over 5.1 miles--while the
first 1 1/2 miles was a gradual (relatively speaking) up and there was
the 1 mile of reasonably flat Tableland near the summit. This meant that
most of the elevation was covered over 2 1/2 miles---this IS steep.
Except that you don't get the real good views we all like, it is really
neat to actually 'hike' into the clouds. Soon after getting above tree
line most things dissappeared except the white blazes on the rocks and
the cairn piles of rocks.
Hiking with the thru hikers is an experience, they don't seem to be
moving that quick since they don't seem to breath when they walk--And
they don't slow down, just steady onward--walk an hour, 5 minute rest,
walk an hour, 5 minute rest, etc. It was 4 hours up--read 3 rest stops.
The only times we seemed close to equal was the climbs up/over the large
rocks where you are pulling yourself up as much as using your legs.
You only have to look at the pictures to realize they have not been
'building' their upper bodies---ha, ha, ha!
We spent about 30 minutes on the summit, taking in the ambience (and the
wind and fog), having to finally leave as the chill started to get to
Going down was tougher than we expected--We took another 4 hours to the
parking lot--when you factor in (again) the Tableland and the last 1 1/2
miles at the end where we really moved, you can imagine how slow we were
on the large boulder fields. The hand hold and metal staunchions that
were so valuable in helping us pull ourselves up over the the steep
parts were absolutely essential in keeping us attached to the mountain.
There is what's known as 4 point stance (both hands and feet touching at
once), a 5 point stance (also called 'bumming' it) where you 'sort of'
slide along. We invented the 'all point' stance where at times it seems
you whole body is touching rock.
It was in the cars, 120kms an hour to Oromocto, NB for a bite to eat and
home at midnight.
It was nice to see Larry again, after spending so many hours a week
running, working, and socializing for 15 years, he has been missed over
the past 5 years he has spent in Minnesota and Fredericton. Nice to see
Emma also, the last time I saw her was as an 11 year old (with helmit
on) climbing over the othe side of Katahdin and the Knife Edge 5 years
ago--she is becoming a lady.
And it is specially nice to see Gordon and Ross, and to be another
'little' part of their trip. They have certainly entertained us over the
past half year, actually going well back into the winter.
It will be a pleasure to watch them fatten up again and 'kick their
After trying to come up with one word to describe the trip I give up, it
has/had so many dimensions.
Cheers, welcome home, enjoy a few days off.