Happy Camper (Margot Canfield) and I have had a wonderful time the past two weeks together! Sadly, we’re taking her back up to Monson to retrieve her car today! She’s on her way back to Bmore to get ready for the school year. For those who don’t know Margot, I can say she’s one of the best people to have out here! She is constantly giggling about something! If she slips on a rock, I’ll look back, she’s on the ground LAUGHING! We had an amazing time with “our boys.” Our friends-crew from Monson to Stratton. We lost all 5 of them after Stratton because those man legs carry them so much faster than ours can, but we were also glad to have a couple of days just the two of us. And to our surprise, when we came out to the road crossing last night, Jeff had come across Tag, Effect, and Coach and they were all waiting there to say hi! They had hitched into town that day, and that run-in meant Happy Camper had one last chance to say goodbye. Jeff hooked us all up with Trail Magic: cold juice, gatoraid, sodas and cheeseburgers!!! Thanks Powder! Needless to say, it is one of his 2011 goals to do as much trail magic as he is able. And he even bought a coleman stove to grill on the side of the road for tired hungry hikers! The Cobbs are rubbing off on him!
Some more snippets of trail life for you:
I haven’t actually “solo-ed” yet, so food planning is always for 2 right now. Good thing, because once Powder gets off in 9 days to go to work, I’ll be in the habit of still shopping for 2: which is now my appetite anyway!
We always have 4 food bags: 2 for each of us. We eat 4 meals a day, so this works out nicely for organizing the food. Breakfast: when we’re breaking camp (which by the way, always takes longer than you might think), Snack (usually around 10 or 11), Lunch (anywhere btwn noon and 2pm, depending on when we started in the morning), and Dinner (whenever we finally get to camp). Happy Camper and I were eating lunch with some trail buddies the day we left Monson. All of their eyes got pretty big when they realized what we’re eating. That’s right, we do it in style! Our snack bag alone has typically 10 different kinds of snacks: chips, snickers, dried fruit, jerky, powerbars, spicy crunchy stuff, OCPs (Oatmeal Creme Pies), zingers, etc, etc. A HUGE THANK YOU to Mrs. Sellenrick for the amazing care package in Monson! We brought nearly all of that food with us, and you really got it just right!!! We loved everything so much! Thank you! We barely had to buy groceries for that 6 day stretch!
So for lunch we bring bread, mayo, lunch meat (believe it or not, you can carry this un-refridgerated for a couple of days), cheese, baby carrots. I’m still working on creative dinners. The best so far have been Knorr Teriyaki noodles with Coach’s mom’s homemade teriyaki jerky; velveeta mac with tuna, and Mountain House spaghetti with meat sauce. Sounds real appetizing, doesn’t it?
I’ll say Snack is the most important meal of the day. I sit down for a good 20 min and just keep eating. The snack food bag is always the heaviest, and the snacks have more calories than anything else: equals energy!!!
ON MAINE TERRAIN:
I had Powder take a quite a few pics of the trail covered in roots and rocks. This is normal! Also, it’s normal for the trail to go STRAIGHT UP! The MATC (Maine Appalachian Trial Club) does an incredible job with trail maintainence. We have passed so many trail crews buildings stone “steps” and digging trenches for rain runoff. The MATC however does not believe in swicthbacks: zig-zag trail that would lessen how steep your climb is. The trail through Maine does zig-zag: East to West. So, we’re doing lots and lots of back and forth miles: never truly going South but always going STRAIGHT UP and DOWN. And that is why this trail is 2,181 miles. Some of it is because of land ownership: the trail has to cut and skirt around some places. Otherwise, not sure why this trail is so all over the place. It is as crazy as the people who hike it!
I would not hike this without poles. Never do we step on level ground. You can see from the pictures how crazy the terrain is! Sometimes we are seriously rock climbing. I am a climber, and typically love climbing, but not with a heavy pack on! At the end of one long day we were on the top of Bigelow Mountain. The ridge stretch is all giant boulders. Your poles really do you no good. I must have been headed due West, the sun was right in my face. I missed a step and face-planted into the hemlocks that lined the trail! My glasses got knocked off and I was really disoriented. I looked at the tree trunk and at first thought that the branches were holding me up: that I was half way up the tree! But then realized that the ground was right there, and I stepped down. I only tell this story, one: so I can laugh at it now; two: to show you how rugged it is here, and three: to keep my Christian friends praying for my safety!