Monday, October 3, 2011

The Fairest of the Seasons

I’ve been out walking.  I don’t do too much talking, these days.

It’ll come as absolutely no surprise to those of you who have been patiently waiting for me to resume blogging that I’m having a bit of trouble summarizing my trip, putting up photos, and tying everything up in a smart little knot with a pretty bow at the top.  I have a number of stories and thoughts that I want to share before I post my summit photos (Spoiler alert: I finished!), starting, first and foremost with this: Maine kicked my ass.  It took me about a month to navigate the final 281 miles of the trail, which, with only two days off, makes my average about 10 miles per day.  I spent nearly the entire time in a long, drawn out funk, which was clumsily wrapped up in the following:
  • I took time off before, during, and after Hurricane Irene, and lost some of my steam.
  • I was tired, mentally and physically, of the trail. 
  • The trail was slippery, and steep, and tricky.  Also, I fell down a lot.
  • My feet were wet.  Actually, everything was wet.
  • I was missing my friends and family sorely.  This isn’t to say that I wasn’t also enjoying my trail friends, but there’s nothing quite like spending time with the people who know you to the core of your being. 
  • It was pretty, and there were a lot of rocks to sit on and stare off into the distance. For someone who is particularly skilled at brooding, this does not exactly speed things up.  Likewise: PEAK FOLIAGE! LAKES! CANOES! VIEWS FROM THE TOP!
  • Every step was bringing me closer and closer to the end.  And finishing things is not my strong suit.  
You get the idea.  Maine was challenging.

I sat on the summit of Avery peak of the Bigalows just after the 2,000 mile mark with my headphones in, watching the morning light dance across the landscape and listening to the melancholy music of Nico.  The leaves were starting to turn, the scenery stretched for miles, and I contemplated a time when I would not be sleeping outside and waking up to soak in a beautiful view.  What if, I thought to myself, this is my last good view? What if this is the last time I see an undercast clinging to the outline of a lake? What if it doesn’t get any better than this?  All reasons to continue to sit, and think, and soak in every moment. 

The beginning of the trail was about finding my hiking legs, and the middle was about using them.  The end of the trail, however, was about gazing over red and yellow speckled landscapes, swimming in pristine ponds and lakes, exploring every side trail I could, taking off my shoes to wade through ice cold water and look down into a deep pool of water at the base of a 25 foot waterfall, examining the vibrant explosions of mushrooms that the rain had produced, and two hour long lunches that ended with naps on beaches.  The end of the trail was about ensuring that I took advantage of every single solitary moment, so that years from now, when I look back on Maine I don’t remember the difficult parts, but instead remember the palate of colors and smells.  The end of the trail was not about a rush to the finish line, but a slow and steady walk, allowing me to leave in the fairest of the seasons.


  1. Is there any chance you'll be in the Boston area sometime soon? I'd love to see you.

  2. I just found the album Dirt Album by Levon Helm. Listening to it reminds me of your hike down south, so here I am catching up on your trip one month too late.

    It is no wonder you would make the break time a bit longer in Maine. If I ever visit Maine again, I would want to settle there and never leave!

    Wish this trip has grant you the boost you need to tackle the challenges of past, present, and future.