So, I've gone a bit over 100 miles in 11 days. I hopped off the trail just about 10 miles north of Monson Maine, and am staying at Shaw's Hostel for a couple days. I picked up a new pair of shoes yesterday which should help me get rid of these deep bruises I've been getting around my ankles. No blisters, but boy do I hurt in fun places! Also bought a pair of underwear... was going commando, but a recent rip in the crotch of a pair of pants has opened my mind to covering the bits of me that tend to hang out.
I can't describe the beauty or hardships I've seen out in the wilderness of Maine, but if I could come even close, just picture walking 50 miles in the rain through bogs, and deep mud puddles, sliding on slippery roots that cover every square inch that isn't covered by rocks, then getting a clear day where you walk up to the top of the empire state building a couple times over, and look out to 100+ miles of mountains fading off into the distance, and green trees as far as the eye can see. I cried a bit on Whitecap mountain, my first clear view from the top of a tall peak. 360 degree views as far as I could see, after days of rain and cloudy conditions. The view was worth that trip, and there are still so many more to come. Pictures can't do it justice; driving to the top just for the view wouldn't do it justice; the walk up from far away made it much more meaningful.
I've carried a few lost items along the way. There have been things that a rational person wouldn't leave behind on purpose. For example, my second day into the 100 mile wilderness I found a food bag left alone at a shelter. No note. About 5-10 pounds of food. Most people should be carrying around 8-10 days of food to get through the 100 miles, and this was 3 or 4 days of food. I figured someone was probably 10 miles south and kicking themselves because they left it behind by accident. I carried the food for around 10-12 miles south before giving up and leaving it at the next shelter. It was throwing my balance off and was killing my hips, knees, and feet with the extra weight. A couple days later I ran into some folks who had the full story of a guy who found the bag and left some of his food because he was hopping off the trail to give up. I wish he had left a note... I would have just eaten the food, rather than carry it!
A question popped into my head as I fell asleep on a real bed last night around 6 other hikers: "who is more important, me or you?" The answer to that question I think tells a lot about how a person behaves. There have been some very self focused folks that I sort of admire, but can't stand because they don't give a shred of care to anyone around them. On the other hand, I've recently dived into knee/thigh high water when a 56 year old hiker slipped off a tree-trunk-bridge face first into the water. She has problems getting up when the pack takes her down, and I was concerned that her head might get shoved under water. She was fine, but I wonder what some of those self centered folks would have done in that same case... probably wouldn't have noticed because they were already trekking down the trail. I'd like to find a happier balance between being self-less and self-full. I am trying to focus more on my wants and needs first, then trying to help others as I can after I'm content. I'm not doing so good at the balancing act just yet. Who knows, maybe I'll be a stuck-up ass-hat when I get back.
I've also been thinking how hard it is to walk all these miles alone. When I don't have anyone to share the moments and stories with, they tend to blend into a murky picture of things past, rather than retaining their brilliance. I was alone for too many days and nights. I really miss just having someone around to help keep events in time organized. I haven't been writing anything down as far as a log, but those things I've shared with others along the trail I tend to remember so much more than those things I haven't had a chance to share. I thank all of you guys for being ears at a distance so some of these things stay more clear in my head. I may start writing things down, but it's like the mountain peak view; those events/sights mean something different to me who lived through the whole context, rather than through just the written word. I thank everyone who has helped out along the way, and are still helping, and I miss almost all (there's some ass-hat-ery for ya!) of you too much to express in writing.
Next mail from cartunk or stratton, I think.