We drove into the night “Trying to make good time” as my dad put it.
I am going on a four month trip with no consideration or desire for the destination. I wanted to make the trip to Maine a fun one. But instead, OnStar lead us to bypass all the major cities, making us merely commuters on our way to the drop off.
I used to be a sucker to this outlook that has overtaken the worlds. I was raised to hold my bladder because “we’ve got to keep moving” and go hungry to minimize the stops. It took me to the point of absolute efficiency, stress, and misery to realize that I was missing out on one of the greatest times to see the world. Now I feel that traffic jams are there to slow life down and I’ll choose the road that goes right into the mayhem.
We could fly over the land, avoiding all interactions, or we could take the interstate around the city, or we could travel through the woods on foot.
After developing a rash on my back that feels like laying on broken glass every time I put my pack on, I decided it was time for a shower at any cost. I hiked hard today to make it to Monson, Maine where I am staying at a hiker hostel called Shaw’s in town. The owner is like a mom on loan to all the hikers. She takes great care of us.She cooks us good meals and makes sure we have a warm bed and clean bathrooms to rejuvenate our spirits. I have been walking around in sweatpants and sweatshirt I am guessing from goodwill that she lends out to hikers to wear while we wash out clothes.
I have had two huge meals already but plan on getting in another couple before I leave again tomorrow morning. I can tell I have already lost weight so more ice cream and pizza is of necessity at this point. I have really enjoyed the last couple weeks and I am excited for having made it 5% of the way through the woods. I have a lot of more adventure ahead of me and I am really excited.
“Where ya headed?”
“You’re walking to Georgia?”
“Nah man. Trough the woods.”
“You’re walking through the bush to Georgia?!”
“About how far is it?”
“What?! You’re walking 2000 miles through the bush to Georgia?”
“Thats the plan.”
“‘Bout how long you think it’ll take ya?”
“Five months or so”
“Geez. You getting paid to do this or something?”
“Let me get this straight: You’re walking for five months, 2000 miles through the bush to Georgia and you’re not getting paid?”
We become comfortable with all the functions of the human body out here. Girls grow hairy legs, guys grow beards. We both just have to adjust to the added warmth and new look. Body odor is non-offensive and barely even noticed out here. The worse someone smells, the more you empathize with them because they are the ones who truly have to suffer with it. Fingernails collect dirt and dowstairs gets itchy. And despite fighting this belief my entire life, I have finally admitted to the fact that girls do, dare I say, poop.
I looked out from my first big mountain in good weather today and the two days worth of uphill hiking to get here was totally worth it.
A mouse is standing right over-top of me looking at me. He wants my food but he is having trouble jumping from the soda can on a string to the hanging bag below. I’ve carried that weight through these woods for long enough now that he’s gonna get creamed if he manages to spoil any of my food.
I mean I would just give some to him. I think he’s one of those that steals for the kick of it though. Hate to be judgemental but he’s got that look to him. Know what I mean? He’s one of those rebellious mice out for some thrills.
These mice are not scared of us at all. They’ll walk on you if you are still too long. He’s tempting me with mice kabob’s for breakfast with his lack of skiddishness. He should be thanful I’m a vegetarian. So should the chipmunk who tried to steal my tortilla today. They used to be cute but after lunch today I lost all respect for Alvin.
I didn’t remember ordering a wake-up call for 4:50 this morning.
“It looks like it is going to be a beautiful sunrise this mroning. Have you ever seen a sunrise over water? Boy, you’re a deep sleeper. Well, it’s your decision.”
I didn’t know that 6a.m. was sleeping enough enough to be dubbed with the name late start.
I walked on a makeshift bridge today over murk the color of baby poop. I saw a footstep deep into the mud and while the incident occured hours, if not days before, I felt I have a pretty good idea of what that person said immdeiately after their mis-step.
I saw a bear footprint on the trail today. They have huge claws that are easily distinguishable from any other animal. Come to think of it, this is the last thing I want to be thinking about in woods by myself in the dark.
Oh here, let me take that sign off my forehead that says “Hi, I’m a teenager. Please help me because I’m a poor lost and confused soul and need help with getting my life together.”
First off, I know exactly where I am going and what I am doing: hiking to Georgia and doing it how I want.
Second, just because I am young does not mean I need help and definitely does not mean I am dumb.
Third, I’m eating ice cream in the middle of the biggest wilderness on the east coast and there are no roses so I think this is as close I can get to smelling them.
Fourth: I mean honsetly dude, you’re not even a hiker.
And finally, or course I’m not going to be the only resident at your creepy hostel twenty miles away from any other house in the middle of the woods you sketchy creeper.
So all the lakes and streams and mountains here were named by a kindergartener. He learned the alphabet so he put the letters together to make unpronouncable words like potaywadjo, pemadumcook, and nahmakanta. Then he learned how to count so he named not one but eight debsconeag lakes.And finally when he learned how to spell his first word he titled the Rainbow Lake. For us hikers we commonly use the genrerally sounding name. Namataka is a perfect substitute for tankanaka or natakana.
I am practiciticing hiking fast enough to outrun my smell. Every night before I got to bed I pray for wind to carry my stench away. I ate an entire 16 ounces of peanut butter with a spoon today.
Today my friend Gnat took his own life. I’m pretty sure it was my smell. He flew into my eye and drowned.
The war for my blood sitll wages on. Leeches this time. None managed to grab hold with their blood sucking jaws but many attempts lead me swimming fast for the shoreline.
There always seems to be something uncomfortable about this. Mosquitoes drove me insane. Rocks and roots twist my ankles and hurt my feet. Mud weighs my shoes down and gives me blisters. Downhills make my knees swell. But climbing Nasuntabunt mountain today I knew I was home. Sweat dripping, heart pounding, legs burning, odor increasing exponentially. I was in my place. Thats of course before I realized I was three miles away from the next stream and completely out of water.
The mice are not mousy here.
There are some weird people out on this trail. Till I meet a South bound thru hiker that is not insane, I walk alone.
The mosquito army launched their form of nuclear warfare this morning with a kamikaze attack. Their forces have no sympathy and I was bitten today in a location no mosquito should ever venture. After admitting loss and calling retreat, I ran into the backwoods known as the hundred mile wilderness. I have ten days worth of food and I hope to come out the other side of this wilderness well away from the line of combat.
The mesh alone my shelter is lined with their corpses and my blood but their sheer numbers outlasted my courage. I have no intentions of returning to the graveyard up North to end the war. They won the battle and claim dominance over Abol Pines.
It is dusk here on my second night and I rest on the lakeside where loons call across to each other. Their voices echo throughout the woods from mountain to mountain.
I have discovered hiking is an extended day dream interrupted by acknowledgments to north bounders, meals, and spectacular views.
Today I hiked through mosquito infested wetlands, my back ached, my feet swelled, and my hips bruised from the load of a heavy pack. But tonight I sit here with burnt pasta (it’s possible- I did it) watching the sunset over a hilltop to the west. This lake is seven miles long, completely clear, and an awesome swimming hole to rinse off in. I suffered and enjoyed the day not say I hiked ten miles, but to hike ten miles, and suffer, and experience. And I have lived.
The battle of Abol Pines began today. The war is on. The soldiers managed to infiltrate all my defenses, but my legs were faster than their aerial forces. I out-ran the little buggers after fighting them off for nearly three miles. They seem to be attracted to the smell of DEET bug spray and have no fear. It amazes me how brave their forces are.
Many of the infantry lost their lives today in the battle and although I survived their attacks, my drastic loss of blood hast left me weakened.
They cannot seem to infiltrate the barrier I have established known as nylon and no-see-um netting. Hopefully this defense remains satisfactory till I regain strength for the battle to continue tomorrow.
The General Store is out of ammunition in my defense. I think the mosquitoe army has bribed the owner to not stock 100% DEET. But I cannot surrender despite my lack of resources. I must continue on.
Today, on day 2 was my first rest day of the 2k mile journey. Yesterday I completed the longest and hardest climb on the entire trail so I guess it is fitting to rest today. Today was meant to rescharge my legs, check gear, have fun with my parents, and enjoy the beauty of Maine.
Instead, today turned into an adventure in itself.
During the last ice age, glaciers carved pits and mountains on the Maine landscape. As that water melted, lakes formed and mountains settled. After summiting the highest point in the area, today my parents and I rented a canoe to explore one of the lowest. In Virginia, we have 2 natural lakes. In Maine, there are 2,200.
Me and my dad learning how to paddle in a straight line was an adventure in itself.
Tired from exploring the lake just outside of the Bed and Breakfast, I laid down to enjoy a five minute nap. Literally five minutes later my dad ran in and had the call not been worthwhile, he was going to get a beating. But the offer was beyond fair: a plane ride. Exploring the modes of transportation around Maine- that was the game.
Honestly I could not have imagined a better send off.