Tag: hiking

The Opposite of Thru-Hiking

We were heading home from the Berkshires today, but we wanted to do some hiking before we had to say goodbye.  We chose a piece of the Appalachian Trail that would take us to a secluded lake and a cabin in the woods.   I’ve always admired those thru-hikers who could endure a marathon journey like the Georgia-to-Maine trek on the AT.   I like to camp, and I like to hike, but the prospect of hiking and camping for six months straight, well that’s daunting.  I can come up with so many reasons not to do it:  the planning, the weather, the bugs, the blisters, the danger, the bears, the roots, the routes, the food, the effort, the loneliness.  With all that, it’s still awfully tempting to the adventurous side of my brain.  Today, though, I discovered a new reason not to go “thru” with it.

Nancy and I headed out along Route 20 for the first stretch.  It felt odd to be walking next to a guard rail for a quarter mile.  It felt even more odd a quarter mile later when we came out of the woods and crossed over two bridges that spanned Interstate 90.  Soon enough the sounds of the tires and engines faded, and we trudged deeper into the forest.  The trail showed the wear from thousands of pairs of boots.  Mostly roots and rocks with a dash of dirt sprinkled between.  The trail was a steady uphill, not too steep, but enough that I noticed my own breathing.  We knew this was a short hike, so we didn’t make any stops, except to examine a newt or sniff a toad (the latter was Farley’s idea, not mine).  

I wondered if we’d meet any thru hikers heading north.  It seemed unlikely, since they’d be well behind the usual timetable if they wanted to arrive in Maine before conditions got really cold.  Sure enough, the only other hiker we saw was a woman who said she was “section-hiking.”  I didn’t know that term, but I got the gist.  She wasn’t day-hiking like we were.  She was camping, but only doing a section of the trail.  We talked for a bit, but let her get back to her trek.

After another mile, we crested a ridge and the trail sloped down, again not too steeply.  Farley was a bit more eager today, pulling on his leash as though he had an inkling of where we were headed.  Knowing this was a brief hike, I tried to take in the scenery, the giant boulder off to the right, the mountain laurel that lined the trail, the way the trees filtered the sunlight, speckling the ground.  I wasn’t expecting much from the cabin.  I imagined a primitive shelter, thinking even that probably felt luxurious to a weary thru-hiker.  We passed a set of tent platforms in a small clearing.  Basically saggy floors six inches off the ground, they would keep your tent or sleeping bag out of the mud, but that was about it.  We followed the trail as it curved to the left and then bent back to the right.  “Oh, I think I see the cabin,” Nancy announced, pointing toward a patch of red between branches up ahead.  After a few hundred feet, we reached a clearing and saw the cabin.  It was nothing like I’d expected.  First, there was the size.  It was a big structure, two stories tall with a peaked roof.  Then there were the features,  a stone chimney signaling an impressive fireplace, a large porch, complete with rocking chairs, looking out toward a pond.  A sign on the side said, “Welcome, hikers.  Occupancy 14.” 

“Okay, I could stay at a place like this,” I thought to myself.  Then we spotted the sign saying, “Beach,” with an arrow pointing down the hill.  We followed a narrow trail down the hill.  At the bottom, we saw two canoes with the AT symbol on their bows, and then a small dock reaching into the clear waters of a sky-mirror pond. 

“Hmm,”  I thought, “Reason number 357, not to be a thru-hiker:  Why would you ever want to leave?”

Five Things About Me


(inspired by Elizabeth Ellington’s entry at The Dirigible Plum, which was inspired by aligett24’s post, Inspired by MG Lit.

Something about yourself:

I am a procrastinator.  As I got ready to write tonight, I have found the following important things to do:  check email, check facebook, read the Washington Post Sports section…for the second time today, read the articles at the bottom of the page that have nothing to do with sports, sent a story on Type 2 Fun to Sarah, looked up the lyrics to “Don’t Talk about Bruno,” solved today’s Quordle (it was a 4,5,7,8 day), got up to get pretzel bites (three times), texted a colleague, decided to look through pictures on my phone for ideas.  When my wife asked what I was doing, I naturally responded, “Writing today’s slice.”

Something about your neighborhood:

I live on a street with houses that all look alike except that some houses have garages on different sides and some people have added front porches to their house.  However, by walking a few hundred yards and crossing the Post Road, I can be in an area of spectacular mansions and breathtaking views. We are literally on the other side of the tracks that many Southport residents use as they commute to New York each morning. The little village of Southport is actually part of Fairfield, but you have to write Southport on the address line or the post office will mark the letter undeliverable.  We walk our dog past homes with panoramic views of Long Island Sound, past quaint antique shops and a family-run pharmacy that goes back to 1860, and past a harbor with yachts the size of homes.  Farley enjoys padding through the pachysandra and hoisting his leg on the hosta.     

Something you love to do:

I love to hike in the Adirondacks.  When I was 11 years old, I started spending summers at a camp in Keeseville, New York.  The camp had been started by the gym teacher at a school in Manhattan.  My mom had attended the camp as a kid in the 1940s and sent me and my sister so that we could escape the summer heat in Washington in the 1970s.  Since those days, I’ve loved spending summer days on the trails of the high peaks and the low peaks of that region.  My wife and I try to get up there for at least a week every summer.  I love the air, the trails, the solitude, and even the heavy breathing.   Most of all, I love when we are standing (or sitting or lying) on a rocky peak looking out in wonder over miles of wilderness.

Something you hate to do:

I hate going to doctors.  This is odd, since my father and grandfather were both doctors, and I loved them.  I think it comes largely from the past 10 to 15 years when, in spite of feeling great, I have frequently been informed that something is wrong or needs attention.  “Your blood pressure is high,” “That mole looks suspicious,” “Your cholesterol could be better,”  “We could do something about that toenail,” “When was your last colonoscopy?”   For once, I would really like to go to the doctor’s and have him say something like what my dentist says, “Everything looks great.  You’re doing a great job.  Keep up that flossing!”  I may have passed those days.

Something you want to learn:

I have always liked putting on plays in my classroom.  It was fun trying to transform a small rectangular room with fluorescent lights into a stage and auditorium, but I was always curious about the behind-the-scenes workings of a real show.  I wanted to learn how to work the lights and the sounds in an actual auditorium.  This year I am getting that chance. I’m being the “tech person” working with kids in an actual sound booth with wireless mics, sound boards, spotlights, sliders, faders, antennae, and LEDs as we put on the musical version of Shrek.  This afternoon I got my first real lessons from a true techie, Mike the Mic Guy, a local legend.  A lot of what he told me about feedback, gains, presets, and crossfades wafted over my head, but I picked up a few sound bits of advice.  Now my faster-learning young crew will have to make it all work.  We have two more weeks to learn and practice.