Feb 05 2009

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Dreaming of Wilderness

Posted at 1:00 pm under Blog Post

Last week I purchased a set of maps for the Maine section of the Appalachian Trail.  The first three maps, heading south from Mt. Katahdin, cover a patch of wild country known as the 100-Mile Wilderness.  Not a wilderness in the true sense of the word, this is the most remote stretch of the AT.  Hikers are told to carry 8 to 10 days food when going through this part of the Maine woods because there’s nowhere to resupply.   That’s music to my ears!  When I first learned this, I vowed to hike the 100-Mile Wilderness someday.  Well, now I have the maps in hand, and that day is less than seven months away.

Since acquiring the maps, I have pored over them with such intensity that I’ve practically memorized the route.  For a hundred miles the trail skirts lakes, follows streams, winds through wetlands, traverses two significant mountain ranges, and fords rivers.  And I’ll be deep in the forest most of the way.  This is my idea of a good time.  Most people dream of sleek cars, beautiful new homes, and lounging on Caribbean beaches.  I dream of a long, sweaty, bug-ridden slog along a muddy trail with a 60-pound pack tugging at my aching shoulders.  Maybe I should have my head examined.

My wife, Judy, is all for it.  She knows I need to get away like this every once in a while.  She’ll drop me off at Abol Bridge and pick me up 12 days later at Monson.  That’s a lot of driving, but she’s willing to do it for me.  Yeah, I’m a lucky man.

Matika will be going with me, of course, and her pack will also be fully loaded.  No chasing squirrels on this outing.  Matika and I are both soft and fat now, but diet and exercise will whip us into shape during the next six months.  The main thing right now, in the dead of winter, is to cut back on the treats.  No peanut butter biscuits for her; no jelly beans for me.

Some people hike long distances for the fresh air and exercise.  Others for the brag of it.  I hike as an excuse to spend a big chunk of time in deep woods.  That’s why I’ll be doing this section of trail in 12 days instead of the recommended 8 to 10.  That means carrying more food, but I don’t care.

Right now it’s a few degrees above zero outside, there’s a foot of snow on the ground, and my body is fighting off a cold virus.  The upcoming hike seems far away.  But six months goes by quickly when you’re my age, so I’ll be standing on Abol Bridge soon enough.  Until then, I’ll be dreaming of wilderness… and getting ready.  The single biggest question is this:  Can Matika get by on dehydrated dog food?

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