June 27, 2018
Destination: Gentian Pond Shelter Today's Miles: 11.80
Start Location: Rattle River Hostel at Mile 1892.6 Trip Miles: 1904.40
I woke up at about 6:30, which is later than usual for me. It felt good to rest and the bunk at the hostel was really comfortable.
I went down for breakfast, which was DIY waffles. Their waffle machine made four at a time, which was perfect. I sat and drank some coffee as I finished my waffles. I talked with a few southbounders about their hikes and then Zoom Zoom showed up and I talked with her for a bit about resupply plans. I enjoyed sitting at the hostel drinking coffee! The luxury of it was nice. I gathered my things together and then asked about my options for getting to Walmart to resupply. They had a shuttle that left at noon, but I wanted to get going earlier. I thought I would have to hitch into town, but then as luck would have it, the guy running the hostel came inside and said he’d found me a ride.
My ride was one of the hostel owner’s friends. He was younger than me and had previously hiked the AT. In Walmart he found this giant Chewbacca mask and decided he needed to have it. He then proceeded to wear it around Walmart and “impress” the older folks who were shopping there. Most found it funny. One lady didn’t react at all, which I found pretty funny. On the way in to Walmart I mentioned to him that I was getting food to carry me to Andover. He told me it was hard to get a hitch to Andover and recommended I suck it up, resupply with enough food to get to Rangeley, and carry the weight. In my experience, recommendations from past thru hikers are usually worth listening to, so I adapted my plan and got food to get me to Rangeley.
My fortunate ride returned me to the hostel and entered himself, as Chewbacca. I wish I had thought to ask his trail name. Maybe now it should be Chewy! I got my food broken down and organized into my food bag, and it was time to go. As I laced up my shoes outside I talked with a southbounder about the upcoming challenges of the Mahoosic Notch and Mahoosic Arm. I started to get nervous about this, but then I remembered what I went through with Moosilauke and how silly it was to worry. Maybe one of the final lessons of the trail after all this time - practice faith. Trust that I will get through, not by my own will and volition, but on the wings of something bigger than me. It isn’t a free ride. I have put in the time and practice hiking, day after day. I’ve done my best to listen to the trail, imperfectly of course. I have leaned on the kindness of strangers, and I have been tested mentally and physically throughout it all. Have I really had faith though? Or has it been the convenient faith, the faith that comes from wanting to get out of a tough bind. I’ve had faith in myself for sure. But that, and being able to accept that something bigger than me is part of this journey, are two very different things. I am not a religious person, but I have tried to embrace and engage a spiritual aspect in this journey. In the larger scheme of things, I am insignificant; this journey is too. Yet, somehow, through nature I have connected with this kind of all-encompassing higher power, and I can feel it in my journey. Now is the time for me to really take a leap of faith, relax, and let go. Whatever this force is, “Nature,” it will do the rest. I have done my part. And so I let all of the warnings about Mahoosic this and that pass by, and made a conscious effort not to worry. Instead, I started my climb away from the hostel, the Androscoggin River, and my last slice of New Hampshire. Indiana Jones teaches me this lesson in The Last Crusade. It takes a true leap of faith, a true belief, to cross the abyss that can keep us from truly living. And honestly, that’s what this journey has been about from the beginning. I guess I just forgot for a little while. It was a leap of faith to leave a fifteen year career to do this, to “walk in the woods.” It’s clear now why I had to.
I hiked up the hill planning on going to Gentian Pond Shelter. I knew I wouldn’t make it to the Carlo Col Shelter just before the Maine border. Who did I bump into but the two Canadians I met in Duncannon at The Doyle, Snickerdoodle and Chattacoochee! It took me a second to recognize them. They said they had skipped a few states as they were running out of money for the trip. Somehow I had caught up with them. Sometimes cats are speedy, but sometimes we take long naps....
I got to Gentian and Snuggs was there. It was good to see a Nobo face. The shelter had a great view! The weather forecast for tomorrow is not great - it’s supposed to rain all day, potentially heavy at times. That concerns me a little as some of the SOBOs said they wouldn’t dare do the Notch in the rain. But...as George Michael once said, you gotta have faith. Snuggs and I discussed it and we both agreed that we should be able to handle it in the rain as long as we went slowly. I guess we’ll see how it goes tomorrow! And tomorrow I will be in Maine. That seems surreal! I don’t really know exactly how I feel, but I guess excited and a little relieved! The journey has been great, but I’m getting tired. I think Maine will be a great way to wrap it all up!
I was grateful for the hostel stay and getting a ride to resupply today, as well as enjoying time talking with SOBOs, ZoomZoom, and having coffee. I am grateful for this shelter tonight, and for the strength to hike another day. I’m also grateful for the bug net I’m about to wear to sleep!! (Thanks Beth and Robin!)