Just a few years in the past, I used to be struck by this thought: “For any individual who considers himself a Maine outdoorsman, you shouldn’t, as an previous man, look again and understand that you just by no means climbed Mt. Katahdin, by no means ran the Allagash, nor hiked the Appalachian Path.”
So, I climbed the mountain. That left the Allagash and the Appalachian Path.
“Papa,” my granddaughter, Dana Reynolds, mentioned not too long ago, “I’ll do an in a single day hike with you on the AT.”
The yr earlier than, she had hiked with pals from Monson to Pamola Peak. She beloved it.
The yr earlier than, with the Appalachian Path in thoughts, I had sought recommendation from Bar Harbor mountain climbing author Carey Kish, who has thru-hiked the path twice. “What could be an excellent part of the AT for an previous man?” I requested. Carey advised the 13-mile stretch between Top of the Land on Route 17 and Route 4 south of Rangeley.
Let’s have some disclosure right here. As a youthful man, I’ve humped a heavy pack for a mile or two in elk nation, and to today, I do loads of 2-mile walks. However powerful terrain mountain climbing was not on my resume. My day by day walks are on open grime roads with a couple of mild hills. And in elk nation, the paths might be difficult due to altitude, however are largely easy, well-worn mule paths by way of meadows and aspen groves.
So, the opposite day, after I, my granddaughter, Dana, and her father (my son, Josh) set foot on the Appalachian Path off Route 17 with our in a single day backpacks, what confronted me was in no way the Appalachian Path that I had envisioned. Nearly instantly, the terrain looms ominously in case you are an 81-year-old man. Steep ascents. Helter skelter piles of sharp-edged granite. Huge, twisting, gnarly roots. Moist rock surfaces. Seductive footholds ready to twist an ankle.
In 4 hours, we lined 4 miles, a sluggish tempo attributable to my cautious step-picking tempo up and down the rock piles and over root tentacles. My mountain climbing mates had been jewels who sorted Papa with love, persistence and humor.
Taking a break on the 3-mile mark after conquering one significantly formidable rock pile, Dana, who wasn’t even breaking a sweat, had a response to my gasping for breath and niggling complaints about how powerful the going was.
“Papa,” she mentioned with a giant grin, ”it’s essential to embrace the suck!”
As we resumed the trek, I considered that. “Hmm, I feel she signifies that I ought to be taught to savor the ache, proper? How do you try this?”
That evening on the Sabbath Pond lean-to, mile marker 4, we recharged with a warming campfire, a barely satisfactory freeze-dried meal and a pleasing dialog with a thru-hiker from California. He had left Springer, Georgia, in February and had been on the AT ever since.
Out of curiosity and admiration, all of us grilled him: “What do you eat? How a lot does your pack weigh? Did you ever consider quitting? What number of pairs of sneakers have you ever worn out?”
Solutions: Beans and couscous. Fifteen kilos. By no means. Three thus far.
Path-beat, I zipped myself into sleeping bag and tent, all of the whereas chuckling to myself about my granddaughter’s path philosophy and most spectacular youthful path stamina.
To my utter shock, dreaded day two on the path appeared much less intimidating, regardless of my sore quads and stiff again. We lined the identical floor in three hours as an alternative of 4. Dana mentioned my tempo “had picked up rather a lot” and I had been “stepping with extra confidence.”
To be frank, this specific expertise was age-confronting for me in an abrupt method, much more than final fall’s Colorado elk hunt. And but, in a perverse kind of method, it was nonetheless in some way a personally satisfying departure from my day by day life.
And also you need to know one thing humorous? Opposite to Diane’s needs, I simply could do one other quick Appalachian Path part yet another time, to see if I can be taught to “embrace the suck.”
The Allagash? It’ll simply have to attend.
V. Paul Reynolds is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal, an writer, a Maine information and host of a weekly radio program, “Maine Outdoor,” heard at 7 p.m. Sundays on The Voice of Maine Information-Discuss Community. Contact him at [email protected]