Journal 260-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Saturday–November 6, 2021

Trail Day–260

Trail Mile–12.4/2606

Remaining Miles–11.7

Location–Goose Pond Road (1548.7) to West Branch Road (1561.0), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Craig, Otis, Massachusetts

Trying to wrap my head around the thought–one more day, just one more day and this long journey will come to an end.

Thankfully, on trail today and hiking with me: Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink & Pooter Scooter. They watch over me, help and support me with compassion and understanding–as I struggle uphill and downhill through the mud and leaf-covered rocks and roots. I fall a lot and whine a lot. Ahh, but does not their patience and good humor carry me through–this long, tiring day…

 

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
     Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
    From morn to night, my friend.
  (Christina Georgina Rossetti)

 

Journal 259-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Friday–November 5, 2021
Trail Day–259
Trail Mile–10.3/2593.6
Remaining Miles–24.1
Location–Beartown Mountain Road (1538.3) to Goose Pond Road (1548.7), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Chris, Otis, Massachusetts

Another great night’s rest at the Whalen home. Carol prepared a delicious and nourishing supper for us (me, Barry, Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink & Pooter Scooter).  Upstairs in my room I tried working my journal entry but promptly fell asleep!

This morning we’re greeted by another cold (30 degree), clear morning. It’s a short distance, a half-hour drive, back to Beartown Mountain Road. Hiking with me today are Mayor, Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink & Pooter Scooter. Barry has us out and moving a bit after seven-thirty.

As with recent days, we’ve what seems enormous elevation changes, ascents and descents at or in excess of 5,000 feet. Today is little different. The grades are gradual though, the tread friendly, with a few cobby sections thrown in. Progress of 1.5 mph is relatively easy, making for reasonable total trail hours of around eight.

The red and orange autumn colors are all gone now, but the golds and russets remain, bringing an unusual and startlingly pleasant brightness to the otherwise customary darkness of the deep woods. The vistas, from our high vantages may not appear as striking, yet autumn lingers, a pleasant maturity that marks its near end. Late fall with the chill of shorter days–this is my favorite time of year!

An amazing thing happened to me today, one of the most intense emotional moments I’ve experienced in my memory–hiking along in my rhythmic hypnotic-like pace I look up to see this backpacker sitting a large blowdown beside the trail. Passing, I nod, but notice he’s got his phone camera running. His cap is pulled down, a sock is over his face, so all I can see are his eyes. Hesitating, I’m thinking: I know this fellow! I turn to take another look. OMG, it’s who I think it is; it’s Grey Beard, current AT thru-hike age record holder. He’s driven two days, all the way from Memphis, to be with me. I break into an uncontrollable sob unable to contain my emotions of the moment. Barry had hiked in, reaching us just moments before. And there he and Grey Beard stand, the most gleeful looks on their faces. Open arms now, the old Grey Beard & Nimblewill exchange hugs. What a moment, what an intense emotional moment. Grey Beard is such a dear friend; he encouraged me to attempt this long, difficult journey. And here he is. He’s come to join me and to share the joy at the end of this quest…

You are never too old to set another goal
or to dream a new dream.
(C. S. Lewis)

Journal 258-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Thursday–November 4, 2021
Trail Day–258
Trail Mile–11.6/2583.3
Remaining Miles–34.4
Location–Beartown Mountain Road (1538.3) to Homes Road (1526.7), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Chris, Otis, Massachusetts

The Whalens have taken us all in, with pure joy in their hearts for us. Their son, Chris, being a thru-hiker, and having lived that experience with him–Mike & Carol fully understand the quest I’ve undertaken (and my needs), and have reached out to extend their hospitality and kindness to me. It truly is a wonderful thing!

For the past hundreds of days you’ve followed along this trail with me, the happy days, those of toil and tribulation, the joys, the anguish. Today was a mix of both, the most pleasurable company of friends, plus the toll accumulated, the extended days of mental and physical exertion. So, I’ll leave describing this day at that.

I’ve entered into a shadowy area, the final few days of this extended journey. I’ve hope, yet much anxiety, the mixed feelings of wanting to continue, yet the relief of knowing the end will be soon. It’s perplexing, and I’m having a hard time dealing with it…

 

Ends are not bad things,
they just mean that something else is about to begin.
And there are many things that don’t really end, anyway…
(C. JoyBell C.)

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