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.)

Journal 257-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Wednesday–November 3, 2021
Trail Day–257
Trail Mile–11.3/2571.7
Remaining Miles–46.0
Location–Mount Everett Road (1515.4) to Homes Road (1526.7), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Chris, Otis, Massachusetts

What a wonderful benefit (say blessing) to be offered a place to stay by Chirs Mayor Whalen for the remainder of this journey. His parents, Mike and Carol, have a lovely log home on the mountain near Otis, Massachusetts. Mayor thru-hiked the AT this year and our paths crossed in both Gatlinburg and Hot Springs. He lives with his folks here in Otis, which is located near the trail–and in his kindness has offered me, Slim Jim, & Kitchen Sink lodging accommodations for the remainder of my hike. Mayor introduced us to his folks when we arrived here late yesterday evening and we were warmly welcomed. In anticipation of our arrival, Carol had prepared a big pot of beef stew for supper, and rooms were ready for us. I was able to shower first thing before sitting their dining room table and downing two bowls of stew. Being completely spent from the day’s hike I managed only a short visit before retiring to my room.

Today, hiking with me will be Slim Jim & Mayor. Kitchen Sink is taking the day off. Barry gets us to the trail early, where we’re greeted by a cold, clear morning–another perfect hiking day. Mid-day, JeanMarie Pooter Scooter Gossard comes hiking up the trail, completely surprising me. What a joy seeing her again! Pooter Scooter has hiked the AT, plus that segment of the Eastern Continental Trail  from Springer Mountain to Flagg Mountain, and I had the pleasure of meeting her when she reached Flagg Mountain–where I live (and caretake the mountain). She has come to join me and hike the remainder of this odyssey with me–the blessings continue (and continue).

Evening, we’re welcomed back to the Whalen home (Pooter Scooter too). Carol has prepared another delicious and nourishing meal–meatball subs. At the table, while stuffing myself, I soak my pitiful left foot in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts prepared by Barry (I continue suffering excruciating pain in my left foot).

Mayor is a happy, joyful person, a pleasure to be with (and he’s a strong hiker). We all had a great time hiking on the mountain today…

No road is long with good company.
(Turkish Proverb)

Journal 256-ODYSSEY 2021: Bama to Baxter-Hike On!

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Tuesday–November 2, 2021
Trail Day–256
Trail Mile–12.5/2560.4
Remaining Miles–57.3
Location–Undermountain Road (1502.9) to Mount Everett Road (1515.4), then to home of Mike & Carol Whalen and son, Chris, Otis, Massachusetts

If you’ve followed my adventures even the least you well know how difficult it is for me to say goodbye, especially when the parting is no doubt final. And so, this morning I bid farewell to Barbie & Dan–likely the last time I ever see either of them again. Photo ops, hugs, and a few tears and I’m down their driveway and gone.

Today will be the most challenging and difficult of the few days remaining to complete Odyssey 2021. Slim Jim, Kitchen Sink and I will be tackling Lions Head, Bear Mountain, Mount Race, and Mount Everett. In the process we’ll make ascents and descents totaling over a mile–3,600 feet of up, 2,000 down–through rock and boulder-strewn trail.

Another crisp autumn day, the chill of fall in the air. We start with a warmup on a gentle climb. My puffy and wind-break hoods up, my trekking poles dangling from my wrists, hands in pockets. But soon enough I’ve got to lean into it and dig my sticks in as the first ascent for the day begins–the steep climb to Lions Head. Fortunately, I’ve good energy and am of good spirit. This day is going to take plenty of both!

The day is practically haze-free, offering breathtaking vistas from every vantage, first from Lions Head, then Bear Mountain. Comes now the steep descent, down and down some more, to Sages Ravine–where we’re confronted with the fording of Sawmill Brook. Wet feet now and for the remainder of this day.

Of the 15 states through which my Bama to Baxter trek passes, I put #14 (Connecticut) behind me today–to cross into Massachusetts a little before two. It’s a great feeling to be standing by the “Welcome to Massachusetts” sign, with just a bit over 50 miles remaining to complete this Odyssey 2021!

Finally, down the steep descent off Mount Everett, we reach Mount Everett Road, our destination for today. It’s turning dark; I’m totally spent. What an incredible day…

 

What you get by achieving your goals
is not as important as what you become
by achieving your goals.
(Henry David Thoreau)

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