Starting out in the morning we had a nice nine mile section of flat ground. I had forgotten that meant it was rocks and roots. The first four miles were absolute misery as I walked through a flowing creek of a trail. In Maine when a spring comes across the trail, the maintainers don’t route it away, they route in one the trail making it a river. The entire trail washed out and full 9f large river stones was a walking nightmare. I could take no more between the pain, the wet socks, the cold. I wanted to get to Monson as fast as possible.
At the first river crossing, I tried my damnedset to keep from getting wet. I went to toss my somewhat drying shoes across only to have them go fourth feet in the air instead. Plopping right down in the middle of the river and floating down stream. Earthling running to the bank to retrieve them slid on the rock and fell on her side completely under the water. I burst out in laughter at the sheer site of her, a wet mouse. She looked miserable and it was hilarious as Flailing and I laughed. It was good to laugh. Crossing the river in my wet shoes she took off on her own, irritated of course.
The next mile to the road even worse then the ones before settled my decision for the day. I was going to take another route to town if I could. Sure enough I got lucky. The gravel road I came to led directly to Blanchard and I started walking on the smooth surface. The gravel road not only took me to town, it also paralleled the AT and allowed me to avoid having to ford another two rivers. For miles I walked along the road and thought of the end. I thought of how I would finish, what it might be like, and what I would do after. I had been working on this journey for over a year, carrying my burdens and desires for two thousand miles. I didn’t want to fail myself, my friends, my dog Roland. I had saved nothing for the swim back and the closer I got to the end the more important it became to finish strong.
In truth I had no plans for after the trail. I always knew I would reach the finale, the moment of conclusion, it seemed so far off, like a distant parent you see through a telescope. Mile after mile it had gotten closer so close that it was barking at the door. I was nearly done and in a day or two I would be knee deep in the hundred mile wilderness. That giant mountain looming in the distance, daring me to conquer it. I fortunately was released from my thoughts just before Blanchard by a trucker carrying timber. He knew I was a hiker and gave me arid ethe last few miles into Monson. With the afternoon saved I knew exactly what I had to do, I had to get caught up on my writing and I attacked it with vigor in the local library.
Before long my other companions come into town and we decided food was on the plan for the afternoon. Burgers and fries we sat and warmed for our day out on the trail. I had received good news, my clothes would be in town the next morning and we headed to Shaws for lodging and a night together out of the weather. Curling up on the couch we watched movies as we enjoyed WiFi, full bellies, and ice cream. So hopped up on sugR, Flailing talked our ears off late into the night, not really talking to us, but at us.