Today is the 28th day of August, and my 139th day of this crazy, beautiful adventure. Of those 139 days, I’ve actually only been on trail hiking for 113 days. From where Yaeger, Hollywood and myself sit, we’ve walked 1843.8 miles. Our next major task being Mt. Washington and the Wildcats…a task that will have to wait another day.
I’m sitting in front of the Saco (say-co) River, at camp Indian Acres in Fryeburg, Maine. Yaeger spent his childhood and early adulthood as a camper and counselor at Indian Acres. Hollywood and I are fortunate enough to be on yet another side trail, graciously provided by Yaeger and his New England friends. It’s a bluebird day, and we’re all excited to be sitting by a river…as opposed to climbing the most difficult mountains we’ve seen to date.
It’s been nearly a month since I’ve last written. Since then, people have come and gone, and so have the states. We’ve completed Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and nearly all of New Hampshire. The White Mountains have proved tremendously difficult, and exceedingly breathtaking. Just the other day, we climbed Mt. Kinsman in a torrential downpour…over 3,000 vertical feet of hand over hand climbing. The following day we climbed Franconia Ridge, which included a 2.5 mile above tree line walk over Mount Lincoln and Lafayette. There are no words to sufficiently describe its beauty.
In my last post, it was presumed that Bernard had Poison Oak. We were wrong…he’d unfortunately developed a staph infection. Once diagnosed, we parted ways and he spent time recovering in Boston with friends. It was tough having to say goodbye (for now) to friends you’ve been through so much with. Last I heard, he and Sheila have been back on the trail, kicking ass, and are within a day of Yaeger, Hollywood and I.
Since Yaeger and I reconnected, we’ve developed a closer bond…one akin to a little brother/big brother relationship. Most days, we make a plan for mileage, hike at our own pace and catch up on breaks or at the end of the day. Other times we hike together, talking on life, love and the pursuit of. Yeager’s ten years my elder, (although you wouldn’t be able to tell by meeting him)…and in typical ‘little bro’ style, I never let him forget just how ‘old’ he is. He’s a good sport, and certainly never hesitates to send it back my way.
The other interesting fact about Yaeger is that he is a Type 1 Diabetic. I apologize if I’ve mentioned this before, but it inspires me everyday. He would be modest and say it’s no big deal, It’s his life now. Other times he’d get angry and tell me how much it sucks having to deal with this autoimmune disease. Whichever way he’s feeling that day, he continues to walk. I got a glimpse of what it means to be diabetic, and still live your life the way you desire, back in Mass.
Yaeger was contacted by Steve, a climber, adventurer, photographer, podcast creator, and least of all, Type 1 Diabetic. Steve wanted to do a spot on his podcast about Yaeger’s thru hike, how his diabetes plays a roll in his life, and how adventure is a prescription to help deal with the disease. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that conversation, as well as to have met Steve and Yaeger. You can find Steve at LivingVertical.org, as well as find pictures on FB and IG at LivingVertical. Go check out the two part interview on his podcast.
After a few more days of hiking, we caught back up to The Shire (Bilbo, Raiden, Finch, Homefry and Papa Osts). They’ve all been hiking together for most of the trip, and have become my second trail family. Each one offering a different outlook on life and hiking. Then a week ago, we took in another stray. Hollywood is a recent Oklahoma Theatre grad who adds spunk, optimism and smiles to the crew. She’s been a more than welcome addition.
I never realized how much interpersonal relationships would play a role in this trip. I came out here searching for solitude, getting it, growing personally…and then realizing the degree to which I enjoy and, at a basal level, need other people.
To make this long story shorter, I’ll refrain from writing about the million other amazing and/or sketchy things that have happened in this last month. This trip continues to exceed every expectation I ever had for it. I would rather be no where else…other than with my dog, I still miss the hell out of her.
To all of you, everyone in my life (past and present)…I love you for enriching my life in so many different ways. Without you I would not be able to be me.
345.4 more miles to walk…but after this beer.