By John Chapman
I am sitting on a stump in late fall at the Fryes Notch shelter with my feet up on the rocks that line the fire pit. It’s dark, minus the dim lamp illuminating my page, the dancing fire, and the lunar glow of a full moon— a super moon.
The naked trees of autumn provide a view of the eastern horizon that Appalachian Trail (AT) hikers seldom see; having already tackled the Mahoosuc and Grafton sections, they most likely return back, cozy at home.
However, I am not an AT hiker, simply just someone hiking on the AT trail. Enjoying the last bits of fall.
I decided to forgo my ice traction— bad idea. The somewhat treacherous decent had me consider staying at the Baldpate shelter, closer to the trail head, but I decided to push on. I’d be too bored if I had stayed at Baldpate.
I made it to the shelter just before the four o’clock sunset with time to get the fire going and simultaneously fetch the water— you have to be a one man show when you travel solo.
A good old sunset moon rise, I said to myself. The sunset colors—pink and blue—contrasted the golden full moon as it rose from beneath the blue hued mountains. Distant wind mills turn as the gusts grow stronger. I hoped that the wind wouldn’t blow like it did last night; on top of table rock with winds tearing down from the Notch. I’ve visited Grafton Notch several times this year and it has led me to a feeling, or a conclusion about the area: although short, this section of trails is very intense. I have done several hikes in New Hampshire and the western states where lack of oxygen becomes real! However, the trails here in the Notch make me have more doubtful moments than anywhere else I’ve visited; even the deserts of Utah.
But I love it here. This is not the only section of the AT I have been on, but any time that I am on the AT I think about the greatness that has passed through here. Young, old, fit and ready, and “having no idea what I got myself into.” One day I will complete the AT, but it seems to fall short to other destinations that find their way onto my bucket list. Always striving to head west whenever possible. I’ve been on the east my whole life, Maine specifically, but also all the way down the eastern seaboard. I am learning, though, that the east coast can be amazing, too. I’ve made it a priority to get out sea kayaking whenever possible: trying to learn the ocean.
I guess that’s ones thing that’s great about Maine: to my advantage I have an oceanic paradise and a mountainous playground.
What’s that they say about Maine? Oh yea— The Way Life Should Be.