Friday, September 18: Gloucester, MA
It was a beautiful sunny day when we woke up, so I did a short 1Ĺ mile hike in the woods behind the campground. Part of it was good trail near a salt marsh, part was heavily overgrown with grass, goldenrod and briars. Still, it felt good to stretch my legs for a few minutes. The rest of the morning was more frustrating as we searched, in vain, for some bookstores that were listed in the 2005 Antiquarian Bookseller brochure we picked up a few days ago. Two shops had disappeared, either moved or out of business, and another was found, but it had closed for the day. We gave up and headed down Route 1, where we eventually ran into some used bookstores that werenít in the brochure. The drive was slow, but an interesting mixture of tourist towns and forest. We were farther from the coast than I expected, so the only water we saw was an occasional pond or river. Clouds gathered overhead, threatening rain, but never delivered. We ended up at a lovely large campground near Gloucester. It had lots of wooded sites and not many people, though those who were camped there were noisy. Thatís the trouble with weekends: itís party time!
September 19-20: Bedford and Plymouth, MA
Weíve spent the past two days in the Boston area, but never made it into the city. I had hoped to spend some time in Boston, but Jim is in too much pain to walk on the Freedom Trail, and Iíve done it before, albeit many years ago.
On Saturday we toured Cape Ann, looking at the beaches and harbors, window shopping on Bearskin Neck, and looking for my grandparentsí former street in Rockport (the house is long gone). We found an inexpensive motel in Bedford, cleaned up a bit, then went to Arlington to meet Jimís long lost cousin. Jim last saw Liz when she was three years old and he was 17. It was good to meet her finally, after only knowing her via Christmas cards. Liz teaches yoga and Pete is an architect and artist. They are creative people, who live in a lovely house in a neighborhood with many beautiful old houses.
Today, Sunday, we met a couple of hiking friends--Mara and Rockdancer--in Lexington for a leisurely lunch. It was really good to spend time with them. We toured the village green in Lexington before we met them. I had forgotten the specifics, so I enjoyed the young interpreterís explanation of ďthe shot heard Ďround the world.Ē
After a couple of hours talking with our friends, we decided to head down to Plymouth, which Iíve never visited. Itís more compact than Boston, and traffic shouldnít be as bad as it was in the Boston area. I hate city drivers!
September 21: Shawme Crowell State Forest
We spent most of the day immersed in Colonial history at Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the Puritan village as it existed in 1627. There were costumed interpreters explaining life in the 17th century and the actual events of the early colony. It was fun and interesting. The buildings were good replicas, with many objects of daily use. There was a Wampanoag village as well as the English village and a workshop where craftsmen make pottery and furniture the old fashioned way. I enjoyed watching the furniture maker with his foot powered tools.
Then we drove into the town of Plymouth to see Plymouth Rock (disappointing, itís barely a boulder) and a 1957 full-sized recreation of the Mayflower, again with costumed interpreters explaining the voyage and what life aboard ship was like (grim!)
After an ice cream, we headed out to a campground in a nearby state forest. It was a nice one, with large wooded sites. I went for a short hike in the woods before supper Ė only about two miles, but it was nice. Jim was hurting from all the earlier walking and needed a rest. It is starting to get dark early these days (6:30) so I turned back sooner than I would have liked. There was lots of Indian pipe but no other flowers. The hike was a good end to a good day. I wish weíd had a bit more time in the town of Plymouthóthere are several museums and art galleries that looked interestingóbut we spent a lot of time at Plimoth Plantation and a lot of money on the entry tickets ($28 each) so we didnít linger.
September 22: Nickerson State Forest, Cape Cod
We headed out to Cape Cod on a warm but cloudy day. We drove all the way out to Provincetown on the end of the Cape, after a short stop at the Cape Cod National Seashore Visitors Center. It was a busy place; both were actually. The Visitors Center had three buses and a lot of cars in the lot, a busy place. I asked about hikes: most are very short, a mile or less. There is a long bike trail the length of the Cape, but only limited hiking, unless you just follow the beaches. Provincetown was a zoo: narrow one way streets, expensive parking, and crowds of pedestrians, so we just ate lunch at a pizza place and left, without touring the town by foot.
Jim and I drove out to the National Park and walked along the beach a short distance. The sand was soft and difficult for Jim with his bad hamstring, so we turned around quickly. We intended to walk out on a cement causeway near town we had been told about, but the parking area was full, so we drove out to Point Race and Herring Beach instead. Jim and I did a one mile loop trail, the Beech Trail, in a nice forest in the dunes. I thought a woods walk would be easier than a sandy hike, but even the woods had some soft sandy areas. Cape Cod has a lot of big sand dunes. Evidently the earlier settlers cut down all the forests, then had to deal with the erosion of the dunes that resulted from the loss of the groundcover. They have made an effort to replant the dunes, but a lot of people walk on them and kill the grasses that were planted to hold the sand in place.
We visited the renovated Cape Cod Life Savers Museum. The Life Savers were the forerunners of the Coast Guard, a shore patrol that rescued sailors from ships that ran aground. Supposedly they saved 175,000 people, nationwide, before they became obsolete. (The Coast Guard uses helicopters primarily for sea rescues now.)
We visited Nauset Beach and looked at the lighthouse, then went back to the Visitors Center where I did another 1.3 mile loop around a salt pond and along a marsh. There were several herons there, and a few people paddling canoes. I envied them. It looked like a good place to paddle.
We ended up spending the night at another state forest campground. It has several ponds, so before dinner I walked around the pond below our campsite. It was about 1 Ĺ miles around on overgrown trail, including lots of poison ivy turning red and gold. It was a huge campground, not as good as yesterdayís, but still a nice one and quieter. We canít hear the highway noise tonight.
Itís funny. We have spent much of the past two months exploring the Atlantic coast. Itís nice, but ocean doesnít really excite me the way it does some people. I like listening to the surf and watching the waves and looking for shorebirds, though I rarely see anything interesting. I did see a green heron in a pond today, which was a new one. But after seeing so many beaches this summer, Iím not all that impressed by sand and water. I like seeing the fishing boats and the occasional sailboat. In Rockport we watched a dozen sailboats heading out of the harbor. That was pretty. I wish we could spend more time on the water, but boat tours are expensive, and weíre spending too much money as it is. The dunes and kettle ponds are attractive, and I always enjoy lighthouses, but Iím ready to leave the coast. I hate the crowded roads and frequent towns. I miss the wide open spaces we saw out west and even in parts of Newfoundland. Iím feeling claustrophobic. Time to head for the mountains. I never get tired of mountains. There is endless variety in the rocks, the vegetation, the wildlife, and most of all, the wildness of it all.
Wednesday, September 23: Jellystone CG, Wareham, MA
Another day of wandering around Cape Cod, village to village, on the back roads. It rained just a few minutes as we left the laundromat in Orleans and drove to Chatham to look at the lighthouse there. We spotted a couple dozen gray seals in the water by the beach. The sand bar they had been sleeping upon was getting immersed by the incoming tide, so they swam toward town. We could barely see the few that remained out on the sandbar.
We stopped at Barnstable and visited the Historical Societyís Museum there. It was a nice one. One of my ancestors settled in Barnstable in the 17th century so I was curious. Iíll need to go back when I have more information on who and when they lived there.
Following the rural byways was a slow all day process. After checking email at the library, it was already 4:00, so we went in search of a campground. We found an inexpensive tent-site at Jellystone Campground. We were the only people in our section, since most of the people seemed to be long term RVers. We had the shower to ourselves, which was nice. It rained a bit after dinner, but nothing serious.
Thursday, September 24: Fall River
We slept badly last night, me because Iím coming down with a cold, and Jim because his leg was hurting. Even so, we headed to New Bedford to visit the town and the Whaling Museum there. There are cobblestone streets and some interesting shops, but parking was limited to two hours, so we didnít explore much. The Museum was more interesting than I expected and took most of our time. It told the tale of the rise and fall of New Bedford quite well. We stopped at the Seamanís Bethel, made famous in the novel Moby Dick, and drove past the old schooner ďErnestinaĒ. By that time I had run out of energy, so we left town and went looking for lunch and a pharmacy.
About an hour north of New Bedford is Dighton Rock State Park, site of a petroglyph panel that we wanted to see. Unfortunately, when we arrived we learned that the rock is inside a building and the museum was locked. You have to make an appointment with the nearby state forest office to see it. Since we have no phone, we drove over to the other park to talk to somebody about getting access to the rock, either this afternoon or tomorrow. The office there was also closed up. We walked over to the bathroom and ran into a park employee, the man who locks the gates at 3:30 on the three park units in his district. He agreed to meet us at 3:30 at Dighton Rock and let us in. Evidently, state funding was cut so the parks cut their staff and now the museum is only open by appointment. Odd! We were lucky to run into him.
It was an interesting petroglyph panel, which has been interpreted as either: 1) Native American, 2) Viking, 3) Phoenician, or 4) Portuguese. As usual, the images were faint, especially since the rock was under water for a while, but I could definitely see anthropomorphs and a deer.
While waiting for our appointment, we stopped at nearby Profile Rock, but that was disappointing, heavily vandalized by graffiti and not one of the better profile rocks. Weíve seen several that were much better. We didnít even bother with a photo.
Friday, September 25: Mystic, CT
A somewhat disappointing day, for me. We took our time leaving the motel, then stopped for breakfast at Tim Hortonís. We reached Newport around noon. I wanted to hike the Cliff Walk, which is supposed to be a nice hike that gives great views of some of the Newport mansions, but Jim wasnít up to it, so we just drove through town, looking at the sailboats on the water and a few of the expensive mansions. Some were incredibly huge. It was a beautiful sunny day. I really wish we had been able to spend time outdoors instead of in the car. I was looking forward to the Cliff Walk, but I didnít want to leave Jim with nowhere to go while I took a two hour hike. Itís not so bad when he can wait someplace nice, like a park or campground, but sitting in a parking lot in town just isnít much fun. The busyness of town made us both claustrophobic, so we didnít spend a lot of time in Newport. The mansions have entry fees and parking in town was limited. The boat tours were reasonable, but still cost more than we should be spending right now.
So we headed along Route 1 to Connecticut. We found a site in an RV Park in Old Mystic, then drove to the shore to get a glimpse of Stonington Point and downtown Mystic. Tomorrow weíll play tourist in Mystic Seaport, which is a recreation of the town as it existed in its heyday, around 1850-1870. We ate dinner in town and got to watch the drawbridge rise to let some boats pass underneath.
Saturday, September 26: Mystic
Jim and I spent the day wandering around Mystic Seaport. It was really interesting. The focus is the seaport where they built and repaired ships and boats, but there are also buildings representing homes, churches, businesses, a school etc. We were able to board several tall ships, including the recreated Amistad and another that is being massively repaired (for about $8 million). We learned how ships were built, how ropes were made, the role of shipping in the U.S., etc. There was also a good exhibit on Captain Comer, a whaler who lived with the Arctic Inuit in 1903-1905. That was a really good exhibit.
Today was a beautiful autumn day, so it was a real joy to spend time outside. We spent over seven hours at Mystic Seaport and still didnít see everything, but we had fun. We returned to the campground in Old Mystic in time for a chili dinner cook-off - $5 each for a good chili and hamburger dinner. Jim and I chatted with people for a while, then left at sundown. It was a very good day.
Monday, September 28: Mohawk Trail State Forest
What to do on a rainy day? Sometimes the best answer is simply to hole up. It rained all night Saturday and most of Sunday. Jim and I were tired, feeling donsy thanks to a cold weíre both fighting (unsuccessfully), and not in the mood to play tourist at a museum or aquarium. So we drove ten miles down the road to a $49 motel where we holed up for the day, reading and surfing on the Ďnet. We never did fall asleep, but it was a restful day, just what we needed, especially on such a wet and dreary day.
Today we woke to sunshine, so we headed north, back to Massachusetts. Although itís still early for full color, I wanted to go leaf peeping in the mountains of Western Massachusetts. We stumbled across a great place for a late breakfast, The Shack, then sped up Route 91 to Deerfield where we picked up Route 2, also known as the Mohawk Trail. Clouds built up and by the time we left the grocery in Deerfield, I knew rain was imminent. Sure enough, as we drove west, it began to sprinkle. The Mohawk Trail is a pretty drive, with some nice views (on a clear day anyway.) Some of the trees have turned, but only a few. Still, there are more red and yellow trees than we saw on the coast. We found a campground in the state forest. It felt odd pulling in while it was raining. I was glad we had eaten a small pizza earlier so I wouldnít have to cook in the rain. There were only a few RVs at the campground, mostly European tourists, according to the ranger.
Tomorrow weíll explore the Berkshires, at least a little. I wish Jimís foot was better. Thereís some good hiking in these mountains, but we wonít get to enjoy the trails here. The hamstring injury is healing, at last. Jimís leg was very black and blue and caused a lot of pain. That is getting better, but his foot problem is getting worse again. Aargh!
Tuesday, September 29: Bennington, VT
A leaf peeping day in both sun and rain. We started the day with warm (69 deg.) sunshine, but by noon it was gray and the temperature had dropped twenty degrees. We headed west along the Mohawk Trail (Route 2) in northern Massachusetts to Natural Bridge State Park. Water has created a bridge and a nice narrow slot canyon through white marble. There was a large rock quarry there 100 years ago, but now itís just a quiet picnic area, visited by school groups and tourists.
We then headed up Mt. Graylock, Massachusettsí highest point at over 3400í. We climbed it on foot while thruhiking the AT and I wanted to see the views in autumn. If not for the cold rain, we might have gone for a short hike, but walking lost its appeal once the rain started. Instead we turned around, heading for southern Vermont and the Green Mountains. There was a lot more color in the trees as we drove north and I was really happy to see trees that were orange, yellow, peach and red. We pulled into a campground, looked at the rain falling around us, and turned around and returned to Bennington, Vermont where we got a motel room. Although it doesnít make much difference whether we read in the truck or read in a motel, cooking in the rain isnít much fun and taking a warm shower then returning to a cold truck really didnít appeal.
In any case, I enjoyed the small amount of touring that we did, despite the rain that made photography difficult. We saw a porcupine by the road, but didnít get his photo as he ran off into the brush too quickly. The dark skies and haze made distant vistas look dull and the really photogenic mist off the mountains happened when we were on roads without pull-offs. Oh well. It was a good day, a pretty day, just not a photogenic day.
Wednesday, September 30: Pittsfield State Forest, Mass.
Another day of leaf peeping, immersed in the autumn beauty of southern Vermont and northern Massachusetts. It was cold and misty when we started out. The rain didnít last long, but the cold and gray skies stayed with us all day. We did a short loop around the southern Green Mountains, from Bennington to Manchester Center in Vermont, then east across the mountains and south on Routes 7, 100, and 9 past North Adams to Cheshire, Dalton and Pittsfield, MA. Once again, Jim and I were visiting old haunts, some of the towns we passed through 17 years ago while hiking the Appalachian Trail. A lot of our travel this summer has included revisiting places once known and loved, both on the PCT and in the Appalachians. Iím not sure why weíre being so nostalgic. Partly itís just curiosity to see how the places have changed over the years. (Yes, they have changed.) Still, it has been good to see this part of New England dressed in fall colors. The Vermont mountains were especially beautiful. Massachusetts is still mostly green or barely yellow and brown, but there are hints that autumn is coming.
We ate lunch by a small pond, looking out at the waters and the autumn leaves. Afterwards we did a short hike on a dirt road that is part of a ski trail in winter. Looked like a good one. We detoured to look at a pretty waterfall, Waconah Falls, near Dalton, then turned around to look for the well hidden campground in the Pittsfield State Forest. The state maps donít show where the campgrounds or park roads are located, so there was some uncertainty as to whether weíd be able to find it off Route 20. Fortunately, there were signs along the road, and they were really needed, since the route twisted and turned. Itís a nice park, with several trails and a nice vista. I think we may be the only people camped by Berry Pond. Itís a cold and windy evening, not your usual camping weather.
Thursday, October 1: Newburgh NY
Another cold wet dreary day. It got down near freezing last night and it was only 38 degrees when we left the campground this morning. Jim and I headed south to Taconic State Park to visit Bash Bish Falls, considered Massachusettsí best waterfall. There was a short hike on an old road along a clear stream to the falls Ė very nice.
Afterwards we continued south on the Taconic Parkway, a pretty drive through autumn forests. Jim wasnít feeling well (the nasty cold has moved from me to him) so we decided to get out of the cold and wet and stay at a motel in Newburgh. This has been an expensive week, but itís better to spend money on motels and heal than risk making a minor illness worse by sleeping cold.
It helps that this is the week PBS is showing the Ken Burnsí National Parks series. Weíve caught three out of six episodes, and enjoyed them all. We know the lands shown very well, and have really enjoyed seeing them again. The photography is incredibly beautiful and the story line--a history of the creation of the Parks Ė is interesting and inspiring. The program is overly idealistic, but it is still fun to watch.
Friday, October 2: High Point State Park, NJ
Today was a weird day. It should have been a good day, but somehow it ended up being an emotional one, with sadness, anger and tears. Weird.
In keeping with this summerís subplot, we followed the Appalachian Trail south through Bear Mountain to Harriman State Park. Although the road criss-crossed the AT, we ended up hiking another trail that the park brochure recommended. We wanted to do a two mile loop around a lake, but missed a junction and ended up in the wrong place. We met another couple who had made the same error. They were smart and turned around, but I got stubborn and insisted on going forward, which meant that we emerged onto the wrong road which we followed back to Seven Lakes Road and thence out to the car. It ended up being a large triangle, at least five miles long instead of the two miles we had intended to hike. Jim held up well. He was a little slow, but not in a lot of pain, despite four miles on pavement.
It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached the car again. I wanted to stop for the day at the campground, but Jim insisted on heading south. He slept badly last night and was feeling groggy and grumpy with his cold, but he is feeling an urgency to go home to Maryland before the Gathering instead of dawdling up here for the next few days. I donít want to go back to Maryland at all. Iím feeling really depressed right now. The cold gray days remind me that summer is over and itís time to settle down for the winter. Iím dreading this winter though: more doctors, more waiting, more time wasted on the computer. I hate being sedentary. I really hate the city and the traffic of the Maryland suburbs. Jim is tired of being always on the move, but I love it, especially on those days when we get to hike. Iíd continue traveling all winter, if I could. Better still would be to do some long hikes in Florida or Arizona, someplace warm. I donít want normal life again. Then thereís the hassle of looking for an apartment, moving stuff out of storage to make it livable, then moving it all again in a few months. Thinking about it, I was stressed and bitchy all afternoon.
We ended up at High Point State Park in New Jersey. We cooked dinner at a picnic area, then drove a few miles to the campground, then back to the office to register, found that the office was closed, so headed back out the dirt road to the campground. What a pain.
October 3-4: Tannersville, PA
Saturday was a better day. We drove down the river to Delaware Water Gap, yet another Appalachian Trail town. Along the way, we detoured to Bushkill Falls, a popular tourist site with eight waterfalls along two streams. There was a $10 entry fee, but the waterfalls were really beautiful. They must have had a lot of rain here this summer as the falls were gushing. The trails to the falls were mostly developed, with wooden stairs and boardwalks, except a short section of the longest trail. I enjoyed the two mile loop, despite the crowds. There were a couple of big waterfalls and several much smaller cascades, but it was pretty in the narrow rocky gorge. Delicate ferns grew out of the damp rock. Nice!
We ate lunch at the Delaware Water Gap Diner Ė a very disappointing meal. I remember the diner as having good food, but then, we were thruhiking at the time and everything tastes good when youíve been walking 20 miles a day. While eating, we looked at a real estate magazine and saw a couple of houses that looked interesting. Since we were close, we decided to stop at a realtorís and find out more. We were told that one was in a bad neighborhood, but the realtor printed out information about the other, which backed on State Game Lands. We decided to drive out to look at the house, and fell in love. We tried to contact the realtor to arrange a visit, but couldnít reach her. On Sunday, we called the realtor who had listed the property and found out it had sold already. Jim and I both had mixed feelings. We werenít sure weíre really ready to settle down, so in a way it was a relief, but at the same time, it seemed like fate to find a great house just dropping into our laps, more or less. Nothing lost, but it was a disappointment anyhow. Eventually, we will buy another house and stop our wandering. I am dreading the house search, especially since we arenít sure where we want to live or even when we will be ready to settle down. It seems that with all of Jimís recent physical problems, we need to find something else to do with our lives besides hike, but neither of us is happy about it. I get deeply depressed thinking about ending our travels. Jim just denies that it is necessary, even though the past few years have been more and more restricted. Itís frustrating.
We drove north to Highway 6, then headed west. After a good chat with his daughter, Jim isnít feeling as much pressure to return to Maryland right away. (Her dog has cancer and although she is upset, Mickey is coping.) So we decided to head out to our section of the Midstate Trail to do some trailwork. Pennsylvania has a lot of pretty country, rolling hills with colorful forests. We enjoyed the rural landscape as we drove west. Night found us at a campground at the State Park on the East Rim of Pine Creek, aka the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. It is a nice little campground with a good new bathroom and shower. Colors are starting to change, but its still a week or so early for dramatic change. I still find it movingly beautiful.
Monday, October 5: Leonard Harrison State Park
A successful day, but an exhausting one. After a short stop at the Overlook to admire Pine Creek 1000í below us, we headed to Wellsboro to buy some orange paint for touching up the blazes in our section of the Midstate Trail. They had to make up a batch of Valencia Orange, the closest we could find to the International Orange trail marking paint we needed. It looked fine. Jim and I changed into work clothes, ate lunch, then headed out to our section of the Midstate Trail. Itís only about 3 miles long, a nice section that follows a couple of small streams. Jim lopped branches and saplings and took care of a couple of downed trees with a handsaw, while I repainted the blazes. It was a cool (55 deg.) gray day, good for what we were doing.
The rain held off until we were driving back to Wellsboro. We saw one deer and a couple of squirrels, but no other wildlife. A couple of road graders were working on the road where we had parked our car, but fortunately they had finished our section before we arrived. I didnít expect to get as far as we did today. Six miles is a long walk, when youíre working on a trail. I though the work would take us two days, since we started so late, but I managed two coats of paint on the blazes and Jim cleared the whole section. We had cleared it last fall, so it wasnít in bad shape, but still, we were moving! We finished our work at 6:15, just as night was falling. The trail still needs work, but nothing we can do right now. Steps need to be constructed in a couple of places Ė a major project Ė and some sidehill needs to be redug, but I feel good about what we did accomplish. To celebrate, we ate a good steak dinner in Wellsboro, before returning to the campground at the state park where we got a very welcome hot shower.
Tuesday, October 6: Parker Dam State Park, PA
A beautiful day, which we spent playing tourist, oohing and ahing over the beautiful autumn leaves. First we checked out the overlooks on both sides of Pine Creek Gorge. We walked along the rim a bit, peering through the trees at the Creek below. Only the upper 200í are brightly colored. Many of the lower trees have already lost their leaves, while the ones in the middle are just beginning to change color. As we drove down Route 6, the bright red maples were visible in patches on the higher hills, while the trees along the highway were more yellow and pink. It was a lovely drive. Some of the towns we passed were quite pretty, with decorated Victorian houses and solid old businesses. Some towns were very run down and depressed. So far Wellsboro has been my favorite town in this part of Pennsylvania, though St. Marys had some nice buildings as well. We reached Parker Dam State Park in time for me to go for a short walk in the woods. The trail map was wrong, so I ended up doing a different route than I had planned, but it worked out since I still got back in an hour. The trees were lovely, with the wind scattering leaves all around me. Jim grilled hamburgers while I was gone. Nice.
Wednesday, October 7: Carlisle
A windy rainy blustery day. We decided to take it easy, just driving to Carlisle, checking into a motel and reading the afternoon away.
Thursday, October 8: Gettysburg, PA
Although the ALDHA Gathering doesnít begin until Friday night, a lot of people show up early. Itís a good chance to hang out with friends and talk, without feeling pressed to go to some organized activity. Since we reached town before noon, we decided to visit the Civil War Museum first. Weíve driven through Gettysburg many times, seen the battlefields and monuments as we drove past, but never visited the museum to learn more about the history of the battle. Jim and I have both read many civil War stories, but itís different seeing things in the place where they happened. At the museum there are several films, a Cyclorama (a light and sound show with a 360 deg. painting) and many artifacts. Jim and I spent several hours there, then headed out to the campground at a farm a few miles from town. Several friends had arrived so we settled down to catch up.
We had a good albeit exhausting time at the Gathering. After so many years of attending hiker functions, we know a lot of people. I always enjoy spending time with trail friends. Most of them we only see once or twice a year, so the Gathering is a good chance to catch up on events and talk trail with people who understand why we do what we do. There is never enough time, but we always have a few good long conversations, and we also enjoy the more general trail talk. Several recent CDT hikers spoke to us about their experiences on my favorite trail. The evening entertainment was great: Bart Smithís photos of the eleven National Scenic Trails, Walkiní Jimís music and slides of incredibly beautiful places, and Geek (Jim Adams) with a hilarious account of his trip from Pennsylvania to New Orleans in a canoe, followed by a hike on the AT from Georgia to Maine and then a bike ride back to Pennsylvania Ė all accompanied by a cat he picked up along the way. We attended several workshops: CDT, PCT, the IAT in Newfoundland, Camino de Santiago and the Haute Route in Switzerland. I want to do them all. More than that, I yearn for some real wilderness. After three years of driving around the country, I am anxious to go back to the backcountry, far from cars and towns and people. I hope Jimís feet will heal this winter. Time is running out for us.
The time of the Gathering is always a bit bittersweet, since it usually marks the end of our travels, at least until Spring comes again. Once it gets cold and wet, camping just isnít much fun for me. After several months on the road, we both have gotten tired of driving. Winter is our time to rest, organize our journals and photos, and eat healthy food (hard to do on the road sometimes). We settled, eventually, into an apartment near Martinsburg, WV. Itís small, but comfortable enough for a few months.
The journey has ended, for 2009 at least, but our wandering has not. We are close to good hiking on the Appalachian Trail, the C&O Canal, the Tuscarora Trail and the Shenandoahs. Weíll continue visiting trails and mountains as much as we can over the winter, while we prepare for another adventure next year.
This was another good year for us. Our month on the Pacific Crest was even better than I hoped it would be. When our thruhike was cut short, we were able to change direction quickly and move from long hike to long road trip. Our journey led us to many places I had considered as Ďsomedayí places Ė beautiful places that I knew I wanted to visit someday. I'm glad we got the opportunity to visit New England and the Canadian Maritimes. We saw beautiful shorelines, historic sites, waterfalls and vistas of all kinds. We hiked in a lot of national and provincial parks. It was not quite what I had expected in some ways, but it was a worthwhile journey. Some places were truly memorable while others were peaceful and beautiful even when they weren't terribly exciting. Wildlife was in short supply, aside from the many moose and foxes we saw in Newfoundland, but given the high population of the northeast, it wasnít a surprise. We needed to come back to the Shenandoahs to find wildlife again. We did see a lot of diverse and beautiful country. Although things didnít happen as we expected when we left Maryland last May Ė the resulting adventures were good ones. Happiness is -- new worlds to explore and time to enjoy it.
Jim: OK, so it's touron time. Meaning we're back to playing tourist. A couple days in/near Boston - which is about all either of us can stand of cities - meeting hiking friends and one of my cousins that I haven't seen in over 50 years. Good times.
Then off to see whaling museums, Plymouth Rock, Cape Cod, Mystic Seaport and an interesting petroglyph site. Told ya it was tourist time.
Then the grand tour through Massachussetts, Connecticut, New York and into Pennsylvania so we could take a swipe at the section of the Mid-State Trail that we maintain (and haven't seen for nearly a year).
A funny thing happened on the way to .... wherever we were going. Pure chance - we found a house that was for sale that we fell in love with. And then found out it had just sold. And then we found out what the taxes would be - outtasight. Oh, well.
Last stop before we settled down for the winter was the Gathering in Gettysburg, PA in October. It's a good place to meet friends that we haven't seen for a while. And for the first time in years, we didn't have to be doing workshops or slide shows. Good thing too, because I'm tired.