Thursday, June 14, 2012

E is for Escargot

Thursday, June 7, 2012:   In 145 days on the trail this year, I've met a lot of slow hikers. This one beats them all. About a week ago I met a dung beetle rolling a ball of dung five times its size up the trail, and it was faster then this guy. About a month ago it was snakes and a porcupine lollygagging along. But this guy managed about half an inch in the minute I watched him.   Of course you can't have a proper go at Escargot without a Spoon.  And here he is:

Yes - my friend 'Spoon', whom I first met in Smoky Mountain Park on March 10th, caught up with me today. We had a great chat and caught up on each others' adventures. Spoon still misses hiking with 'Huckleberry' (section hiker), 'Green Bean' (she got off the trail when her husband graduated and has not yet returned), and 'Moses' (who they all realized they were slowing down, so had to let him push north at his own pace - he's now about two weeks ahead according to shelter log books). When I met them together down south, they seemed to me to be a tight-knit group who enjoyed hiking together. Obviously that was a correct impression on my part, since 'Spoon' still considers those days his best on the trail.

But beyond that, E is also for Enjoyment.  Did I ever enjoy today's hike!  The weather finally turned nice.  Sun almost all day dried out the damp foliage of the morning.  After a change of socks I was good to go.  The temperature got up close to 70, and I had the above scenery to Enhance the Experience.  As you might have noticed, my blog titles have begun cycling through the Alphabet (a little challenge to my literary imagination that I've set for myself).  Well, the "F" day isn't until tomorrow, but the above landmark is Finerty Pond.  Consider it a preview.

Really, that was about the only scenery worth blogging about today.  I hiked from US 20 east of Lee, MA north past October Mountain Shelter and back.  That took me over Becket Mountain (nice climb, not too hard) and along the ridge that connects it to Walling Mountain on trail that passes through some nice semi-open woodland - lots of sky visible but not much of the surrounding countryside.  Walling Mountain had the first significant stand of spruce-dominated forest on the trail since the isolated stands above 5000 feet down south.  I'm guessing this marks my transition to the 'north woods' and away from the familiar deciduous hardwood forests.

Then my northbound leg dropped down to Finerty Pond on steep but easy trail (few rocks), but north of Finerty pond there was plenty of mixed rocky and swampy footing - slowest (most tedious) part of today's walk.

By the time I reached the north end of today's leg, the terrain was leveling off - entering a high plateau with not much relief shown on the map.  But the trail still manages to wind around and go up and down little bits of glacier-tumbled landscape - it's not quite as easy as the elevation profile map might lead you to Expect.

And that's what I'll finish with:  E is for Expectations.  The wilderness is constantly reminding me that it is not something you can put on a map.  My over-active human brain always wants to know what's ahead, so I look at a map and develop Expectations.  Rarely are they met - and unmet Expectations have a way of ruining one's mood.  Far better not to have any Expectations at all and let the wilderness unfold itself before you.  Far better to have a sense of wonder at its unexpected surprises.

So now we come to it.  E is for End.


Here's a map of today's hike with a link to more photos:

AT Day 145 - Finerty Pond at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Massachusetts

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