Sunday, November 4, 2012

4366.4 / 4368.4

Saturday, October 27, 2012:

Yep, just one trail mile left to hike (both ways).  I'm reserving that for a family celebration.

Somehow it seemed like just another day out on the trail, not the last one.  It had its ups and downs (literally), its little annoyances and its little pleasures.  It just didn't feel like a big deal that it was the last real hike I'll do on the AT for a while.  So I'm just going to tell you about it the way I've told you about the last 268 day hikes.

It was a short day, just 8 miles of hiking along the ridge of Rocky Mountain.  And it's aptly named.  The trail bounced you up on the rocky spine of the ridge for a mile and change, 'showing' you some interesting rock formations, the best of which I call 'hole-in-the-rock':

I visited the last shelter, and was delighted to find entries in the log book from some trail acquaintances among the early NoBo crowd, including Paul (Parkside).

Somehow they felt like personal messages to me, as if they were offering their congratulations.

I rolled back down the hill, finishing early, and then drove up to Caledonia State Park to scout it out for the family celebration.  There I noticed a guy working blowing leaves out of the Oak Pavilion, and I approached him to ask a few questions.  Lo-and-behold, it was none other than Jim Stauch, the 'Innkeeper' at the amazing Quarry Gap Shelter, which I visited on my first day starting north toward Katahdin, back on Easter Sunday, April 8th.

Jim is one of those people with a big heart - down-to-earth, humble, and truly happy doing what he does.  We had a long, wide-ranging conversation.  He's been caretaker at Quarry Gap for 35 years, and his work here in Caledonia Park is also freely given volunteer work.  What a great guy, and what an honor to meet him!

And what a great (almost) finish to this odyssey.  Look for my post from the final day, coming soon to a computer screen near you :-) ... ...


Here's the map showing today's hike, and a link to more photos:

AT Day 269 - Rocky Mountain at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

1 comment:

  1. The last mile should belong to your immediate family and you, so I, as a member of your anonymous online family of followers will go ahead and say my "Well Done!" now.

    I remember your posts from New York in mid-May, when you were nearly overcome by doubts, but rested, researched, and resolved to press on. As challenging as the physical effort of a double through hike has been, it seems that you have also had to meet the challenge of drawing on your will to persevere throughout.

    I didn't find out about your journey until sometime in late spring, after you had already started north from Pennsylvania, so had to go back and read through the entries for your southbound leg to get the full picture. I have greatly enjoyed your writings, particularly your focus on the people that you have met, rather than just the landscape of the trail. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Maybe I will have the privilege of meeting you somewhere on your personal footpath.