Sunday, December 6, 2009

Strolling the AT Section 1 Part 2: Accidental Paradise

In yesterday’s gripping post, Slow-Hiking the AT Section 1 Part 1, my hubris was hacked down before your very eyes. To add dramatic flair, I made it seem like we encountered nothing but toil and strife. By withholding some details I blew others way out of proportion, heh, heh. The focus of the story became the only two elements of the trip that could have been improved. In fact, what we found on our first AT excursion was near perfection.

We hiked southbound on a beautiful afternoon for a couple miles to some spot we saw on the map that had a shelter. I know it sounds boring, but I assure you we enjoyed it thoroughly. The mosquitoes were hibernating, but the late afternoon sun was warm enough to make Upper Goose Pond too appealing to resist. Swimming surrounded by the fall colors of New England is a most treasured indulgence.

Our trip was so idyllic it was unnerving. The “shelter” was for all intents and purposes a log B&B courtesy of the ATC. The caretakers welcomed us with open arms, provided a key to the canoe and said breakfast would be served at 7am. This was most disconcerting. Hiking is not supposed to be tribulation free, let alone catered. We looked around sheepishly. How did we end up here? Purportedly, we had just landed at the nicest shelter on the entire 2,178 miles of the AT. I didn’t and don’t doubt the veracity of the claim. For those who’ve been on the trail for months this is a well earned oasis. We were more than a little uncomfortably aware that we were greenhorns little more than 2 miles from our car.

Because we had a puppy with us, we slept in our tent on a platform instead of in the “shelter.” I didn’t completely misconstrue everything yesterday, my butt was cold despite the puppy’s warmth and we were sleeping on very hard wood slats. But in the morning we awoke, as promised, to the dulcet tones of the caretaker inviting us to breakfast. “Annie, Tara, are you awake? The coffee is hot and so are the pancakes.” It was sinful.

It was too good to be true and we both knew it. As the day progressed, so did our apprehension. Shouldn’t we at least be subject to torrential rain for twelve hours for having the audacity to hike in late September? Around every tree we expected the worst. Would we step on a bees’ nest and be chased 3 miles off trail and wander around looking for signs of civilization only to stumble upon the parking lot of an adult nightclub frequented by truckers?

We had mentally prepared ourselves for hardships untold. That’s what hiking is about. And there we were stuck in paradise. We felt like cheaters. But feeling like we were getting away with something was just another thrill to be coveted. And about my blatant abuse of perspective, well, now you know: never trust a story teller. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t trust the story, there may be intrinsic truths hidden within. Of course, there may not be either.

[Thank you for participating in The Sunday Hiker's first week extravaganza. Stay tuned for next Sunday's post which will hopefully contain more rotting logs and fungi! Note: the photo above was taken by my splendiferous hiking buddy Tara on our first AT hike 9/28/07 at Upper Goose Pond near Lee MA.]


  1. splendiferous indeed. Can't wait till Sunday!

  2. Oh and my favorite post was the one about what to wear. Too funny! I need a good laugh with my blogs.