Tuesday, September 10, 2013

9/10: Breaktime outside Andover, ME

What's up everyone, how's everyone doing? Good? Good! Glad to hear it! I'm doing pretty swell myself. Better than swell actually! I know, you're probably shocked about that one. Sorry, but I honestly can't remember the last time I was in a bad mood for over an hour. It's tough to complain too when good when you don't have a job, any stress, or any responsibilities. Am I rubbing it in? I kinda feel like I am :). We'll let me tell you why I am in such a cheerful disposition!

I spent last night in Andover, ME at Pine Ellis Hostel, which is run by a very sweet 75 year old lady named Irene and her Guatemalan son in law, David. I was hanging out on the front porch yesterday evening when two older ladies drove up (driving up to a thru hiker hostel is very unusual to say the least) and told everyone that they had thru hiked last year, and would like a place for the night. To my surprise and delight, one of the ladies in the party of two was none other than the 72 year old Mamaw B, the oldest lady to ever thru hike the Appalachian Trail! She was traveling with her hiking buddy, Rainbow. Rainbow is an accomplished thru hiker in her own right. At the age of 54, she began her thru hike not at the traditional beginning at Springer Mountain, but instead in the Everglades of southern Florida! She hiked all the way to Maine before cracking her pelvis on a fall just 45 miles short of Mt. Katahdin! Talk about a heart breaking injury. I can't imagine the emotional pain she must have gone through, so close to the holy grail of thru hikering and not being able to summit the last mountain. Rainbow had come to complete her quest this year, and Mamaw B had flown up from her home of Knoxville, TN to accompany her friend up her last climb.

I sat in the living room of the hostel for hours while the two of them reminisced and recanted all their favorite stories from the previous year. They were two of the silliest old ladies you could ever imagine! They told one hilarious story after another until tears were running down both their faces from laughter. While their inside jokes and stories may not have been as funny to me as it was to them, it was just amazing to sit back and watch them relive all of their favorite memories on trail, to watch the nostalgia wash over them, wave after wave. You could tell how much it meant to them to just be in a trail town again. To simply be in a hiker hostel, surrounded by other thru hikers. To sit around a table and swap stories from the trail. To slip back into this alternate reality that I have called home for nearly 6 months now. I may not have been there for their thru hike, but all their stories made me think about all the awesome memories I have racked up over my journey.

I want to say thank those two young ladies. For a little while now I have still enjoyed my time and my hike, but I have also begun to feel a little burned out, and ready to go home. Seeing two people that are done hiking and would do anything for just one more night, one more minute in my world that they would drive to the middle of nowhere Maine, population 500, just to taste trail life one more time made me realize that I need to savor every last drop of this trip. I need to approach the last 200 miles of this trip with the same zeal and enthusiasm as the first 200. So thank you ladies, thank you so much. You have rejuvenated my thru hike and renergized my outlook. I am going to miss this trail when I'm done. Before I left the hostel, I wrote a note to the two ladies and put it by their stuff while they slept. Call it premature nostalgia, call it the rose colored glasses effect. Call it whatever you want but it's still there all the same. Little over 200 miles to go. And you'd best believe I will climb every last mountain on this trail with a bright big smile plastered all across my face.


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