We have stayed at a few hostels or lodges. The best had to be the Green Mountain House because they had the New Zealand flag flying during our stay, but the Pine Ellis Lodge is up there as well. It's almost as if they own a section of the AT and when you are walking on it you are in their home, Well, when we are staying at the lodge we are staying at their home and it's just like they said 'let's have some hikers stay' and threw open the doors. The lodge is in Andover, Maine. The town has a few shops and houses and that's about it. It's claim to fame is the satellite dish station on the edge of town that transmitted the very first live trans-Atlantic video broadcast from the USA. I have no idea why they chose that spot but it could be because it's in the middle of nowhere! I wonder what the broadcast was? Could have been something important like USA presidential election results or maybe something mundane like the moon landing?? If I could be bothered I am sure Google would tell me.
When we went to the diner in Andover, we always seemed to meet the same chap. He was very talkative which is a relief because I would have had to answer my own questions otherwise. I learned a lot about him. He used to live on the coast and run some herring boats. His last one ended up in Washington state, right on the other side of the country. He then worked at the satellite station but now teaches people how to drive trucks. He also had a boat with a MerCruiser engine! I think he would see us heading to the diner from his house and follow us as he just sat and chatted, had his favorite ginger beer drink and would leave when we were finished. Still, nice to talk about boating and fishing and stuff. Thanks Stan Morse.. hehe
Our first day out of Andover was a slow one. No energy maybe due to the 30+ degree day and the hills. Actually it may not be the hills that are the problem rather the notches. Notches are American for valleys. It seams we just get to the top of a good hill and we have to visit some notch! That first night we stayed at a notch with a hiker we had not met before. His name was Blues Brother. He told us about how he had seen service in the Iraq war. He didn't plan to join the army but 9/11 happened and as every man from every generation of his family going back as far as they can recall had served, he enlisted. He was able to get a special deal and only needed to enlist for 3 years. Just long enough to do his training and a 1 year tour of duty. He got a deal for free university education after he finished his tour and managed to stay alive. All he needs now is a wife that likes hiking...
We have started to see a lot more squirrels around the trail. We see two types, red and grey. The ones we are seeing now are the red ones. They're pretty awesome! We think they are quite territorial as when we walk past they can sometimes put on quite a show with chirping and calling and tail wagging until we walk on past. Today I watched one for about 2 minutes. It started with chirping that got more animated and included foot stomping and tail wagging in time with the chirping. Then it did a series of long click/chirps while it stomped it's front legs. All this while looking right at me! It then went back to the chirping and ran around in circles a few times, but the circles were between 3 trees that were 1 metre apart! It was impressive and I wish I caught it on video. That same night at camp we could hear quite a few of them all around us, and again in the morning. They are great thieves and will steal anything edible from around the camp even if we hang it away from the bears, I should say especially if we hang it away from the bears...
So we have now been to another town, Rangeley. We went a day earlier than expected because we decided that we were worn out and deserved a day of doing nothing. It really helped that it was parade day here in Rangeley. It's another very small town of similar population to Andover, around 1000 people. The big difference is Rangeley is on some really pretty lakes so has a lot of tourists visit and therefore more shops and services. It's also a centre for the local logging industry. It has a few claims to fame, one being that it's half way between the equator and the North Pole (45 degree parallel) and the other is that the first log skidder was developed here in Rangeley. This year it's going to be famous for the smallest town that the 80's rock band Foreigner played. You know the band that played the hits Cold as ice, Are you old enough, Juke box hero... We were lucky to get accommodation in town at The Farmhouse Inn which is a famous hiker lodge in town. Pretty much everything was booked due to the concert. It was a lot of fun to sit in the back yard of the inn around a large fire pit chatting to other hikers and listening to the band playing some of the music I listened to in my youth. For the last week or two we have been hiking with some really great people. Most of them are hiking sections of the trail, so we can keep up with them!! It's been great to get to know a bunch of people like when we hiked in 2000. The night of the concert we all stayed up too late but had some great fun. We love the southerners! Fat Man Walking, Tractor, Neil and Blues Brother, we mean you. Thanks for the fun!
We headed out of Rangeley refreshed and having spoken to Bean, a thru hiker that is a physical therapist for a car racing team, we are taking a bit more high calorie food. The nuts and fruit was not providing enough energy for us and this next section is one of the hardest. As I write this at the top of South Crocker, the 3rd of 4, 4000ft mountains we have to climb today we are glad for her advice. It's grueling stuff. BUT the light at the end of the tunnel is glowing really bright. Today we will officially become 2000 milers and we are now in the 100's of miles to go. We have 1 more mountain range to climb before a section they call 'The 100 mile wilderness'. It's mainly 'flat' and we hope to be able to do 15 mile days or better. Then it's just 1 mountain to climb and we will have finished the entire trail! For now, we head into Stratton to resupply and have some more fun!
it's Our Epic Trip...
David & Christine are from New Zealand and are embarking on a trip around the world the slow way, on foot and by personal vehicle. This could get interesting!