Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Only 2 Weeks Left!!

Dang, that's hard to believe. As Eli said, turns out Maine is not on the dark side of the moon and the land of moose has internet after all. That's us above celebrating our fifth anniversary under a wall of deer antlers, which is fitting for this rural footpath through backwoods Maine.

We just arrived here in Stratton. I take back everything bad I've said about the hitchhiking in Maine. The first vehicle to pass us was Peter in his pickup truck who spends most of his time at sea, hauling around big weapons for the government. In his spare time he picks up thru-hikers and gives them tours of the town. Peter dumped us out at our most favorite place to be: the local diner. One cheeseburger with egg and an order of fish n' chips later, we crossed the street to the Stratton Motel where we'll be spending the afternoon mapping out our remaining days on the AT. From here to Monson, from Monson to Katahdin.

It's not uncommon for our current hiking conversations to center on days gone by since Georgia. "Remember that one shelter where we met the crazy chain-smoker?" "Remember that descent into Delaware Water Gap when we almost cried from exhaustion?" "Remember that couple we met on the trail in Connecticut that was so cool except that they looked like brother and sister?" "Remember the wind was so bad coming over Baldpate we were a little scared for our lives but felt so alive?" Ahhhh, so many memories. We're definitely not nostalgic, absolutely not trying to stretch the trail out any longer, and absolutely never undertaking this trail again - but it is kinda startling that our days of hiking are coming to an end. Almost as if we've been trudging with heads down and someone just elbowed us and said, "Look up, finish line's ahead." We're going huh? wah?

Because just as impossible as it is to imagine quitting, it's ridiculous to assume you'll really finish. Even now, with only about 13 days left, I can't wrap my head around climbing that final mountain.

I'll be back later to upload pics.


Ok, here are some pictures of the recent days. We got a text from Blaze that said "So far neither mystical nor magical." We had to laugh, because it's just so true. It seems like once we entered Maine we have been constantly wet. It gets old! Hiking isn't so bad because you do warm up and just end up splashing and slogging through whatever the trail throws at you. It's the end-of-day setup at camp and the morning greeting that includes putting on cold, wet hiking clothes, socks and shoes from the day before. Oh well, I guess it's a little late in the game to whine. Though that does look like what Brahma is doing here:

Look at that lovely trail!
Check the water gathering on Dustan's beard. This is what happens when you hike in a cloud. It's unlike rain or fog or ...anything else really. When summits are cloudy, even the finest hairs on your face will be crystalline water.

Summiting Saddleback.

Even when the water stops coming down from above, it still comes up from below. Our first real ford.

My feet always look like this - pruny. I am so proud of these feet!

There are some living things that flourish in this environment. There's not much scale in this photo - I wish you could see how fat this guy was, and big!


Anonymous said...

Yaaahhh!! Almost there!!!

What will I do when you finish. I love reading this blog and hiking with you (as I am stuck in class, looking out the window).

Awe man - We love you guys and are SO proud of you. Keep on rocking on and savor every last moment.

You'll need those awesome memories down the road when you find yourselves with more kids than toes. Maybe you could Blog about that too. ;)

Much Love from your buds,

The Jackson 5

Jer, Mich, Vi, Lily & Summer the dog

Anonymous said...

YESSS!!!!! Dustan’s beard finally got the attention it was due! Now it can be shaved in peace knowing that it will forever be etched into the history of the internet. I had only glimpse of its awesomeness in previous photos, but now the whole world can see the glory that D’s Man-Mane. Those pictures of the mountain top bogs look like fun. I would love to hike those for like maybe a weekend but not two weeks. You guys are champs. Betsy again, we know you got some gnarly tough feet, but I would rather have faith of their ruggedness rather than proof in pictures haha. You guys are awesome. I get more and more excited to read this the closer you get to the finish line. And you blog makes me (a pill dealer who gets a florescent suntan under my button up shirt and tie all day long) long for the outdoors. Fall is getting close isn’t it great! Stay safe and enjoy those cold wet morning socks, we all are thinking of and praying for you. See you soon.
~love Eli

Lollie Lane said...

Bro, I'm LOVING the beard. I think you should keep it as long as possible. Serious.

Matt Olsen said...

Bro!! Jealous about the beard. Can't believe that Betsy actually kisses that thing. We will be in Bar Harbor, Maine next weekend. Would love to see you if it's possible.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you two lots lately...Enjoy your last two weeks on the Trail, Real Life awaits. Love you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my LORD!!! Dust's beard is out-of-control!!! I do think that he should keep it at least until the whole fam has a chance to acknowledge that he realy CAN grow a beard. I miss you guys more than words, and can't wait to spend time with you talking about your adventures. Bets, your legs look amazing! I guess that's what walking 2,100 miles will do for your body. Lots of love from Big Stone!
Love, The Esteppe's!

Lindsay said...

a)Are your calves looking like a greek god by now?
b) you need to seriously start thinking getting to know John Lalgee better.
c)that probably means coming out here, ya know?
d)call us when you get settled in...

Marie said...

hey you two!!! holy smokes, i'm so proud of you. we miss you and talk about you constantly. yes yes yes...come visit on your way back down to virginny. i'll call you soon.

lots of love and empathy

Anonymous said...

oh guys I cannot believe how close you are and dustan I am going to agree with Eli that beard finally got the attention it needed and you need to leave that beard at least until I see you!!! haha... love you all and i am still praying for you all!!!!!

Anonymous said...

by the way I did it again this is the one and only weaver hahah.. sorry i keep forgetting to leave my name!!!

Kevin Doll aka StinkyKD said...

I'm so proud of you guys. This is Blaze - Maine has gotten a lot easier! I'm in Caratunk - did a nero in and going to do a nero out. Trying to catch you - no cell reception and can't post to my blog for some reason. I might not take a zero in Monson if it means I can catch you. would love to summit with you but not sure I can do the miles to catch up - not much time left. If friends or family read this - tell them that I am trying to catch them. Peace out. Blaze.

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