Appalachian Trail: Part Two

Madelyn Given at Mt. Katahdin

Madelyn Given at Mt. Katahdin

The Appalachian Mountain Clubs, state chapters and the volunteers who take care of the trail deserve our gratitude. As I walked the trail I would see different small groups of men and women repairing the trail. Bridge washouts, rock slides and damage due to storms and weather conditions mean lots of repair. There were also “Trail Angels” who would leave coolers of food along the trail when you least expected it. You would not see them, they would never stay around—but this surprise would make my day. One morning I packed up my tent and headed along the trail and I crossed a small bridge and looked down in the water and there was a banana and an orange.

I was so hungry I knew a trail angel had left it so I ate the banana. I so wanted to eat the orange but I left it to surprise the next hiker. Sometimes a hiking club would plan and gather at a place where the “AT” (Appalachian Trail) crosses a road and spend a day cooking hamburgers and food for the through hikers.

Each state, each ranch of mountains brought out magnificent scenery. I learned so much about nature, trees, and animals. There were many adventures and everyday was filled with events. Every night after I had a bite to eat I sat in my tent and figured mileages, how far I walked that day, how far I would try to walk the next day, how far it was until I would get to a road where I could get restocked on food and how far to places for water, a spring or stream. And I recorded everything in my journal once or twice a day, the birds, the snakes, the flowers, the animals and the people I met. Every day was different.

One day I was hiking in Vermont and the wind and rain was quite severe. I came to a fork in the path, I could go on down the AT Trail not knowing where I could pitch my tent following the white blazes, or stop and climb to a vacated fire tower and spend the night alone here. I went up the path onto the bare ledge and climbed the tower. The windows were busted out; I set up my tent inside the tower and climbed inside the tent. It was a cold night but I was dry and the next day I packed up and continued on along the trail.

I met up with a number of bears along the trail but had only one encounter and that was in New Hampshire. I had spent the night at Mt. Madison Hut and the next day had worked my way down off The Presidential Range. As I walked along I caught up with a group of my young trail friends, Crank, General, Spammy and Boss. They were sitting on a rock ledge having a chat and something to eat. I kept on with my slow pace and soon they passed me. I didn’t expect to see them again until the end of the day. But awhile later I heard Crank shouting. At first I thought he was having fun perhaps swimming in a stream but as I walked closer I heard him shout bear, bear. I came up over a rise on the trail and the bear was heading pall mall for me with General, Boss, Crank and Spammy shouting and throwing rocks to stop it. It circled me and I jumped up on a huge rock. The bear was cagey. It chose a good location to encircle us. Beyond us was a stream and a high, steep, rocky climb. The bear wanted our food and was familiar with people. It had no intention of giving up. I suggested that Spammy and I take off across the rocky stream while the three guys pepper the bear with rocks and after we get a good start they quickly follow us. It seemed like a long time getting across the stream and up over the steep rock wall and further on down the trail but we all made it safely. Crank had two walking sticks which he used for the entire trail and both were broken on that bear. It was a close call.

It was a long time to be away from my family and every day I expected to be called off the trail but by now I wanted to finish. It means a lot to a through hiker to finish the goal. Sometimes the closer the goal the harder it becomes. In Maine there is a canoe crossing on the Kennebec River. The guide will come with a canoe only two times a day to take you across. I hiked late the night before to get as far along the trail as possible. There was nowhere to set up a tent except swamps. I walked twenty six miles and set my tent up almost on the trail. That night a moose walked right beside the tent and the next morning I hurried to get to the crossing. My husband was to meet me that day with a new pair of shoes. It was the last time I was to meet him until I finished my hike at Mt. Katahdin in a couple of weeks. I still had a ways to go and the 100 Mile Wilderness. I look back on one of the greatest adventures of my life with fond memories.

One thought on “Appalachian Trail: Part Two

  1. Erica Jed

    I’d like to carry your book at Books N Things, 430 Main Street, Norway, Maine 04268. Will you please let me know where to get it?

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