Location: Rattlesnake River
I left Hiker’s Paradise this morning with Stick. The hostel owners weren’t very accommodating, so we had to carry our packs around town while we shopped for groceries. Gorham is sprawled and not at all dense, so walking from one end of town to the other takes about an hour.
After resupplying, Stick and I said goodbye at an intersection. He began walking his way towards North Woodstock. He hoped to hitch a ride for the fifty mile trip. I crossed the street and began walking back to the trailhead. I sipped on a Diet Coke as I walked through Gorham. Soon a young man pulled into a parking lot and hollered from his tiny red car. ‘Are you a thru-hiker? Do you need a ride?’ I hopped in the front seat and he drove me to the trailhead. His brother, Cruising Canuck, thru-hiked in 2001. I’m amazed how willingly people pick up hikers. Often I have been offered rides when I don’t even need a ride and when my thumb isn’t out while I’m walking. In no other community does courtesy and generosity flow so freely as that surrounding the AT.
I hiked to Rattlesnake River today to stage for my climb into the White Mountains. Some of the most difficult mountains on the trail wait ahead. I look forward to crossing the Presidentials and working for stay in the hut system in the Whites. Once I descent Mt. Moosilauke on the south end of the range, I’ll start hiking 20 mile days and really making progress south. I look forward to the Whites, but I look forward even more to moving towards home more quickly. Hopefully, though, I won’t get bored on easier terrain. Apparently southbounders do get bored and many drop off the trail. It works the opposite way too though. NOBOs have been telling me that some have been dropping off when they get to the Whites, either the terrain is too difficult, the weather too miserable, or the experience with the hut systems poor.
Today I was confronted by a young man with a photograph. He asked me hurriedly if I had seen the man in the picture. I told him that I had seen him, BJ Bear. I said I’d seen him and hiked with him days earlier and that he appeared to be moving well. I asked if there was something wrong and he said no, but BJ’s wife, this man’s mother, was worried because BJ was alone and so old. The son said he shouldn’t be out in the woods alone at his age, but I thought and said that BJ was handling the trail well, especially considering how difficult the terrain can be.
The son cared for his father like a mother for a child. He kept referring to BJ’s age and that he shouldn’t be alone in dangerous surroundings ‘at his age.’ I offered to help find BJ by hiking back up the trail and intercepting him. The son declined my offer and decided that he would hike in and surprise and find his father. I told him to tell BJ ‘Hello and goodbye’ for me since I missed my chance to say goodbye before arriving in Andover, ME.