Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hiking the Appalachian/Long Trail

Just over a mile up our road are three side trails leading to the Appalachian and Long Trails, which run concurrently here. So a mile and a half walk brings us on a footpath that leads south to Springer Mt. in Georgia and north to either Canada on the Long Trail or Mt. Katahdin in Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Often when I step out of my house I think of Bilbo and his wonderful poem "The Road Go Ever On" (credit of course to J.R.R. Tolkien).
"The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say."

I've been swept off down that road to many places in the world and hope it brings me to many others.

Doug and Scott S. on the suspension bridge at Clarendon
Gorge, part of the AT/LT

David and Scott at the south entrance to
the suspension bridge

Clarendon Gorge from the suspension bridge

View from the AT/LT looking west from the top of the ridge

Years ago I hiked the length of the Long Trail from Massachusetts to Canada, about half of it with Scott and the other half earlier, often alone. In a similar vein I connected sections of the Appalachian trail from the Maine border to that of New York. Completing the AT is on my bucket list. I vicariously attempted it supporting my son James' attempt back in 2001. He started from Springer Mt. on March 8 and made it almost to Virginia before stress fractures in his feet defeated him. But he had a wonderful time before that - and had provisions the envy of all others on the trail. That was my contribution to his trip.
Good friends of ours here in Shrewsbury, Gerry and Chyrl Martin, did the entire length in one season after retiring some years ago. It was very difficult but worth while for sure. Scott is not interested in that approach, but I might convince him to do sections with me at some point. Unfortunately with six months on the boat, this dream will have to wait.
But we do short hikes in this area on the trails a lot. These pictures were taken heading south from Rt. 103 and ending at Spring Lake Ranch, just up the road from us. Doug, David, Scott S., Scott and myself had a beautiful morning's trip. The trail starts by crossing the narrow suspension bridge hung over Clarendon Gorge and the Mill river. This bridge is dedicated to the memory of Robert Brugmann, a seventeen year old who was swept to his death in 1973 by the river. He was trying to cross it in high water after the old bridge was destroyed. It's a beautiful bridge and a lovely spot.
The trail climbs steeply up for a mile to a long ridge with some nice views to the west. It continues along that ridge to an old meadow, now filling in. A little later in the summer they'll be lots of blackberries and some blueberries there. At the next junction with a cross country trail, a side trail leads down to the left, criss crossing a power line, to Spring Lake. If you go right along the shore, you join the rutted dirt road that leads to Spring Lake Rd and back down to Rt. 103. If you walk all the way back to your car at the parking lot it's a total of 7.5 miles. Happily the last half of the hike in down hill!

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