Hiking The ADK’s

Hike The ADK’s
Thru-Hiking The NPT In April PART 1
Logistics

About Me:
Hey there! I am Uriah Hon. They call me “Cheers” on the trail. I am a born-and-bred East Coaster currently residing in Maine near Acadia National Park. Over the last 10 years I have found myself as an aspiring long distance hiker, nature enthusiast, minimalist and adventurer.
Through my journey, I have been lucky enough to set up my tent in 48 states, generally in the off season as I hope to experience the land for what it was before us, undeveloped and untouched. Hiking and backpacking has not only been a journey, but my savior, giving me opportunities only my wildest dreams could have ever thought up. Along the way, I have been gifted with the opportunity to share my journeys in hopes to inspire you or someone you know to join our ever-growing hiker family.
That being said, I come with a purpose: The Northville-Placid Trail. This is how the “easy” hike became one of the hardest and most humbling experiences of my hiking career.
To split up the daunting office hours I tend to read a ton of hiking forums and blogs. I am constantly seeking out my next hike so that, when the chance arrives, I have a heading. A few commonalities are evident in my process: I love to go places I have never been; even more so to places others don’t often go. The more secluded it is the more enticing. I am a constant reader of TheTrek.com, where one day I was reading through some of its blog posts as the thru-hike season was about to kick off.
“The Northville-Placid Trail; A 133 Mile Hidden Gem in the Adirondacks” the first title read. “Hey, I like gems!” I wasn’t even half-way through the article when I found myself salivating at the thought of this “quiet backcountry, moderate, lakes and rivers trail” that they spoke of. After thousands of miles, coming home beat and battered from numerous summits, rocky, rooty Maine terrain long distance hikes, I thought to myself; “An easy backcountry hike would be a nice change.”
Sold at the thought, I started my research. The more I read the more I fell in love. Seeing terms like “desolate,” “map and compass,” “isolated” and “solitude” really got me on my feet and moving forward to making this hike happen. Set on the idea, I took the days off from work. Now it was official, I was hiking the Northville-Placid Trail (NPT).
As I prepared I duly noted warnings about the wet conditions, lack of civilization, and primitive nature of the trail and the power of the Adirondacks. Even so, pictures of the blooming fields, thick forest, and picturesque flowages pushed all reservations to the back burner. It struck me as odd, though, that I couldn’t find a single post about hiking the NPT in between November and May. Again, duly noting that even May was not preferred due to black fly outbreaks in the marshy terrain. Something that would turn most people away, was exactly what was drawing me in. Let’s just say that I tend to go against the grain when it comes to this kind of thing, letting my ego drive me to be able to say “I did this because nobody else would.” I remember commenting on this jokingly to a friend that agreed to go with me: “Apparently nobody hikes this thru during the late fall, winter or spring.” We chalked it up to the opinion that most people prefer pleasure to perseverance. Our start date would be April 9th.
As you can assume, I read and read and read, non-stop for 4 months, during which my confidence only grew. It was then that I started making arrangements for shuttles and resupplies. That is when I met Jack. He would be a great source of information, as well as my ride to the southern end of the trail when I arrived in New York. Jack made sure to express his concerns which I, admittedly, noted but ignored. Oh how I wish I listened. He would inadvertently give me the best passive suggestion I would receive while planning my hike. “You are bringing snow shoes right?” I responded with. “We won’t be Jack, but thanks for your concern. Fortunately here in Maine we are no stranger to the snow.” It’s only in hindsight that I would I learn to spite my ego on this one. See, here in Maine, we tend to think we get the extremes of everything weather and terrain related. Outside of our backcountry, the rest of the world is a cakewalk. Or should I say, USED TO figure it.

The Tables Turned
It’s two weeks before my departure date and the news all has one story in common. New York just got between 2’ and 4’ of snow. The issue here was that I had already committed. Worse, I had told everyone I was going and had my resupplies waiting to be mailed. Jack emailed: “Hey good morning Uriah, I just wanted to let you know that we just received a massive storm and there is 2+ feet of snow up around the 2500’ mark and more in some of the valleys. Also, the water levels are high.” I replied; “Thanks Jack, I’ll see you on the 9th.” To be up front, I brushed it off like the rest of the warnings because…. Well, I am from MAINE! We are practically fully functioning snowmen. Once again my ego got to me.IMG_20170413_063715_249.jpg
The things I know now are; I should have known better. All the warnings were clearly laid out. My wanderlust is stronger than my decision making skills.
None of which benefited me. IMG_20170418_083843_013.jpg
Part Two: Coming next week….
About The Northville-Placid Trail
133 Mile backcountry trail
-Spans from Northville, New York to Lake Placid, New York
-Traverses the ridges and valleys of the Adirondack Mountains
-Circles many lakes, ponds, streams, and flowages
-Primitive, poorly marked, and poorly maintained (although it’s not promoted any differently)
-Map and compass are necessary
-Days away from civilization in most spots
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
-The trail passes through Hamlets. Which were described to us as a self-governing plot of land smaller than a village. Hamlets literally have NOTHING. Most not even having a store or hotel.
-Preferred hiking time is in between June and October
-It is very lightly traveled (we actually never saw another person)
-The locals were incredibly helpful and supportive
-Do your research before taking on this challenge

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How does it all end?

Hey Yall! If you have been following along, first off, thank you so much. Sharing my passions with you has been amazing and what a journey it is! So the time has come sadly, but its over. If you have been following along, you already know, i failed! IF failure is determined by the end point of course. In the end though, we won. If you want to know WHY i go hiking and WHY i might subject myself to my own ignorance time after time, part three is for you. Thanks again for joining me in this journey. Happy Trails – Cheers

 

 

http://visitadirondacks.com/area-adk/thru-hiking-the-northville-placid-trail-npt-april-part-3

Calling all Barefooter’s

Hey guys! So as most of you know, a handful of years ago i started into a barefoot transition. Less my time in my office I generally try and go pretty close to barefoot all of the time. Time ago i found XEROSHOES which really expedited my transition and since, I have accumulated several pairs. As a long distance hiker, runner, and all around outdoor enthusiast, I assure you these things are great. Understandably its quite foreign to most not to lace up a big pair of hiking boots to hit the mountain, or to throw on some trailrunners for the day hike. For me, i try and leave the house with as little as possible. All i am saying is you gotta check them out! Here is a link!

https://xeroshoes.com/go/Mainerrisms

Seriously though, from a night on the town, to the AT, to something covering the bottom of your feet while you swim… you will love these. You can even make your own pair if you feel like!

As always… how am I committed? With every purchase, 10% of proceeds go to support the Tarahumara Children’s Hospital. If you dont know about the Tarahumara, its pretty intriguing to research their every day life. From running hudnreds of miles at a time to the nearest town to their true minimalism, they are a breed on their own. Sadly a very dying breed. Lets help where we can guys! To someone who has nothing, something is everything!

Whats that? You wanted part 2?

Well here it is folks! Hopefully you are following along as the Adirondack Tourism Form (visitadirondacks.com) chronicles my “spring” hike. Following in suit for #THRUHIKETHURSDAY, part 2 just came out? Want to know how Dustin, now known as Hot Socks, got his name? Or maybe you want to know why ive been limping since May? The answers are in there! Thank you all for your love, i appreciate you all so much! So without further a due… <- is that how you say that?

 

http://visitadirondacks.com/area-adk/thru-hiking-the-northville-placid-trail-npt-april-part-2

Need Hammocks?

Guys, this is totally a sales pitch. Yet, its not really a good one cause im telling you it is a sales pitch. So hear me out real quick.

This year has been HUGE for me. My backpacking sponsorships and affiliate programs have increased ten fold! Im just going to be honest with you… im trying to increase my instagram exposure (@uriahhon) and get friggin rich as hell, all while i push the very things im passionate about. So im not going to tell you what denier this shit is. I am not going to flash some fancy warranty or cool creature features at you. What i am going to do… is give you 40% off the Maderaoutdoor.com website. Just like the #EATLIKENOMAD post i put up… this is pretty simple. I love their food, they give me a good deal on their food, i help feed people. Well, I love hammocks, they give me a good deal on hammocks, so i give YOU a good deal on a hammock. Use it or don’t, its ok, unfortunately i have a real day job to keep me going… BUT .. if you like the outdoors, saving weight, camping, and just plain ol’ being lazy… use this :

U3MH40

 

REAL TALK: truth is im not passionate about hammocks. I am however passionate about backpacking and helping people. So here is my real sales pitch. With every purchase of a hammock they plant two trees in africa. They also provide the knowledge to the farmers to sustain these fruit and nut trees. So you really are helping. Or just go buy a tree for a dollar. You dont get 40% off that i dont think, but who cares its a dollar and you are doing a good thing. At least do me a favor and go read about their mission… because their mission is what im passionate about!

and buy something. Cheers yall

 

And here is a photo i took because i love you guys. and i love taking pictures

IMG_20170427_064231_704.jpg

FREE SHIT

Here is a quick follow up to my instagram @uriahhon. If you like free shit, head on over to my instagram page. No gimmicks… I am personally giving away a prize package valued at over $200 simply because I love the outdoors and my hiking career has allowed me to do so. The rules are simple! Like my instagram, like the post about the giveaway and tag a friend. The winner will be chosen Sept. 1 at random and thats it! If you win, enjoy prizes which include a free backpacking hammock, a $50 giftcard to an outdoor retailer, products from several of my sponsors, and tons of appreciation from me! Happy Trails!

SPRING IN THE MOUNTAINS!

Hey everyone! Im sorry, I have been ridiculously busy this summer. I know i know its no excuse for not having published anything for MONTHS, but here are my list of excuses. Below you will find a link to a story the ADK TOURISM FORM published about where I have been all spring. It is a three part story for the #ThruHikeThursday social media takeover. In lieu of this hike i ruptured both Achilles and got some pretty good frostbite. While healing I tore my hamstring! My sponsorship commitment has grown and I have been really focusing on my instagram! Check it out @uriahhon! Otherwise, my girlfriend has been healing an acl injury and my daughter is going full fledged with her sports involvement. So, now enough of the excuses. Here is the link!

http://visitadirondacks.com/area-adk/thru-hiking-the-northville-placid-trail-npt-april-part-1

Also, as most of you know, I have several sponsorship’s. Again, sorry for being missing, so here is a link and a discount code to some of those! If you are hungry, need shoes, or want to kick back in a hammock, these should help!

Shoes: https://xeroshoes.com/go/Mainerrisms

Hammock: U3MH40 (Use at maderaoutdoor.com for 40% off)

Food: URIAH10 (use at nomadnutrition.co for 10% of backpacking ready meals!)

Whats wrong with today?

It is all too often that I will call a friend some early and random morning to see about a hike. It is also all to often that I get a response of “eh’ not today.” It led me to wonder what drives people in the morning, or the day for that matter. Clearly, what drives me isnt what drives them. If it was, the sheer idea of being out there today, in the woods, with nothing to do but hike, would get them out of the house. It doesn’t.

On instagram, I am no hero. That being said, I have taken a following of under 100 and gotten it to more than 6 times that solely based upon the pictures I took of the outdoors. Although I follow a few less than follow me, the common theme between both is that we all love the outdoors. We have created friendships through mutual passions and interests. I can only hope to be lucky enough to share trail time with each and every one of them. On instagram I have this acquaintance, Mitch. He is always out hiking, and he doesn’t care about the weather. I have yet to see him use “not today” as an excuse. To the point that I look forward now to seeing where he and his little dog, Aspyn, have trudged today. The coolest thing about Mitch, is when he sees my pictures up from hiking in 2017’s worst blizzard he comments something about wishing he could go. He sees my dirty hiker trash self mid trail and always mentions something about being there. The difference between Mitch and most… I believe Mitch. (Check out some of the great thoughts Mitch has about hiking here: http://mitchincolorado.com/2014/04/20/should-i-stay/ ) It is people like Mitch I need more of around here to say the least. Mitch, and many others led me to wonder about the all to common ability to push things off until tomorrow.img_20170216_171140_361

(Mitch taking on winter)IMG_20170216_171138_257.jpg

(Mitch bearing the ice and snow)

That being said, it wasnt but a few days ago that I hit the grocery store only to have 1500 people out of our 6000 person census greet me with the reminder that a storm was coming. As they furiously piled in the store for their last minute bottled water, frozen pizzas, and red box movies i quietly, through thought, thanked each and every one of them. Not for a reminder of the storm, but as a reminder that they would be all cozied up inside tomorrow and trails would be people free! As they were there for last minute supplies, I was there for a bag of ginger candy to bring with me on trail the following day. I decided I would hit the trail even though they were calling for 24” of snow, below freezing temperatures and 60 mp gusts of wind.

Personally, I see a purpose out there. My purpose is different than yours and I have stressed that so many times, but we all have one. It is an amazing thing to me to see the heards of tourists all pile onto the same trail during that 85F summer day. Here they are shoulder to shoulder, cant move, and can hardly breathe, but they are there. Then come late fall or winter when the trails are empty, the views are nothing but snow covered beauty, and the bugs are gone, there is NOBODY! Now dont get me wrong, I am not complaining. Maybe because I enjoy the bad days as much as the good, but all the same I am not complaining.   Anyways it got me thinking… “Who can i sucker into a hike tomorrow?”

My best friend, Josh, hes a little different. Different in the fact that he is completely ok with our tradition of terrible decision making and out of the norm ideas. One person I can ALWAYS count on is Josh. Ive turned around during the worst times in my life and there he was, smiling with gritted teeth saying something like “This is going to suck so fucking bad.” Its on the worst days of the worst of days that he is calling saying something like “So where should we go?” Fifteen years ago I used to laugh it off as a joke. Now, today, i put my gear on before I even call him back. So i knew he would be going and surer than all shit, the morning of the storm he rang. 5:30am on a snow day and my phone rings. I answer with a “where to?” and am received by a “Great Pond Mountain after we dig the cars out!” I just assure him ill be over to his house when i am able to get out of mine and I will have coffee in hand. Hes in!

Then in an attempt to be outside the box and give everyone I can an opportunity to go, I put it up on Snap chat. “Going to play outside. Come with? Message me!”. I go outside, i shovel out the driveway… 2 hours later I am back inside where my brother had made coffee. Upon seeing me strap up my gaiters he said “Man I thought you would think I am crazy if I asked you to hike today!” (My brother and I are in the newer stages of getting to know each other intimately and outside of our dysfunctional family setting) I let him know hes more than welcome and much to my surprise, without hesitation he heads to his room to start getting geared up. My brother has spent most of his life in a prison cell so hes quite new to the outdoors let alone backpacking, but always willing to adventure. Less the occasional “DO YOU THINK THIS IS OK TO WEAR?” coming from his room, he was pretty quiet. Come to find later that his nerves had gotten the best of him and he was questioning himself and me…”is my fucking brother stupid or crazy?” Turns out… your brother, my friend, is neither. He is however an against the grain naturalist who doesnt use mother nature as an excuse not to experience mother nature. Oh the irony there.

Anyways, I remembered my snap chat and checked it to see if anyone was up to play. 136 views in 2 hours and only 3 messages. All of them similar in context… “youre seriously going to hike today?” “Youre fucking nuts” “whats wrong with you?”. I just shook my head, laughed, and deleted the snap. It looks like its me, my brother, and my best friend this time around. (To Mitch’s credit, he would have gone too i know it.)IMG_20170213_182634_440.jpg

One of the greatest revelations I have ever had was on this treacherously gorgeous day. You know how old folks say something like “Back when I was young, we hiked up hill both ways in the snow!” Truth be told i always thought the Alzheimer’s gave them some sort of distorted memory of uphill and downhill. Until today. As we were laughing and happily bitching, we all three at the same time threw our fingers in the air as if to say that we had “got it”. *Queue light bulb*. We first laughed at the irony of all three of us just simply having an idea…. and to find it was the same one. This is what those old folks meant! I was the one bitching at the time saying something like “Holy fuck, going downhill is literally the same as going up hill”. Turns out… in literal waist deep snow….it actually is. Going down was literally the exact same effort as going up. We unanimously decided that this is exactly what they meant and in fact the innuendo has more meaning now than it ever had in our pasts. Our ages differing between us all, but our revelation none the less a real one.

Here we are… at the top. It is small mountain, with a summit only 1200 feet above sea level. That being said, its a bare top with few trees and a 360 degree view. The wind is all of 60mph and the temperature with the windchill was most definitely below 0 degrees F. We had hunkered down behind a ledge which got us out of the wind long enough to adjust everything and grab a drink of water. The snow was falling as fast as it had in the early morning hours and was accumulating with no less desire. A desire to bury coastal Maine in it’s wake. As we took deep breathes, exhaling on our fingers as we furiously wiggled our toes in our boots to increase circulation, we lay there… each and every one of us with a smile on our face. We were in pain, we were cold, wet, hungry (none of us had eaten that day) and miserable by most peoples standards, but by ours we were happy. IMG_20170213_194342_639.jpg

We all chatted for a few brief moments to come to the agreements that 1. this was absolutely the furthest any of us had walked in weather like this. 2.This was unquestionably the hardest walking any of us had done. 3. We were all really fucking hungry. 4. We were glad we came. That being said we all still had to get home. So down we headed.

We got back to the truck to find that 4 miles had taken us just over 6 hours. As a long distance hiker I am pretty familiar with my times and pace. Some of the hardest parts on trail that I have hiked I could carry at least 1.5 mph. My Katahdin hikes have never come in under 2. I was baffled that it took us as long as it had. Honestly I thought we made pretty good ground, but hindsight, we had to take a break every 20 or so steps. We were letting our vehicles warm up over a joint and we all agreed on a few more things. That after that day, every other day would seem just a tiny bit easier. Any warmer temperature would not be THAT cold. Every hike would seem just a LITTLE less strenuous. That our ability to survive was now backed by our willingness and confidence in doing so. There was nothing that could stop us at that point and we knew that. Hell, we KNOW that. We most definitely knew that choosing to be outside on that very day made the difference for so many days to follow.960.jpg

So I write this for simple reasons. To get your opinion on what is wrong with today? Why is it, “Not today” or “in a minute” or “ill do that tomorrow” is even acceptable? Not by my standards but by your own, for yourself. Having the ignorance to travel during the worst day of the year, to a place that most people avoid on the nice days, led to a completely different view about the “tomorrow’s” of my life.  Maybe its not hiking for you… maybe its just doing a good deed… or standing up for what you believe in… or tackling the year old project that you’ve been pushing off. All the same, today is the day! What is wrong with today? Don’t wait until tomorrow! It may never come!

The Day I Became Nature

The sun was beating on the outside of my tent, turning it into something like that of a sauna. The evening before was damp and the condensation was dripping down the inside walls. I wanted to wake up early to catch the sunrise on my first summit but I was being lazy about breaking down camp. I was 6 days into my section and to say the least I was sick of all the food I had brought and I had only a couple days left on trail leaving me with few options, so for now I would opt out of my nasty ass oatmeal. This was not my best morning and I was fairly tilted.

Being I was short on supplies, mainly food because I had shared a bit during my second night at camp, i figured a half of a joint and a cup of instant coffee would work for now and I would ration my two days of food over the next three. At least between the two I could hopefully get moving sooner than later and make up some time I had lost while being grumpy about the rain the day before. I broke down camp and on I went.

I make it a habit to stop about a mile into my mornings. Usually i perform my foolish and eccentric stretching rituals, run a toothbrush over my teeth and dig a hole for my morning duties. Normally, this fifteen minutes is extremely uneventful. Today was different. I stopped and dropped my pack. Sadly, after only a mile, dropping my pack was a well needed moment of peace. Now truly, and to give TMI, the stretching, teeth brushing and hole digging is pretty fucking boring. The shit though…. its the most peaceful shit youll ever have. Birds are chirping, the suns shining, your body is weightless from instantly shedding weight from the pack. Call me crazy, but shitting in the woods is a friggin passage to manhood…..and hikerhood as far as im concerned. Believe me when i tell you its a much preferred method over a privy, pre dawn, with a headlamp. The flies are relentless and shitting in the dark is of no talent of mine. So here I am all squatted up off trail a few seconds…. the silence is overwhelmingly loud as you listen for hikers nearing your pack, or bigger game approaching you as to say “hey why are you shitting in my living room.” (I am not sure this happens, but i duly note it none the less.) Crack* snap* crack* THUD! Oh this is great, i decided to shit under an oak tree. Who squats under a tree that fights back? Apparently I do. Crack* crack* snap* crack* THUD. I think to myself, “isnt it a bit early for acorns to be falling.” So now that I have provided you a mental picture of me squatting under a tree trying to shit in peace while laughing at my own stupidity, picture this. I have my back against the tree and mere inches over my right shoulder on the trunk of the tree i catch movement out of my peripheral. Well for you who dont know me, im deathly afraid of snakes. That’s is the first thing that came to mind. I dive off the tree, praying to mother fuckin earth that i miss my shit in the process. (I did if you were wondering…fortunately) Unfortunately with my drawers around my ankles i take a little fall. I start laughing hysterically at the outer body vision of me laying there, balled up laughing hysterically with a shitty friggin ass. I glance past my bare back side and see a chipmunk on the tree. I start swearing and laughing at the little bastard. Now, im much a fan of nature and not so much one to take a life. That being said, had I been able to derive a way to catch that son of a bitch right at that moment, I assure you I would have made him my lunch without a second thought. Here comes lesson one about becoming nature. When diving out of the way to avoid shit and random animals…. do watch where your toilet paper is. Personally, I did not, and realized I had so conveniently kicked the toilet paper into my shit. I literally was about to become nature as I found myself picking the biggest leaves within my vicinity. Good thing I perched up to an oak tree and not a pine. Although, if you are not familiar with oak trees, they have a considerably small leaf. So there it is… becoming nature 101. Wiping your ass with a leaf. oak

Now onto a much cleaner subject. I assure you I was still giggling to myself as I picked my pack up and threw it upon my shoulders. The mental picture of the event had me shaking my head. I could not help but wonder about that fucking chipmunk. I wondered a lot of things, but mainly about his ballsy curiosity that not only put him willing within inches of a human, but within smells distance of human crap. I assumed there were some seriously fucked up facts about chipmunks I did not yet know. I kid you not at that very moment, and only seconds after I put my pack on, contemplating my idiocy, I rounded a corner that had a log protruding onto the inside of the trail. There sat a chipmunk. Acorn in fucking hand. I can recall making some stupid comment like “hey you little fucker, your brother got me good a few minutes back.” He scurried off at the sound of my voice. Around another corner I go… surer than all hell there sat another fucking chipmunk smack dab in the middle of the trail, acorn in hand. At this very moment I began questioning my sanity. I had decided to pass it off as an abundance of both acorn and chipmunk. Besides, what the hell do i know about chipmunk preferences. For all I know, maybe I just shit at the bottom of the holy grail and mother of all acorn trees and they were angry. 538984489

I chalked all the chipmunks up to chance and kept on walking. I made it a little over a mile albeit had ascended close to 2000 feet. It had been close to an hour and I was hot, sweaty, and somewhat fatigued so I took a quick break. The woods were becoming bristly and smaller. The roots starting to show as they do when you get up in elevation and thank god there were no fucking oak trees for sake of my own well being. I sat down and was eating the last of some dried apples I had. That’s when becoming nature 101 kicked it up a to level 2. Not a meter from my feet, that were resting peacefully on my pack IMG_20150902_122947319-EFFECTS.jpgas my back lay against a downed and rotted tree trunk, there was a mother fucking chipmunk. “ARE YOU SERIOUS!?” I bellowed loudly. No doubt the mountain heard me. The interesting part, he didn’t scamper off. Hindsight, I sing and whistle the majority of the time when I hike alone, so maybe he had become familiar with my noise making. Oddly enough, he had a serious fucking staring problem. That is when I noticed an acorn in his hands. Had I not been sitting, I would have no doubt fallen ta’ fuck over. For a mental picture… think… ICE AGE. There is with no question the idea that these chipmunks are stereotypical when it comes to their acorns. Or so I thought. That is when he dropped it. An all to familiar thud yet quieter due to a lack of free fall. He took a little hop, putting him a couple inches closer to my feet. Well, maybe this was the pot talking, as I had complimented my apples with the other half of my joint, but i struck up a very one sided conversation with the little thing. Which i hesitantly admit was cuter than all hell. Like a dog with his head a bit off center, he seemed to at least be hearing me.I dont believe for a second he understood me naturally but he heard me. I tossed a piece of dried apple fairly close to him. He moved so quickly you could have sworn he caught it with his bare hands before he ran off. Literal seconds passed by and there he was…AGAIN. I tossed another piece of apple over his way and wouldn’t you know it, he grabbed that and took off too. I began to think I was back home on the coast of Maine, acting as a tourist and flocking the seagulls around with my left over french fries. (Highly frowned upon by locals mind you.) He kept coming, I kept throwing. Each time he would disappear momentarily and come back empty handed. It was like a backwards game of fetch. I cant lie, I felt a bit used when I was not getting anything in return. (For the record, i dont try and make feeding wildlife any habit. We were many miles away from a lean to and chipmunks dont seem to be quite as deadly as say… a bear… right or wrong, I made my choices)

My rest had come to an end but I must admit that this little fella had some serious attention. I almost felt a little protective and responsible in regard to his well being. After all he did eat all my fucking apples. So…. I decided to watch him. Really, my attention had started because of the conversation. As I was walking off, I was still talking to him…. something along the lines of “alright pal, lunch was nice, but its time for me to go.” Mine you i tend to talk to everything in the woods. Numerous days on trail, and the trees make pretty peaceful hiking buddies. Don’t judge. Well, all the same, as I was saying my good byes and walking off I had noticed him head in a similar direction. We were up in tree line so his movement was no longer lost in the thicket of the tall pines and overgrown brush. I kept track of him…. well what happened next was becoming nature example number 2. For the next 4 miles… and when i say 4 miles… i mean a literal 4 miles, this damned chipmunk would pop out on a branch, log, or rock every hundred feet or more and we would continue our conversation. Now for the record, he was no longer carrying an acorn but every bit of me assumes this was exactly the same chipmunk that scared the shit out of me…. well to be accurate, scared me while I was shitting. I would not have believed this myself had I not watched him scurry with my own two eyes for these 4 miles. I would stop and talk for a second as he stared, even continuing our conversation as if he was on my shoulder when he scurried off… instantaneously as I would pass he would dive off about 15 feet into the woods and start running parallel to the trail. I could clearly and without doubt see him pop out. Don’t get me wrong, I know he wanted food. What impressed me most was the ground he covered. The intent he had. His ability to not be afraid. What confused me was where he had hid all the apples as he surely wouldnt go back to find them. How he had followed me to almost above treeline where the woods would be unnatural to him compared to the lower elevations. Or so I assume, again im no chipmunk expert here. I just simply could not believe what was happening. I had realized during these 4 miles that he was not scared of me per say. I was a visitor in HIS home. Not the other way around. To him, I was probably just a food source. To me, he was a friend. To us, we were one in the same place. At least for a little while anyhow. Our time came to an end but the memory, in combination with the entirety of my day, has never left. I had stopped at a water source to refill and as fast as he came, he went.

Basking in the glory of my chipmunk whispering, a new found friendship, and my eventful day I decided that the pond I would be coming across shortly would be a great place to have a decent meal.IMG_20150901_153249900_HDR.jpg I had heard there were some canoes on the shore that needed to be patched but made a perfect picnic table in the mean time until they were. The hike to the pond was relatively flat and muddy. Along the way I had seen many of tracks. Deer and moose mostly with some bigger bird tracks, i assume turkey. There they were, the canoes. So pleasantly placed beside them was a hose coming from the ground that was spitting fresh, cold mountain spring water. I dont think I had ever been so happy. I love mountain water… I am always carrying my sawyer filter, but when the opportunity arises… as a local Mainer familiar with springs…. i jump. There is nothing better than fresh mountain water and when it hit my lips… *sigh* what a treat. I decided to have the oatmeal I was dreading. Mainly in due part of the fact that I was almost out of food and my interest in the chipmunk has used at least a handful of snacks that I was supposed to be rationing. It was just then nature gave me the most appreciated treat of all. I had just lit my stove and placed water atop the flame when I had heard a splash. It took me a minute but as I had scanned the pond I saw water fly and heard another splash. How unaware I was that only 50 yards away, play a moose. Diving his snout into the water only to quickly take it out. With him came fountains of water and ….grass? Now again here, im no animal expert, but with my own eyes I made the assumption after many more minutes that he was playing. He was reaching down, picking out the grass and tossing it into the air, like a dog with a new toy. I had literally been so mesmerized that when I had turned back to throw my oatmeal in the water it had nearly evaporated. I added a bit more water and threw my instant oatmeal in. Suddenly the oatmeal was irrelevant. For all I had known, I could have reached down and grabbed handfuls of dirt and it would have been no different to me. The moose had played throughout the entirety of my meal. Which was short I will admit, but seemingly it was a lifetime. He seemed as if to never notice me despite the noise I made prior to realizing I had company. At an instant I realized I needed a picture… I got into my pack and dug out my phone, turned it on and when i brought my phone up to snap a picture… nothing. Like the chipmunk before him, he just disappeared. While hanging my head in disappointment i noticed a large moose track… then several more… all of them heading straight into the pond he played.1011161225a.jpg I had practically followed him into the pond unknowingly. Part of me wished I had. I packed up and I continued on with the thought of my day clearly replaying in my head.

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I learned plenty this day. Some of which I carry with me on an every day basis. Some of which I only carry on trail. For one… forget the fucking phone. As I sit contently at my computer typing this, only to contradict myself, I recall technology being the sole reason that I shorted myself time with the moose. Had I been content with the memory, i would not had wanted the photo. I learned to be patient. Had i acted upon my anger with the chipmunk, tossing rocks, screaming and swearing … he might not have been curious enough to know me. He might have scampered off long before he actually did. I learned to lighten up. My time under the oak tree normally would have ruined my day. Mind you I had three days left and now no toilet paper. This time though… I was able to laugh it off. Being content kept me light on my feet and my spirits high. Both i believe were necessary for arriving at the pond at the most opportune time. I learned to slow down. 15 seconds slower, taking the time to be more aware, I might have gotten the chance to share time with him just for only a few moments longer. A few irreplaceable moments. I think most importantly however I learned this. No matter the preparation you put in, you can never predict the trail. One slip in the mud calls for wet feet on a dry day. One stumble could cost you your life regardless of how quick you are on your feet. One picture can cost you a memory. So I strongly urge you, that when you are there, be there. There is time for pictures, there is time for all emotion. Just pick your times and remember that no matter how many times you go through the same stretch of trail, it will never be the same. Also, never forget where you are. You are only a visitor to become part of nature. Nature is not ours… its everyones but. The chipmunks, moose and trees… its theirs. Until we realize that we are only but part of a bigger picture we will never fully appreciate whats there. Every bit of trash has an effect. Every noise is heard. In the end, we share nature with the ones whom call it home, but it is not in fact our home. IMG_20160731_203605.jpg