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Woo hoo!  We are done with the Saddleback Mountain – 7.0 miles of hiking in gorgeous and bug-free weather – in 70’s and sunny!  So happy and proud for all of us!!!!!

Now, we are concentrating on starting our hiking over the Bigelow Mountain in Stratton, Maine – 16.7 miles to hike.  Paul A. will join with us to provide some support for Cane and me.  Abby A. will drop us off at the trail head and go home thinking how lucky she will get to sip her drink and sit down in the comfy chair.  😎

With Cane’s average of hiking 5 miles per day, it may take 3 days.  If we can push it more further and finish it in two days, but we are not going to get crazy about that.  Safety comes first for all of us.  I cannot wait to check out the Bigelow Col which one of my dear friends, Christopher L., told me about how he came upon and surprised the cow moose and her calf (baby moose) in the Bigelow Col.  The weather is iffy for next 3 days with 30 – 40% chance of shower, rain, and/or thunderstorm.  Typical Maine weather – it is never accurate.  We will just go ahead and hope to get through.  Once we are done with the leg of climbing the Bigelow Mountain, we plan to drive to Bethel to visit Patti & Jeff P,, Daren & Priscilla R., and all of folks at BOA (Bethel Outdoor Adventure).  We will join the potluck party this Thursday at BOA and to celebrate Jeff’s special day – his birthday!  At BOA, I am going to work on the plans right away for our last haul – Monson to Katahdin.  To keep my story short, Daren R. gave me a contact person who knows 100-mile Wilderness very well.  His name is David W.  David W. is more than happy to help us with planning 100-mile Wilderness to make sure we hike safely and figure out how to get re-supply from side trail or access road.  I plan to talk more about it after this Bigelow Mountain leg.  Pray for us, Cane, Paul A. , and me, to stay safe and complete climbing the Bigelow Mountain.

I will be back in the civilization by this Wednesday or Tuesday.  We are getting almost there – Mt. Katahdin!!!!  🙂

We plan to commerce our hiking at the Saddleback Mountain – 6 miles from Rt. 4 Rangeley to top part of the Saddleback Mountain, then go down on the side trail toward the ski resort area – around 7 miles of day hiking today.  It will conclude our leg of the Saddleback Mountain.  We plan to go to Stratton to hike the Bigelow Mountains – 16.7 miles from end to end.  It may take 3 days of hiking.  We hope to conclude this leg by this Wednesday.  Paul A. and Abby A. join with us to provide some support.  It is good to have them with us again.  Sorry that it is haste as we are about to leave for Rangeley from Augusta.  I shall write some more at other time.  Have a good day, folks!

We plans to resume our hiking this Monday 29-July from Caribou Valley Road going south toward Rt. 4 Rangeley through picturesque Saddleback Mountains.  It will be around 24 miles stretch without any road access in between.  We asked a couple of hikers to join and support us and they agreed.  They are a couple named Abby and Paul A.  Paul was on Op. MNOB crew and had some experience working with Cane.  We had a meeting at our friend’s home in Bethel, ME.  Her name is Margaret H. and she is an interpreter.  We asked her if it was ok with her to interpret the meeting between us and the hikers and she was more than happy to help (a huge gratitude to her from us).  Cane said it was going to be half-hour meeting, but guess what….it ended up as two hour productive meeting.  😉  Paul, Abby, and I plan to support Cane by taking some of Cane’s gear and supplies and distributing some weight among us, so Cane can hike with less weight of 5 days’ worth of backpack weight.  We hope that it will reduce a chance of him developing some heat rashes and helping him to hike and negotiate a bit easier with reduced backpack weight.  In summary, Paul, Abby, and I will be Cane’s “pack mules” or “sherpas”.  😎  It is going to be five days of hiking, but we hope to make it 4 days instead.

After completing the Saddelback leg, Paul and Abby will return to Bethel Outdoor Adventure while Cane and I will go to Cane’s parents’ home in Augusta, ME.  I will be driving back to NJ to join with my family’s NJ beach house vacation for a week.  Cane will fly out to Seattle for his job orientation and training for 3 weeks.  Cane plans to fly back to the East Coast on Saturday 24-August and resume our hiking leg in the Bigelows area then our “last haul” leg – Monson – Katahdin.  It looks like we may summit the Katahdin in mid- to end of September.  We pray and hope that we will be able to complete this year with our AT journey.  *crossing fingers*

Cane and I are going to greatly miss Bethel Outdoor Adventure and RV folks after we leave tomorrow night – we are part of their “circle” just like a family.  We have a roof over our heads, place to cook our food, to work, plan our hiking, and socialize with folks.  Our stresses of trying to manage our financial situation, hiking plans, and resources (both personal and AT journey) are more manageable this month as opposed to last month.  Last month, our plans changed many times which ate up much of our time and money allocation along with our sanity and well-being.  Our courage and belief in ourselves began to chip away when we couldn’t find a support system on the trail once we realize how challenging trail in NH and ME posed to Cane.  We assured to ourselves that we must move on with positive outlook as we both experience hardship growing up with our disabilities and didn’t permit any of our doubtfulness and pessimism seeping into our soul.  We had a wonderful support system off trail in Andover, ME.  However, as we continued to hike with a strong determination, we slowly began to realize how our anxiety and insecurity started to get to us  as we hike on trail for miles and miles without any road access (allowing us to get back into town to re-supply).  *sigh*  The poor weather really sapped our energy and well-being – a big factor, indeed!  That was why we decided to pause our AT journey a few days before the last weekend of June to allow us to re-collect our strengths and passion to resume our AT journey in beginning of July – with renewed hope and intention.  After our difficult hiking from Carter Notch to Rt. 2 Gorham, we needed to do something about Cane’s busted bike helmet and worn-out shin guards.  We were planning on hiking from Grafton Notch to Rt. 2 Gorham, so we traveled to Bethel, ME.  We remembered how sweet and helpful Pattie was with us back in June, so we decided to stop by Bethel Outdoor Adventure to inquire where we can buy to replace them.  It is remarkable how our path crossed with Jeff and Pattie last month when we first began our AT journey without any thought that our path will be crossed again a month later and forever intertwined into their community and life.

We had a potluck dinner with Bethel Outdoor Adventure twice – celebration of our hiking leg – 1) from Mahoosuc Notch Trail to Rt. 2 Gorham and 2) Grafton Notch to Mahoosuc Notch Trail including Mahoosuc Notch.  Tomorrow night will be our last potluck dinner and it is not going to be a farewell dinner because these folks are our “backbone” toward our AT journey by providing us unconditional support and love.  We are “adopted” by two families in ME – one in Andover, ME (Ilene and David) and one in Bethel, ME.  Despite how New Hampshire and Maine AT continues to challenge Cane and me, we are showered with positive messages and encouragement not only from these “adopted” families, Bethel Outdoor Adventure and RV folks, but our dear hikers, trail angels, friends, loved ones, and families via online, video phone, email, cards/letters/postcards, and in person.  They forever leave impression on our heart, memories, and soul with their endless source of beautiful patronage and blessing.  That is the real example – the beauty of kindred human spirits among the community across the globe.

Yesterday, Cane did well with his hiking for 8.3 miles from Rt. 17 to Little Swift River Campsite despite some lingering shower in afternoon to late evening. We camped out on that night. Please let me tell you something….I had a very strange dream that I got slammed onto cold rock-bed to sleep on. I hated that feeling which caused me waking up….guess what, I discovered that I slammed onto the cold ground with my back and head with my hammock. After frantic inspection in darkness (totally blind), I found out that my hammock’s end rope came loose (my hammock was stuffed and hung with many gears due to wet weather) which dropped me onto the ground! The tree straps were intacted. Thank goodness that I hung my hammock low due to shower and had my rain fly over me. I was in utterly shocked for a long while! I counted my blessing because last time I hung my hammock was in the shelter around 4 feet off the ground. Imagine what would happen to me if…..*shudder*. I fixed my hammock by replacing the end from the strudy rope that finally came loose after 3 years of using with trusty carabiner in total darkness and shower. I didn’t had a good night’s sleep after this unbelievable incident. Ugh! I replaced other end with carabiner today to ensure it doesn’t happen again! By the way, Can slept through all of this rustle and had no idea until next day I told him about it. I think other hikers who camped near us heard me and they said nothing but smiled in the morning. Oh well. 🙂

Today, we hiked the remaining 4.8 miles to Rt. 4 in Rangeley. It concluded our 13.1 miles of hiking. It leaves us with 62.2 miles left to hike the section 1. Cane is pretty worn out from doing all of “pulling out of his poles” that got stuck in mud/bog/boreal and getting up after slipping/falling down due to wet trail condition. He just kept going on, but was glad that he didn’t get injured after falling off the edge of the trail around 3 feet drop-off into the mud bed. His vision was not affected, so was his heartburn. It might be that he wasn’t adequate training for this rigorous Maine trail (or Ram Sham’s boot camp – *winks*). We are now discussing what is our next hiking plans. I plan to keep you posted.

By the way, we would like to express how gratitude from bottom of our hearts we are with Cane’s friend named Peter M. who helped us out by meeting us in Andover, then moving my car from Stratton to Rt. 4, so we can get a shuttle to Rt. 17 and hiked toward to my car the next day all at once in one night last Saturday. It was very long drive to do that – around 4.5 hours. Peter and I were tired, but it was nice trip to get each other know a bit more. 🙂 He is practically our trail angel here in Maine along with Ilene, David, and Patty. 🙂 Time for me to sign off for the night. Until next time, folks!

Off we go to hike from Rt. 17. In Oquossouc to Rt. 4 in Rangeley.  It is going to be 13.1 miles in length with relatively small change in elevation to see how well Cane is able to handle.  I am looking forward to spend some time at Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to for its nice sandy beach and pond to swim in.  I am going to think about my father, grandfathers, uncles, and anyone who assumes the role of fatherhood today. 

I posted a message in asking for asssitance, ideas, and suggestions on how to help Cane to continue with hiking.  Hope for the best for Cane to get through this hiking with less struggles than 2 previous hikings.  We aim to arrive in Rangeley tomorrow.  Have a good couple of days, folks.  Ram Sham out.

We are back on the AT hiking toward the North once again – toward Rangeley…4 to 5 day of hiking.  Have a good weekend, folks!

December 2019
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Appalachian Trail

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km - through 14 states - Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine

Map of entire Appalachian Trail - 2,179 miles/3,507 km

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