Day 159: Nearo in the Wilderness
According to www.nonprofitlight.com and www.projects.propublica.org, John Judge, the AMC President and CEO, received a $310,180 salary last year. The site does not list whether that includes or excludes any bonus pay. The combined salaries of the executive board were over $2 million. In 2021, the AMC reported revenues of $39 million, expenses of $29 million ($10 million profit?), and total assets of $209 million.
Who knows where yesterday’s Ridgerunner got his $1.3 million figure, and shame on me for passing it on without checking. Thanks to reader Mark Tarnacki pointing out my error, and for making me regret having run a FOR-profit company for 20 years that didn’t do anywhere near as well.
And Now Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Blog
Alex and Northstar got us a nice campsite in the woods a few miles from the KI Road crossing, since boondocking in the trailhead parking lot wasn’t allowed. Our spot even came with a cute mouse and a huge, much less cute black spider to keep Northstar company in the outhouse.
Note to the AT – we asked for a moose, not a mouse. Do better.
Since we only had to hike 7.1 miles to Jo-Mary Road, we didn’t rush to get started this morning. And with no climbs and a gentle downhill grade the whole way, we expected to have whole the afternoon to relax. Sometimes, unfortunately, expectations and reality clash.
JW traded in his hammock, book, and cold beer for an afternoon hunting for a better campsite, shuttling Just Try, getting PBJ his gear, and resupplying Soup and Shoulders, who’d run dangerously low on food. He and Alex are such nice people and have happily supported so many hikers along the AT.
A text from home telling us the air conditioning was kaput in our house in Phoenix killed our afternoon plans. Even though I’ve been wearing my woolies at night here in Maine, Phoenix daytime temperatures can still exceed 100F. So, just leaving the AC off until we get home doesn’t work for our house sitters.
Our daughter did most of the hero work, using her connections and tenacity to get a repair crew to come out and then to negotiate a huge discount on a new AC unit. But we still needed to spend some time figuring out how to pay the bill from deep in the 100 Mile Wilderness. We had to drive more than an hour each way to get the cell coverage to make it happen.
Bites and More Bites
Our drive to Millinocket wasn’t all business, though. We stopped at McDonalds, ostensibly to use their WiFi, but also for a late lunch. Even better, they accidentally gave me a double cheeseburger instead of a Whopper. When I pointed out the error, they let me keep the cheeseburger. I ate both in a blink, along with a large fries and root beer.
I’m getting a little tired of eating. I know my sister just fell over reading that, as did anyone who’s ever “shared” a pizza with me. I keep throwing food down my piehole all day, but it’s never enough. I’m always just a little bit hungry. Or astoundingly, ravenously hungry. And my pants keep getting baggier and baggier. I’m sure I’ll have cruel reckoning of intake and output next week on the drive home.
My eyes spent the morning soaking up Maine’s beautiful fall scenery. My feet reveled on the soft, leaf covered trail. My legs luxuriated on the smooth, gentle descent. But my brain wouldn’t go anywhere except to the details getting home.
After summiting Katahdin, we’ll have eleven days to drive home and then fly back to New York for my parents’ and brother’s burial service. My folks died during the COVID years and my brother had possession of their ashes. We had funerals for all of them – two in person, and one on Zoom – but now we need to put them in their final resting place.
We thought about just staying in New England and driving to western New York from there but hoped to avoid the extra expense of another week away from home. Plus, we need to drive to Chattanooga to pick up Roux.* Chattanooga isn’t exactly on the way to Houghton, New York or Phoenix, Arizona. Mostly, we want to get home to see our daughter and get on with normal life.
We change our minds daily, not wanting to miss Fall in Maine, and not looking forward to driving all day for seven to eleven days, but also missing home and wanting to get there as soon as possible. I hate driving the Interstates, preferring smaller, less traveled roads, but I can’t see any way to get to Phoenix in less than eleven days without driving the big freeways.
Everyone is thinking about what comes next. Almost everyone is done with hiking and can’t wait to sleep in a real bed, eat better food, not have to walk everywhere, and to stop hurting. A few hardcores, like HR and her crew, aren’t ready to quit and have been talking about jumping to the Long Trail or the Arizona Trail before winter sets in. Even JW surprised me by saying he’d keep hiking if he didn’t have to go back to work, and that he’d gladly re-hike the AT next year.
Not me. I’m satisfied with my AT experience, but I have a long list of other adventures I’d like to try next, some on foot, some on a bike, and many in a raft or canoe. Maybe I’ll feel differently a month from now, but today I think once is enough for an AT thru hike. Northstar has been saying that she’d prefer shorter adventures, say one to two months, and more time with our granddaughter and the kids. I’m okay with that.
Both of us plan to return to Maine to explore the area outside the AT corridor and savor whatever we find. It’s been our favorite AT state by far. We’d probably skip visiting during black fly season and wouldn’t stay too long in winter, but we’ll definitely come back. And next time, I’d like to have a canoe and our bikes along.
And work? I’ve spent the last five months thinking about full retirement and still haven’t decided. Even at its worst, I still wouldn’t have traded a day on the trail for a day in the office. And I loved my job. I’ll keep answering the phone whenever Alaska calls, as well as for a few of my other clients, but I think adventuring, writing, and grandparenting are my new full-time gigs.
Back to the Moment
But I’ve still got 56 miles to hike after I finish today’s nearo. I reached Jo-Mary Road well before noon and found more than a dozen thru hikers unpacking resupply buckets from the back of Shaw’s pickup truck. When we drove past the same spot on the drive back from Millinocket around 5:00 pm, we saw another dozen hikers doing the same thing.
I guess the $90 mid-wilderness resupply option secret is out. Sauce is the only hiker I know who carried his entire food cache for the 100 Mile Wilderness. I heard someone say his pack weighed more than 50 pounds coming out of Monson. No thanks!
Alex, who just got the trail name Hiker Trash Momma (then shortened it to Trash – she always offers to take hikers trash from them) texted Northstar to say we couldn’t camp at Nahmakanta Lake (tents only), so we found a semi-legal spot in an old quarry. No signs said we couldn’t park there, and we were out of sight of anyone who might care.
Better yet, we never got the “knock” and were gone before the logging trucks started to roll past the next morning.
- Start: Johnson Pond Road (Mile 2135.3)
- End: Jo-Mary Road (Mile 2142.4)
- Weather: Overcast and cool.
- Earworm: Promises (Eric Clapton). Not sure why.
- Meditation: Jn 16:33
- Plant of the Day: Maple leaves
- Best Thing: A slightly downhill nearo.
- Worst Thing: Still haven’t seen a moose. No, a mouse doesn’t count.
*Roux spent a delightful summer at @NoogaSitters which is run by my cousin’s daughters. We told Roux she was going to summer camp with relatives. Really, she was at juvie, imprisoned in a low-security lockup for her crimes against squirrels (chasing, not catching) and for repeated poison ivy trespassing offences. We’ve heard rumors of continued chicken chasing (and catching) and repeated attempts at tunneling out, but these are as yet unverified.
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