A Professional Trail Angel Chimes In
Hello, and greetings from the North Country! In most places, I am known as Meg Wilson, the author. But I hope you’ll call me Auntie Meg when you see me on the AT in Maine, dishing out goodies from the back of my Magic Forester. Yes, I am a professional trail angel, floating around trailheads near the hundred-mile wilderness during peak thru-hiker season. While I dust off my basket and cooler for our first hungry, achy, stinky SOBOs, I look forward to reuniting with old friends (hello, Listen!) and meeting other Appalachian Trials readers and bloggers when your treks bring you to my neck of the woods.
Two years ago, I took my magic show on the road for my next book, called WANDER WOMEN: What Ten Thru-Hikers Taught One Angel about Pleasure, Pain, and Pink-Blazing. For this behemoth project, I met ten feisty ladies, hiking solo and otherwise, at the beginning of their SOBO and flip/flop treks. Then, every other week or so, I hopped in my Subaru and drove to remote trailheads and trail towns between Maine and Georgia. I’d catch up with as many wander women as I could find – even when they got so spread out, it became a logistical nightmare. I’d spoil them and their trail mates for a day or so while they shared their latest adventures with me. It’s their trials and triumphs that make up Wander Women, the book. Here’s a quick shout-out to Booterman, Corolla, Drifter, Itchy, KenDoll, Listen, Littlefoot, LiteBrite, No. 5, and Snickets!
Shifting my pack a little….let’s talk about this past winter. See, here in Maine, it kicked our asses. Relentless snowstorms, the rhododendron-curling cold, and the ubiquitous ice left me virtually hibernating by my woodstove in southern Maine. But I was not always at such odds with winter. A generation ago, you’d find me happily digging tunnels through snowbanks and carving out igloos – complete with shelves for storing snowballs. You’d find me sliding down the twin hills by the duplexes, across the gully, with the neighborhood kids and a couple of my eight siblings. I’d be skiing on weekends – back when it cost $5 a day. I’d be skating on the pond in the middle of town until my fingers grew so numb I couldn’t untie my skate laces. Even in high school and college, we built giant lighthouse snow sculptures and grabbed onto rear fenders for a slippery ride around parking lots. Those were the days…I once embraced long Maine winters.
But then something happened. I’m not sure if it’s age or hypothermia that has softened me over time. But you won’t find me sitting atop toboggan chutes anymore, waiting for the floor to drop out from underneath me for that sheer 45 mph adrenaline rush. No, I spend my winters dreaming of spring, summer, and fall…dreaming of peak hiking season.
If thru-hikers begin their SOBO treks this month and in June, they will undoubtedly see remnants of winter around Katahdin. We heard that “ice out” on the lakes and ponds around the AT town of Monson coincided with Mothers Day this year. Yikes. We’re talking seriously late spring, folks. Yesterday, this message was posted on the Baxter State Park’s Facebook page,
Rangers inspected conditions on the Hunt Trail today. The snow and ice got too deep at around 3,100′ in elevation – way below treeline. These conditions suggest that we may not be able to open Katahdin until after Memorial Day weekend.
Here you can also see photos the rangers took and get more updates as they become available. Like I told you, winter kicked our asses. But don’t despair. You hearty early SOBOs will still find me waiting for you on the other side of the 100-mile-wilderness. And something tells me you’ll be ready to dig into that picnic basket and cooler. Right?
Speaking of magic, I always love to know what folks crave on the Trail. What can I bring you this year? Popular items in years past have been cold beer and watermelon. Other fruit goes fast too, as well as Cokes, lemonade, and my homemade iced tea. I have brought those cream-filled whoopie pies from Abbot Bakery, cinnamon rolls, and the occasional pizzas. Also, my homemade, giant chocolate chip cookies seem to hit the spot. Others enjoy the hard boiled eggs, deli meats… But what do YOU crave? Let me know for a future blog. I will definitely take note.
Meanwhile, what will my blog bring you next time? I think I might drive on up to Monson and check in with Mike and Kim at the Spring Creek BBQ, where they’ve moved into bigger and better digs just two doors down, and they now accept debit cards. Yeehaw! Best of all? Their new Blind Dog Saloon with comfy seating, cold brewskies, and TVs for catching up on those Red Sox! I’ll ask them what’s new on the menu for the vegetarians out there (besides my recipe for Thai noodles that Kim has perfected), and see which nights feature prime rib. Sound good?
Last but not least, I want to thank the Good Badger for inviting me to blog for you folks via Appalachian Trials. What an honor for me. And if you feel like sharing your favorite angel food (trail magic, that is), you can do so right here or visit me at https://www.megwilsonauthor.com. Let’s say you want to know more about Wander Women and see photos and videos, etc.? Just click on my Blog link. You can also drop me a line at: [email protected]. Looking forward to hearing from you, and seeing you up here in the North Country! — Auntie Meg
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