From Eileen: My friends will know that hiking the Appalachian Trail has never been a dream of mine. Or even a passing thought. The closest I’ve come is reading Bill Bryson’s delightful book “A Walk in the Woods,” in which the author is constantly on guard from the imminent danger of being attacked by a bear. As am I.
So I have to say that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed these last two days. Of course (although this was not planned!) we hiked a relatively easy stretch of the AT – except for one place this morning where we had to help Rick inch around a narrow expanse of rock with a 10-foot drop, which was a bit nerve-wracking – and we had beautiful weather with a light breeze that kept the insects away. The trail was the perfect mix of cool woods and sunny meadows. We were the first to the Thistle Hill shelter last night so didn’t have to sleep outside in our nonexistent tents, and spent an interesting evening talking with and learning from two thru-hikers named Halfway and Flip-Phone. We saw a beautiful sunrise through the trees this morning. And most importantly, we were with our friends Kate and Josh.
Ted and Carol met us with our car at the end of the trail today – thanks to them for their continuing trail support! On our way back to Winchester we stopped for a lovely visit with our friends Dyan Goodwin and Rob Serio in New Hampshire. Dyan is a long-time colleague of Rick’s at Bank of America. They welcomed us with bottles of Rick’s favorite Long Trail Ale and magnificent views of the New Hampshire mountains.
The stories that I heard from Rick’s first two weeks on the AT made me want to share a bit of this experience with him, and it was great fun to do it with Josh and Kate. We hiked about five miles each day, which seemed to the three of us new to Rick’s posse to be just the right amount of hiking to do in a day, especially with big backpacks full of essentials. Kate, Josh and I are all reasonably fit people, but by this evening we were ready for our own beds and feeling muscles we had forgotten about from our two days on the trail. So our admiration for what Rick is doing has grown even more.