Gathering Em off the Appalachian Trail
Bangor, Maine & Salisbury, Mass.
August 9-10, 2019
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Earlier in the summer, as Em made her way up the Appalachian Trail
in Virginia, I got the idea that it might be fun to fly out and
spend a few days on the trail with her. Maybe surprise her, maybe on
her birthday. I DM'd her trailmate, Rachel, and asked if she would help
coordinate, and she liked the idea.
But as the summer wore on, it became harder to pin down exactly
where they would be on August 9. They hewed pretty true to the
trail across most of Virginia. Then they took to aqua-blazing,
hopping into canoes on the Shenendoah River and drifting downstream
to Harper's Ferry. From there, they took a bus out to Washington DC to
And things got a little haphazard.
At one point, they were back on the trail, and at Gettysburg.
Then they were in New York City. And then suddenly in New Hampshire's
White Mountains. They were nearing Mt Katahdin, the end of the trail,
and it was only early August.
You'd better hurry up and get here, Rachel texted me. The trip
was winding down.
And then, just a couple days before my flight, Rachel texted from
Acadia National Park: "She's really done."
Time to break the surprise. I told Em I was on my way, and I think that
boosted her spirits for the last few days. I flew a redeye from SFO to
Boston the night before her birthday, rented a car at Logan, and headed
up to Maine.
In the end, a heavy summer rain on the day they had a permit to climb
Katahdin prevented them even from that final finish.
I found them at a Dairy Queen on the outskirts of Bangor, next to the
spot where they had returned the U-Haul truck they had been living in
the last few days. We loaded their stinky backpacks into the back, and
all clambered into the little SUV, and we headed south to Salisbury,
Mass., where I'd rented a couple motel rooms for the night.
After everyone had showered and washed the trail off them, we made our
way out to Brown's Lobster Pound, just over the border into New Hampshire,
for Em's birthday dinner.