Roads Rivers and Trails

Dream. Plan. Live.

Monthly Archives: September 2013


Southbound: episode 3

September 23rd  2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

We have made it to our 2nd town in Maine ! We have blazed about 187 miles of the trail so far. Just the day before, we crossed the 2000 mile marker for all the northbound hikers, which is a little less exciting benchmark for us, but we will be hitting 200 miles in the next day or so. Since we left Monson, it has been like a total different trail. Our spirits are high, our bodies don’t want to fall apart when we make it to the lean-to or camp. Actually, we feel pretty good overall. The miles have seemed to go by really smooth even when we are climbing up and over the mountains.

Only a couple of miles out of town, we crossed a logging road and stumbled on some trail magic, an old cooler filled with all different kinds of beer. Of course, we sat there and had a drink, but before long, two hikers in their 50s or 60s sat down with us and killed a few. They told us cool stories about the trail and about the time one had to take a SWAT team on a canoeing trip that turn into a drunken free for all. We parted ways and pushed on. That night we cowboy camped under the stars next to the river, supposedly we should have seen meteor showers but no dice.

Two days later we came to the Kennebec River in Caratunk , ME. The river is far too wide and too deep for us to ford and there is no bridge, but there is Steve the Ferry Man. He, ferries hikers back and forth across the river in a canoe. He has been doing it for like 18 years and the AT Conservancy pays for it, so we don’t have to. Well we made it to the river too late in the day and we needed to resupply on snacks for the rest of the week, so we hitched a ride down to the ferry man’s store. We also figured we would just cowboy camp outside so we didn’t have to pay for a bunk, and since it was suppose to rain, Steve was going to lets us sleep on the porch under the awning. Although, when the rain starting pounding, Steve told us to sleep in one of the cabins for the night, a most excellent gesture.

We awoke the next morning and were taken back to the trail head by Steve, walked a half mile with him, and then strapped on the life jackets. We signed our waiver and then were ferried across the beautiful Kennebec . Steve was immediately greeted by Northbounders as well. We made about 14 miles that day, and in about seven hours. We were definitely proud of the pace and the ease of the rolling hills. There we stayed in a crowded lean-to with 7 others, 3 of them going south on section hikes. We thought for a second we may have company on the trail, but the next day we would find ourselves pushing on past the 7 miles that group would do.

The following day started as an easy 8 miles to the next lean-to, but by the time we got there, it was only 11:00 in the morning. We had to push on to the next lean-to on top of Bigelow Mtn (4100 ft), only after climbing Little Bigelow Mtn (3100 ft) first though. The first mountain was tough, but it went by pretty fast. Actually the traverse across its ridge line seemed to go on forever though. We had to drop down about 1000 ft before we could start climbing back up the next mountain. We found some really cool caves that we could have slept in, but it was still too early in the day and the weather was too perfect not to summit. The summit was cold and the winds were howling around 50 or 60 miles an hour. It was hard to simply stand in one place without being shoved around, so climbing back down was not an easy task.

Once we got down to where the lean-to was supposed to be, we found out that it was torn down and replaced by campsites. We were worried about cowboy camping because it snowed up there the night before. The next set of lean-tos were another 3 miles over the ridge. We had to push on even though we only had another one to 2 hours of hiking before it was too dark. We could have made it, but Tundra Wookie’s knee was giving him trouble. Several times, he had to sit down and work out the muscle. After an hour of hiking with headlamps, we made it safely to our lean-to.

The following morning we took the 5 mile stroll downhill to the road that would bring us here to Stratton. We didn’t even walk 100 ft before this jeep honked his horn, dropped of some hikers, and picked us up. Thanks to him, we didn’t have to hike the 5 miles into town. Nothing much to say about Stratton, its not like home, but there’s a grocery store across the street that we raided for food and mt. dews. The tent, maps, and food all made it to the post office in time, thank you guys. we push on toward Andover in a hour or so. We hope to be there in 6 to 7 days.

 

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

 This had to of been the most free feeling and relaxed I have ever been in my life.  I can recall phone conversations from Stratton; instead of the doubt and hardship that I explained in Monson, I spoke confidently of finishing.  This was the first time on the trail that I knew there was nothing mentally that would get in the way.  My friend Robert asked me “how far do you think you’ll go?”. My reply “We’re going to Georgia now”. Maine is all rugged but will always be my favorite state!

Southbound: episode 4

September 29th 2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

256 miles of the AT in 22 days leaves us 25 miles from the Maine – New Hampshire state line!!!! We are really excited to have made it to Andover , ME. It means we have cranked out a lot of hard miles and we are about to finish the 2nd longest state only to Virginia and 2nd hardest only to New Hampshire . After leaving Stratton on the 23rd, we had to hike through 2 days of cold rain. It was more like walking amongst the clouds and the wet rocks and roots were like walking on ice. We had to climb over Crocker and Sugarloaf Mountain ranges except we couldn’t see anything other than a screen of fog.

There was no rain on the 3rd day as hoped and forecasted, which really helped us get up and over the incredible Saddleback Range . The views from the 4000+ ft mountains were incredible. I think we were able to see Mt. Washington for the first time in the distance. We had plans to put in a lot of miles, but when we came across Piazza Rock lean-to, the best well kept lean-to on the AT, we just had to stop. It was an early day, but we built a nice fire, dried out the tent and some clothes, and just enjoyed the evening. We had a huge owl join us by the campfire just after dark. It was so sweet, I could see the fire in his eyes.

The next morning, we hiked a couple of miles and hitched a ride into Rangely, so that Tundra Wookie could get some knee braces and grab some grub. It took a couple hours away from our hike, but it was worth it. We still continued to do another 14 miles after our hitch back to the trail head. It feels good to have a good hiking day like that, especially after a long break in the day. Our bodies are becoming more adjusted to the work load that we force on them day-to-day.
The following day was bright, as the sun smiled upon us our whole way over the Bemis Mountain Range. The range was not the highest, but the sun on the fall colors bellow was awesome! We were in-between the several peaks when the two of us stopped dead in our tracks, and in silence, listened. It was obvious, there was either a tank running through the trees, or a moose was approaching? We stared, and watched as a Bull Moose, with a rack that four people could sit on, crumpled the surrounding brush as it slowly walked by. It was crazy to see, it was like a mythical creature until you see it so close in the wild. The day was capped off at a tent site by an old state road and a small brook. There we met a couple that was doing several day hikes on their vacation, and had hiked the AT before. We would enjoy in some “Trail Magic” as the couple volunteered two Red Hook Late Harvest Ales that night, and oatmeal cookies the following morning. We built our fire, enjoyed hot cider and our dehydrated lasagna dishes, yum yums.

We were visited the next morning by a moose as well, unable to get a look, we could only hear it as it ran though the brook splashing like a stampede of horses. The next morning we moved up, over, and around mountains like they were nothing at all. Before we knew it we had done nearly 11 miles to the road to Andover , the afternoon had barely begun! We are staying at the Roadhouse hostel, it is a little weird for us. The place is great, clean, warm, well equipped, and friendly, that is when people are here.

We spend so much time it the wilderness, and then come into the smallest of towns, something we are already not very a custom to. We arrived and a general note on the door says to make yourself at home, so we do. One attendant leaves about an hour into our stay and the other never shows up? So its the two of us in a huge three story B&B style/Hostel, internet, kitchen, bath, living room, dining room, laundry, a dozen private rooms, and bunkhouse all to ourselves, all night. We came and went, to the general store and post office and back. It feels like were not supposed to be here, like we broke in or something. We are enjoying our time and gluttonous urges as we restock, and carefully plan out our hike for the days to come. Our next “Zero Day” is planned for Hanover NH , right before we reach Vermont , about 180 miles from here, our bodies will be fully exhausted by then. We miss everyone very much, and thank you for the strength you give us each day. Everyday becomes more amazing!

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf

Joe and I took off our shirts atop Avery Mountain for a photo op in the chilly breeze.  I feel like this picture summarized our feelings well; we were having fun and enjoying the hike. The Saddleback and Bemis Range have to be two of the most beautiful mountain ranges next to the White Mountains. It is still unreal to think back on some of these days, my heart filled with gratitude to all those that helped us and opened their arms for us. There are a many things and many people that don’t seem to be real anymore. These places and people are far from city life. We had done another gear purge at Andover as well, this took our once 70 pound packs down to the more reasonable 50-55 that we would hike with the rest of the trip.Avery Peak Flex

Southbound: episode 2

September 16th  2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

Here we are taking a “zero day” in Monson ME, our first town! We have just conquered 5,267 foot Mt. Katahdin to Abol Bridge, and then blazed the 100 Mile Wilderness. At 114.5 miles of the AT done we are enjoying a break in town. The trip started off Thursday morning at 2:30, I did say morning. You see, we arrived too late on Wed. to summit, so in a joke we asked the ranger how early can we start? His reply, I don’t know, maybe 2:00 am to see the sunrise. We took the opportunity, rested and strapped the head lamps on for a night hike. We reached the summit after 5 hours of grueling climbs, one after another. The clouds were beneath us, and we watched as morning came and the clouds returned above our heads. For that time at the top, there is no better feeling, literally on top of it all, the views astounding! The climb down equally challenging and rewarding, as we saw much of the scenery for the first time. We didn’t even notice that we had been covered in frost until we looked back at each other. We enjoyed a power nap and hiked another few miles to a stealth camp site. It was like being in the deep forests of Endor.

The days to follow were isolated within the 100 Mile Wilderness. This is the longest section along the AT with out a town nearby. Over the next few days, we fought with overweight packs, sore ankles, knees,…everything pretty much. The amount of miles we were able to cover during the day was very inconsistent. We just couldn’t find our pace. About a third of the way through the wilderness, we found a side trail that took us a mile down to this huge lake. At the lake was this little boat dock and an air horn. When we blew the air horn, a man comes across the lake in a little bass boat to take you back over to their hostel. At the hostel they serve a huge 1lb burger, delicious. We spoiled ourselves and spent the night there. We sent home about 35 lbs of extra gear that we just didn’t need to be carrying.

The following days to Monson were a little easier because of lighter packs, but the trail still kicked our butts. I cant believe how intense the trails are up here. The trail is unlike anything we had imagined, every step becomes a test of strength and balance. Everyday becomes a test of perseverance. Unfortunately our time has run out here for the computer, so we will leave you with that until we hit our next town.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by Bryan Wolf
 

What we didn’t want to tell everyone when we first posted this journal is that things were going terrible and were 10 times as hard as we said.  In fact, when we first got to Monson we had agreed to quit and come home.  It took a hearty meal and an odd twist of fate to change our minds. It was a Northbounder from northern Kentucky that recognized us, his Uncle asked him to look out for us in passing.  We were reminded of our outreach before the trail, the charity that we were hiking for and the people following us back home.  We decided we couldn’t turn back, we just needed to hike our own hike.

Southbound: episode 1

September 4th-5th  2006
Written by: Bryan Wolf and Joe White

The road brought us to the small town of Millinocket, Maine about 30 miles from the trail head.  This is our last night of fast food, caffeine, warm showers, comfortable beds, and all the other amenities of our routine lives.  We met a North bound hiker, “Johnny Storm”, today while getting dinner at Subway.  He had just finished the entire trail in just over four months.  Johnny storm was in great spirits, it was exciting to see and talk to him.  We are very anxious to be starting the trail tomorrow.

The drive up went really well considering how late we left Cincinnati on Monday.  We didn’t take the most direct route to Maine to say the least.  We took a detour through D.C. at 2 in the morning, ran through rush hour traffic in New York, and still made it in time to eat breakfast in Connecticut with our friend Mike Sobol, a fellow guide in Alaska.  We crashed on his couch for a few hours then made the final stretch into Maine.

This exert was originally published on atwishhikers.com. It’s content has not been edited from the original post.

Epilogue:
by: Bryan Wolf
 

Ignorance is bliss sometimes. I had no idea what was about to happen and was more or less along for the ride. A little disclosure, this was my very first backpacking trip….ever! My gut was a little tied up with anticipation, nervousness, fear, and just about anything else that would be gut wrenching.

From the Beginning

RRT
At The Core
Written by: Bryan Wolf

While business sense is the only thing that can keep the doors open, there is another reason that the doors were ever opened at all.  Getting those thoughts on paper ended up being extremely difficult.  I wanted to write about myself which is hard enough, but I also wanted to make it a piece that describes RRT. I wanted to share how our fates were intertwined this whole time. What I came up with is this:

In 2000, I had little interest in going outside, and less in extreme adventures. I don’t believe I had a grasp even on what it meant to go out in nature. It took just one instance; however, before I would blossom quickly into an adventure junkie. Looking back I think it was that limited exposure and poor understanding that made me thirst for more.  A direct exposure to something so beautiful, like tasting something so sweet for the first time, and forever craving it thereafter.  It goes to show that if you can just open someones eyes, they may be inspired to take it to all new levels.

A post high school graduation road trip would of never happened without trying to live up to my brother Rick’s wild side, in fact that mentality still gets me in trouble. My brother was in college at the time, and he was good at it.  I don’t just mean the grades,  I mean the experience. I realized I had never experienced anything quite the same way he does; to the fullest. I don’t remember hesitating when he black canyoninvited me to cross the country with him, because at that crossroads, there was no real choice. With Rick and three perfect strangers we crossed the entire American landscape on our way to San Francisco.

Do you remember the first time that you took a deep breathe of fresh air and felt adventure filling your lungs? The people I was with, and those we would meet, allowed me to open up and pierce the shell I was hiding in all those years.  What I found when I came out of that shell was the most nurturing and addictive substance ever to be consumed by man, it was naturecrack (leezie 2011). It wasn’t the sights, the sights can be captured on high-definition television. You can try and witness all the beautiful sights of endless blue skies, deep red canyons, or towering white peaks though a TV. These are not just sights however, they are more a sense or emotion, and therefore can never be expressed or experienced on 72 inch plasma. Sharing the experience; that is the only way to understand or help anyone else understand what it feels like. The power of nature lies in every sense of your being.

I wanted to see the country’s wonders, I wanted my feet dangling from its deepest canyons, so I traveled on with old friends and with new. Each year I crossed parks, states, cities, and landmarks off my list.  It was early 2006 when I first realized for all the experience and check marks I still needed more.  It was my friend Joe that opened my eyes this time. Joe’s introduction to our wonderful world was much different than mine.  Through the scouts, Joe was brought up to always look for the longest lasting trip, the biggest craziest trip! I had been across the country with Joe already, so what was this big crazy trip?

Yellowstone FallsShooting pool and making life lists was a regular occurrence for the two of us, and it was one of those fateful nights that a new idea was born. What if instead of a dozen places in a dozen days we had but just one goal in mind……for six months.  The plan was to be completely consumed in nature and to completely consume it, to have an experience that was not in passing but challenged our commitment and understanding of everything. A feeling came over me much like it did years earlier: I don’t remember hesitating when he invited me to hike the Appalachian Trail with him because once again, I don’t feel life gives us the luxury of hesitation. Hesitation can be associated with disappointment, at least with all decisions regarding stoplights and the Appalachian Trail.

Nature would be defined differently from that moment on and yet undefinable.  Adventure would hold new meaning but with it be as contradicting as the previous statement. Adventure is of course synonymous with high adrenaline activities, but this time I found it to equally stand for the peace and tranquility found in truly knowing the wilderness. Stillness and silence was an adventure like no other.  The store (RRT) was born on one of our very first days on Appalachian Trail in late 2006.  It started with a dream and a passion, the way all good things come to be. In the midst of one adventure we were constantly planning the next.  We thought about having our own place to call home, a hub for adventurous spirits with the goods and advice to create those adventures.  We couldn’t turn and open up shop then, but that idea would never fade.

2178This experience we wanted shared on every platform that we could reach. We created a web site (the same one that hosts the store page now) and with it a blog and link to our photo journals while on the AT.  Beyond sharing with family and friends we wanted to reach a wider audience so we sought out media and were published in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Still, we wanted this trip to be big, and we wanted this thirst for adventure to spread so we decided to hike for a cause. On our 2,175 mile winter-journey we would raise $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southwest Ohio. What I saw was an opportunity; this was our opportunity to turn what we were doing into something bigger than ourselves. As each of us make our way in life we fight to be and to do the best we can.  When we find our moment(s) however, we need to ask ourselves if we are making the very best of the situation? Don’t be satisfied with “good for one” if you can use that moment and turn it into something that is “great for all”.  This is a lesson that I hope to carry with me for life.

I would spend 170 days out on the Appalachian Trail, my first backpacking trip ever.  This trip showed me a million things about myself, but even more of the generosity and compassion that is in this world.  The trail is much like a fairy tale, many of stories seemingly impossible or at least unlikely this day in age.  It was all real, and like I promised myself, to the fullest.  While I expected answers to very specific questions, I received almost the exact opposite; I would learn answers to questions I hadn’t even thought to ask.  You don’t always need to solve a problem, you just need a better perspective on the situation.

That entire experience was rewarding in a million ways, and as addiction goes, I wanted more. Our next trip we tried a new charity “Hike for Haiti” as I attempted a barefoot hike through Vermont’s Green Mountains. Barefoot through nature teaches humility as well, as that trip ended prematurely. When we came home my feet had no time to soften from the sharp rocky trails before more sour news came; our adventure hub had closed its doors. Nature Outfitters, a base of not just gear but support that had been a Milford staple for 20 years, was gone!  There was only one logical thing to do at this point, open our own shop.  It was a phone call after one of my evening classes at UC from my cousin Emily that set things in motion.  Confidently Emily and Joe asked if I was in for another adventure, and being that we are all very optimistically stubborn the next chapter soon began.  In a haste of 20-hour workdays Joe, Emily, and myself , opened the doors of RRT, not 2 months after deciding to do so.  That dream we had on the AT several years back was going to be real!

Not a moment passes that we don’t feel blessed to be in the environment we are and doing what-it-is we’re doing here at RRT.  There are too few people in life that truly get to do what they are passionate about. It was late 2010 when we opened our doors, but I couldn’t help but to feel like there was 10 years leading-up to this day. My personal growth and never ending love for the outdoors needed a home base.  With like minded friends we had the opportunity to create just that. The original idea for RRT was actually a story telling, trip planning cafe, but Roads Rivers and Trails would become much more.

CEFEveryday I look for new adventures but also new ways to share them.  RRT was never created to be a retail giant, nor was it purchased as a retirement hobby: It was created from scratch and is an adventure unto itself.  For me, adventure exists year-in and year-out through Alaska back country trips and AT visits, but adventure is also in creating running groups, educating today’s youth, organizing presentations, and preparing people young-and-old for adventures of a lifetime. One of the very first lessons I learned, and the backbone of RRT, is that it’s about sharing the experience. Through this adventure I’ve been part of more adventures than one could dream, and although I’ve had my own summits and trails completions I can honestly say my greatest satisfaction is having been there when new friends have experienced their own.  Twice now I have reached the summit of Katahdin (plus two times on my own) and shared in the pure explosion of emotions from thru-hikers, acting as more of a spectator as they finish their crowning achievement. Teaching and then leading inner city kids from classroom to trail, I have seen strangers from different schools cooperate and explore together, often for the first time.  With each day the definition of adventure changes and grows to be more than I ever expected.

Camping and Education FoundationRRT is a tool that we created: A tool that fuels adventure and drives passion. That is our business at it’s core; Our business is us. As the little guy in the market we don’t have command of supply chains, nor do we have extensive capital or corporate support, but what we found is that we don’t need those things to succeed.   In life and in business it seems it is never about the advantages that you have but the disadvantages that you overcome.  These lessons are often taught in nature, where self discovery and personal awareness last a lifetime. I challenge you all to escape to nature, even if right now you find yourself sitting at a desk.  Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and remember the first time that you let that adventurous spirit in. Let it fill your lungs once again.

Dream big, and share often.

 

Unplug

Unplug
Written by: Eric Hagen

We’re all guilty of it. Part of the comfort of the civilized world is our adherence to routines. I wake up when the alarm goes off, hit snooze, lay there waiting for the alarm again, hit snooze again, spend a few minutes thinking about what I need to do that day, finally getting out of bed before it goes off a third time. I’d hate to be accused of being lazy, after all. Shave, shower, dress, breakfast, wake the kids up for school, brush my teeth, wake them up two more times because they’ve learned my routine.

When I leave for work, it is clockwork. There is the line of drivers twenty minutes late from wherever they’re going, weaving like NASCAR through our two-lane highway. There is the guy falling asleep at the wheel because two hours of sleep sounded like a good idea the night before. The woman yelling at her kids to stop fighting in the back seat, the young twenty-somethings prepping makeup in their mirrors, the texters.

We come home eight to ten hours later, drained and disheveled, waiting for the time we must repeat our cycles. Family dinner, for those who still have it, is spent processing and decompressing. Our brief moments of reprieve inching closer one day at a time as Monday turns to Tuesday and so on. We pay a cost for our civilized lives, but rarely ever do we know how much. Not until we become so spread thin, so openly hostile to our own routines that we begin to find means to escape them.

I will be the first to admit I love central air. I love the fact that I can turn my office into the Arctic Circle in mid-July. Indoor plumbing, hot showers on a whim, cold water filtered from the fridge, my $2,500 memory foam mattress with the cooling gel and the Gore-tex liner. I worked for it, saved up and bought them for no other reason than I love being comfortable. Still, I often trade it all for cold ground and hard nights in places far removed from anything remotely automated or electric. Why?

We are creatures of Nature. No matter how many times we may forget it, our bodies never do. You can feel it in the release of tension when you roll the windows down and take the long way home over rolling hills and green fields and forests. The smell of decaying leaves in Autumn and the warmth of bonfires, the soft prickling of Spruce trees at Christmas. Something inside of us in indelibly drawn toward the natural world. Even the most routine-driven among us feels release in sitting around a backyard fire with friends.

To unplug from the emails, cell phone and comforts of “Civilized” is something we all need, whether we accept it or not. When I am miles away from  my car, somewhere distant in the tree-line where no sound of traffic can reach, there is peace. When all the bars have vanished from my kids’ I-products, and it wouldn’t matter anyway because they are so transfixed on the swaying canopy or the random critter on the path ahead, there is peace. Nature gives us back our wonder, it makes us young again. The loss of comfort gives us back our understanding that our responsibility to ourselves precedes our responsibilities to the world. It makes us whole again.

We owe it to ourselves to unplug so that we can really connect.

Pioneers of the Gates

Pioneers of the Gates
Written by: Emily White

 

Born unto the lonely wild

Two dates shy a full fortnight

Thirteen pioneers did embark upon

The land of endless summer light

 

As the sun turns behind the clouds

A chill carpets the barren land

A frozen breath casts from below

And grabs hold my threadbare hand

 

As nighttime greets this quiet realm

A howl slices through the still

The interim bears only breath and beat

The body’s cadence of the thrill

 

Through beaten paw and weathered brow

The explorers ventured on for miles

To snowfield masses above arctic divide

Over terrain and beastly trials

 

Water so sweet it clears the mind

Air pure as cloudless winter night

We will never forget our journey throughout

The land of endless summer light

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