Honoring Dad: My Katahdin Adventure 1
On February 21st 2017, I lost my Dad to Alzheimer's. Dad introduced me to the outdoors...Sending me to a Canadian summer camp where from 5 years old to 15, I learned to love canoeing, hiking and backpacking. At the home that he and Mom had built in Haslett, Michigan I spent many, many hours in the "back 40" acres riding our 3-wheel ATV, with lunch tucked behind the seat, and Patty our Irish Setter romping alongside. I climbed trees, fished in the pond, watched muskrat and cranes in the back marsh and admired the deer eating crab apples in our front yard.
His example and support have and still play a defining role in my life and I know that he would not want me to stay in deep grief for long after his passing. While he would understand--he would also want me to continue loving and living intensely and intentionally...even more so now.
The final sentence of Dad's obituary published in the Lansing State Journal said:
"In lieu of a memorial contribution or floral tributes, Allan would prefer that you go out and experience your own adventure in his honor."
So when I read that again the first week of March, I looked up at Jim and said..."It's time to go back to Katahdin." And our journey began.
Journal Entry: 9/3/2017 Right now Jim and I are on the road, driving to Millinocket, Maine going north on I-495. Millinocket is the gateway town to Baxter State Park, the home of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the 2,100+ mile Appalachian Trail.
The weather is rainy and cold, with overcast skies. Most cars just look grey, with water mists flying up from the black pavement highway. Jim is driving his trusted 18 year old Saab (which he towed home and got fixed after its turbo charger blew up in Maryland a couple of years ago). I am in the passenger seat, writing in my journal and using my smart phone to look up potential eating spots, scan the weather, and help Jim navigate.
Last night we stayed in East Greenbush, NY outside of Albany. We ate dinner at a delightful bar called "Albany Ale & Oyster" where I enjoyed a yummy beer called "Dinasmore Stout" that tasted like s'mores, and devoured Manhattan Chowder with slices of crustini, along with half of Jim's Reuben and nibbled freshly made potato chips delivered in a small brown paper sack with grease spots on the outside.
Yesterday we drove through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Today we are driving through New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and then to Millinocket, Maine.
After leaving the hotel this morning, we inhaled cider donuts at the Golden Harvest Farms produce stand.
As we rapidly munched each donut, we talked about Jim's brother and sister-in-law, Dan and Julie, who love those donuts and have just moved to an east coast city, from a house not more than five minutes from this farmer's stand. I also wondered if Emily, their daughter-in-law, had had their first grandchild. (As of 9/12/17, their son Nick and Emily are new parents...yay!).
We left Cincinnati on Saturday, Sept 2nd at 7:30ish am in a car stuffed with too many clothes, backpacking and camping gear, 27 (too many) Quest bars (lunches), about 16 smoothies (breakfasts) and 16 dehydrated meals (dinners) from PackItGourmet and Hawk Vittles and of course...10 packets of Starbucks mocha for my morning coffee ;-)
Driving to Millinocket will take about 20 hours...According to Google Maps it would take around 350 hours or 14.6 days to walk the same route. (Never mind sleeping, eating, weather, terrain and who knows what else!)
Harvey, the Texas hurricane is playing havoc with the weather. So we are not sure if we'll get to even attempt ascending Katahdin. Hiking Hunt trail in a little rain is fine..In a downpour not so much. However unlike six years ago, I won't scaling boulders and rock hopping with a cracked rib (sustained beforehand) that along with icy sleet, forced us to turn back.