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Musings at the end of a Long Day's Hike (11/06)

Did you ever write in a shelter log? Did you know the logs are collected and stored at GMC Headquarters in Waterbury Center? Many were lost when the Hiker Center burned, but remaining logs from Taft, Taylor and Butler Lodges contain a rich mixture of philosophy, whining, humor and whimsy. Here are selected entries.

Two common themes in shelter logs are the weather and the physical challenges of hiking.

Coming down the Forehead on the LT was nice — if you like sheer terror!! I haven’t done this hike in 35 years. I must have been braver or dumber back then!

Oh, Profanity Trail,
Profanity Trail,
Where no one will care if you swear.

This state has way more hills than Oklahoma! - and we still have to go down.

Yesterday we had to walk in the rain. The path was like a stream. We got an ocean in our shoes. At night, my dad tried to dry my shoes by a lantern.

Thru-hikers smell bad.

Written in late November: At what point does it become beneficial to drink antifreeze?

Many hiker-writers shared their powerful reactions to the natural beauty around them.

The full moon was shining on the deck as the clouds that had hovered over Mansfield all day cleared out to the west. I could see the mountain emerging from the surrounding fog. Food forgotten, I stood spellbound. Then stars popped into view in the black blanket of the sky. After a few minutes, the clouds swept back in. I’d experienced a brief, mystical window, a hole in the clouds for my eyes.

I like birch trees. The color is like the inside of shells.

Fell asleep under a moon shadow and awoke to pink sun. Clouds blanketing the Worcester Range, sipping green tea, sitting in the rocker. Does life get any better? [Many hikers wrote about the rocking chair at Taft Lodge.]

Hiking can be a life-changing experience – or at least it can help put things in perspective.

She came up the mountain my girlfriend. She’s coming down my fiancée.

Sometimes taking the wrong trail can be a good thing, leading to ponds and crazy caves. Life can be like that. Sometimes you take the wrong path but it turns out for the best.

Seven wild and crazy Colchester moms gave up golf and a dentist appointment, laundry and bills for a hike. Sunny calm day, warm colors beginning to change. We’ll do this again another day!

I predict I’m going to become a famous writer soon. Or I’ll win an Olympic medal in TaeKwon-do. But for now, I’m going to sit here and finish my Nutella sandwich.

I am happy like the raven coasting in the wind currents.

My friends told me I couldn’t hike the Green Mountains of Vermont because they are very hard – but I thought, I am a native South American Indian and my relatives have climbed the Andes! And it turned out I didn’t need special equipment to climb in Vermont - just my heart and my desire.

After coming up to the mountains from “real life” in the valley, for the first day my mind is still trotting along at a brisk clip, full of the semi-delusional chatter that tends to keep us occupied in our daily lives. After a day, my mind adjusts to the schedule of the woods: sunrise, hunger, work, sunset.

In the woods there is peace. Here, we are free to be ourselves. There is the peace of beauty, untouched and mysterious. Everything around you is older than you are, and it will be here when you are gone. There is the peace of quiet.

Several humorous entries emphasized how very far from civilization a person can feel while spending a night in a mountain shelter.

The night is cold. Something is happening to the animals. They’ve attacked and killed John, for he slept on the bottom. We’ve all taken refuge in the top bunk. Linda and Gracie volunteered to be sacrificed to the animals, but this didn’t work — These are our last words. The animals have built an animal pyramid to reach the top bunk. It’s too late now. Goodbye, world.

More musings ...