17.7 miles, 49,868 steps, 388 stories climbed
1977.6/220.4 miles/left, 5,273,515 steps, 46,962 stories climbed
Trail Magic Moments: 65
Today, I was actually able to get myself moving. An early start with hopes of an early arrival in town. The terrain was flat for the most part with the usual muddy mess I’ve come to expect in New England.
The hike itself was mostly through forests of pine with the occasional pond or lake. I took a brief moment for a snack by a bench set by a lake.
Along the trail was a reusable shopping bag hanging in a tree filled with mostly empty cans but there were a few mini-snickers bars in there to snack on.
I made it to the turnoff road for Rangeley and hiked over to the Hiker Hut. It wasn’t where I really wanted to stay but everything in town was booked. To attract more tourism Rangeley has a fireworks display on July 3rd (today) so they don’t have to compete with other towns. So, the town is packed.
The Hiker Hut is an off the grid hostel with the bare minimum. It’s basically a shed with 6 bunks, a smaller shed with a bed and small outdoor kitchen and a small A frame building where the owners live. There is no electricity or running water, there is a stream that runs through the property to fulfill water needs and a porta-potty as well.
I spent a good amount of time talking with the owner Steve. He was a professional triathlete who upon retirement lost his way. He didn’t really get too into what happened and what made him decide to escape his depression but when he did he decides to travel.
He traveled through Latin America and eventually found his way to India. He did all kinds of biking and walking around in India and spent about seven years there and at some point came upon two little kids both suffering from large rumors on their faces.
He said their happy disposition and outlook on life changed him forever. He then went on a mission to get them the medical help they needed. He has been going back and forth between the U.S. and India for the past 16 years trying to help children on similar need.
He stays in the U.S. For about 5 months to run the hostel and then takes the money he makes from the hostel and uses it to help fund his efforts in India. He has even managed to pay American doctors to travel there to train Indian doctors on the best way to remove the rumors.
I suggested to him to have it mentioned in AWOL’s guide that the proceeds will benefit such a cause because he will probably get more hikers that way. Still, it is an awesome story about how it is never too late to heal yourself and escape your demons and how travel is one of the best ways to find your passion and calling.
While in town, I stopped at the bar for a beer or two and some food, then across the street for some ice cream before getting some food for resupply.
After that, I ran into Steve at the grocery store and he drove me back to the center of town, took me to get frozen yogurt (I felt guilty about that after I heard about the work he does in India) and then I followed him to where the fireworks were.
The fireworks display was surprisingly large for such a small town and there was a live cover band playing leading up to the fireworks. It was weird being in such a large group of people. It was an interesting change to the wilderness.
It was a great day overall.