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Down the Road

Down the Road and Up the Trail
By Milt Gross
Jul 19, 2015 - 6:40:20 AM

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I've been in Millinocket, Baxter State Park, and up Katahdin (not Mount Katahdin, since the word "Katahdin" means Greatest Mountain -- which all of our media types I've read and heard don't seem to know) a half dozen times.

Now some guy, whose name I forget and about whom I don't care enough to research, allegedly has broken a number of Baxter Park rules. I think the park rangers used the correct response in citing him for his alleged illegal actions.

If he knew about it, it's too bad this "causey" guy didn't let the plans for a party atop the mountain be known to the park rangers. The rangers would have stopped all the ruckus before it occurred.

My sympathy to other hikers who were atop Katahdin that day for the right reason, to enjoy the solitude and internal rewards of having just hiked the highest mountain in the state. This guy, in my opinion, selfish guy, ruined their experience.

Allegedly, this guy "ran" along the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I doubt that he actually "ran" a lot of it. For example, I'm pretty sure he didn't "run" up the boulders on the Appalachian Trail, the Hunt Trail in the park, just above timberline. There are metal assistance rungs -- for the hiker to grab and pull him or herself up over those boulders.

I think his having a crowd on the mountain was not only illegal but in total disregard of other hikers, who may well have planned their quiet climb to the top of Maine's highest mountain for years.

Every time I read about some "guy" or "gal" walking -- in this case "running" -- the AT for some cause, I kind of cringe. The AT was developed as a quiet getaway, a place of solitude, for those trying to flee the maddening crowds -- I don't know who first used that descriptive expression. None of these "causey" hikers, I think, care a bit about that solitude nor about the efforts of hundreds of volunteers who maintain the AT along its approximately 2,000 miles. They care about their "cause," I think, and, in my opinion, are more than willing to take advantage of all those volunteers and the AT itself to forward their "cause."

How's this for a "cause," someone walks the AT and dedicates their hike to all those volunteers who, since around 1937, have planned, built, and maintained the AT. They haven't done it for themselves. They did it so anyone can get away from those crowds and suburbs and cities and find a bit of peace and quiet -- "solitude" is the word used by AT folk and AT literature.

The Appalachian Trail in the woods in western Maine. Milt Gross photo.

While I maintained a small part of the AT as a volunteer -- not seeking publicity, I met a number of hikers, local and through-hikers. They said "thank you" to me for all those who volunteer their time for the Trail.

No one needed to thank me or anyone else for our efforts toward keeping the AT what it is. We do it for our own "cause:" keeping the Appalachian Trail, including its beautiful northern terminus on Katahdin, for all to enjoy in their own quiet way.

That's our cause. The long-remembered experiences I've had doing a tiny bit of volunteering over the years are their own reward. Our cause is to help the AT itself and provide it for those who want to enjoy it quietly and peacefully.

Let's not hear it -- meaning, hear it quietly -- for the Appalachian Trail, Baxter State Park, Katahdin and for all those volunteers and rangers who try to keep it a place of solitude.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2014

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