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Down the Road

Getting there more scenic than being there
By Milt Gross
May 4, 2014 - 7:52:07 AM

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I used to be a volunteer corridor monitor for the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

Until my Uncle Arthured right leg grew tired of dragging along behind my active left one. Uncle Arthur, in case you haven't guessed, is an invasion of arthritus. (I thought it hurt because I had slipped in the woods one day, but our good primary-care doctor informed me a year or so ago that the joint disease had invaded. Not nearly as exciting as having pulled it in the woods.)

This gravel road is how to get close to the Appalachian Trail west of Monson, Maine, where for several years I monitored the 1000-foot wide AT corridor to protect it from man-created encroachment. The scenery of the drive made the trip worthwhile without getting into how I stumbled though rough woods to monitor "my" section along and near the Piscataquis River. Milt Gross photo.

For "my" section, some ten miles west of Monson, we followed the secondary Blanchard Road west about five miles from Route 6 and 15 as it enters Monson from the south. At Blanchard, a tiny village near a bridge over the Piscataquis River, we turned right onto the Taylor Road that runs along Breakneck Ridge. The river races through a steep notch north of the road. The monitor's approach to the AT is a very rocky, very steep down hill (very steep uphill coming out) old woods road.

My chore was to follow the yellow corridor-border markings painted on trees and to try to find old permanent markers fairly well hidden in the ground along that border.

It was fairly adventuresome carrying out that volunteer assignment deep in the woods with chipmunks and moose as your most frequent companions. But the day came when Dolores decided my "bad" leg no longer wanted to be "good" enough to carry my weight through yonder forest.

Not all Appalachian Trail volunteering is on the AT. Some of it is off in the deep, dark forest, which gives you lots of time to ponder the stuff of life, such as, I hope to heck I can get out of here before dark.

Volunteer work on the AT involves building and maintaining lean-tos, privies (if you need to ask, I won't tell you what privies are), stone steps, boglogs, the AT footpath, and smiling while you're doing it -- although the latter is optional.

At the annual meeting each April, we all check each other out for such items as growing paunch and graying hair so we can recognize one another the next time we meet on the Trail or in the mall. We also conduct the legal business of MATC, which is necessary to keep the organization alive and well. (The organization never grows a paunch or gray hair or sore legs. It just does a lot to help the AT since it was completed in 1937.)*

My MATC volunteering nowadays consists of both legs under the computer chair where I keep track of camp, college, and other groups planning hikes on the AT and overnights at the MATC shelters along the way.

You don't have to be able to walk to volunteer with the group that built, protects, and improves that AT in Maine.

It does help though for those on-the-trail volunteer activities.**

It also helps to get to the computer.

* According to a book I'm now reading, the original intent of the wild-lands traverse from Georgie to Maine was to create outdoor communities for those wanting to get away from the "rat race" with a path linking them. The AT was originally planned by a lawyer and by an architect.

** To learn more about MATC, hop on your computer and hike out to www.matc.org.

Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at lesstraveledway@roadrunner.com.

Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013


Editor's Note:

  • While I for one know what a privy is, being Australian I don't know where Georgie is. R.P. BenDedek.

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