I woke up sore and tired. Reason being was I stayed up late because I had WiFi and wanted to work on some updates.
Anyways, after taking some aspirin and folding up my rainfly, I headed out determined to make it to Mars Hill.
Now I only had 25 miles to go and my average in Florida was typically 15-20 miles in a day, with my record being 30 miles. However, the terrain in Maine is a lot different (i.e. more hilly). So my average was cut to 10-15 miles per day. Therefore, I knew in order to make it, I’d be walking all day and into the night.
The reason I was so dead set on making it was because I knew that the next day was going to be beautiful weather, but the day after it was supposed to rain.
I’d been chasing this sunrise for over two years. It’s the first sunlight that hits the US from late March to Mid September. It was special to me because it was the original starting point for my journey. I had to make it!
Now for those of you who don’t know, I don’t hitchhike, however, if someone offers me a ride in the direction I’m going, I’ll usually take it. So I sent a prayer up:
“God, please help me get to Mars Hill today.”
Then I knew I would get a ride because one thing about this trip is my faith in God has never been stronger.
Around an hour later I got a ride from a man named Kendall Grass.
“Saw you hiking when I was headed the other way and figured I’d save you some miles on my way back.”
Kendall is a farmer near the base of Big Rock Mountain in Mars Hill, which was exactly where I was going.
I learned from Kendall that he was a principal of a couple of schools before they were consolidated into one big one. He also taught 7th and 8th grade along with his wife. Currently, Kendall farms spelt grain (a gluten-free type of grain), however, he told me he used to farm potatoes, but lost a lot of money on them, so he switched to hog farming and saved his farm that way.
Kendall also told me he just got back from a mission trip from Romania. He said it was his second time going and this time he got to go to the people’s houses and spread the good word. He told me how every family was different and that he loved meeting the different people and experiencing their culture.
Kendall dropped me off and gave me his number in case I got into trouble climbing up the ski slopes up Big Rock Mountain. I thanked him and we parted ways.
I then spent some time exploring Mars Hill and getting some post cards mailed out. As I was searching for some post cards, a man approached me with a big smile and said:
“Are you doing the international A.T.?” he asked.
“No, but I am doing all 50 states.” I said and laughed.
We talked a bit about what I was doing and then this older gentleman came out and made his way over to us.
“He’s not doing the international Dick, just everything else,” the man I was talking to said and laughed as he headed back inside the restaurant.
I learned from Dick that the annual meeting for the International A.T. Committee was taking place that day. He also told me about how there was a campsite on top of Big Rock Mountain and a flagpole that was the first to fly the American flag with all 50 stars.
I told him a bit about what I was doing and gave him my business card and then he likewise gave me his. Turns out Dick was also the founder of the International AT Committee.
“Best of luck to you,” Dick said and then headed back inside.
I then headed to the post office, where I met another cool person.
Donna asked about my trip and I told her what I was doing and how I was here to see the sunrise.
“You know we really take it for granted. It comes right into my window every morning,” she said.
Donna went on to tell me she used to be a librarian and gave me some great suggestions of books and places I should check out in Maine. I also learned from her that she and her husband like to ride their motorcycles across the US and have been to around 46 of the states.
“Well, come here I gotta give you a hug. I’m a hugger.”
“Me too,” I said laughing as I hugged her back.
After I mailed my postcards, I decided to check out the diner I saw earlier to get a warm meal, because I was having a great day and how to you make a great day even better? Food!
The place was called Al’s Diner and it was delicious. I ordered a lobster roll, onion rings, and coleslaw. All were homemade, not frozen.
After eating, I began my trek to Big Rock Mountain, which was farther away than I originally thought. Yet I eventually made it to the ski slopes. After many breaks due to carrying my 50lb pack and climbing the steepest hill I’d ever seen, I decided to cut a path diagonal through the trees so I would have something to grab onto. Clutching onto trees for dear life as I climbed, I stumbled upon the International AT. I was happy to have a trail after going through the woods at near wall level inclines.
Still the climb was tough. At one point I remember forcing myself not to look up because it was discouraging me to see how much farther uphill I had to go.
When I reached the top of the incline I nearly passed out from giving it everything I had. I laid on the ground for a good 15 minutes before I worked my way over to the windmills, which I figured would have a road to the top.
I was right, however, I saw a few vehicles near the entrance to the highest point. Then I saw some people in construction workers helmets coming down the road. I was worried at first that they were going to tell me that I needed to leave, however, when I saw them all smile when someone said:
“Oh look, a hiker!”
My mind was put at ease.
“Gotta question for you all. Do you know where the trail went?” I asked because I had indeed lost it.
“We’re going to put a sign up,” one of the guys said.
I realized that they were with the IAT Committee when one of them said:
“Yeah, Dick’s told us all about you.”
“Get a business card from him,” a lady said that was further down the hill.
“Dick already has one,” Kurt yelled back down the hill.
“I know, but I want one!” the lady said.
“Less weight for me,” I said laughing handing Kurt my business card for the lady.
Kurt showed me to the lean-to Dick had told me about and then had to take off to get to the IAT meeting.
The lean-to was well maintained with picnic tables and fire pits. There was also the flagpole Dick told me about. However, the thing I loved the most was the view.
“For two years I’ve been chasing this sunrise and now I’m finally going to see it tomorrow,” I thought.
Happiness is not letting go of your dreams.
Forever your friend,