How many Man Hours – 22 Aug

Sometimes you get unexpected help on the AT. Rocks placed to form stairs. Iron hooks on rock faces to give your foot a place to steady itself against slipping down. The occasional ladder (wood or iron sports) against a rock face. Board walks over muddy sections.

It is often amusing where you get this assistance – there can be 30 slippery rock faces with nothing, then a mediocre one with a ladder. Or a crazily steep downhill with nothing, and then stone steps on a decent and modest slope. Or places where you go ankle deep in the mud, then a board walk where there is a tiny bit of mud. Not that we are not thankful for any assistance (but honestly, some of the board walks are so rotten they are a safety risk)!

Just clearing the vegetation to make the path the first time must have taken thousands and thousands of man hours. And building all these stone stairs and ladders the same. A lot of this work was done during the depression – it taught the participants a trade and created an income.

We walked past this plaque today (the current distance is 2192 miles, the increase largely brought about by switch backs):

Nowadays a lot of the maintenance is done by volunteers. Though there are also companies employing students to do work on the trail. I often wonder what the total man hours to build and maintain the trail comes to.

It seems as if I used up the energy I gathered (from resting and eating) in Rangeley. Yesterday I felt quite good. Today my energy levels weren’t great. We had a short day (as we wouldn’t have been able to do the full stretch over the Crockers as part of the day) but even walking for only 18km and 6 hours depleted my energy levels. It wasn’t even a particularly tough day, other than for a horrid descend. I really think going up mountains is much easier than coming down.

Tomorrow we have only 12km to do and then we are going to Hostel of Maine for rest of day and to stay overnight. We need food for next 3 days and this is apparently one of the very good hostels, so I am keen to stay there. At this stage I need a half day off every 3 days to keep me going! However, “only 12km” means nothing any more, distance and even asend/descend can be misleading: you can spend half an hour doing a tiny stretch just because the roots or the mud or the rocks are of such a nature that you can’t go faster. But really hope we can be done with the 12km by lunch time so we can have an afternoon to relax. Trevor has been sleeping since 6pm so I suppose he will be up and ready to go early tomorrow morning!

Look at the seat this tree formed:

We are flying back to SA on 24 September to arrive on 26th, before we depart we plan to spend a few days with my brother and his family (they are moving to the States on the 27th of August), a few days with my uncle&aunt&cousin in Florida and a few days being tourists in New York. I cannot believe this is moving towards the end. And I have mixed feelings about it…..

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