Take a Trek

Day 1: Smelly at the Start

Journey’s End Trail Head to Shooting Star
Miles 0 to 6

Traveling south, Journeys End Camp is amongst my first impressions of The Long Trail. Curiously, I approach the shabby wooden structure and find a man lying in a hammock, next to a fire pit that’s prepped with fresh logs of pine and cedar. He’s a large fellow, in his late 20s, drinking a can of beer and thumbing a paperback novel. I turn my attention to the front door of Journeys End Shelter. Inside, there are several bottles of liquor, filled to various levels, as well as an open cooler that contains five beers and a package of cold cuts. I wonder if the chubby man in the hammock is partying alone, or if he anticipates having company. I inquire with Chubs and learn that he’s waiting for a friend who is about to finish a northbound thru-hike of the Long Trail. I tell him that I began my thru-hike about ten minutes ago, but he doesn’t give a shit. Chubs lets out a short dry laugh, glances at me disinterestedly, and returns to the book in his hands.  “Well, good luck to you,” he spurts, prompting me to head back to the trail.  “If you see my buddy, tell him I said to hurry up!”

The First Mile

The First Mile

I can smell Chubs’ friend before I see him. He reeks, like the long-forgotten box of Chinese food that lives in the back of your refrigerator. His unkempt, sweaty bangs are swinging back and forth in front of his face, like curtains in front of a breezy window. Smelly is hauling ass, like he’s running from something, yet he’s completely composed and breathing normally. Smelly may be stinky, but he also boasts the image of victory. I admire him and want to run away from him at the same time. What was the message that Chubs wanted me to deliver to his friend? My mind is tranquilized. The shower is that way? Was that it? “Have fun, man,” Stinky says to me, as we pass one another on the eighteen-inch-wide dirt path that connects Canada to Massachusetts. I fumble a thank you, smile, and move on. It’s funny to imagine that Stinky is finishing a 272-mile journey that I’ve only begun.

The Northern Terminus

The Northern Terminus