With visions of Roboticus and Funny Bone dancing in our heads, Suzannah and I returned to Cheshire, Massachusetts -- seven months after meeting a dozen or so memorable thru-hikers there in August 2012.
Cheshire, the Appalachian Trail (AT) and life look so different in winter.
Barren and foreboding.
Gone are the sunflowers outside of town.
Cold winds whip Cheshire now with snow on the horizon, as compared to the impending thunderstorms that broke up the party last time.
Gone were the hikers pausing for cold water or a free Diane's Twist sundae from a Trail Angel.
More hikers, however, are on their way to Cheshire. As of today, March 7, 2013, 229 northbounders (NoBos) have officially begun their shot at thru-hiking the AT, according to Patrick Honan at Amicalola Falls State Park, near the southern terminus at Springer Mountain in Georgia.
Running totals are online from Ron Brown, whose "Ron's Appalachian Trail Shuttle" Facebook page is one of my favorites.
The Brave Ones who hit the Trail in early March walked into severe snowstorms down south that rivaled the weather up north in Cheshire.
Spring will come soon. Quickly thereafter we will be complaining about summer's heat.
As the cycle runs its course, we'll be looking forward to autumn and dreading the return of the next winter.
The goal is to enjoy something about each and every day
in each and every season.
They all pass so mercilessly.
We commend those plowing their way northward to Katahdin.
Weathering storms ... and all that nature, man and God will place across their paths.
Statistically and realistically, not everyone who sets foot on the Trail will reach their ultimate goal.
That doesn't matter. They'll all learn life lessons found nowhere else.
Some will arrive at Diane's Twist. Thirsty and hungry and tired.
They'll rest under the trees, sharing picnic tables and treats and one another.
Snow will melt. Storms will pass. The Brave Ones will succeed.
We'll be there to cheer them on and to walk with them in our hearts and minds.
Finally, we'll revel in the glory that "we" made it
all the way to Mount Katahdin.
Tags: Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, US Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Appalachian Mountain Club, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer
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