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Sunday, May 1, 2011

It's About Time to Work on North Country Quest

Here's the deal- The book North Country Cache tells the stories of my first 2300 miles of hiking on the North Country Trail. I've always said that there was going to be a sequel with the final 2100 miles, called North Country Quest. I even have several chapters all done. (Each hike is a separate essay, with some continuity between, but they can almost stand on their own)

But some things happened this past fall, things that made me angry with the trail people and very hurt. For quite a while I wasn't sure that I was going to be able to continue to be involved with the trail. That was pretty tough sledding, since the trail has been just about the biggest thing in my life for 20 years. (Behind faith and family)

I seem to be coming to grips with all of that. Finally.

Yesterday, I needed a piece of info for the article I was writing. I couldn't find it anywhere, but I was pretty sure it was in one of the chapters for NCQ that I had done. So I went to open that file. I couldn't find it! Now this was serious. It was a long chapter, covering one of the longest hikes we did in a continuous piece, and I was happy with what I had written (as far as I could remember).

PANIC. The computer that the NCQ chapters is on had crashed once, maybe twice since I had written "A is for Asphalt" (the title of that chapter). So I went hunting. Couldn't find a paper copy... not good- always make a paper copy in case of total electronic meltdown. Couldn't find that I had put those chapters on a CD. Wow...

So I hunted through my email files, knowing that I had sent it to Marie, my hiking buddy. I found it! Whew.

The bottom line is that I need to start working on this project with some diligence. I may actually be ready to do so.

Here is the opening of "A is for Asphalt:"
Marie and I are trudging down the Ohio road. It's the next-to-the-last day of this hike, but despite being mid-summer it's the first of our days together which has been uncomfortably hot. Not only is it hot, but
this section of road is almost boring. For the first time we can see more than a few hundred feet of the road ahead. As we have walked farther and farther north the terrain has flattened a bit, and the valleys are wider. We can sometimes see a half-mile ahead before the road crests or curves out of sight in front of us.

Glancing down at the sticky black surface beneath our boots I notice the letter "A" has been spray-painted on its surface. "A is for asphalt," I quip. "B is for bulldozer," Marie counters. We continue through an alphabet "for boys," and discover that we've walked almost two miles by the time we arrive at "zipper front fly."

"Shall we try it for girls?" We seem to have a lot more trouble filling a list between "apron" and "zip-loc bags." This time we've filled almost an hour and three more miles have slipped beneath our feet. Plus we've had a good laugh at ourselves for degenerating into stereotypes we don't believe in.


1 comment:

Bruce said...

Joan--great to see you writing about the trail again. I've always seen you as the spirit of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Love to see it soar...the trail comes alive through you and your descriptions.

It is indeed about time....