Appalachian Trail Visitor Center is open in Monson

I saw an article online from the Bangor Daily News yesterday morning about an Appalachian Trail Visitor center opening up in Monson. I just had to go. My plans for yesterday was to recover from a wonderful yet busy weekend and a migraine on Monday. I was going to relax and write Tuesday.

At our morning breakfast together time with hubby, he showed me the article about the A.T. Center. Well, my tired, weary body instantly became filled with energy. It’s funny how my whole demeanor changed when I had a goal in mind. I find that to be true with every day living. If I have a written list of something I want to accomplish whether it’s simple or out of the ordinary, I have the ambition to do what needs to be done to achieve the goal at hand. When I have nothing to look forward to I am usually a little down, unmotivated and very unproductive. I try hard to have another dream or goal started before the one I am working on is finished so I am not in limbo. Yesterday I did not have my weekly hike planned yet and was moping around thinking I was exhausted until Bruce showed me the article. It was a little reminder of the importance of having goals and writing them down.

I asked Bruce if he wanted to take the day off and join me for a ride to Monson. Unfortunately he is smack in the middle of a project and was unable to tag along. So I sent out the following text to several of my closest friends. “What are you doing today? Want to go on an impromptu hike over to Monson? An AT welcome center just opened.” One by one the declines came in. I did not let that deter my plans. Just like going after any dream or goal challenges will come up to test your will. Even though the “No’s” were far from a life’s turning point but I did have to decide if I wanted to make the 2 hour plus drive alone. A few weeks back I had already decided I would go on my hikes even if I had to go solo.
Breakfast was consumed hurriedly as well as packing my usual day-hike snacks. I like a sandwich, 2 fruit, severing of nuts, 2 snack bars, a to-go Jiffy peanut butter, and 1 hydration flavor packet for my water. I packed it all in my New L.L. Bean Day Trekker 25 pack I bought. Tried it on and did not like all the extra straps. It is a nice little pack and probably perfect for most people but not me. I am so fussy it borders on crazy. So I used my stow-away pack from Beans. Some day soon I hope to find the perfect day pack for me.

I was out of the house a little after 10am. I chose to drive to Bangor then take Broadway/Route 15 straight into Monson. Going cross-country from my house would have been quicker but I wasn’t sure I remembered the way. The ride over was so interesting. I enjoy driving around Rural Maine. You never know what you will see.

I made it to 35 Greenville Road, Monson, Maine. Home to the new Appalachian Trail Visitor Center. It’s one room inside the Monson Community Center. I entered the space and was greeted by a very friendly Lady named Patty. There were two other young hikers seeking information that Patty was eager to share.

Cameron Jone (AT 2012 “lightining Jack”), Aaron Shippey, Patty

The center has everything a through hiker needs to know about their traverse through the hundred mile wilderness which begins in Monson and ends at Abol Bridge just outside Baxter State Park. The center also has information for hikers on hiker permits, overnight camping, reservations, weather and more.

The visitor center isn’t just for A.T. hikers. There is a wealth of information on day hikes in the area and surrounding wilderness as well. It’s an education center for anyone interested in enjoying the Maine outdoors and how to preserve and maintain it.

After an informative chat with Patty and the two young bucks I headed to the trail head about 5 miles from the center.

     I was quite familiar with this section of trail. In 2014 I hiked in to a ridge and back out with my dog Barney. It took about an hour round trip. The second time was on my thru hike in 2015. My impromptu plan was to hike to the ridge again.

It is a cute little section with ponds and varying trail from leaf covered to exposed ledge but mostly footy.

I felt so at home following the white blazes. They call me forward. It is memorizing.

At the trail head before heading out I met back up with Aaron and Cameron. We had talked at the center. I gave them my contact info and said if they wanted to crash at our place before heading to Katahdin to give a call. They said, “how about tonight?” I said sure just let me text hubby to confirm. Some people rescue stray animals they find by the road. I rescue hikers. We had two extra for supper last night. It was so much fun. They set up tent on the lake shore and built a fire. Last I heard them talking was at 12:45am. To my amazement they were packed up and gone when I woke up at 5am. I never even heard them enter the house to gather the leftovers from supper for their hike. We were glad to give a little back. I received lots of generosity while hiking and it was my turn to pay it forward.

The weather looks good for their hike up Katahdin today. I must go to work or else I’d join them. Secretly I was hoping to get a call that my shift would be cut so I could join them.  But it wasn’t meant to be. Just like it wasn’t meant to be for any of my friends joined me. If they had the timing would have been off and I never would have meant the nice young men, Cameron and Aaron.

Happy Hiking.

Emily M. Leonard

About Emily M. Leonard

I am a 50 year old Maine native and lover of the outdoors. Former Physical Education teacher and soccer coach. I am Married to the best husband ever and gave up teaching and coaching to raise our two wonderful sons. I have always enjoyed being outside and on the go.