The Trail keeps giving

     It’s been nine days since my last hike and I only have today and the weekend to get one in for this week. It’s not looking hopeful since I have to work two of those days. But I am sure I will squeeze a stroll in some where. 
     Even though my feet have not hit the trail my heart continues to remain there. A day doesn’t go by without thinking about my next adventure, writing my book, and or reminiscing about previous ones. This week Bruce and I made a trip to Freeport to peruse L.L.Bean’s flagship store. Once there we checked out the new Ultralight tents and other camping accessories. As an L.L.Bean employee I not only have an awesome work environment and an incredible discount program, I also have access to the employee store. This benefit allows workers to purchase items at redicilously low prices. These items are mostly returns that don’t meet the company’s standards for resale in their outlet stores. Shopping at the E-store is like shopping in a gold mind. You never know when and if you will find what you are looking for but when you do it is so exciting. That particular day we struck it rich. We showed up at opening which is usually too late. If you are not in the front of the line pickings are slim by the time you get through the doors. My sights were on footwear and Gortex rain wear. That day I didn’t score any of those items but as I was giving up hope on claiming any stash I eyed a tent. It was the King Pine 4 person tent. I was really excited. We just bought a 6 person version a few weeks earlier. It would only set us back $12.50. Not a bad risk for a $450.00 tent. I don’t gamble but when I do that is the kind of risk I like to take. I couldn’t wait to get it home and set it up for an initial inspection. It passed the risk test. I ordered the matching footprint and it weathered lastnight’s torrential rain and wind storm without a hitch.

     Bean’s wasn’t our only gear excursion. We continued down I-95 to 40 Main Street in Biddeford to Hyperlite Mountain Gear to check out their other ultra light hiking must haves. I will be purchasing their Daybreak day pack, pods and another tent. I am completely hooked on their gear. It may cost more then what you can find elsewhere but like I said in my last post, you get what you pay for. 

     Checking out gear hasn’t been my only connection to happy hiking this week. We just finished a visit with a couple we met on the Appalachain Trail at Partnership Shelter in Virginia. It was a serendipity type of meeting. On the trail everyone goes by trail names. We were celebrating my hiking buddy’s birthday and it was also this other gal’s special day so we included her. On the trail strangers are family. She was out section hiking with her husband, they were Lefty and Righty. The evening went by as we gathered around the shelter chatting and relaxing. The next day I headed out early before anyone else. Bruce hung around and offered rides to other hikers. Lefty and Righty were two hikers he assisted. During the course of their conversation Bruce mentioned he was from Bangor, Maine and Lefty said he used to go to Pete and Larry’s lounge in Bangor. Bruce told Lefty how he knew that place and used to go there to watch Rich McDuff play. Lefty was astonished and said, “I’m Rich McDuff!”
     20 plus years and the use of trail names had us not recognizing each other. We were some of Rich’s biggest fans for awhile when he performed at the lounge. Numbers were swapped and we have stayed in contact. Rich and Carolyn (Righty), his wife came up for an overnight visit while on their annual trip to Maine to escape their home in Florida summer’s heat. We had lobster complete with Maine mussels, broiled shrimp with a honey buttery garlic glaze and broiled bacon wrapped scallops. It was a feast for a grand reunion. What were the chances we would meet each other on the A.T. In Virginia. It was awesome. 
     The visit was filled with hiking trail stories, a private showing of my presentation I give. If you haven’t seen it you should book me so you can. And Rich sang one of his songs he wrote for his shows.       Rich no longer plays at Pete and Larry’s but if you are ever in the Pensicola, Florida area drop by McGuire’s Irish Pub on Gregory street. You’ll be glad you stopped in.

     My boots may have remained in the closet and my pack in the corner this week but I am still on the trail. And the trail keeps giving even though I am far from it. 

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.