Friday, September 25, 2009

Bark and Berry, New Portland Fair, Sherpa, Moxie hike

Hello hikers, friends, and family,

Here's a little update on our new hiker friends, Bark and Berry, the two ATServant Appalachian Trail Chaplains that we had the privilege of helping recently. All went well with the healing process of Barks legs, and, by Sunday, there was much improvement. They we're almost ready to return to the trail at Caratunk, but we're willing to stay for one more night, so as to attend services at Crossroads Bible Church with me, and to visit the ever-popular New Portland Fair.

We did, in fact, attend Church. Bark shared with me that it was only the third time in a distance of over 2,000 miles that they had gotten the opportunity! They said that they we're pleased and refreshed, being able to share in the singing, and listening to the teaching and scripture reading. I am so glad they stayed!

After Church, we decided to head to a pizza shop to grab a bite to eat, but Cari called, and our plans quickly changed. Cari was at the New Portland Fair, with the ScriptureSticks booth, sharing the scripture with folks through the displaying of the ScriptureStick hiking sticks, and enjoying conversations with them about hiking, etc.... Well... It seems that there was a hiker waiting there to meet me! It was Nuken, who accomplished a NOBO thru-hike of the A.T. in 2007, the same year as my attempt of a SOBO, while I hiked as an outreach to hikers. (NOBO = Northbound, SOBO = Southbound). I had been aware of Nuken, a hiker from nearby Starks, ME,(practically next door to Madison), and had kept an eye out for him. Somehow, we just never did meet! Well, meet we did, and we had a great conversation with him. He has become quite a traveler, and we wish him all the best. God Bless you Nuken, and thanks for waiting to meet me! Give me a call sometime!

Cari also had a surprise for Bark and Berry! It seems that Baine, (Sherpa from '03), and his wife, Rita, were at the fair, and were waiting to meet Bark and Berry!

Sherpa had just recently been reviewing their journal, and had downloaded their photo of Avery Peak as his wallpaper on his computer. (I think it was this one?) ...wicked good pictures Bark and Berry!

It amazes me how God brings people together! It seems that Baine and Rita had contemplated going to Skowhegan, in hopes of finding Bark and Berry there, but decided that they probably were no longer there... then decided to "take a ride",(they are from eastern Maine, we are central...), finally resting on New Portland Fair as a destination. Then they started to talk with my wife, Cari (Mrs. Stickman, now), at the ScriptureStick booth. Conversation turned, of course, to hiking, the A.T., Sherpas' hike, my hike, ...and that I was coming up from Skowhegan with two hiker's in tow... Bark and Berry! Sherpa and Rita were stunned! It could only be one of those "God things", don't you think?!? When we arrived, it was like meeting old friends, with great stories, well-wishing for safe hiking, and invitations to get together after the summit of Katahdin. God is SO good!

Monday arrived, and our hikers were ready to hike... Cari went to Skowhegan to pick them up, to shuttle them the hour North to Caratunk. I went to work, getting ready to take the boom truck North, also, with a load of lumber to Jackman, a tad or two above Caratunk. Amazingly... (again!)... as I pulled the truck to a stop at the intersection of routes 148 and 201, I checked traffic, and from the direction of Skowhegan came my truck, Cari driving and the three of them chatting! I gave a couple of good pulls on the airhorn as they passed in front of me, and we all exchanged waves. I pulled out behind them, and after following them to Caratunk, wheeled it over to say goodby. We shared our last moments appropriately,... goodbys, prayer, goodbys, and an exchange, once again, of waving, before they dissapeared into the trail. ... ...

... ...Tuesday arrived early for me. It was my day off, and I had thrown a couple of things into my pack the night before. The alarm went off at 4:00AM, at 4:15 I was leaving my dooryard, at 4:30 I was on my way to Lake Moxie, having stopped briefly to get Bark a root beer, Berry a lemonade, and a few candy bars to share. I went up through Bingham and Moscow, taking the gravel road that runs by the old radar site, and finally came to the intersection with the Moxie road, which would take me to "Joe's Hole" at the head of Moxie Lake, where the Appalachian Trail runs across the lakes inlet. ... but there was a slight problem. When I came to the intersection there was a sign warning me that the bridge was out of commission, due to repairs in progress. I was at "mile 2", and the bridge was at "mile 15". I couldn't remember how far the bridge was from the trailhead. Well, I had to keep going, and take a chance, or surely not see Bark and Berry. On I went, arriving at the bridge... yep, I couldn't pass over it, and there was a big excavator in the way to boot. I parked the truck, and, in the dark, began picking my way across the big wooden bridge, hoping to not end my hike in disaster. There were a lot of timbers that were missing!
I made it across, then hiked in the dark down the middle of the road. After a mile I came to the trail! I waited another five minutes until the Eastern sky began to light up enough for me to see where I was stepping. I scooted along nicely, and at 7:00AM arrived at Bald Mtn. Lean-to. I said my "good morning" to a NOBO named Matt, and we spoke briefly. Then, I heard a voice in the wilderness! "Stickman, is that YOU!?!". It was. The voice(s) were my new hiking friends, Bark and Berry! We chatted a bit, then headed out for the summit of Moxie Bald. We had a wonderful time hiking together, and talking about all kinds of things. Up on top, pictures were taken, snacks were eaten, and we lingered a bit amidst more conversation. Eventually, the time had come... and that time was just around 10:00AM. Once again, we said our good-bys, and once again we waved upon our parting... we seemed to be getting pretty good at this! I started back down Moxie, SOBO, and they, in turn, started down NOBO...

...Bark and Berry posted their Wednesday, the 23rd, journal. They were in Monson, the beginning of the 100 mile wilderness. They were resupplied, clean, with full bellies, and ready to go North, to Katahdin. They were overjoyed to find that they were in the company of other hikers that they had some familiarity with. "Big Fish" and "Firecracker" would be on the trail with them! They also saw "Dream Catcher", who they hadn't seen since Atkins, VA! She was doing a flip-flop hike, and was now headed NOBO.

I will end this blog entry with a quote from Bark and Berry's Journal...

"Everything is a go! Leg looks good. Oct 1st is still the date for Katahdin... if you're in the area and want to join us we'd love to see you.... "

October 1st... that's Thursday... I already requested that day off... and so did Cari! What do you think??? Care to join us at Katahdin???

G'night all! God Bless!