Sunday, July 27, 2008

No soap


After leaving the banks of Niagara and the long, horrible state of New York, Don and I made our way up to Maine. We had no idea at the time that we would also be leaving behind electricity, dry sleeping quarters, toilets and also our deodorant.

The drive up to Garland, Maine took us a little over 12 hours due to several setbacks. Most notably, we blew out a tire on our way through New York near Albany and ran into hurricane like conditions in Southern Maine. But, not even a hurricane could stop our conquering of the AT and the northeast.

We arrived at around 10 p.m. in Garland's "base camp" where the hippie work crews strike out from each week to various points on the AT. The base camp is actually on a working sheep farm. Don and I arrived and got an assigned tent to stay in for the one night before we would leave on the trail the following morning. We were serenaded to sleep by hippies doing who knows what in the surrounding tents and sheep bah-ing in the nearby barn.

The week was to be quite a bit more rustic that I had originally anticipated. We drove up from Garland to near Gulf Hagas which is just about at Mt. Katahdin where the trail ends. The section we were on is called the 100 mile wilderness and it stretches through the last 100 miles of the trail in Maine if one was heading northbound. It earns its name because there are no towns within this stretch and hikers widely consider this section the most difficult of the entire 2170 mile trail. We saw only a few "thru-hikers", hikers who intend to walk the entire trail and are only passing through. Of those we did see, they were quite ragged looking and thin as well. They were also from the looks of it quite mad, as the 2070 mile journey is frightfully daunting. It was the perfect time to barter toilet paper for exorbitant amounts if one was blessed enough to possess such goods...

Our work on the trail consisted of two main activities: digging trenches for drainage and digging massive rocks out of the Appalachian soil and rolling them down the hill to be used as steps. The work was tiring as the bugs were swarming around. The most annoying bugs were called noseeums (no-see-ums). The main reason they were called this was because you could barely see them and they would bite the living hell out of you and annoy you within an inch of insanity. But, we went on with our work, digging out rocks, rolling them down the hill and so on.

The accommodations were rustic - kind of like the old west perhaps - suitable for a homeless former CAP volunteer. We were living out of tents in a field near a serene lake. We ate only what we carried in in coolers and cooked our food with propane. There was no running water or electricity.

On our first day at the camp, Don and I decided to go swimming and take a lake bath. I am a HUGE proponent of the lake bath. So we took our bath and were quite happy. The second day we were there, we were completely filthy from digging. I headed along the shore to take a lake bath, got into the water and took out my soap. Then I hear from the shore, "That's not soap is it!?!". "Uh yeah" I replied, "I'm taking a lake bath. I love lake baths."

"Well, it hurts the environment! Soap is bad for the water!" So, I ceased and desisted with my only remaining pleasure in the wide world.

So, the next day, I came back with some hippie, biodegradable soap to appease this woman. I started to wash in the lake when I heard from the shore, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" To which I replied, "Using this hippie soap to wash, it's biodegradable." "It's still bad for the environment, you have to wash off on the shore!"

So, to appease this lady once more I took a kayak, filled it up, and used a helmet to bathe on the shore. We called it a hippie bath.

Later in the week, Don was walking by a cabin on the shore when he heard a male voice come from within that says, "NO SOAP..." and that's it, just a simple order from a concerned greanie. No hello, how are you, where you from? Just "No soap."

We stink horridly. Fortunately the leaky tent and stormy Maine weather ensure we smell like wet smelly dog instead of just plain old smelly dog. Laura, you should really invest in a better tent.



Anonymous said...

"No see ums" are the worst. They unfortunately are in the Canadien North Woods too.

Well maybe they are not quite as bad as hippies in the forest. For some reason all sanity seems to elude them with their soap rules. As if their presence with cabins built, food prep and waste disposal is actually OK, but just try washing up in the lake and OH BOY!!

One correction. You are not homeless. You actually have homes in a number of states. You could knock on a number of doors just in Kentucky and they would be happy to feed you and shelter you.

Maybe it was best to leave the stinky forest and spend some time on the road. Stay safe.

Katherine said...

haha..thanks for the postcard guys! next time pack some Dr Bronner's lovely olive oil biodegradable dish/body/hair soap!

dies irae said...

To the "anonymous" first poster, since when do ecco-hippies make sense?

First it's "no soap", but eventually it will be "no breathing" and DEFINITELY "no flatulents"!