Friday, September 19, 2014

69. Part of the Appalachian Trail is Actually a Boat

In Maine, the trail crosses over the Kennebec River. This river is wide, and deep, and subject to the whims of an angry Dam God upstream, that will every once in a while belch a fury of water downriver. This makes it impossible to be able to ford using your own two hiker feet without getting, literally, in over your head. I suppose you could try to make some sort of raft by tying your hiking poles together with paracord on either side of your inflated sleeping pad, but you wouldn't make it very far without losing everything you own, including your dignity. You could also try running AS FAST AS YOU CAN and see if you can skip across the surface of the water like some kind of crazy lizard, but unless you are graced with divine powers, your journey will just end with you being very wet.

The Appalachian Trail maintainers along this section have solved this problem by providing a free ferry service to cross the river, which consists of you putting on a life jacket and paddling your own darn self across the river, aided by a friendly AMC volunteer. Even though you are technically on the Appalachian Trail, they have found that it's impossible to put white blazes on the river because of, well, the physical properties of water... y'know, it flows, or whatever. NO EXCUSES, AMC.

To solve this conundrum, and to help anyone who is very particular and needs to make sure that they're not cheating by paddling a canoe 150 feet across a river, there is an official white blaze painted on the floor of the canoe.

Therefore, officially, part of the Appalachian Trail is actually a boat.

My dad is a retired Coast Guard guy, and I once asked him the difference between a boat and a ship. His answer was very simple:

"You can put a boat on a ship, but you can't put a ship on a boat."

And to answer the question that is surely burning you up inside: Yes, those life jackets were very damp, and yes, they smelled like a decades worth of sweaty hikers. But hey: no drowning!

Clever Girl

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