You Walked here from Georgia?
Updated: Oct 4
What a season it has been! There is so much pent up energy to travel and get away. Last year we hosted just a dozen Appalachian Trail thru-hikers attempting to walk from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine due to COVID trail closures. This year has been more than an average year both for thru-hikers and our "regular" guests. By mid-June 3,863 thru-hikers had registered with the Appalachian Mountain Club (ATC) eclipsing the numbers from 2019 (3,273) and 2018 (3,574). It was estimated that many more would register after June. In a typical year we host around 75 thru-hikers, this year it was well over 100. There were others too that we couldn't house like those that called on July 4 week-end or other busy days when we had no vacancy.
It's a pleasure to play a small part in assisting their 2,200 mile treks. Having hiked the AT end-to-end provides a good understanding of hiker needs and wants when they hopple into town. We offer free pick-up and return rides to Liberty Springs trailhead parking lot, $5.00 laundry (washed, dried, folded and delivered to the room), reduced room rates, $5.00 town shuttles and loaner clothes and bicycles. In return we get as much or more than we give in many ways. First is the gratitude for the ride. Meeting people from all over the country (and world in the past and hopefully the world again soon) is pretty special. Much of the conversation is centered on their agenda for the short stay, but sometimes they 'zero' (take a full day off) and we're able to share tales. One couple reflected on ride back from downtown Lincoln, "Can you imagine what it would have been like to hike the trail, in like the 80's!" I chimed in, "That was before titanium sporks and cell phones, we hiked the trail in 1995..." There was then some comparing and contrasting of notes. Perhaps most rewarding is when I drop them back at the trail to continue their journey, it's at that moment of saying goodbye, that you get the sense they truly felt looked after during their stay. Said one hiker on the popular Guthook Guides about his stay, "THIS is the place to go if you are looking for a clean, friendly, helpful, comfortable and convenient break from the trail..."
While it wasn't certain at the time, we had a special hiker guest stay at Mt. Liberty Lodging this summer. She (Mercury) and friend (Raven) didn't seem like your average thru-hikers when I picked them up in Franconia Notch. For one thing, they were cleaner than most. Other clues were pack size (ultra lite) and what looked like running clothes. While they weren't attempting a thru-hike at that time, later I found out Mercury is a bit of a legend on the A.T. They were just in from Oregon by way of Boston and Concord Coach to Lincoln where they ate lunch the previous day and proceeded to hike the Kinsmen. Coming back from dinner that evening Mercury inquired about a shuttle to Crawford Notch. I agreed and we left the following morning at 7:00AM. The 40 minute ride to Hart's Location was filled with conversation and laughter, but it never came out that Mercury made a bid for the fastest known time (FKT) for a female, assisted thru-hike in 2019 and the FKT on the Long Trail in Vermont in August 2021! Her AT hike was assisted by none other than the legendary nine time A.T. Thru-Hiker Warren Doyle who has hiked the Appalachian Trail a total of 18 times (9 section and 9 thru hikes). Check out Mercury's story at: www.mercuryontherun.com
The tradition of having a trail name lives on! As we photograph all thru-hiker guests we have an opportunity to learn of their trail names as well. Some are more noteworthy than others and many have a story behind them. Below are the trail names of hiker guests in 2021 (apologies to any we missed) and some photos of the crew!