Two Sisters On The Trail

My sister Paula and I, now in our early 60's, began backpacking the Long Trail six years ago. Some time during that first trip (Lincoln Gap to Brandon Gap), we became inspired to become end-to-enders. Every year since, we have backpacked a portion of the trail and have now completed everything north of Route 140. We should be finished in two more years.

Paula had done a lot of backpacking before our first hike, mostly in Utah, but found that the Long Trail terrain was more challenging than anything she had ever done before. I was less experienced than Paula before that first trip and also found it very difficult. But we also discovered that there is something empowering and inspiring in accomplishing such a hike. It made us feel like wonder women! We also have found that camping at the shelters is an experience not to miss. There is something so peaceful about lying there on a shelter floor or bunk, feeling the night breeze and listening to the sounds of the woods. We have had many shelters to ourselves, but have also shared shelters with mostly very nice people. We had only one experience with a person at a shelter who made us nervous, and he was not a hiker but a local person who came up to the shelter in a motor vehicle. Fellow hikers tend to be peaceful and generous, in our experience.

It is interesting and a little puzzling to me that in all of our hiking, Paula and I have not seen any other women our age backpacking on the trail. Day hiking, yes, but not backpacking and camping. Until this year, we had not seen any other women of any age backpacking without men along. We shared a shelter this year with two women who were backpacking, but they were in their 30's, I would guess. We seem to be an anomaly of sorts. I'm not sure why that is.

When we finished our hike this year, Paula and I were talking about the feeling of restoration and strength that we get from our annual hikes. It is strange in a way that we should feel this way, as you would think that such a hike would be exhausting instead of restorative. But so it is, and we have both come to anticipate our hikes with eagerness. We will become end-to-enders!

Leanne from Sudbury, VT
(Paula from Seattle, Wa)


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Longtrail 100

VPR is marking the 100th anniversary of The Long Trail with a month-long series of reports and essays. Through this series, we'll explore the history and future of The Long Trail and introduce listeners to the people who built, maintain and hike it today.