We just got back from a shoot in Millenocket Maine and Baxter State Park this past week. The weather was decent, the fall foliage was spectacular, and the people at the park could not have been nicer. We set out to connect with the through hikers coming in across the Hundred Mile Wilderness. We met about a dozen all enjoying Maine’s most beautiful quilt of color at the end of a six month journey. They looked a little worm down but jubilant none the less.
While we were there a hiker went missing while summiting Katahdin. It reminded us that Emma Gatewood also went missing when she first came to Baxter to start her trek. Back then many traills were across privately owned yet to forested lands. Often the trail would be marked and obvious one month and then the trees would get harvested and there would be no clear evidence of the trail anywhere. On her first attempts Emma was in one of these areas bounded by what is know as the “Golden Road” where timber is trucked out daily that crosses the AT near Rainbow Lake. Today the AMC, State of Maine, The Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the AT Conservancy work hard to make sure that the trail remains accessible and well marked regardless of the season or changes in private land usage. That was not always the case in the 50’s and 60’s before the National Scenic Trail Act of 1968.
Luckily for the the lady who went missing this year, trail markings were not the issue, she was heading up to the top of Katahdin too late in the day. It got dark and she got lost and ended up bushwhacking her way out. Thankfully she showed up a day late. Her adventure, like Emma’s points out how difficult a place this can be. Being there we got a greater appreciation for her ability to survive and succeed, especially in 1955. But when you see the park you realize that there is “trail magic” here. People you don’t know or may never meet again will go out of there way to help you.