About Time (part 2.058)

To my dearest people,

I am in a rocking chair on the porch at the Caratunk House Bed and Breakfast, compulsively tipping back and forth, and not paying enough attention to this chess game.

I am not a sore loser.

(Ahaha that is not true. I definitely am. I hate losing, and I definitely resent being wrong. The key is being alert enough to quash these things when they happen. Psshhh. Self-awareness? Who does that?)

Fungus. Fungus. Here is a picture of fungus. Clavulinopsis Fusiformis, commonly known as golden spindles, spindle-shaped yellow coral, or spindle-shaped fairy club. Accounts vary on whether or not it is edible. If it is, please tell me. If not, I will merely continue to think mad thoughts about sparkling fairies flitting through the air clubbing each other with yellowing and inert parasitic life forms. Either option is glorious..

I realize that, now, we have been in Maine for a truly long time. Here I am, prancing northwards like a very small emu, expecting this hike to be a mildly ephemeral* experience

*means “taking a short time.” I had to look that up, shhh.

when all along, we are doomed to a totally immersive experience, wherein Sail goes cheerfully gallivanting about in the woods, heading north… slowly walking deeper and deeeperrr… and fartherrr and farrrtherrrr…. until, one day, you shall turn around and see only a lichen-covered earthy protuberance where once you thought you saw Sail. This shall be highly tragic, for then my appendages will no doubt have stopped functioning and we will not be able to communicate like human beings.

Tim of Harrison’s Pierce Pond Camps has told me that if I stay in the woods for too long, I will turn “woods queer.”

I’ll take it.

I didn’t mean to stay in these particular woods for so long… But what happened that day was this: I wanted to meet him, so I walked overmountain to his camps, and it turns out he has two pianos up in the backwoods of Maine. So after playing his pianos, listening to him play, and otherwise taking up his time, I said things like, “Let me help with the chores I made you fall behind on,” and he said no way. Smart guy. After thinking about it even more dubiously, fixing me with a gimlet eye, and thinking about it again a couple times, he led me down to the wood pile and said things like, “Well, I guess you can wash dishes tolerably… So here’s the ax.” Yay.

Splitting wood for the winter at Harrison's Pierce Pond Camps
All I ever wanted in life.

I did a couple vaguely useful things (not at all physics related- sorry, Grandpa Jay); and he let me sleep in his almost-100-year-old cabins lit by kerosene lamps, which you can see in the picture up above. It meant I did not get much hiking done that day; but it also meant I got to have incredible conversation with good food and good folk, and also petted the cutest puppy ever. What do you want your story to be about?

A very small part of me is afraid of my hiking timing. This world is too large; I have said that I want to walk across a good portion of it. I am afraid that I am too slow; I am afraid that I will be alone. I wish not to be too cold. I shall run out of money at least a couple more times; and possibly play music for my keep in bars or hostels which has happened twice already, you know; yay. And many, many people have already told me that I cannot do what I am doing.

They say I am doing it wrong. They tell me I am ignorant, or wonder if I’ve really thought everything through; or ask me what I think I’ll be doing in the real world.


So then I get to walk away. I get to do science. I get to ramble through the mountains, which I love. I can step on rocks and be drenched by the rain and break my knee upon the rocks; and it is fine. You can accomplish a lot when you’re doing things you love. It is not party, not always fun, often quite hard to do things right. But this is real. People do it.

On a side note, I might have accidentally run into an excellent couple of folks on the trails; and after a couple nights camping together, we determined that one of them works for Rob Swan, the first human to walk to both poles, and when I jokingly said, “ahahaha tell me if you’re organizing an expedition to the Arctic next year, around Svalbard”…. Well, as it turns out, they’re organizing an expedition to the Arctic next summer, to Svalbard. SVALBARD. The archipelago, you know, with the doomsday seed vault, that used to be a part of these old mountains. You know. The one that’s 10 degrees south of the North Pole, that we all want to get to on the IAT but can’t because it’s too far north.

Well, it works if you’ve got an Arctic research ship and an experienced explorer who’ll take you. Ho hum. Possibly a thing. Guess you’ll find out next June, or something.

Send me emails about your lives, please. Much love, and all that <3.

Peace out,

Sail Away


  1. Bill Duffy says:

    A friend and I hiked the Greenland Section of the IAT (across the Nuussuaq Peninsula) in 2016. While recuperating in Uummannaq at the end of the hike, we met a young French woman named Claudia who had spent about 20 days solo-kayaking around Uummannaq Fjord. She told us she had kayaked around Svalbard the previous summer. I have her email address (somewhere?) and can send it along if you’re interested.

    “Official” cartographer of the IAT

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sail Away says:

      That would be incredible! I’d love that so much


      1. Anni Djurhuus says:

        uhhhh… I know someone that did that same thing! Also, the Faroes are close and you are always welcome 🙂


        Liked by 1 person

  2. You are making great time, Sail! Let us know when you approach Katahdin, as a number of people would love to join you on the walk to the summit; the end of one trail and the beginning of another!


  3. Grandpa Jay says:

    So you are getting lots of free advice on why you can’t, or shouldn’t, be doing what you are doing. Those people are simply explaining why they aren’t interested in doing what you are doing. I am glad you, and thousands or millions of other people, aren’t interested in doing what I am doing. Then there would be way too many Statistics professors in this world. And you don’t want the AT packed with thousands or millions of people doing what you are doing. Count your blessings.
    Grampa Jay


    1. Rosie says:

      Grandpa jay gives good advice.


  4. Magoo says:

    Glad you got to meet Tim and Paul, two great guys. Tim and I discussed Bill Irwin (I myself am only somewhat blind) and he cooked a great breakfast for me, Pup, Papa Pup (who would later receive a debilitating concussion on the Trail), Thelma, and Louise (who would later bequeath to me a half bottle of blackberry whiskey, endearing the two of them to me forever).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Magoo says:

    BTW: Shine on, you crazy diamond


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