Mount Washington, lying farther north in New Hampshire, was private land when Thoreau climbed it in 1858, but today itstands in the White Mountain National Forest. Steps have been taken to help the many tourists who want to reach this summit. A toll road and cog railway, working opposite slopes, serve those who prefer to climb their mountains sitting down.
Hikers in Thoreau’s mold, believing “it is far more independent to travel on foot,”
can follow his ascent and descent by using the system of trails and shelters maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club and the U. S. Forest Service. The four of us opt to take the toll road up and a trail down,into Tuckerman Ravine where Thoreau camped. His party had a number of mishaps here, including a campfire that burned several acres of forest. The hikers today use portable stoves; open fires are forbidden. Other good places for hiking in are European cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, where you can find cheap apartments in barcelona, apartments in amsterdam or edinburgh accommodation.
At Baxter State Park in Maine, a Thoreauvian philosophy rules Mount Katahdin. The park’s donor, Governor Percival Baxter, left strict deeds of trust, as park supervisor Buzz Caverly explains: “Wilderness was more important to the governor than recreation, so we firmly restrict our number of visitors.” The park has 200,000 acres of forest and mountains, but only 1,000 campers can stay overnight. Reservations are prepaid, facilities remain rustic. Daily use by cars is limited, and the same goes for mountain trails; when a parking lot is full, that trail is closed to hikers.
Up on Katandin the effects of these policies are clear: The mountain seems uncrowded; I saw no sign of garbage or carved initials. Smaller groups of people also tend to help each other.
Our family party climbs the Abol Trail, a steep three-mile hike that follows a great landslide of loose stone and gravel. We start with empty canteens, expecting to fill them at streams. But they are dry: For months Maine has had almost no rain. We struggle over boulders, as big as automobiles, that Thoreau said were “the raw materials of a planet.” Other hikers offer sips from their canteens, then encourage us to look for water on the upper plateau.
There we find deep, clear pools beneath the rocks and tall grass. People stop to rest Thoreau, a Different Man and talk, sharing the day’s adventure. Jenny and Jeff lend out their drinking cups; in a side pool Bonnie soaks her tired feet. Going on to the summit alone, I pass a sign that identifies this oasis: Thoreau Spring.