Portering is an appealing concept to many people and long in practice on some mountains — like Everest with its Sherpa porters, for example. You start off in the morning with your day pack and set off on that leg of your journey. Many hours later, tired, hungry, ready to rest up for the day, you wander into camp and straight to your tent, already set up for you. Ahh, that’s living large. And it is something we proudly offer.
Porter por·ter (noun)
1. a person employed to carry luggage and other loads, especially in a railroad station, airport, or hotel. —The Interwebs
2. a Redline Guide employed to carry backpacking gear, especially in the forest and on mountains. —Our Take on It
We recently offered this service helping a couple with a romantic agenda: the groom giving his bride a mountain dinner at sunset for their first anniversary. The project detailed here is something we were tasked to do around the same time, though this one a five-day mission with a couple following the AT. We’d tell you more, but we’re giving up the floor to Redline Guide Mike Maciel for the following summary and photos. Before we do, however, in one photo Mike M. is taking a selfie with two people… a couple JP Mike Cherim happened to marry, the bride also a former navigation student. We’re noting this because this sort of thing happens more and more frequently and we love it!
Okay, handing things off to Mike M. now…
There was a plan in place. Two AT section hikers were ready to spend the better part of a week working their way from Crawford Notch up to Gorham.
In one version of this week, our guests don’t reach out for help and they go it alone. They struggle planning where to stay. They aren’t sure how to break the trek into reasonable days. Hard days become even harder days under the weight of their packs, fully loaded with backpacking gear. When they show up at a hut later than expected they are stuck with the last bunks available way up top. Maybe they don’t feel comfortable with all that weight going up Webster Cliff Trail in the rain and the trip is over before it even really starts.
These are not easy miles, so instead they figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a little help. They reached out to us to see if we could porter some gear from camp to camp, maybe offer some trip planning insights and advice? (Spoiler: we can do that!)
In the second version of this story, Redline Guides Mike Maciel and Chase Hall get assigned to help out. They split the itinerary up based on their schedules and check in with our guests each day to ensure meeting points and times. When the weather throws a curveball, they adjust as needed. But no matter where our guests are, each morning around 7:30AM there is a sweaty yet smiling Redline Guide miles into the woods to greet them and lighten their loads. Whenever their day ends, the rest of their gear is there waiting for them, warm and dry.
When Chase meets them at Mizpah Hut the morning after a tough first day in hypothermia-inducing conditions, he cheers them up and roots them on for the day ahead. When Mike meets them at Lakes of the Clouds the following morning, he asks if they’d prefer bottom bunks at Madison Spring that night. After hiking back down Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail with the gear he drives over to Appalachia for his second hike of the day and uses his go-go-gadget-guide-legs to pass just about every other guest on their way up Valley Way. First come, first choice of bunks. When the guests arrive they find their stuff waiting on the preferred bottom bunks, with a piece of ginger candy on the pillow to cheer them up (turns out it’s one of the guest’s favorites).
The next morning he’ll be there again, talking them through their plan for the day and what to watch out for on that section of the AT before portering the gear to Joe Dodge Lodge.
By the time Chase grabs the gear for the final leg to Carter Notch Hut, it’s clear that they won’t make it to Gorham by the end of this trip. Still, we help them figure out their exit strategy and overall the week is successful. They are happy with their choice, the version 2 experience. —Mike Maciel
Great job porters and hikers alike! Thank you for letting Redline Guiding help with this adventure!
Note: Chase is absent in the photos and didn’t take any. This was his very first mission with us and his focus was on everything but photos. That’s cool.
Also: Cover photo by Pexels.