Published Date Written by Eric Wise
Just after 6 a.m. on one July morning of his 5-million-step journey, Troy Baker found his path was blocked. He was hiking on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire when he came upon a moose and her calf ahead.
She was not concerned about moving, either. Baker got within 20 yards of the moose when he realized she was taking her time eating. “I had to wait because I didn’t want to get too close,” he said. It was about 15 or 20 minutes before the pair cleared the way.
The moose – nearly the size of a cow, probably weighing around 600 pounds, Baker estimated – was just one of the interesting creatures he met after he left his job to hike the trail at the age of 34. He saw about 10 bears and plenty of snakes – rattlesnakes, copperheads and rat snakes – but the most memorable encounter was when he came upon an injured chipmunk.
“I looked up to see a rattlesnake about 5 feet away that I’m sure had just bitten the chipmunk,’’ Baker said. “So I backed down the trail and watched the rattlesnake come and eat the chipmunk.”
Baker began his journey on April 28, and he reached the trail’s southern terminus on Sept. 30. He says about one-fourth of those who set out to complete a through-hike, which means they intend to hike the entire 2,189 miles of the trail within a year, are able to complete it.