Visiting a Fiber Farm and Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Sadie, Larissa and Mia model their hats

During our full time RV travels, from time to time I have heard Mark tell people that he “traded his nice, complete wood shop for some knitting needles.” Yes, Mark is a knitter and he has spent much time on knitting projects as we have toured the country. There have been hats, scarves and coasters. He likes to have a nice coaster for his ever present drink and he can never throw away a scrap of yarn no matter how small. Traveling to so many different places has afforded us the opportunity to visit a number of different yarn shops and a few farms. My role as the knitter’s wife is to pick out attractive looking yarn combinations. After multiple frustrations, I gave up my own attempts at knitting when I was about 17 years old, vowing I would never touch knitting needles again which I haven’t. But I like to help pick out the yarn and enjoy watching him create. Plus wearing the hats and scarves that he makes are a real bonus too. Above is a photo of three of our great nieces at Christmas time last year wearing hats that Mark made.

Feeding one of the llamas

We have visited a number of yarn stores during our cross country travels. One of our favorite visits was while staying in New Hampshire. Our campground was not too many miles from Maine and Mark found out about a place called “Sunflower Farm of Bethel” located in Western Maine. We took off one day for a drive in the country to this farm and yarn shop. The owner has a variety of unique sheep including Icelandic, Cormo and ones that originated from Norway called Gotland. In addition there are llamas and alpacas all producing fibers that after processing are sold in her shop. She gave us a tour of the farm and introduced us to her animals. In the photo above I am feeding one of the llamas as we arrived at their lunch time. Below, Corinne feeds her hungry sheep.

Corinne feeding her sheep at Sunflower Farm

I think my favorite fiber is from Alpaca and they are also one of my favorite animals. I cannot resist their adorable faces like the one pictured below. Mark bought a variety of new yarns to try. Corinne uses natural dyes for her yarns and some yarns are left the original color of the sheep’s wool. We also left with some fresh and colorful eggs from her chickens.

Alpaca at Sunflower Farm
Buying yarn at Sunflower Farm

As we were leaving, Corinne gave us a good tip for some where else to visit in the nearby area – Grafton Notch. She said it was a beautiful state park with of course one of my favorite things – waterfalls. We saw two falls flowing in a narrow gorge with lots of water after recent rains. I am standing next to one in the photo below. It has a rather strange name,
“Screw Auger Falls” and is one of the more popular waterfall areas in Maine.

Grafton Notch State Park in Maine

Our drive in the vicinity of the state park brought us by a covered bridge that I couldn’t pass up stopping to visit. The historic Sunday River Bridge from 1872 is also known as the “Artist’s Covered Bridge” because of its reputation as being the most photographed and painted of the covered bridges in Maine. It also appeared to be a great wedding spot as it had been decorated and set up for a wedding to be held later that day. If I was a bride getting married, I would be more than happy to get married on a covered bridge. It seemed like the perfect setting. The signs at the bridge entrance announced a welcome to wedding guests and “Pick a Seat Not a Side, You are Welcome by the Groom and the Bride.”

Sunday River Bridge in Newry, Maine

While camping in New Hampshire I was happy to find out that the Appalachian Trail was less than two miles down the road from us. This portion was called the Rattle River Trail and conveniently featured a parking area and a 1-1/2 mile fairly easy trail to a shelter. It would be a great opportunity to walk part of the trail. In the photo below, Mark walks through the woods towards the shelter.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

The 2,190 mile long Appalachian Trail (AT) has 250 backcountry shelters which average about eight miles apart. Most of them like the one we visited consist of a roof, three walls and a wooden floor and are on a first come, first serve basis. They are usually located near a creek or spring which was the case with this one.

Standing in front of an Appalachian Trail shelter

The thing that fascinated me most about the shelter was the notebook located there. Inside were pages of entries written by hikers on their experiences and thoughts of being on the trail. Below is a photo of one of the pages. In one entry a hiker is sad to only have 300 miles of the trail left.

Page from the shelter notebook

As we were hanging out at the shelter a young couple came by. They started the AT separately at the beginning in Georgia and then met some where along the trail. They were finishing the hike together and were close to being done as the ending point was in Maine just one state away. We applauded their great achievement and they agreed to have their photo taken. The young lady explained that her mother was meeting her at the parking lot for a visit. When we got back to the lot later after our hike we saw that her mother was throwing a little birthday party for her out of her car.

Hiking the entire Appalachian Trail!

During our hike I really enjoyed seeing all the mushrooms in the woods along the trail. They were fluted and colorful ones I had not seen before in my travels. When I did some research later, I found out they are called
“Woolly Chanterelles” and although attractive looking, they cause stomach distress. Although I know wild mushroom gathering for eating is popular with some, I don’t think I would ever be comfortable collecting them, even if I was with those familiar with the edible varieties.

Woolly Chanterelles

I will close with a photo from the entrance to Timberland Campground, our stay in New Hampshire. This campground featured something rather different than the norm – its own fire engine. In the late afternoon, staff would take any interested kids for a ride on top around the grounds. A nice way to end the day!

Timberland Campground’s Fire Engine

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