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The Appalachian Trail passes through numerous towns as it makes it way from Georgia to Maine. Most of them are small and outside of tourist America, but each town has its own unique appeal.
When Bran and I set foot in Monson, Maine, our last trail town, we weren’t expecting anything special. So long as we could sleep somewhere, we would be content. Little did we know it would be our favorite town on the entire Appalachian Trail….
Monson is a one-street town (literally) a few miles east of the AT. The town is bordered by a lake which you can see from almost any point in town. The town consists of a General Store, a post office, a gas station, the Lakeshore House, and a handful of antique stores. That’s it.
The General Store sells one of everything — hardware, food, antiques, candy — you name it, they will have at least one in store. After stopping by to grab a quick snack, we walked over to the Lakeshore House.
“Hi there! How are you guys? What can we help you with!?” says a woman in front of the house. “We have rooms, food, beer, showers, a laundry mat…”
“We’ll take one of each!” we said.
We ran up the stairs to our room, and before we could finish throwing our stuff down on the bed, the owner introduced herself: “Hi there! I’m Rebekah, and I know you hikers like deals so I have a proposition for you. Tonight is fish fry night and I need some more lemons. Any chance you two want to go for a road trip?”
Before she could even finish explaining the proposition, Brandon and I were in the car, cruisin‘ to the “big” grocery store 15 miles away. When we returned, Rebekah thanked us graciously and then comped us two beers and a free dinner.
While we were eating dinner at the Lakeshore Restaurant, we heard some locals talking about live bluegrass music at the General Store. Not sure how musicians would fit into the General Store, I decided to check it out.
I opened the door to the store and was overwhelmed. Fifteen musicians, with all kinds of instruments, were crammed into the aisles of the general store surrounded by 50 some bystanders. Everyone was singing and smiling and joyous. I stayed the entire night. I introduced myself to the musicians and thanked them for playing. Turns out the General Store has had live bluegrass music every Friday night for the last 12 years. Farmers, lawyers, engineers, and business owners come together to play music and sing. It was like being in New Orleans, small-town America style. It was fabulous.
What a great way to enter the 100-mile wilderness. Thanks Monson!

In 2010, Kate “Ringleader” Imp thru-hiked the A.T. with her brother Brandon “Monkey” Imp and best friend Emily “Lightning” Ginger. Together the members of the “Traveling Circus” captured the peaks and valleys of trail life in a documentary called Beauty Beneath the Dirt. You can check out the film ( as well as their blog) at www.beautybeneaththedirt.com/ .
Also this pic was provided by the friendly folks at www.monsonmaine.org.

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