Hiking more than 20 miles a day, for 130 days – a total of 2,700 miles through five states – has landed one Andover-rooted hiker among the hiking elite.
His most recent hike, of the Continental Divide Trail from Mexico to Canada, is the third major hike for Pete Michelinie, 27, a 2004 Andover High School graduate. He has already hiked the Appalachian Trail (2,200 miles) and the Pacific Crest Trail (2,600 miles). Now, with his completion of the Continental Divide Trail, he’s got a trio of hiking accomplishments that just 170 hikers in the world have, he said.
“Pretty cool,” he humbly said of the accomplishment.
Especially when you hear about his no-frills hiking style. He had only a compass to guide him on the not so well-marked Continental Divide Trail that winds through woods, fields and some towns. He started in Palomas, Mexico on May 10 and ended in Montana on Oct. 5. (He took a short break in July and flew to Oregon to attend two weddings.)
He had no cell phone or GPS system, preferring to rely on his compass for directions. Remembering tips from Andover Youth Services and family camping trips were helpful for guidance, he said. Typically, he hiked all day and then ventured off the trail a bit to eat a meal at a restaurant. He faithfully found a payphone in some remote town each week to call his mom, Christine Michelinie of High Street.
He also found public libraries to send 13 emails to family and friends during the hike. He received packages from home along the way to restock his basic supplies.
“I was on an adventure,” he said. “It is an amazing way to see the country...It was someplace new every day. I would sleep somewhere new every day.”
Windmills were a key marker on his hiking landscape, and as he hiked he would enjoy seeing the next windmill get closer and closer. He would set up his tent as darkness approached and be on the trail just after sunrise the following day.
“I hiked 20 to 25 miles a day,” he said. “Slowly seeing the progression of the changing landscape is something I will always remember...When you are walking slowly, you can really notice mountains, rocks on the ground, small things...I liked noticing.”
From the heat in New Mexico to the Colorado snow, with big bear paws on the Montana stretch of the trail and views of elk, wolves and mountain goats, it was absolutely a hike to remember. Michelinie got sick once (food poisoning), survived numerous blisters and never once had to use the bear spray that his mother insisted he bring.
He returned to “real life” Monday, Oct. 15. After his five-month hiatus, he was back working at his job at Shackleton Thomas Furniture Makers in Bridgewater, Vt. Michelinie, a graduate of the North Bennet Street School in Boston, is a furniture and cabinet maker.
It’s been an untraditional post-Andover High path for Michelinie. More than 90 percent of Andover High graduates head to some kind of college. After his graduation, Michelinie, who played drums for the local band, Grimis, headed to New Zealand islands to hike and think about his next move.
It’s all worked out for the hiker, who is also the son of Don and his wife, Clare, Michelinie of Andover. He is the youngest of the three Michelinie brothers - Dan and his wife Erin of Hampstead, N.H., and James and his wife Kyra of Oregon.
He said he now has to restock his savings account before making any future hiking plans.
Go to picasaweb.google.com/Michelinie to see the photos from his hike.
HIKE HIGHLIGHTS San Juan Range, Colorado Wine River Range, Wyoming Glacier National Park, Montana