By LISA RATHKE Associated Press
MANCHESTER, Vt. (AP) — After hiking over 200 miles (320 kilometers) on the country’s oldest long-distance trail, Rob Mullen had just 3 miles (5 kilometers) to go in the rain to meet up with his wife and father for a break.
He kept dry with his foul weather gear as he walked down the trail with a backdrop of trees sprouting fall’s orange and yellow leaves and carrying trekking poles and a big stuffed blue pack on his back that held his precious painting kit.
Mullen, a 64-year-old wildlife and wilderness artist, is hiking the 272-mile (440-kilometer) Long Trail that runs the length of Vermont and over its highest mountains from the Canadian border to the Massachusetts state line and painting sights along the way.
He was nearing the end of his monthlong journey and planned to finish as soon as Saturday afternoon with half a dozen paintings and several thousand photos from which to paint. He’s also coming away with sense of hope about the country from the people he’s met along the trail.
“I’ll be painting from this trip for a long time,” he said during his break off the trail in Manchester on a Tuesday.
Mullen, who has done a number of wilderness…