(139) Thursday, August 7, 8:00PM
I ended up having a very nice stay in Kent. I didn't even get back on the Trail today until 1:30, knowing I only planned to do ten miles. I slept well and woke up to a beautiful day. This is the nicest day we've had in a week or so. It was clear, dry and comfortable.
I feasted on a wonderful town breakfast while finishing some letters, then I got my hair cut and loitered some more before finally leaving. I met the other Bigfoot just before leaving town. I may be the first Bigfoot on the Trail this year, but he is more notorious. He carries a large gorilla mask; he caught giardia, he had his pack stolen by a bear, and his feet are as big as mine.
The trail today was very easy. I had about a five mile flat stretch that ran along the Housatonic River. It was a very pleasant walk. Some of the upcoming days promise to be much more challenging, though. I'm tenting at a very crowded camping area. There is a group here from LEAP that has been making a lot of noise. I hope they respect our need to sleep as night approaches.
I'm wearing my long-johns tonight for the first time since southern VA. I received them in my Kent mail drop. I've asked for my sleeping bag to arrive soon as well. I know that it's still August, and that there is still plenty of hot weather to endure, but some of these nights are already getting chilly. I also received new shoulder straps and a new hip belt for my pack. I'm not going to enjoy having to break in a new hip belt, but it was all necessary. The tightening straps on the old items were just slipping too frequently.
Three long days until my day off at Ed Pine's apartment. I can do that.
10.2 Miles Today, 1452.1 MTD
(140) Friday, August 8, 8:00PM
I am tired of the Trail. Today I am ready to be finished with this adventure. I am just very tired of the whole thing. As I write this, though; I am reminded of how it has been during other times like this that the real adventure has revealed itself to me. The adventure of the spirit and the mind just can't be measured by how many miles I've gone, or how many remain. I will have to trust that such a revelation will hit me soon that helps me justify this ongoing grind and struggle.
I was sure glad I had my long-johns last night. I was cold even wearing them. I'm sure looking forward to having a sleeping bag again. Today was a pretty long day, but no worse than many others. It just struck me today that I was really tired of this whole thing, body and mind. The sky was mostly overcast with a heavy humidity, but the temperatures never got terribly hot. There were plenty of short climbs, but mostly the treadway was fairly friendly.
I even stopped at a coffee shop near the Trail for a late lunch. The meal along with apple pie a la mode couldn't even raise my spirits much. That is when it really struck me that I'd had enough. I'm sure hoping that my forthcoming day off on Monday at Ed Pine's apartment will cure what ails me. I'm already starting to plan another day or two off in Vermont. I've been making pretty good progress, so I have a few extra days that I can play with. My attitude all along this hike regarding taking off days from hiking has been to do what ever it takes to make the hike possible and successful.
I hate to come this far and quit, but as I've said since before I began: I hope I have the courage to quit when I've truly had my fill. It's good for me to remind myself of these things. As always, tomorrow is another day.
On a brighter note, I now have less than 700 miles remaining; and I enter Mass. tomorrow, my eleventh Trail state. If all goes well, I'll be in VT a week from tomorrow.
19.1 Miles Today, 1471.2 MTD
(141) Saturday, August 9, 9:00PM
Today was a beautiful day, and the Trail was spectacular, though very challenging. So why am I giving so much thought to quitting? I am just so so so tired!
After about a four mile hike this morning I went into Salisbury, CT for some fresh bagels and juice. Salisbury is the quintessential New England town; a bit uppity, but very cute. While in the bagel shop I left my pack outside in a courtyard visible from the shop. I set it beside two other packs. While we left the packs unattended someone stole my camera. I didn't realize that it was gone until I put my pack on as I was leaving. The camera bag is usually clipped to my shoulder strap so I always have to maneuver around it when donning my pack.
I retraced my steps in town and determined that it was indeed stolen. I had someone call the state police so I could file a report. The CT trooper came immediately and made the report, but he offered no encouragement. I also left a notice at the pharmacy/bagel shop. None of the other hikers or townspeople could imagine how it happened. It really was one of those small towns that make you feel safe.
The camera was my nicely sophisticated Pentax IQzoom 115R that I bought for my '93 bike trip. It had served me well, and I really liked it, though I think it was really more camera than I needed out here. The part that frustrates me the most is that I had nearly a full roll of exposed film in the camera. There were probably two weeks worth of pictures on that roll, that I will never get back. I can always buy another camera, but the pictures are gone forever.
I have to admit that the incident really took the wind out of my sails. I had four serious ascents after Salisbury and I just didn't have the energy to do them. My heart just wasn't into hiking today. I forced myself up the mountains today and witnessed the incredible vistas, but my spirits never left the doldrums. I seriously considered quitting today. I'm just so tired. I know I need some down time, so I'm going to push through one more day tomorrow to get to Ed Pine's place and hope that the rest I get there will be sufficient. Right now I'm telling myself that I'm going to hike at least a few days into next week
I was speaking to another hiker today about how low I felt, and he replied that God never gives you more than you can handle. In my own way I find a lot of truth in that. The problem is that some of us just don't want to do what it takes to handle everything that comes our way. It is in this light that I'll feel ashamed if I quit, because I know I could force myself to finish. I just really don't want to have to force myself through the next 600 something miles. I think I would lose more from doing that than from quitting now. All this rationalization . . . to what end?
Today really has been a test for me. One of the first things I said after discovering that my camera had been stolen was that I hoped that I wouldn't let this ruin my day. I was already trying to move on. And I tried like hell to put a positive spin on this, but I'm still working on that.
I can get Ed Pine to drive me into Great Barrington on Monday to pick up a new camera. Other than that, I just have to put it behind me and not permit it to be one of the factors that is compelling me to quit. I'm just so tired.
17.6 Miles Today, 1488.8 MTD