(142) Sunday, August 10, 11:00PM
Today was a better day. Just knowing that I would have the next day off made it considerably easier. It was a hot humid day, but I was hiking early and the trail was less difficult. I even hit a produce stand near the trail about half way through the walk. The plums were spectacular.
I had no trouble getting a hitch and arrived here at Ed Pine's apartment before 4:00PM. He wasn't home so I helped myself to a shower and read my mail. My down time had just begun and it felt very good.
Ed and I went out for a good Mexican dinner and then we went on to Tanglewood to attend a concert of modern classical music given by the participants of the summer fellowship program there at Tanglewood. It was a pleasant evening.
Ed's life has been one very much dedicated to self-discovery. He is able to illuminate new perspectives for me regarding my own journeys. I am really enjoying his company.
16.3 Miles Today, 1505.1 MTD
(143) Monday, August 11
Much needed zero-mile day!
(144) Tuesday, August 12, 5:30PM
I'm in my tent already and not hungry for dinner yet so I thought I would get this log entry out of the way. I've decided to slow things down a bit so I didn't push very hard today, and don't really intend to do any long days for a while.
My stay with Ed Pine went very well. He was an excellent host and did his best not to make me feel like I was imposing, though I was. My body got some rest, but my mind got a real workout. Ed is intellectually and emotionally challenging when it comes to matters of the self. We had several very cerebral conversations on the subjects currently on my mind. The discussions were all excellent and stimulating, but I still think I need a little more down time, though I don't have any regrets staying with Ed.
It rained last night so again I picked a good night to be under roof. Ed was off of work this week and had no rehearsals so he was pretty much a constant companion. We ate all our meals together and he accompanied me to town for some errands. I had some great food which often works magic on my spirits.
I was on the Trail at 10:00 this morning after a delicious breakfast at "The Roadside Cafe." It was a beautiful day for hiking and the trail was very welcoming. I took my time; walking slowly and taking numerous breaks. I did feel a bit rejuvenated and am hoping that the feeling persists indefinitely, or at least until I get to Williamstown on Saturday for my next mail drop.
I spoke with Dave Martin in Hawaii, and was pleased to hear of his sincere interest in joining me in NH. We'll firm things up this weekend if it's going to happen. It will do me well to have a goal such as meeting him in NH. It would help take my mind off of the more overwhelming goal of reaching Katahdin. I'm trying very hard to keep everything manageable in my mind.
11.0 Miles Today, 1516.1 MTD
(145) Wednesday, August 13, 8:00PM
I sure am glad I was in a good mood today, because it wouldn't have been difficult to be made miserable by a day hiking in the rain. It's been so dry that I can't remember when I last spent a day hiking in the rain. It occasionally rained at night, or coincidentally during a town stop, but I really haven't had to hike in it much since Virginia.
It was dry when I broke camp which means I got to pack a dry tent, but I could tell that there was a day full of rain looming overhead. It began raining shortly after I started walking, but the tree canopy above was so thick that the rain didn't really reach me until an hour later when the canopy was finally saturated. In most situations that delay would be considered fortuitous, but since I was walking through a region thick with mosquitoes I was eager to have it pour. It wasn't until the heavy rain reached through that the mosquitoes finally took cover.
I hiked non-stop with a smile through the rain this morning. I hadn't planned on stopping at the Upper Goose Pond cabin, but it was the only dry place I would have until reaching my destination here at the October Mountain Shelter. The cabin was about a half mile off the trail and it split my day perfectly in half. I arrived there at 11:30 hungry for lunch.
The cabin is a two level primitive structure that is occupied by volunteer caretakers throughout the summer. A different volunteer stays there each week to look after the place and cater to the hikers for a small fee of $3 per night. The cabin sits right on lovely Upper Goose Pond and is only accessed by foot or canoe. The swimming is supposed to be great, and there are two canoes there for exploring. I did neither due to the weather. The cabin has no electricity or running water, but there is a stove and fireplace on the ground floor with a bunkroom upstairs.
I arrived wet and hungry as I mentioned. I could smell the fire from a half mile away. There were still four hikers there along with this weeks caretaker, Tom and his son. I pulled a chair up to the fire and just felt wonderful while grazing on my lunch. Then the caretaker brought out a tray of cheeses, sausage and crackers. There was also a basket of fresh fruits. And he brewed up several pots of coffee while I was there. I just soaked in the great vibes and considered everybody's encouragement to stay, as the rain continued outside. I was just having such a good day in the rain that I had to resist. I also knew that I had several other stops in mind over the coming days that would serve to spoil me well.
I spent two splendid hours there and then left to cover the nine miles I had remaining for the day. The afternoon hike went even better than the morning as the rain lightened and occasionally ceased. I am now spending my first night in a shelter since June 9 when I was in the Shenandoahs. If this shelter wasn't so nice, and the forecast didn't call for more rain through tomorrow, then I'd probably be in my tent.
I'm just so glad that my spirits are up. I really had a great day of hiking for the first time in a while. I had to thank God several times today for revealing the beauty around me and helping me rise above my recent low. For now, the adventure continues.
16.9 Miles Today, 1533 MTD
(146) Thursday, August 14, 8:00PM
Another night in my tent. I must say that I've grown quite at home in this familiar little tent. The shelter experience wasn't horrible last night, but I prefer my tent. Even though it was pouring down rain last night, there were still plenty of insects flying around my flashlight annoying me. And there was at least one snorer other than myself in the shelter last night. That interfered somewhat with my sleep. And somehow a wooden plank seems harder than the ground under my tent. So all and all I'm happy to be back in my tent.
I awoke to clearing skies as I dreaded the donning of my wet clothes. There's no point in putting on dry socks if they're just going to go into wet boots anyway. So I left camp pretty darn wet in the chill of the morning. I walked quickly to warm myself. Once my body warmed the heat began to quickly dry all the clothes I was wearing. These synthetic materials with which my clothes are made are a wondrous thing.
I breezed through the nearly twelve miles into Dalton by 12:30 and began to immediately scope out the town for a lunch stop. My only requirement was that the restaurant have a sunny safe spot for my pack and boots, in order to continue the drying process and to keep my pack in sight from the inside. These requirements were satisfied by a pizza place where I spent the next three hours relaxing. That's what I call a lunch break.
I finally left town to cover the five additional miles that brought me to this solitary campsite tonight. A pretty darn good day on most accounts.
I ended up cooking from within my tent again tonight. The mosquitoes have just been so pesky in CT and MA; and I really avoid greasing myself down with DEET insect repellant. But as I mentioned before, I really like my tent, so cooking in it is really quite a pleasure. It just tends to be very anti-social if I'm camping with others.
Tomorrow I make the climb up Mt. Greylock. At 3500 feet it is MA's tallest peak and the highest thing I've climbed since Virginia. It's that much more of a climb since I only start at about 1000 feet. 2500 feet of elevation gain in about five miles . . . I'll be feeling that tomorrow.
16.5 Miles Today, 1549.5 MTD
(147) Friday, August 15, 3:00PM
I am showered and resting in my bunkroom at Bascom Lodge, high atop Mt. Greylock, MA's highest point. I report in thirty minutes to put in two hours of work. This work reduces the cost of my stay from $46 to $12. Stay includes family style dinner tonight and breakfast in the morning. It sounds like a great deal to me, but I haven't done the work yet . . . maybe I shouldn't have showered first.
This morning was next to miserable for me. I spent the first five miles of the day eating enough cobwebs to weave a blanket. This always happens when I camp alone, because there is no one starting ahead of me to clear the cobwebs. When I finally met a southbounder mid-morning we were both relieved to see each other; knowing now that we had each cleared the trail ahead for the other. The spiders were just particularly prolific in this section. The cobwebs are just single invisible strands spanning the trail wherever a spider decided to change location. Often times I wave my pole ahead of me in the narrow sections, suspecting the higher likeliness of the presence of webs. I spent much of the morning swiping at the air in this manner with my pole. I still don't know if that even helps, but it at least made me feel like I was taking some measure to defend myself.
Once passing the southbounder, I was saved from the web misery and merely left to climb the 2500 feet up to Mt. Greylock. The climb was great. I couldn't have imagined it being much more pleasant. The ascent was very long and gradual, affording me the luxury of long easy strides.
The lodge here is run mostly by hikers, members of the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club). The AMC manages most of the AT in New England through all its affiliated clubs. I hear that they feed you well here, so it's time for me to go earn my keep. Tomorrow I'll be in Williamstown. I pray that it is a very restful town stop. I have such high expectations for it. Oh, I almost forgot to note that I now have less than 600 miles remaining.
12.3 Miles Today, 1561.8 MTD
(148) Saturday, August 16, 9:00PM
I awoke with the mountain locked in fog, and it was raining hard by the time I was ready to leave. The breakfast was pancakes, lots of pancakes. So I quickly made the short trip down the mountain, and now I'm resting in town with a day off tomorrow.
I was reading through the Greylock register last night and was surprised to read that two hikers I knew I had gotten off the Trail there. Actually I shouldn't have been so surprised. I almost quit recently too.
I talked to Dave Martin in Hawaii and he is booked to join me in Hanover, NH on Friday the 29th. I'll have a lot of preparation to do before he comes, but it will be good for me to focus on that. I guess I'm staying here for the weekend since my mail drop has not yet arrived.
6.3 Miles Today, 1568.1 MTD
(149) Sunday, August 17
Zero-mile day. Yeah !!
(150) Monday, August 18, 7:00PM
I really got some down time this weekend. I hardly did a thing yesterday; which meant that I had a lot to do this morning. I was pleased to hear from the postmaster this morning that my mail drop had arrived over the weekend. I ended up making two trips to the post office this morning. That meant getting four different hitches since it was 2.5 miles from my motel. With all that running around, I didn't get on the trail until almost two o'clock today. That kind of blew my plans of doing fourteen miles today. Instead I've settled for half that.
The weather is absolutely perfect, and is expected to continue like this through the week. It was nice to sit out the thunderstorms this weekend in my motel room. I'm sure glad to have my sleeping bag back with overnight lows expected to be in the 40's.
I'm in Vermont now; state number 12 of 14. I'm just still trying to take things one day at a time. It just gets so difficult some times to NOT look ahead to Katahdin. A big part of me is SO ready for this to be over, yet I'm still out here pressing on. I hope that big part of me just doesn't get any bigger. I'll probably pull a long day tomorrow to make up for the half day today. Next stop Danby on Friday and then Hanover, NH a week later to meet Dave Martin and hike with him.
6.9 Miles Today, 1575 MTD