What can I say? Connecticut made me cry today. No, not because of anything hard terrain-wise. The kindness of people caused it this time! Hudson and his wife Big Lu, the hostel owners at Bearded Woods, graciously offered me a free night’s stay so I could wait for my new sleeping bag in comfort at their hostel, rather than tenting nearby and waiting. It did come in today after all, but we weren’t sure it would. So, once again, I am updating my blog from the comfort of a bunk, after a delicious meal of stuffed shells. Trail magic at it’s finest! Hudson, as a former thruhiker, also helped me sort out gear to ship back/ahead.
Not that I am getting soft – I hope I am not anyway! I slackpacked 14 miles yesterday, and 7 today, so I am still on track to leave CT tomorrow and move on into MA. With the changes in gear and all… New pack and sleeping bag, both lighter, and shipping some stuff home, some stuff forward to Williamstown – total pack weight including five days food and full water bottles comes in at 22.5 lbs… A whole 13 lbs lighter than I was carrying! This will make my knees and feet rejoice!
And just in time, too. Tomorrow is a 12 mile hike up into the Taconic Range of southern Massachusetts. Very scenic and much harder hiking. Tomorrow I tackle Bear Mountain, Mt. Race, and Mt. Everett, all above 2000 ft, if memory serves – Bear Mountain is supposed to have a very steep descent where using poles would be counterproductive. It should be a long day, but I have a much lighter pack!
Today was also a great day. With only 7 miles of mostly easy terrain to traverse, from Falls Village to Salisbury, I took my time, not hurrying, took side trails to admire the falls that Falls Village was named for, took some great pictures. 5 hours to cover 7 miles. I did not rush.
It’s a funny thing, but since most of the trail towns are at the bottom of the mountains/hills, I always get the thought stuck in my head, “Now beginning final descent into <insert town name>”. Today’s final descent into Salisbury was a bit unnerving if you have a fear of heights. Pretty steep, very narrow sand/dirt path clinging to the side of the mountain and sloping down sharply on the drop. There was even a ladder at one point. Made it down unscathed though; fortunately that section was pretty brief. The rest of the hike was literally a walk in the woods! The last two or three days, I keep runnng into MittenMan (from Michigan) and his daughter Socko; today we were leapfrogging a few times on the way into Salisbury. I will probably run into them again tomorrow! They are probably tired of seeing me by now. 🙂
I think I can fairly safely say I have my trail legs by now, and about time, too. 10 miles has begun to seem like a short day. My feet were swollen, but two days slackpacking has helped there; so will hiking with a lighter pack. Once past the Taconic Range, in about 17 miles, I’m told the rest of MA will be easy. Vermont will start putting the pressure on… And then I will come to the Whites, and heaven help me!
I’ve done a pretty poor job of budgeting so far. Hostel less, Ziptie, and shelter/tent more… But the lure of real food and a hot shower and clean clothes – I cannot convey how tempting they become to a hiker out on the trail. Especially after a week of sweating, hiking, and boiling water to cook pasta or rice or oatmeal. This is something I was not prepared for mentally, and have to yet steel myself against. Ending the hike somewhere in the south because I ran out of money would feel like an anticlimatic failure. So… Gotta buckle down, and sing praises to the places that offer free showers. 🙂
And thanks to all who replied to my curiosity!
I hike on.