Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Appalachian Trail Symphony: Days 8-11 (Mozart in the Woods)

Day 8 (6/18/16) - 5.3 miles (+6 miles walking in and out of town) - (Tom Leonard Shelter to Mt. Wilcox South Shelters)

Today was really exhausting.  Only 5.3 miles on trail, but walked 4 miles on road into Great Barrington and about 2 back before getting a ride the remainder of the way.  It was hot too, upper 80s.  On the trail this morning, though before I got to the road, I crossed paths with this older couple for the 3rd time already!  Mind you, I've only been hiking in one direction (which is great knowing that every step you take you don't have to re-take to come back to your car or whatever.)  They have been doing day hikes going Southbound, but progressively get more northern each day.  I saw them in CT and yesterday, and then again this morning, and I think they were the first ones on the trail I met whom I told about my project.  They are so nice, they said they found my website last night and listened to my music in their tent.  I asked if I'd see them on the trail tomorrow, and they said perhaps!  Walking on the road is much worse than the forest.  The path is smooth and east yo walk, but passing cars and less shade and car exhaust and hot asphalt are not fun.  But I finally got to a library and computer and spent a few hours catching up on emails, submitting this application for a grant, and writing my first blog post from the trail.  Then I ate a whole 14-inch vegan pizza for lunch and got groceries.  I may have gotten a little too much, as my pack felt really heavy, but I do need to eat as many calories as I can.  Maybe my better hiking was because of less food weighing down my bag.  Anyways, I was about halfway back to the trail when a nice lady stopped by and asked if I needed a ride.  Now, hitchhiking is not something I've wanted to try, as if you are holding your thumb out and someone stops, you basically have to go with them.  I decided that I'd walk and if someone stops and offers me a ride, I can at least take a look and get a quick vibe from them and decide to accept it or not.  Someone did ask me if I needed a ride while I was downtown and talking on the phone with my wife, but I didn't get a great vibe from them.  But this time I was dying of exhaustion and heat and luckily it was a good experience and I was very grateful for the help.  I originally planned to get to the Mt. Wilcox North Shelter, which is 1.8 miles beyond here, but I was too exhausted.  Now it looks like I'll have to do 15 miles tomorrow, or just 6 miles as there is no place to camp in between.

Day 9 (6/19/16) - 15.8 miles (Mt. Wilcox South Shelter to Upper Goose Pond Cabin)

Tough day, my feet are in rough shape.  Lots of blisters and sore spots.  I planned to do 17.6 miles tomorrow, but that's not going to happen.  I'm going to break it into two 8.8 mile days to give my body a little rest.  I saw my first bear today!  About 100 ft ahead of me (near Beartown Mt. Road, how appropriate) and luckily it was scared of me and ran away.  I'd estimate 250 pounds, but I really have no idea.  It took my breath away and I was a bit rattled.  Tomorrow I pass 100 miles hiked!  Tonight the shelter is actually a cabin, so I'm sleeping on a bunk as it's enclosed and away from the bugs and don't have to set up my tent.  I ran into that couple for the 4th time!  And also ran into 2 ladies I say the day before too.  How strange!  Maybe they all really like running into me or something.
Night on Upper Goose Pond

Day 10 (6/20/16) - 8.8 miles (Upper Goose Pond Cabin to October Mountain Shelter)

It should have been a fairly easy day: not a ton of miles and not a lot of climbs, but it was pretty tough on me for some reason, which was discouraging.  It was pretty hot though, and that might have helped to make it worse.  I liked staying at the cabin.  I went down to the dock and soaked my feet in the water, and it reminded me a bit of being at our family's cabin in New Hampshire: frogs croaking to the right, an island in the middle of the lake.  It made me miss it a bit.  The caretaker of the cabin was nice and helped me identify some of the birdsongs I've been hearing.  I had a leisurely morning, although the night was not great as there was a young boyfriend/girlfriend couple that came in late and woke me up just as I was starting to fall asleep.  They wouldn't stop whispering to each other and trying to figure out how to share a single bunk and sleeping bag.  The hike today was pretty uneventful, except for crossing the Mass Pike.  Many times I've seen the overpass saying "Appalachian Trail" while in the car, and I was interested to finally see what it was like to be up there instead.  It was just about the halfway point of the trail in Massachusetts and it was an interesting crescendo of car sounds as I approached from maybe a half-mile away, and a diminuendo a half-mile beyond.  I may portray that in my symphony right in the middle of the Massachusetts movement.  Today I just kind of felt tired and unmotivated, I hope I break out of this funk tomorrow.  My feet were much better today at least, and I officially passed 100 miles of hiking.  Hopefully I can last for 633 more.  Still no rain, but some others say storms might be coming tonight.  I feel ready for a little bit of rain finally, but not too much.  At least for me to try out how water resistant my pack is and to cool the air off a bit.

Day 11 (6/21/16) - 8.8 miles (October Mountain Shelter to Kay Wood Shelter)

First view of Mt. Greylock
Finally got some rain.  Thunderstorms rolled in in the middle of the night around 3:30am and woke me up.  I was a bit scared as all I could do was lay there and hope that nothing would get wet and just count the second after lighting to the thunder to gauge how far away the strikes were.  The storm lasted about a half-hour, and luckily everything of mine, minus the rainfly on the tent of course, stayed dry.  Hiking today was the same distance as yesterday but much better.  I'm not sure why I felt so bad hiking yesterday.  Whenever I landed stepping downwards, I felt the jolt of my whole pack landing on me and had a very weird and unpleasant feeling in my head and upper right side.  Today I felt great, and I did the miles feeling well.  The temperature was cooler too, which helped as well.  Yesterday I was doubting whether I could do the whole hike, but today I felt confident and good.  I had lunch at my first sight of Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in Massachusetts, about 22 miles away by hiking.  I should summit it on Friday.  I visited the famous "Cookie Lady" right off the trail today, but of course there were no vegan cookies.  I just filled up with water and signed the register.  Camp tonight is very crowded: 6 or so people from the Berkshire AMC doing trail maintenance, and a group of 12 college kids as part of a training for a summer job thing where they will lead kids on trips.  I head into Dalton tomorrow, as the trail goes right through town and Dad is meeting me there.
Cat at the Cookie Lady's house

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