Slowly, slowly are are making our way up the eastern seaboard. We’ve arrived in upper Mass. and are taking our first full trail zero since Damascus, Virginia, which is well over 1,000 miles south of here. That is if you don’t count our five days at home. We’ve been experts at taking nearo’s and half days, but we’ve been feeling the tiredness and beat down lately. It seems to be rampant among many hikers. The big push to do huge miles this last month has left everyone a little ragged and if we’re going to start hitting real mountains soon (Mt. Greylock tomorrow. Our first 3K peak since the Shenandoah’s) we’d better rest up.
The past few days have been rather exciting and fun. We’ve interspersed longer days with a few shorter days in order to relax and enjoy the scenery. We left Kent, CT and did a big mile day to Limestone Spring shelter where we ran into Caboose and Spark, another couple we’d only met a few weeks ago but had been following in the logs for awhile. Since then we’ve hiked with them and our friend Merf (who we met in Harpers Ferry). The following day we had planned on getting up at 5:30 in order to get our miles in before the late afternoon thunderstorms. It was only a 17 mile day and so instead of booking it and getting to the shelter we ended up loafing around the entire day, stopping at Lions Head right out of Salisbury for a break and to talk to locals, then a short-ish lunch, and then up to Bear Mtn, crossing the CT/MA border and then everyone took a very, very chilly swim in Sages Ravine. Then we kinda meandered up to Race Mtn where we took a break at a false top, then found a HUGE blueberry patch where we sat on the real top and enjoyed blueberries for about thirty minutes…and what did we end up hearing with three miles left to camp? Thunder. Crap. So, we started hoofing it and had to climb Mt. Everett and what happened while we were on top? The storm decided it wanted to pass right on top off us so we’re running down the rock face mountain to get away from lightning. We ran down the mountain to see Caboose and Spark had jumped into a port o potty at a trail junction and though we’d just gotten wet three minutes before we jumped in with them and a British-American bicyclist (who gave us his chocolate bar to eat) and then we had .5 a mile to the shelter. So, that is what we got for trying to get up early to beat the rain, then enjoying the entire day and still got wet. Oh, well.
We had another nice day on Tuesday with only 14 miles so we could go to the Upper Goose Pond cabin and relax for the day. This is a must stop on the trail. We arrived an hour past lunch and were completely starving so when we saw the leftover pancakes from the morning we all scarfed them down in about half a second. We lounged around the entire day, had blueberry pancakes for breakfast and then took off for the last shelter before Dalton yesterday.
Chris and I left before the other three so when we met up with them later they came up and told us of their plan. About two days before we’d run into an older man named Make Time who was two days away from completing his thru-hike (must be done 365 days to be considered a thru-hike). He started last year at Katahdin with his wife and hiked to Dalton and then started at Springer and was going to end at Dalton this year. He’d been on the verge of quitting for the last 200 miles or so and was even considering quitting at Great Barrington only 50 miles south of here. Well, they’d come up with the plan that we should if we could pass him sometime that day we should go into Dalton instead of to the shelter before, buy a bunch of beers and sit at the end of the trail before it comes into town and cheer and clap for him. I mean, this guy has been plodding along, one foot in front of the other. Also, interestingly enough we ran into this guy Cob who we started with and hadn’t seen since Hiawassee, Ga. He’d taken a few days off in Boston and we saw him at Upper Goose Pond. He’d been hiking with Make Time for a long time and his goal was to basically walk him into Dalton so he wouldn’t quit. Now…let me talk more of the story…it’s a bit more round about too…
So, halfway through the day yesterday we stop at the Cookie Lady’s house, where a lady supposedly has cookies and you can fill up water there. No one was home but we had lunch there. We were kinda lingering and about to finish up when two other hikers come up. My first impression were that they were true Southbounders. We’ve been wondering when we would see real Southbounders, people who have started at Katahdin this year. Sure enough we were correct! We chatted with them for a bit and then marveled that they’d bounded down here from Maine in a month and they’ve been booking it through some tough terrain. Hit and Miss thru-hiked NOBO a few years and are making a SOBO trip this time. We left them, hiked down the trail and finally overtook Cob and Make Time at a view where we got our first look at Greylock. Somewhere about half a mile or a mile later just while we were talking about Hit or Miss and their insane hiking prowess they come running up behind us breathless! We all did a double take and thought we’d been played. But no, they decided they’d liked our little group so much and decided to turn around and follow us back into town! We let them know of our plans for Make Time and loved it so much they joined us!
So, we finally made it into town about 4:30 to this guy Tom Levardi’s house. He basically lets hikers either tent or sleep in his house, do laundry, shower and hang out. He had bikes to use so the guys ran to the liquor store to get beer and we relaxed for a few minutes and then we all walked back to the trail head to wait for Cob and Make Time. They came about thirty minutes after we’d been sitting there. It was such an emotional experience, too. I can’t even explain it. Make Time had talked a couple days ago about how he liked tallboy Budweisers in the red can so we bought a special can for him. The problem with the end there was that he really ended at the middle of town, so we all walked with him the next half mile or so through Dalton to the intersection where he and his wife got off last year. When he called his wife to let her know he had finished…well, words can’t even explain. All of us girls had tears in our eyes.
When you’ve been on this crazy, insane trail for so long the ending is bound to be emotional. It’s so much beyond physical. And we have 5.5 to six weeks left until our journey. No one will be sitting there with beers for us, but it doesn’t matter. We’ll have walked from Georgia all the way to Katahdin, been through ups and downs, met so many different people.
It’s quite an adventure.