"Full Moon" and "Celestial Spirit"
August ~ 1995
Fahnestock State Park (NY) to Woodstock (VT)
|August 1||Fahnestock State Park to Morgan Stewart Shelter||15.9 miles|
Had to hoof it back to the trail this morning from the State Park - no one would stop. Going to be hot today. Already in the 80's. More ups and downs all day today with high humidity and a shortage of water. We get lucky when we hit RPH shelter where we find Mark (another Mark!) who had hiked the AT last year. He offers to give us a ride down to the store, which we gladly took advantage of, since it meant ice cream, soda, and treats! A Trail Angel in NY!
After hanging out at RPH for about an hour and a half, we head out again. Suddenly from out of nowhere, we hit the "Supermarket Spring". Someone has brought gallons of fresh water up to the trail and left them there with a sign for hikers to enjoy. And enjoy we did! Wow - what some people will do - you have to be impressed.
We take another break after crossing I-84 and just crash on the bridge. By the time we get to the shelter, we're fagged and end up just eating peanut butter and crackers. Didn't even bother to get water - just pitched our tent and crashed.
|August 2||Morgan Stewart Shelter to Pawling Pavilion||7.9 miles|
Must have felt good this morning. Started off hiking hard, but the heat and humidity nailed us after a few hours. We had to stop a number of times, but food and water wasn't helping much - it was just unbearably hot. Kept rationing our water cause we knew there wouldn't be any till the Cooke's house near Country Rd.20.
Finally reach the Cooke's place around 1 p.m. Good thing cause "Full Moon" is doing the overheating thing again and wouldn't have made it much further. The Cookes are the greatest - providing ice cold water from a cooler on their porch with a sofa to sit on! We guzzle water for quite some time and in the meantime, "Special K" , "Dave from Philly" , and "Blind Faith" show up. They're going to be hiking on.
We talk to Mrs. Cooke and ask her if she might be heading into the town of Pawling and she is, which is great since we had no luck trying to thumb into town due to no traffic. We had to go to the Post Office to pick up our 15th Mail Drop. . We picked up our mail drop and took it next door to Vinny's Deli where we sorted it out, while we went back to our old habits of eating more food wherever we could find it! We decide we don't want to carry all this weight in the heat, so we split the mail drop and mail 1/2 of it ahead to the Salisbury,CT. P.O. Then wandered down to the laundrymat and did our laundry. Then back to eating again at the local bar, where we had BBQ Ribs which sound great, but were only fair.
After eating, we hoof it through town to spend the night in Murrow Park (named after the broadcaster Edward R. Murrow) and camped out in the pavilion. Cold showers, but got clean! Skunk walked across our path on our way back to the pavilion from the showers. Almost stepped on him! Slept well in the pavilion - very humid though.
|August 3||Pawling, NY to Webatuck Shelter||8.3 miles|
Walked back into Pawling this morning and stopped at the Deli again for some goodies and coffee. Got a bagel to go for later. The local folks were quite interested in our hike and we spent a good 1/2 hour talking to them. We hinted about our hike back to the trail, but everyone was acting rather dense on this subject, so we ended up hoofing back out onto the road and threw our thumbs up for a hitch. In a matter of minutes, a guy came along in his pickup and gave us a ride back to the trail (sure is nice to have "Celestial Spirit" along).
Fortunately, it is cloudy and overcast today, although humid, but without the sun, we're not going through as much water. We hiked along OK till we were almost to the Appalachian Trail Station just before NY22, where you can catch a train into NYC. Shortly before the station, while crossing through a field, we are attacked by hordes of mosquitoes and flies. We're grabbing for the DEET when we hit the station platform. Worse case of mosquitoes we've hit on the entire trail.
Finally reaching Webatuck(Wiley) Shelter, we take a break and enjoy this great shelter. Copies of today's paper are nailed to the wall. Nearby are tables set up with large coolers of ice. Turns out that the caretaker comes up here every day to re supply. Amazing! Magazines and books to read as well. About this time "Mike the Engineer" comes in . We had thought he was way ahead, but apparently he stopped and stayed at a motel 3 miles out yesterday. We were going to go on , but after talking with Mike a while, we weakened and decided to stay, as we really enjoy his company.. We'll get up early and head into Kent, CT and the outfitters, where hopefully Celestial will find some boots to replace hers while her Wilderness boots are being resoled. "Snow Leopard", "Iceman","Bloodstone", "Timber Pixie","Spider", and "Thermia" (who had passed us coming out of Gatlinburg!) all showed up, none of whom we had met before, so it was great to see some new faces!
|August 4||Webatuck Shelter to Mt. Algo Lean-To||12.4 miles|
Break camp around 8 a.m. and start heading into Connecticut. Another steaming day. Will this ever end??? Come to the Housatonic River today, which Raven had sung about in his song. Take a break there in the grass with "Mike the Engineer", but don't linger long as we have miles to do and the heat isn't getting any better. A mile down the road, we learn that there is a deli to our right past some covered wooden bridges. We can't resist! Off with "Mike" to the deli!
Beautiful wooden bridge (George Washington crossed here a number of times) and then we are at the Deli, where we have some Snapple drinks, sandwiches, pastries (Full Moon feeds his craving), and coffee (still have a bit of that fix, I guess). Also enjoy the cleanest Port-o-Potty I have ever seen in my life - obviously brand new and astounding for its cleanliness. Ah, the small things in life! After an hour break, we head out again feeling rejuvenated. Watch some kids tubing down the river by the covered bridge and grab a few pictures.
We did OK for the rest of the day till we hit the 2nd to last hill before the shelter - steep ups and downs with the downs over lots of rocks. Feet are humming - Full Moon takes off his boots and empties out a 1/4 cup of water (sweat)! Finally we reach Mt. Algo shelter, dump our packs, clean up a bit and head for town. As soon as we hit the road , it starts to rain! Maybe because of the rain, we get lucky and are able to catch a quick hitch to town. He drops us at the Outfitters where Celestial tries on a number of pairs of boots, but before making her final selection decides she will come back the next day to try them with a full pack on. After the outfitter, we head over to Michaels, an Italian Restaurant where we run into "Han Solo" who we meet for the first time. (Han Solo will finish his thruhike and return in '96 to do it all over again!).
Finally head back to the shelter and fortunately we have our flashlights with us, as it is getting pitch black in the woods as we hit the trail again. Fortunately, Han Solo had arrived before us and had hung up our packs in the shelter to keep the mice away, as they are already out in force. "Celestial" discovers one of the little devils has already eaten a hole in her Dana Wet Rib (small carrying pouch fastened between the two shoulder straps of a pack) in search of the Nestle's Crunch bar. They not only enjoyed that, but also enjoyed the loaf of bread Janet had with her pack - pissed the ol' "Celestial Spirit" off! We tent and miraculously it doesn't rain.
|August 5||Mt. Algo to Kent, CT||.3 miles|
Up early (we can get up early when we know we're going to town!) and into town. Caught a hitch immediately. Ate breakfast at the Villager and then headed over to the Outfitters where "Celestial Spirit" bought a pair of Merrell Cascade II's. Mailed the other boots off to be resoled. Then off to the bakery for Mark's pastry fetish.
Ran into "Snow Leopard" and decided to share a room with him at the Hitching Post in Cornwall Bridge. Ran into "Puff" and "Butcher" later in the day as well as the crowd from Wiley Shelter (Hypo and Thermia; Iceman, Timber Pixie, Bloodstone and Spider. They're boiling live Lobster in the town square today, but we learn of a better deal at the Italian Restaurant, so we head over there for fresh Lobster! God, this was good lobster! Apparently the owner meets a guy carrying them down the coast and brings them back and boy can you tell good Lobster when you get it! Lobster, corn on the cob, salad, potato - all for $10.95! Obviously, we have now lost all control!
Head over to motel where the folks are very nice - did our laundry for us and brought us coffee. Spend the time waterproofing our boots, catching up on our journals and watching TV. Didn't see any famous people in town today. (Supposed to be a bunch around here - rich area) Did learn from the outfitter that Henry Kissinger's bodyguards had come in to the outfitter to buy a tennis racket so they could kill a bat in Henry's house! That was good for a laugh!
|August 6||Cornwall Bridge to Belter Campsite||12.1 miles|
We get up and hit the trail at 9:15 after the folks from the motel give "Mike the Engineer", "Snow Leopard" and us a ride to the trailhead. We have made another tough decision for us -we elect to hike on with Snow Leopard and Mike because we enjoy their company. By doing so, we miss the 11.5 mile stretch from Kent to Cornwall Bridge, which means we now have one more small section to later come back and complete. Yet, somehow we are content with this decision as part of the trail experience is to enjoy oneself and hiking with Mike and Snow Leopard has been one of the better experiences of the trail for us.
More ups and downs today - take a break at Pine Swamp Brook Lean-to to get some water. Run into "Iceman", "Bloodstone" and "Totem" there. Hiked on - thought it was going to rain as the wind picked up, but it never happened. We heard church bells ringing as we hiked today around 5 p.m. Then at 6, more songs were played - it reminded us of a Glockenspiel.
Great views from the ridges today. Weather cooling off some. Crossing Sharon Mountain, we get views of the Lime Rock Auto Racing course below and pass by the jump off point for hang gliding. We hit the campsite around 8:30 p.m. - getting cool tonight - wishing we had those sleeping bags back. Camped in the middle of an entire forest of dead trees - wind picked up during the night - we were just waiting for one of those to come crashing down on our tent.
|August 7||Belter Campsite to Salisbury,CT||10.4 miles|
Up early this morning and down to the Village Coffee Shop for breakfast with Mike and Snow Leopard. Maybe we should just do restaurant to restaurant?? Beautiful day today to hike, sunny, cool. Nice hike into Salisbury to get our 16th Maildrop at the P.O. On our way into Salisbury, we stop at the top of Mt. Prospect for a lunch break - perfect views, sunny, yet nice shady spot to rest in and eat lunch. First time in about 3 weeks where we were able to just sit down and take a break in comfort. Maybe the weather is finally turning our way! This is the way hiking should be! Or as "Mike" would always say "This is the way I visualized the AT!".
We visit the market in town to get some sandwiches and ice cream and then head over to the White Hart Inn, where "Mike" is imbibing some good German beers. Join him for a Pilsner Urquell and then Alice picks us up from Alice's B&B, where we will be spending the night. Alice is a lawyer in NYC, who runs this B&B, but isn't there half the time. Chow down on some black bean dip while we watch TV. We get to sleep in a big featherbed with a brass frame - ah! Alice tells us the food is in the frig, so next morning Mark whips up French Toast for everyone (not realizing this will soon be his new career!).
|August 8||Salisbury, CT to Glen Brook Shelter||13.5 miles|
We head out for the street to hitch a ride back to the Trailhead. In about 5 minutes, we're heading down the road. Perfect weather again - cool with a breeze. 4 major ups and downs today but with great views. Reach Bear Mountain and take a break with "Snow Leopard" on top of this massive rock pile (highest point in CT), which had been constructed over a century ago using no mortar. Joined by a few day hikers and their dog.
Hiking on, we cross through Sages Ravine, a beautiful area of trees and waterfalls. Hit the CT/MA line shortly thereafter where we meet "Thermia" again, who takes our picture in front of the CT/MA sign. Then a long climb up Race Mt. with great views of the valley below . We contemplated camping, but then ran into a Southbounder who said the 4th and final climb up Mt. Everett wasn't bad, so we headed on. Thought we would never reach the shelter, but finally just as it was getting dark, we stumbled on it and pitched our tent on the tent platforms provided. Nice area to camp - lots of pine trees. "Iceman" and "Snow Leopard" are in the shelter.
|August 9||Glen Brook Shelter to Tom Leonard Shelter||14.3 miles|
Hit the trail at 0800. First 8 miles today are pretty easy. Some great views from Jug End. We take a break to plan out our next few days. Then down off the mountain into the woods, across roads, pastures and fields, following a reroute into hot, dry fields and over RR tracks - not impressive. Would have rather walked on the road and that's something we would normally never want to do!
Stopped at the Corn Crib on Rt. 7 around 1 p.m, which is just a few hundred yards off the trail. Some Southbounders had suggested it as a good place to grab something to eat. They were right. Had an all you can eat lunch consisting of Sweet/Sour Hawaian steak, goulash, rolls and summer vegetable soup - all for $3.95! Then drinks, ice cream and fruit. The folks here are really friendly. We're joined by Hypo and Thermia and Hypo's boyfriend - Gregory, Iceman, Bloodstone, Snow Leopard.
We hang out till about 3 p.m. and then we head out - real tough now - we are stuffed and it is getting hot out and more fields to hike through! As we crossed the next road and headed up the mountain, we missed the trail and hiked about 1/4 mile straight uphill before we realized our error and had to hike back down to the road and start over. Ugh - all we wanted to do was lay down and take a nap! We catch up shortly with Snow Leopard and in a short while take a break. About that time "Mooselegs" cruises by - he started the trail June 12th! - doing 27-28 miles a day - ran cross country in high school - must be nice to be in shape. We continued to climb and finally hit the Tom Leonard shelter at almost dark. Ate a few plums and then crashed in our tent - too full to eat dinner. Sore feet tonight from the rocks on the final few miles into the shelter.
|August 10||Tom Leonard Shelter to Jerusalem Road (campsite)||13.0 miles|
Well, we froze again last night. Can't wait to get those sleeping bags back! Had a chance to look around the shelter area in the a.m. - really nice, 4 bunks and a loft - tent platforms nearby with great views and 2 picnic tables. Broke camp around 8:45 after getting organized and washing our hair. Pass by Benedict Pond - beautiful pond - get a good shot of Snow Leopard sitting on a rock by the edge of the pond.
Hiking on, we cross through an area that has sustained severe hurricane or tornado damage. The trail is rerouted due to so many downed trees, so we have to road walk it for a ways - past a number of homes that are being rebuilt - total devastation in this area. More ups and downs - "Celestial's" hips are hurting and our feet are tired.
Stop for lunch at Mt. Wilcox South Lean-To - lots of porcupine damage here. We meet up with Snow Leopard again and as we get to Jerusalem Road, we decide we've hiked enough for the day. There is a nice house just down the road with a very comfortable looking spot to camp in the front yard near the road, so Snow Leopard and Full Moon dispatch "Celestial Spirit" to work her feminine charms on the inhabitants. It worked! Don't think it would have worked if Snow Leopard and I had gone to the house - probably would have called the cops! We had thought about going into Tyringham, but didn't want to spend the money on a B&B. They let us use the water spigot on the side of the house, so we are tenting in luxury tonight! Huge pink full moon rises above the valley tonight as we go to sleep. Nearby grazing cows are quite curious as to what we are up to.
|August 11||Jerusalem Road to Upper Goose Pond Cabin||8.1 miles|
Hit the trail at 0730, heading for Upper Goose Pond Cabin. Bugs are terrible. Little gnats constantly divebombing - worst I've seen on the whole trail. Finally hiked the last few miles, constantly waving my bandana in front of my face to try and ward them off. Driving us crazy!!!!!
Reach Upper Goose Pond around 12:30. "Snow Leopard", "Timber Pixie", "Flatlander", "Oreo", "Dutchess" (whom we had seen at Rainbow Springs), plus 2 guys we had met in the Smokies - "Bubba's Slave" ("Bubba" is the name of "Bubba Slave's pack), and his friend whose name I forget. Great cabin here - big lake out in front of it - nice place to take a dip. "Buzz" and "Spazz" show up - they were blue blazing it and got caught on the other side of the lake where the blue blaze ran out - had to call out for someone to cross the lake in a canoe and pick them up! We got a good laugh out of that - teach them to blue blaze! Actually they are really enjoying the sport of blue blazing - in fact they make every attempt they can to blue blaze - claim it's much more interesting than following the white blazes. Quite a departure from when we had last seen them near Jerry's Cabin and they were following every blaze.
Washed out our clothes here and had a chance to just unwind. Went to bed around 9 p.m. Slept well - nice to be warm for a change.
|August 12||Upper Goose Pond to Washington Mt. Road||11.0 miles|
Got up around 6:30 to the smell of coffee and pancakes. And it was good!!! For a donation of $3, you get a pancake breakfast here. Robert, the caretaker, was up and cooking. Hit the trail at 8:30 and headed straight up (as usual!). Hiked along past US 20 and then it started to rain. Put on our pack covers, but it was a pleasant shower and we were well protected by the trees. Actually it was rather refreshing! We took a break with Snow Leopard and talked with 2 guys who were bicycling by on a service road. It was kind of funny - they saw us, turned around to come back to talk to us and in the process of turning around, one of them fell off his bike right in front of us. He had to be embarrassed.
Kept on moving due to the rain. Stopped at the October Lean-to for lunch. Ate the rest of our peanut butter and bread - running out of food - mostly lunch items. Continued on over some gentle ups and downs, but lots of tree roots. About 2 miles past the October Lean-to, we stopped at the house of the "Cookie Lady". We read about her in Wingfoot's book and supposedly she leaves cookies out on her front porch from time to time for hikers. Well, that was enough for us! We headed promptly there, only to find the Cookie Lady not at home and an empty basket of cookies! We had a few choice words to say about our fellow hikers who had passed through here ahead of us and then sat down at the picnic table for a break. Wandered over to their blueberry fields and enjoyed some fresh blueberries. Shortly, her husband arrived and voila! - Cookies!! "Han Solo" shows up and we all chow down.
"Han" moves on, but "Snow Leopard" decides he is tired and wants to yellow blaze it into Dalton. We discuss this for some time (thinking about the rain clouds approaching and no sleeping bags or fleece jackets) and then are finally talked into it and skip the next 9.6 miles via a hitch. Now we have a reason to come back to Massachusetts! Gee, 20 miles near Bear Mt., about 10 miles near St. John's Ledges and now this. I hate to say it, but we are being too easily influenced by our friends who are not quite as concerned with the white blazes as we were. We vow to discontinue this habit, although it has brought along with it experiences that we would not have otherwise had and better friendships that would not have happened otherwise, so maybe there was a reason after all!
We stick up our thumbs on a road where it looks like no one will come along in the next 10 years and five minutes later we are in the back of a van with 2 guys who are giving us fresh nectarines! They drop us off at a convenience store where we hitch another ride with a guy in an El Camino. He turns out to be a real nice guy and drops us off near Tom Levardi's house in Dalton.
Shortly after we arrive, Tom comes home from work and serves a yard full of hikers, fresh melon and ice cream. Is this heaven or what? Tom lives right on the trail as it passes through town and for years has been inviting hikers to camp in his yard and at the same time feeds them! Tom's generosity astounds me and is profoundly moving - this is a true mensch! We strolled down the street to the pizza place and got some pizza with Snow Leopard. In the meantime , Tom strolls in and orders pizza for all the hikers back at his house and later back at his place, he comes out with some chicken he has baked up. I wonder if Tom needs some permanent house guests? A tip of the ol' hat to Tom - he makes the Trail a special place!
|August 13||Dalton, MA to Cheshire, MA||9.3 miles|
Before hitting the trail we head down the street for some breakfast - bad choice - poor breakfast and the guy who runs the place is none too pleasant. Oh well - taking the bad with the good! Headed off to the Laundromat where we were given a towel and wash cloth to take a mini shower in the bathroom while our laundry was being done - nice gesture!
Finally headed out of town but not without a stop at Angelina's where we got subs for 99 cents! Took our time hiking today, cause we knew we were going to stop at the church hostel in Cheshire. Took a few long breaks and took a short side trail to the "Cobbles", where we had some nice views of Cheshire and the Hoosic River. Finally arrived in town around 6:45 only to find out that we had just missed the once a year church bazaar with free food and beer! So we stroll down to the Donna Bella restaurant with Snow Leopard where we get some gyros and lasagna and Snow Leopard treats "Celestial" to a Diet Coke ( hmmm.... better watch him!!).
Back to the church where everyone is sorting out gear and trying to figure out how to divest themselves of a few more pounds. Father Tom requests that everyone put their backpacks in a small room next to the large auditorium where we will be sleeping. I can't blame him for that, but walk in that room and you're lucky to walk out alive! Whew !!
|August 14||Cheshire, MA to Bascom Lodge||7.6 miles|
Get up at 6:30. We had laid our fuel bottle down on the floor and it had leaked during the night onto the floor - that made for a nice mess to start the day. Picked up our 17th Maildrop from the P.O.. Got our sleeping bags back here! And "Full Moon" got his Fabiano Rio's back from the cobbler after resoling. Back to the church to sort out our mail drop and get organized. Then back again to the P.O. to mail off some items. Finally hiked out of town around 11:15. Long climb today to Bascom Lodge. Janet is having some problems with her lower back and hip - isn't sure what the problem is, but thinks it has something to do with her pack. Passing thru evergreens now - wonderful aroma of Christmas!
Reach summit of Graylock around 4:30. Checked in at the desk and told them we wanted to work so that we could avoid the $50 room fee (you get it for $10 if you work and it includes dinner and breakfast!- Dinner was some noodle dish - after all those Lipton noodles and they serve noodles for dinner!!! Ugh- ,but Breakfast turns out to be great, however.) They said OK, so I got assigned kitchen duty while Janet swabbed the bathrooms - not sure who had the better deal on that - kitchen was a zoo. Ran into "Snow Leopard" who is also working off his stay here. Not a bad deal though - 2 hours work for a cheap stay. We decide to head into Williamstown tomorrow to spend "Full Moon's" birthday there, rather than here at the lodge where it is rather dark and dingy.
|August 15||Bascom Lodge to Williamstown||6.4 miles|
After a really good breakfast, we hit the trail around 9:30 and head down the mountain to Williamstown (home to Williams College - the "Purple Cows" and college to my former boss at Ryder!) . We start off in total fog - couldn't see a thing from the summit. It had rained a bit and the rocks were slippery near the top - we almost fell twice, but then it stopped and as we descended , the wetness disappeared. However, "Full Moon" has discovered that the temporary boots he bought in Rockfish Gap are too short for his feet and his toes are getting slammed. He decides he is going to have to go to the Outfitter's to get new boots. These Merrell Uinitas are way too hot to hike in, have slippery soles and they're too short! Another expensive lesson of the trail. By the time we hit Williamstown our knees are hurting - it's a pretty steep downhill - not much fun for those Southbounders climbing it!
We hitch a ride to the Willows Motel on the back of a landscaping truck, but unfortunately he doesn't stop at the Motel (we don't see it as we go past it), instead he takes us all the way into the town to this posh hotel (the Williams Inn, I believe). He thought this is what we said, and he tells us he doesn't have the time to take us back, so we have to hoof it back through town some 1-2 miles to the motel - ouch, ouch go the feets!!!
After checking in at the motel, we wander back into town and head over to the Outfitter (The Mountain Goat), where Mark buys a pair of Merrell McKinleys and then we head off to dinner at Hobson's to celebrate Mark's birthday. "Celestial" has cajun barbecued shrimp while "Full Moon" has a steak. We also enjoy steamed clams as an appetizer + the salad bar, potato, bread. It's a damn good thing we hike as much as we do or we would be huge! Credit cards continue to escalate!
|August 16||Williamstown||0 miles|
We decide to stay for another day to rest and test out boots and equipment. The lady who runs the motel is quite nice and offers to take us to the Trailhead in the morning. Laid out at the pool for a while in the afternoon. Janet picks up some "fried pies" and sticks a few candles in them for my birthday and along with some Ben and Jerry's Wavy Gravy ice cream - we are partying! Also pick up a NY Times to read - you can bet we won't be carrying that on the trail!
Ran into "Trillium" and "McGyver" and their dog "Hannibal" today. They're staying at the motel too, so we head off to dinner together. Chicken Pot Pies for dinner and "Full Moon" has a strawberry Belgian Waffle for dessert - he's in pig heaven. Went back to the motel, made a few phone calls and just crashed out - nice to relax. "Celestial" is feeling better already.
|August 17||Williamstown, MA to Congdon Camp Shelter||14.1 miles|
Got up early this morning (0630) and ate cereal for breakfast. We got our packs loaded up and "Full Moon's" boots ready to mail. Donna (the motel owner) gave us a ride back to the trail and we started out around 0830. Trail is easier today, mostly gradual ups and downs, but "Celestial's" back is still bothering her and "Full Moon's" heel is still hurting - something tells us these aches aren't going away soon.
Ran into the Grim Creeper today - she went by us like we were standing still. Not knowing her, figured we would find her laying in the trail after a while. Well, when we got to Congdon Camp around 6, she told us she had been there for 2 hours! We then learned that she routinely does 25-30 mile days - one tough lady! I give her some lemon cookies to make sure she stays my friend! Wouldn't want her trampling me on the trail! McGyver and Trillium show up late . We're tenting it tonight - got our fleece back and our bags and we're warm tonight! Yeh!
|August 18||Congdon Camp to Goddard Shelter||14.4 miles|
It's 0830 when we hit the trail. The AT is the same as the Long Trail for 90 miles and seems fairly easy today. Somewhat like the Shenandoahs but rocky and muddy. Some good ups and downs but we seem to be doing pretty good. We run into some Southbounders, one of whom says that he lost his watch somewhere back on the trail and that if we find it , we're welcome to it. Amazingly, some 2 miles down the trail, "Celestial Spirit" spots it lying in the brush on the side of the trail.
Our new , less supportive boots, do not give us the same support as our all leather ones we started out with. "Celestial" rolls her foot on a tree root and her ankle is now a bit sore. Finally reach the shelter after a long uphill and it is beautiful. Gorgeous view with Mt. Graylock in the distance. Fiddlehead with Guitar is here, along with Trillium and McGyver and some section hikers from Chicago. We're entertained by Fiddlehead and one of the section hikers who turns out to be a vocal major. They also are carrying flutes, so we almost have a band here! Nice cool night and delicious ice cold water from the stream nearby. Nice comfortable night in the shelter.
|August 19||Goddard Shelter to Stratton Mt. Ski Hut||16.3 miles|
Woke around 0530, but never left camp till 0830. Perfect day for hiking - sunny, but cool with a nice breeze. Finally leaving the dog days of summer behind! We were dreading the hike up Stratton Mt., but it turned out to be nicely graded and not half as bad as we though. It was getting late though (7:00) by the time we reached the top. We climbed the fire tower and some 1/2 mile off in the distance, we could spot the ski hut, which was our night's destination.
From some day hikers we met coming up the mountain, we learn that "Foreigner" will be playing in an outdoor concert down in the village of Stratton, so we figure we are going to have a mountain concert! When we reach the Hut, we discover that it is heated with electricity! And tables and chairs! And hot water in the nearby bathroom! Wow!
"Expresso" showed up at the hut as well. Nice guy with an earring through his eyebrow. We enjoy a great sunset. We're thinking of taking the gondola down in the morning to the village, but it doesn't start running till 0900 and we're not sure that we want to wait that long. Great star show tonight on top of the mountain and we can hear "Foreigner" faintly in the distance.
During the night, "Expresso" gets sick from some sun dried tomatoes he added to his dinner. Almost made it out the door, but not quite. Feel bad for him - it is plenty cold outside. Fortunately, he is feeling better in the morning.
|August 20||Stratton Mt. to Manchester Center,VT||13.7 miles|
Got up early and watched the fog roll in over Stratton Pond down in the valley. Looked like this huge glacier slowly proceeding across the lake. We decide to forgo the gondola and hit the trail. On the way back, we stop at the firetower again and reclimb it to check out the view - it was worth it! Trail is nice today - mostly downhill and then leveling off. Met quite a few southbounders today and a few Northbounders we had never seen ("Chris", and "Flatfoot", who is hurting from a broken back injury he had sustained in the Army Rangers - he is part Indian from Wyoming).
We seemed to be clipping along at a pretty good pace - hit the road around 5:30 p.m. But "Celestial's" back is killing her now after the last few ups - almost unable to continue. Not an easy hitch into town, but finally a day hiker finishing up his hike gave us a lift into town and dropped us off at the church. What a nice place. Nice big kitchen to cook in, nice room to sleep in and a huge living room where one could watch TV. The nicest church run hostel we've been in (of course, they're all a blessing, but you know what I mean). Manchester, despite being tagged as a yuppie town, is nice, small and it is easy to get around.
We went next door to a Mexican restaurant for dinner - a bit too expensive, but good - gourmet Mexican. Then headed off to do laundry, call home, and get groceries. Walked around downtown, got some Ben and Jerry's. Back to the hostel - just the two of us along with "Flatfoot" and "Chris". We'll decide whether to head out or not after we get our mail drop tomorrow.
|August 21||Manchester Center||0 miles|
Got up early and went to MacDonald's for breakfast, then off to the bagel shop for bagels. Off to the P.O. for our 18th mail drop. Really nice post office and very friendly people. They even take your picture, if you're a thru-hiker! Gee, better record this - a govt. employee who is smiling! Back to the hostel to sort out our mail drop, then we head off to the outfitter to see if they can help with "Celestial's" pack and back problem. Wise move - they help Janet adjust her pack and the pain eases. Janet also gets her Merrell Wilderness boots back from the cobbler, so she sends her other boots on to the next stop, just in case. Split up some of our food and forwarded it on to the Inn at the Long Trail to lighten the load.
We stop in a few shops before heading back to the hostel. "Celestial" finds one that may take her original soft sculpture dolls, so she is pysched. Stop at Friendly's for lunch and dinner - good food and inexpensive! Free sundaes with dinner - yum!
Back at the hostel we watch the movie "Speed" on the VCR. Run into "Rob-o-Raccoon" and "Bobcat" at the hostel. We leave a donation for the hostel - hope they keep this open for hikers - this is a great place.
|August 22||Manchester Center to Peru Peak Shelter||9.7 miles|
Back down to Friendly's with "Bobcat" for breakfast. Good, cheap breakfast, then off to the donut shop and then back to the hostel to get our gear together. Called Campmor and ordered some lightweight fleece gloves to be sent to the Inn at the Long Trail. A lady from the church picks us up around 10 a.m. and delivers us off to the trailhead, after a stop at the P.O. Very nice lady - Manchester Center gets a vote of Yes from us!
Started our climb up Bromley Peak (there's a gondola ride you can take up there, but we decided to go the purist route!). Passed a southbounder coming down - don't know when he had last had a bath, but almost knocked me flat. Turned around to watch with some amusement as he passed "Celestial". Noticed her stiffen, grimace and thought for a moment she might swoon on the spot. Makes one wonder what we must have smelled like in the dog days of Virginia. I know there were days when my pack got up and started walking by itself!
Ski hut on top of Bromley. Nice view - we look around a bit, but it is windy and cold, so we head out again. Make a false start, then finally find the trail. Get to Mad Tom Shelter and take a bathroom break. Then more ups and downs over Styles Peak and Peru Peak till we reach the shelter. Pay shelter - no one here but ourselves. "Bobcat" must be lost or tenting it somewhere. Today was a nice hiking day - beautiful weather - took lots of pictures. I close the day with this interesting bit of trivia from "Wingfoot's" Thru -Hiker Handbook: "The average thru-hiker loses 23 lbs. in body weight and secretes more than 150 gallons of sweat on a hike from GA to ME. When you multiply that by the 200 or so thruhikers who make it all the way, that amounts to more than 2 tons of fat and 30,000 gallons of sweat, enough to fill a swimming pool." Together , "Celestial" and I have lost a combined 47 lbs and though we didn't fill a swimming pool, we were known to empty sweat out of our boots! (I should say "Full Moon" was known to have done that - "Celestial's" feet wouldn't sweat if you poured water on them!).
|August 23||Peru Peak Shelter to Greenwall Shelter||14.3 miles|
Hit the trail at 7:15 this morning. Cold - hands freezing on those Lekis! Never saw the caretaker so escaped the $4 fee this morning. Passed by pretty Griffith Lake and then climbed Baker Peak - a nice climb with spectacular views. Passed Key-Mho-Saw-Bee (don't ask me why he spells it this way) on the way down. He is a friend of "Flatfoot's" and he stops to chat and to record our names and addresses. He is collecting the names and addresses of every Northbounder he passes, so that he can send each of them a list of all their hiking friends, in case they missed any addresses. Is that great or what?? (And he is true to his word!). He had been hiking with Flatfoot and was concerned to hear how he was doing. He was greatly relieved when we told him he was in Manchester Center taking it easy for a while.
After a long day, we make it to Greenwall Shelter and run into "Silverfoot", whom we had last seen in Pearisburg. He says that he had seen "Winged Monkey" and that he was not too far behind. "Bobcat" is here for the night as well! We tent out tonight , as it doesn't look like rain.
|August 24||Greenwall Shelter to Governor Clement Shelter||15.1 miles|
Left camp today around 0830 and hiked all day with "Bobcat". "Bobcat" hails from Gadsden, Alabama and graduated with a degree in biology from Auburn. He's about Janet's height (5'1"), but can really hike (and talk!). Quite a few ups and downs today, but for some reason, we have the zip today! I think the cooler weather is helping immensely.
Crossed over Clarendon Gorge on the Mill River suspension bridge - massive boulders in the river bed. Reached VT 103 and decided to hitch left 1 mile to the store.
Waited quite a while and finally got a ride in a van from a guy who was living in a commune - sounded like quite the place that he was living in. Got to the little store and consumed some heavy quantities of burgers, hot dogs and fries. Rested here for about 2 hours and made some phone calls. Learned that there had been gangs in the area hanging out by the Gorge, thus the reason for no one wanting to pick us up. Nice.
We call ahead to the Inn at the Long Trail to see if they have a room , but she says if we make a reservation we will have to pay full price. If we just walk in, we can get the hiker discount, so we obviously decide to go that route. Finally reach Governor Clement Shelter which is an old stone lean-to and very dark inside. During the night, some wild red flying bug decides it wants to attack me and no matter how much I swat it, it keeps coming back, till it finally bites me on the tush! Meanwhile, "Bobcat" (see picture) is rolling in hysterics at my frantic efforts to evade this bloodsucker. "Celestial" suggests I keep the damn bug to myself.
|August 25||Governor Clement to Long Trail Inn||9.5 miles|
Hit the trail around 8:15 today. Had a big climb up Killington Peak (4235') to Cooper Lodge, which is an old structure in pretty poor shape. Beautiful climb up the Peak though. (Pic of "Full Moon" negotiating his way up Killington - click on pic for larger view). Not much of a view up here though- weather is turning cold and mist is blowing through. Had to be careful hiking today - lots of roots and rocks to slip and fall on. Stopped at Pico Camp for a break and then headed down to Shelburne Pass and the Inn at the Long Trail (where the Long Trail splits away from the AT and heads north into Vermont).
The sun came out again as we descended to lower elevations and the temps got warmer, so we were able to shuck our jackets and enjoy the day. "Bobcat" was going to go on past the Inn, but we offered him the opportunity to stay in our room for the $10 extra person charge and he gladly took us up on the offer. Sat down in the bar (great Irish bar) and enjoyed some burgers. Then back up to the room to wash some clothes. Later that evening, enjoyed a good Irish band in the bar and talked a while to a group of 5 southbounders.
|August 26||Long Trail Inn to the Lookout||14.9 miles|
Got up around 7 and had breakfast (omelettes, toast, bacon, coffee and OJ). Ran into "Fiddlehead w/ Guitar" who had a nasty looking infected hole in his leg. He didn't know what it was - thought maybe a spider bite. He was going off to see the doctor. (Turned out to be Lymes disease). Checked to see if our fleece gloves had shown up from Campmor, but no such luck. Picked up our 19th Mail Drop at the front desk. Anna at the front desk says she will forward the gloves on to Glencliff if it arrives. So we don't hit the trail till 1030!
Tough day today - lots of elevation. We were hiking hard to try and reach the Lookout Cabin. "Flatfoot" had given us the combination which he had got from the caretaker, so we were curious to see what we would find. But we couldn't hike fast enough, so for the last hour we were hiking with our flashlights, feeling that if that cabin didn't show up soon, we were all going to drop. "Bobcat" reminded "Celestial" to spit out the Maglight she was holding in her mouth, if she fell down.
Finally the cabin! Tried the combination and it stuck the first time , but then it opened - real nice cabin with real windows and no mice! What a welcome site! We changed our clothes, ate dinner and quickly hit the bed. Rained off and on during the night.
|August 27||The Lookout to Rt.12, Woodstock (VT)||6.4 miles|
Well, only 1 day away from Hanover, NH! Got up around 7, ate breakfast and headed out. Climbed up on the lookout platform on top of the cabin for some great views before leaving. We were carefully watching our steps as we started off, because the rain had slickened the rocks and roots. All 3 of us slipped coming down off a large mossy rock and all of us fell on our carcasses. Ran into a woman who gave us some water, since we were running low. It was about 7 miles to the road crossing, where we would stop to eat lunch.
"Full Moon" was enjoying taking some pictures on the trail, so "Celestial Spirit" and "Bobcat" headed off towards Rt. 12 and lunchtime! As "Celestial Spirit" disappeared into the woods, she turned, looked back and waved to "Full Moon" , who was just starting his descent across a sloping hillside. The pitch of the slope was pretty severe, so I was watching my step as I crossed it, especially since the grass was wet. Suddenly, I felt my right foot slip underneath me and as I fell I could feel all of my weight coming down on that foot and my foot just snapping like a twig underneath me. As I hit the ground and rolled onto my back, I knew something was badly wrong. I looked down at my foot and it was pointed 90 degrees to the right. I almost got sick. As I lay there, nothing went through my mind, but NO, NO , NO! All this way to end here! I didn't care about the foot - I just didn't want the hike to end here. Slowly I reached down and tried to look into my boot but with no success. I took my hand and tried to upright my foot - it flopped upright with a grinding noise and then flopped back sideways. It was horrifying. Fortunately, all I could feel was a dull throbbing sensation.
I called to "Celestial" and "Bobcat" and could hear my voice echoing off the mountainside, but heard no answer. I continued to call off and on for a few minutes, but still no answer. I then foolishly decided that hell, I'm a thruhiker, I can tough this out, so I shed myself of my pack and using my Leki poles, got to my feet. I decided that maybe the road crossing was close by and I could reach it. I started trying to hop down the trail and made it about 15 yards when I came to a very low barbed wire fence stretched across the trail about 6" high - the only time on the whole trail I had ever seen such a thing! I tried to hop over it and fell on my face. At this point, I decided this was crazy and decided to just stay where I was. Of course, now it was starting to get colder and my fleece jacket was back with my pack. Not a smart move. I start calling again and then I hear the woman's voice who had given us some water. She is coming down the trail and had heard me. I told her I had broken my ankle and she said she would head down and get help.
About this time, "Celestial Spirit" had decided something must be wrong and was heading back up the trail. She met the lady coming down and then called for "Bobcat" to come. It was decided that "Bobcat" would head back down to the road and go to a farmhouse and call for help, while "Celestial" stayed with me. Not only is this whole affair a major bummer, but I feel so much for "Celestial Spirit" who has toughed it out the whole way and now must end her hike as well. I don't know what to say to her. Meanwhile "Bobcat" is trying to talk Alabamian to a Vermont farmer who finally comprehends. In about an hour, 7 volunteers from the Woodstock, VT fire department showed up with a litter and managed to get my ankle fastened down and then proceeded to carry me down to the road. By that time, even the slightest bump woke up my ankle.
Down at the road, the ambulance is waiting and the crew was great. They throw all our backpacks in the ambulance and we all climb in for the ride to Hanover. By now I am starving, but there will be no eating. It takes 6 hours in the emergency room before I am visited by enough doctors and nurses that they finally decide I need to have it operated on. Each side of my ankle looks like a baseball. The nurse remarks " Boy, you really did it.". Quite reassuring. Fortunately, surgery goes well and by 8p.m., I am finally eating, but the anesthetic makes me sick. They have put a titanium plate and 5 screws in my fibula. No idea what has happened to ligaments and tendons.
"Celestial Spirit" and "Bobcat" end up staying the next two nights with one of the Residents from the Hospital, who so graciously offered them a place to stay. After a day in the hospital, I am released with crutches and we make our way to Tabard Frat House at Dartmouth College. Spending two nights there amongst all the hikers who were continuing on was very tough on the spirit. And trying to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night while hobbling over dark forms sleeping on the floor was no picnic. During the day, "Bobcat" helps push me around town in a wheel chair which was awfully nice of him. He is not feeling well, so is staying in town for a few days.
In the meantime, "Celestial Spirit" takes a taxi to the airport to pick up a rental car so we can get back home. It is a really wierd experience for her driving again after walking for 5 months. We had weighed all the other options (plane, train,bus,etc), but with a broken leg and having 2 backpacks to deal with, we finally decided to go with the rental car. Finally, we depart and head for the Glencliff, NH post office to pick up our20th mail drop which was awaiting us. We see "Steppingstone" and "Tortoise" near the P.O. and they are headed on. We wave goodbye and start the long drive back to Florida where my recuperation will begin. On the way back, we stop in Damascus and crash at the hostel for 2 days - brings back a flood of memories. ( A final note - some 6 weeks of physical rehab and 8 months of recuperating with another operation thrown in to remove the plate and screws, and my ankle is almost back to normal. We test it out with a 3 day backpacking trip through the Grayson Highlands and all is well. Thank you Lord - Katahdin - here we come!)
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