Today was hard in all the ways. I woke up to the chirping of Petey, one of my cats that my former partner (fp) is taking care of. Fp and I both dragged ass out of bed at 5am, her for work and me for a shower and breakfast. I had designs on catching a 745a metro north train to cold spring, but my sleepiness and difficulty leaving the dog made me late. The commute into the city was crowded, but early enough for my giant bag to take up space without being too much of a nuisance. When I got to grand central, I sat in the passageway near my train platform and wrote yesterday’s post. Had to stop a few times to avoid completely falling apart in public versus stealth crying (a skill you must learn in nyc).
I grabbed a seat on the western side of the train so I could watch the Hudson go by. As the train got closer to my destination, I went from stewing in my old relationship sadness to stewing about leaving my steady after such a short visit. I hesitate to talk about her much on the blog because I fear that people who know my life with fp won’t accept that I can be sad about losing her as a partner while also excited about my steady. But I know it’s possible, so I suppose that’s what’s important. At any rate, it’s hard knowing that I’m walking away from Brooklyn and away from someone who’s so supportive and loving and does things like surprise me with tater tots and chocolate covered figs.
Needless to say, by the time I hit cold spring I was experiencing a jumble of emotions. My cab driver was a chatty one, which was difficult because I just wanted to be in my head. I got out at the vacant beach area and made my way to the blue blaze trail through a gaggle of protesting geese. It felt like no time had passed because I could remember everything about getting off the trail last Wednesday, but it also felt like it had been months. My hiking poles didn’t seem connected to my arms and my feet felt like useless slabs. It was a stark contrast to the smoothness (albeit slow) I’d felt less than a week ago.
I picked my way around the northern edge of Canopus lake and returned to the AT around 10:45. A late start for my 14 mile goal, but I’m stubborn. The morning passed in a misty daze. About an hour after lunch, the rain fell, sounding like a stream in the distance that never materialized. The cool temperatures and soggy skies meant very little in the way of breaks for the rest of the day. I can’t stop in that combination of elements. As it was, I had to put on my hand warmers.
The specific order of terrain is a little lost at the moment (I’m writing this the day after, which I avoid for exactly this reason). I know I went under the taconic parkway and got a nice view of the surrounding mountains.
Then I went up hosner mountain and was rewarded with a couple of views. I also managed to take the worst fall I’ve ever experienced. I’d been hiking alone all day, seeing only 2 southbound hikers for hours. Around 230, a tall gentleman with a white beard came up behind me. I stood aside to let him pass and watched him choose the rocky half of the trail. The other side of the path looked muddy and a little banked, so I picked the rocky side as well.
I took a step onto a flat rock towards the outer edge of the corner and the next thing I knew, I was on my back tumbling hitting trees while I rolled ass over shoulder down a bank (red arrow is my trajectory, white circle is my pack where I ended).
I came to stop about 4 feet from where I’d landed. I stifled the reflex to jump up and instead, I sat still and talked to myself saying okay, check for damages. I still had my left hiking pole because it has a strap. My right pole was nowhere in sight. I unbuckled my pack and gingerly stood up. I had felt my left hip and butt cheek hit the ground somewhere along the way, so of course I was worried about my tailbone. After standing, it became apparent that I was basically fine, and that I had ripped my shorts all to hell. There were two long but superficial scratches on my hamstring, a knot and a scratch on my left elbow (which hurt), my left wrist felt tender, and the left side of my head felt like I’d been whacked with a heavy book. I looked down at my bag and realized that the force of the fall had ripped my hip belt off the body of the bag. It scared me to think about how much worse it could have been. I’m pretty sure landing on my pack before rolling is part of what saved me from getting seriously injured.
After assessing the damage, I took my pack back up the side of the hill and climbed back onto the path. I don’t know how the guy who passed me managed to not hear the fall. I can still hear the twigs snapping in my head as I went down the hill, limbs flying. I fussed and cursed at my bag as I tried to reattach the hip belt before I got too cold. I also texted fp to tell her what had happened in case I somehow ended up with a concussion and got too dizzy or disoriented to function. I finally managed to get the belt sort of on. I don’t know that it’s attached properly, but it works. Then I hiked 7 more miles, telling myself that I could stop and go to a hospital any road crossing if I started to feel nauseated. My head hurt and I felt tired and wobbly, but I chalked the wobbliness up to the adrenaline of the fall. It just so happens my trail friend JD is a doctor and we had plans to be at the same shelter later. I texted him to let him know I’d fallen and didn’t seem too bad, but I was telling him in case I didn’t show up later. The irony of the fall is that it happened at a moment when I was the closest to another hiker I’d been all day, but he didn’t notice anything amiss.
I actually ran into the hiker later in the afternoon because he’d taken a break at the deli not far from the trail. His name is ultra and he was shocked when I told him I’d fallen right after he passed me. He turned out to be an ultra runner (hence the name) who is also trying to run marathons in all 50 states. He’s walking big miles because he’s homesick but he has no intention of quitting. I can relate to the sense of urgency and the feeling of divided attention. We had plenty to talk about, but he disappeared around a corner, and I didn’t catch up to him again until the shelter.
The last mile before the shelter was unfortunately one of the harder miles of the day. My pace slowed to a crawl and my will wavered. I just wanted to lay down, but I knew it was a bad instinct. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining and hadn’t been for a few hours. JD periodically checked on my progress and told me that he had half a sandwich waiting for me. I asked him to stake out a spot for me because the thought of having to set up my tent made me want to cry. I made it to camp around 7p. A new level of late, but I felt happy that I’d managed to make the miles and set myself up for the plans I made during all of my break time travels.
JD and I sat at the edge of the shelter and split the extra sandwich he’d bought from the deli. It was Swiss, tomato, mayo, lettuce on rye and named the Ralph, after the man who established the RPH shelter (pictured below) that we passed earlier in the day. JD actually met Ralph at the deli (of course, because jd talks to everyone).
In return for my half, I shared some of my Fritos and yogurt covered pretzels. Then I went down to the water pump and dealt with chores. It’s everyone’s favorite time of the month, which means extra water filtering to wash my cup and sad hands for me because it was so cold outside. I crawled into my sleeping bag and texted with my steady who’d also had a hard day. Then I went to sleep wearing nearly all of clothes to the sound of dueling snores off to my right.
Mile 1420.0 to mile 1438.0 (14)
Total miles: 434.8
Creature feature: was trudging up a little hill when I happened to look up and see what I later found out is a yellow beaked cuckoo (I think). It’s a medium sized bird (catbird or flycatcher size) with white underparts and a white chin with a tawny brown back and head. Also saw several woodpeckers throughout the afternoon. A downy and one with a red cap. I love watching them hop up the side of tree trunks.
Oh and I hugged this tree because I thought it was the Dover oak. Turns out it’s just a gigantic tree but I still feel good about hugging it (taken with a self timer because I hiked alone forever. You can see the rip in my shorts if you look closely).