I woke up before my alarm around 430. Coincidence? Or does my body somehow know what I want? I dozed for another 10 minutes until my actual alarm. I felt hung over from the hike and from sweating half the night. But I got up because I didn’t hike forever to sleep through sunrise. I hobbled over to the shelter and stumbled down the hill to sit on the rock that overlooks the valley. I like to start watching the sunrise/sunset about 30 minutes early so I was the first one up. When you start early, you get to see all the transitions and sometimes the best colors are before the actual event. Eventually I heard the noise of people behind me, but I pretended there was no one around so I could take pictures without feeling watched.
Here’s the best picture from my time watching the sun rise, slapping bugs, having time warp moments, and thinking about how excited I was to share it with people. I want to share more but my signal is terrible and uploading pics is killing my battery.
And then I went back to bed. Can you believe it? Me either. I only slept until 7, but it was a ghost town when i got up. I had the picnic table and the view of the valley all to myself. I hit my 500 mile mark about 5 minutes into my day. Pretty hard to believe still. My feet weren’t all that happy to be in action, but the rest of my body felt better than I expected after yesterday’s mileage. The air was still, and I could tell it was going to be steamy. On the gradual climb up bear mountain, I found raw almonds on the ground. It was close to my snack time, so I decided to help with leave no trace practices and eat the almonds off the ground. I doubt they were more than a day old judging by the crunch!
Here’s the view from the summit of CT’s bear mountain. I didn’t stay up there long because it was in full sun. The climb down was about as bad as I expected. I can’t believe zach did it in the rain. There are so many flat rock faces that you have to go down that would be murder when wet. The walk from bear mountain down to sages ravine went through a pine forest that felt good on my feet when I wasn’t tripping on exposed roots. I took a 2 night backpacking trip last year with fp and our dog friend, and we spent our first night at sages ravine. I can remember feeling sad and frustrated that we had to end our weekend and that we had gone such a short distance (on purpose). I guess I got what I wanted because there’s no end in sight for this trip and it’s just a few miles longer.
I stopped to filter water at sawmill brook, which is the source for the sages ravine site. The trail then follows the brook into Massachusetts. Downstream the brook transitions from quaint stream to rushing waterfalls and large boulders.
The bugs were out of control on this stretch and nearly drove me mad. I finally remembered my trick of using my earbuds to prevent gnats from buzzing all the way into my ears. But then I had to stand and untangle my headphones which cost me another pint of blood from the mosquitoes that swarmed. I crossed the stream from CT into MA and could not get away from that bottom area fast enough. Traffic director crossed right behind me and then pulled ahead while I lallygagged to take a picture of the MA sign.
The bugs were less dense on the MA side for awhile. The trail climbed up towards the summit of mt race. I stopped about a third of the way up to soak my feet and eat lunch. The water wasn’t quite cold enough for a real ice bath effect, but it still felt good. Then came the never ending ridge walks in the blazing sun.
The views were beautiful and it was fun to be up high, but the terrain was murder on my feet. Walking up or down exposed boulder faces aggravates all of my current tricky spots. The pressure of having to push off when walking up them hurts the balls of my feet, and the pressure of stabilizing on the way down aggravate my right Achilles’ tendon. Good times. Here’s where I’m going to fast forward because most of the day was drudgery. It took me 8 hours to go 9.6 miles. That’s nearly half speed. Because of terrain like this on Mt Everett (those are wooden blocks bolted into the rock face):
There was a nice surprise waiting at the bottom of mt Everett though in the form of water left by a trail angel on the picnic tables next to the parking area for guilder pond. I hardly ever luck out on water trail magic, but this time it was actually ice cold. I’d consumed plenty of water throughout the day, but it feels extra hydrating when it’s cold. Illusions. The rest of the walk to the campsite was aggravating and poorly marked. Which reminds me, I actually got a little lost today on top of all the other aggravations. The blazes thus far in MA have been few and far between and often very faint.
I set up my tent in between a few mountain laurel bushes on a bed of pine needles while I talked to my mom on the phone. Then I had dinner at the picnic table with a few new people. A man in his 50s going by the name 5 year plan, a woman of roughly the same age named Birk, and another woman who I would guess is in her late 60s named intrepid. She’s a talker. She’s like half my size but she can really move with her pack on. She definitely passed me multiple times yesterday when I met her for the first time.
I made Annie’s Mac & cheese for dinner even though I swore I would only eat the kraft after my last Annie’s disappoint. It came out much better. I’m pretty sure I just made it poorly the first time. Then I had a samoa Girl Scout cookie and promptly felt sick. The heat makes sweet things sit funny. After dinner, during which we had the usual get to know you conversation, I gathered my food and put it in the bear box. So much easier then having to throw a bear line. The only problem is the boxes are in the small side so there are times when they fill up if a shelter even has one.
Then I laid in my tent and wrote the entry for yesterday. Now it’s actually day 49 and I’m going to try to write that entry so I can stop this two a day nonsense. Today was a terrible day to follow 19.8 miles. It really kicked my ass (or my feet), and the pace I had to go felt dejecting. But it’s over now. Onward.
Mile 1503 to mile 1512.7 (9.7)
Total miles: 509.5
Creature feature: I keep seeing a marble colored warbler that hops around on the side of tree trunks. Brik said it’s probably a “black and white warbler.” Not exactly a creative name but they’re cute little birds.