I slept horribly last night. Moss snores as if someone is choking him. I tossed and turned and woke up nearly every two hours until my alarm went off at 445. I managed to cut it off after about 4 revolutions of beeping. No one else seemed to notice it. I snuck a peak out the eastern window of the cabin and saw a band of pastel pink just below a ceiling of clouds. That was enough to get me moving. I grabbed my puffy coat, my zseat pad (purchased somewhere in northern PA and I’ve finally decided it is worth the 2 ounces), and my bathroom supplies for some post sunrise necessities. Slipping my feet into damp shoes has to be one of my least favorite feelings, second only to putting on cold, damp spandex.
The view from the roof deck started out like this and slowly progressed to today’s top picture. I can’t believe no one else decided to get up for sunrise given the rare 360 degree view above treeline. But everybody has their priorities. Here’s a view of the cabin in the morning light:
I had thoughts of going back to sleep once I got back inside, but it wasn’t meant to be. I stared at the ceiling and daydreamed about owning this little place. Ketchup started to pack his things in the sleeping loft. That was my cue to eat breakfast, which I did half laying in my sleeping bag with a very focused disco staring at my peanut butter covered probar. Of course I gave him a bite because I am weaaaak.
My goal for today is the pomfret road crossing, which is only 11 miles away. No need to rush out of the cabin, so when I saw moss put his wet stuff on the porch in the sun, I followed suit. I took everything out of my bag and strapped it to the porch railing upside down. I also put my rank, sodden shoes out there with the insoles pulled out. Then I laid in my sleeping bag talking and zoning out until about 745. Halfway and I whined to each other about likely having to wade through puddles today. It was so hard to leave this little place, but it had to be done. I shimmied into my damp shorts under the cover of my sleeping bag and proceeded to repack my now completely dry bag.
After one more trip to the roof, I was on trail by about 830. The walk was surprisingly not muddy. It started with a rocky descent to a wide, leafy lane with easy footing. That lasted for all of ten minutes until the AT took a right into the woods and became a squirrelly, narrower path. Wet dog smell emanated from somewhere on my person, and it’s not because I spent the night near a wet dog. if you ever run across a thru hiker who smells putrid, keep in mind it’s not necessarily because they’re lazy and don’t do their laundry. Moisture does terrible things to cloth.
I made remarkably good time for me. Apparently I thrive on primarily little ups and downs because that’s what the trail was for the first 4 miles, which I covered in under 2 hours. Then it transitioned to a wide pine forest that had a lot of my favorite fern, which reminds me of a pinwheel. As I stopped to get water from a little rain fed stream, I found a brick of cheese laying on the ground in its wrapper. I didn’t want it and smiley, who passed me as I was stopped, didn’t want it. It seemed irresponsible to leave it there. I reluctantly packed it in my side pocket to throw out at the farm stand 2 miles away. I asked everyone I knew if they wanted it, but no one was desperate enough for unlabeled ground cheese. Can’t say I blame them.
I came to the view of ascutney mountain and thought about the hike FP And I did there last summer (?) and how I can see that same mountain from the family room window of a friend’s childhood home. It’s so strange to see it from here after having walked this far. After the viewpoint, I went through a field with sweet smelling tall wildflowers that i now know are milkweed.
There was a gradual downhill from the viewpoint to route 12. I met a woman who lives in Woodstock walking her 3 dogs on the way down. This goober is the only one who came over to say hi.
At route 12, I hung a left and made the sunny walk to On the edge farm stand, which sells homemade pies, local smoked meats, honey and all kinds of things I wanted but couldn’t carry. I bought a small mixed berry pie (maybe 5-6 inch diameter?) with a brown sugar crumble topping and proceeded to eat the whole thing sitting out at the picnic table.
I wish I had grabbed a cold drink or a Gatorade because I was so thirsty halfway up the gigantic climb from route 12. On my way back to trail after lingering a bit too long in my pie coma, a man from the trailhead parking lot says “hey! Are northbound??” I called back that I was, and he said “come over here!” I should have waved him off after that kind of command, but I thought maybe he had trail magic. As it turned out, he wanted to mansplain to me all of my shelter options coming up in the next 20 miles even after I told him I wasn’t sleeping on trail that night. Then he told me he was a hiker who had hurt his knee. All I could think was that if he was a true thru hiker, he wouldn’t be asking me to stand here in the blazing sun on the side of the road to hear his BS. he would be opening the trunk of his car to offer me a soda and a seat in the shade. I left the conversation aggravated about the lost time and for letting myself get sucked into a pointless conversation out of politeness.
After the horrible climb from the road, during which I got a stitch in my side probably because of the pie, the trail transitioned to an enjoyable down hill. It crossed a stream and then popped out into the field with buttery yellow flowers and a loud cricket.
Halfway caught up with me in the field, but then fell behind again. I saw him at a stream while I was getting much needed water. I also dumped water on the back of my neck, which felt incredible after the sweaty climb. Halfway took a step down from the trail to the stream and launched forward about 15 feet, nearly going headfirst into the raised rocks by the stream. His toe apparently caught a root, which made him lose his balance and pitch forward. So frightening how close he came to the rock wall. I left him as he started to get water after being dazed and in pain for a couple of minutes.
There were so many hills today. Short, steep ups with long downhills all over the place. I also saw what I believe is maple syrup tubing off to my left with about a mile to go. Eventually I came to the last twenty yards of my day, which looked like this:
It’s a little hard to tell what’s happening, but basically this is a swollen creek with a steel cord stretched across the middle for this exact situation. Or so I assume. I stared at the water and felt thwarted. There was absolutely no way for me to rock hop across. I took off my shoes and slung them over my neck. I went to a section upstream from the cord thinking maybe I could ford it at a shallow point before the rocks. I took a couple of steps in the water and stuck my pole into the rushing middle. It went about two feet down. Negative. That’s above my knees. there’s no way I’m walking through water that deep and moving that fast. So I went back and stared at the cord. It’s there. It must be usable. I grabbed the cord and held my poles above the water because it was moving too quickly for them to be of any use. Then I walked across the rocks in water up to my shins focusing on taking fully planted steps. It took all of 30 seconds to make it to the other side. Relieved, I dried off my shins with my socks and put my shoes back on. Then I walked up to the road and sat to wait for my steady. Her name is Megan, which I shall now use because it will be easier.
As I waited, I ate a hard boiled egg with the pepperoni I bought at the farm stand. So salty and so good with egg. A father and daughter arrived to put sodas as trail magic in a bucket down by the creek. I snagged an orange one and was in hiker heaven on the side of the road. As I ate, I saw halfway approach the far side of the creek down below. I went down to see how he planned to cross. I told him my way, but he refused because he didn’t want to get his feet wet. Instead he wandered up and down the creek for 20 minutes looking for a rock hopping option. he finally found a way because he can take longer steps. So stubborn.
I stood with halfway while he drank his soda. Megan arrived while halfway was still around so she got to meet him and flip phone who showed up shortly after she did. Halfway asked for a picture of the 3 of us (hikers). Then he and flip phone went on their way. I showed megan the crazy creek crossing, and as we went down to the water’s edge, disco and moss arrived. Disco bit at the water and then hesitated to cross it, but he swam towards me anyway. I was ready to catch him if needed, but he’s a pro and walked right to the rocks beside me. Megan held him so he wouldn’t head up trail and cross the semi busy road. From the opposite bank, Moss asked how I crossed. Without hesitating, he tromped through the water and said “I just washed my shoes” with a smile. So funny to see how different people deal with each situation.
Before halfway left, I offered to take his trash with us back to the lodge, which is a different kind of trail magic. Anything to help lighten someone’s load. I was sad to see him go, having no clue when I would catch up with him. Then Megan and I went to the killington deli and brought food back to the lodge. It was hard for me to transition from the trail to vacation space and hard for her to transition from the end of an intense dance program to being far away after an exhausting drive. But we finally found a mutual space and settled into our pond view room.
Mile 1718.1 to mile 1729.0 (11.1)
Total miles 725.8
Creature feature: I honestly don’t remember because I’m finishing this 3 days after the fact.