I'm not going to lie. It was tough to leave New York. I had a really good time hanging out there. It was unbelievably relaxing. Thus, once arriving back at the trail, everything was a little tougher. The most difficult thing was the fact that I had developed city feet. They felt really heavy and clumsy. I was tripping over stuff all the time. I only did about a half day that first day back and I camped at a public campsite with some people who were out section hiking. It was a nice easy day to reaquaint myself with the trail.
It rained that night so I kind of took my time in the morning to give my stuff a chance to dry out a bit. Honestly, there isn't a whole lot to say about this day. I did some good hiking and I came up on some more thru-hikers. I met the Riders on the Storm (Running Wolf and Farenheit) and discovered that a few other new folks were only a little bit ahead.
The next day I think was the point at which I fully re-adjusted to being back on the trail. I didn't feel rushed or hurried by any kind of schedule. It was just good to be out and about. I got approached by some kind of school group while I was eating lunch who asked a bunch of the standard questions about hiking. Its a little annoying to be disturbed from one's lunch, but on the other hand I like talking to people about what I'm doing, and they were very nice folks. I walked the second half of the day pretty much togethor with the Riders and another guy named Marked. I like hiking with people sometimes. Something about it really makes me push myself to hike harder. This may not sound all that great, but it adds a little something like competition into the whole thing. I can't really describe it, but it makes a nice change. Anyhow, the shelter the Riders and I were aiming at for that afternoon ended up being full of a family, so we ended up camped a little further up the trail instead, really close to the Ten Mile River. Camped right next to us was a large local camp group. Once again I was reminded to Grier and I got a bit nostalgic. I can't seem to quite get away from missing camp. I probably never will.
The next day put me in Kent around noon and I took full advantage of being in town around meal time with a bunless double cheeseburger, and a bunch of other stuff I won't go into. I liked Kent it was sort of like a really upscale small town; very different from a lot of the places I've been through. My pack felt like it weighed about 800 pounds when I left which was unfortunate when I was descending from Caleb's Peak. Whoever decided that straight down a bunch of rocks was the best way to route the trail needs to have something violent done to them. I about killed myself on several occasions.
The following day was one of the wettest in living memory. I woke to a gray dawn in my tent (having been driven there from the shelter by mosquitoes). I felt pretty sluggish hiking that morning. However, I did have the cool experience of seeing a baby vulture. It was really ugly. It looked like a furry chicken. I know no other way to describe it. It started raining more or less right after lunch and it didn't really stop. I had been thinking I might do a short day so I could watch fireworks over Paul Newman's racetrack (the trail overlooks it). Instead it rained, so I kept walking with Ninja who I had met the previous evening. It kept raining, which is a shame because there were some pretty nice places along the way I would have liked to check out. The last few miles before the shelter were mostly up hill. This wasn't too bad until I got to the shelter turnoff and discovered that it was located .5 miles back down the same hill. To the builders of the Limestone Spring Shelter, I hate you from the bottom of my soul.
In spite of my frustration I slept like a stone that night and began, by contrast to the previous day, one of the nicest days I have had on the trail. It started out kind of dreary but the day brightened up and the mornings hike was very pleasant. The temperature was good and I felt good. I had a nice lunch at a shelter, felt a bit tired and took a nap. The nap was kind of a big deal for me because it didn't really fit in with a "schedule". It slowed me down, but it was needed so I didn't care. That afternoon I headed down into Sages Ravine which is without doubt in the top three most beautiful areas I've seen on the trip. It was phenomenol. I only wish there was some way I could show you all through photograph, but it was really more of an all-encompassing beauty than any one thing. Also while there I took a little impromptu swim in the stream that ran through the gorge. It was cold but it felt wonderful. I had some pretty good climbs that afternoon but I was feeling good and as a result the climbs were really more of a challenge than a grind. I arrived at the shelter to discover it packed. I love full shelters and I hadn't seen one that full in a very long time. There were probably 11 or 12 people there including Lily, Spence, Ninja, Aquaman, Old Graceful, and Sister Act (two sisters). I had a great night there and then left this morning to knock out the 16 miles to Great Barrington where I currently reside. It wasn't a bad hike, but the mosquitoes were swarming something fierce and I got stung by a bee behind my knee early in the day. Damn the bees. The rest of the day was pretty uneventful, and I got a really easy hitch into town. I am now at the home of Kathy Duhon and her husband who offered me a place to stay while I was picking up a package at the post office. They are absolutely amazing people and I have had a wonderful evening with them as well as Spence and Ninja who were also offered lodging. Thats all for now. I hope you are all well.
The Breadless Horseman