Bent woke me up at 12:45am. We picked our way down to the dock, and sat chatting as we watched the sky. In twenty minutes the clouds started rolling in, but we’d also seen an incredible number of meteors over the pond. We walked back to the cabin and I fell fast asleep.
I woke up and went down for breakfast, seeing that Peggy, the caretaker had just started. Bent and I offered to help and were immediately put to work cleaning blueberries and delivering pancakes and coffee to the other hikers. We ate last, and it was still delicious.
There was also a little roadside stand where I bought a packet of Oreos. They were out of cokes and gatorades. Evidently two young kids raise chickens and sell fresh eggs and other items to hikers, and also provide a free library. They let hikers sign their names in chalk, too. Hikers love to sign their names.
There are all sorts of chances for hikers to rip each other off. I could have eaten that entire cooler of watermelon. I could have stolen all of that money. Any hiker could have, and probably has at some point. But if happens rarely enough that people keep on providing trail magic and keep operating on the honor system. I like that. I like that we can still trust each other.
Bent and I hiked the last several miles together, chatting about nothing much in particular. We hoped to outrun the storm we could feel pressing down on us in the air; we were practically swimming through the humidity. But the bottom fell out when we were a mile and a half short of the shelter. I let the rain wash the sweat and bug spray and dead mosquitos off of me. Salt ran into my eyes. We began to question if the shelter even existed, it felt like such a long mile and a half.
But as you know, all hills crest and all shelters eventually have a turn off, and we made it. The sun was popping out, so I set out my wet things to dry and got down to the business of eating. Tomorrow is great barrington, and I aim to travel with an empty food bag.
I’d love to have some tidy little lesson for you on this entry, but here’s the truth: I don’t think everything I experience can really be summed up in these entries. The misery and elation and joy; the little interactions with passing hikers; the stupid conversations over eight miles of trail; the way every single meadow with wild flowers still makes me feel. And laying in the shelter while a thunderstorm moves out, my tired muscles aching, belly full, and a good book waiting for me and my head lamp.
Yesterday, I passed a NOBO who said, “hey! You look familiar! Were you doing sections down in Tennessee earlier this year?” He turned out to be Turtle, who id camped with on a section. I’m hundreds of miles away from home and I still find people I know up here.
Trip total: 204.6
LVP: last 1.8 miles