17: the hemlocks to limestone spring shelter

A section hiker came in late last night. She insisted that we wake up to speak to her and asked a million questions. She stayed up late to cook, then, when she finally went to bed, she made a phone call. In the shelter. “Yeah, everyone’s asleep already. It’s so early! Just 9:30.” That’s past hiker midnight. 
The NOBO without a name (or a shirt) started hacking around actual midnight, coughing up a lung above me. 
Clearly, it was not the best sleep of my life. 
But Bent and I headed out early and finished the climb up Mt Everett. It was the first of several gorgeous climbs today. 

Next came Mt Race, with an incredible ridge walk. The climb up was interesting; it was pretty nice, interspersed with steep rock scrambles. We were on top before we knew it though. 

Down we went, for a few miles of gorgeous woods and Sage’s Ravine. We left Massachusetts here, too. The sign for the border is actually in the wrong place, so you think you’re in Connecticut but you’re actually still in Massachusetts. Sage’s Ravine was beautiful, with a large brook and moss covered rocks and waterfalls…and at least one deep swimming hole. Bent and I took advantage. We’d been hiking with Wilson Wilson for a while, but he hiked on while I jumped in and Bent dipped his feet in the water. 

And then up Bear Mountain, the highest peak in Connecticut. Now THIS was a boulder scramble. I felt like I was actually rock climbing as some points. It was fun and challenging and a great workout. 

Then off to Lion’s Head

And the rest of the day was pretty boring. We had a road walk, though, and just as we started getting hot and sweaty, a car rolled down the window and said, “I have cold drinks if you can cross the road!!” Well for a cold drink, we could cross the road on our hands! The driver turned out to be a section hiker with a cooler full of cokes and waters and gatorades. We chatted for a minute, took a Coke each, and hiked on, thankful for trail magic. 

The trail floor was full of needles that were all different colors. It was like confetti. 

But the last few miles to the shelter were slow and long and I wasn’t really pleased with Connecticut. I just wanted to get there. And we did, finally, meeting back up with Wilson Wilson. 

We all hiked the steep .5 down to the shelter (and I mean STEEP) and started eating. Shelter to ourselves, so far.  

They say the trail provides. I’ve needed baskets on my trekking poles for a week now. I found one in a trail register box. I found a second at the hemlocks shelter. Every time I’m miserably hot and think “wow I need some trail magic water” something appears. And somehow, I’ve found Bent and Wilson Wilson. 

Maybe I’m just forced to wait for the trail to provide instead of providing for myself. But it sure is nice, to have these moments of fortune and serendipity and great pleasure of receiving the thing you really need. 

I wonder how often that trail angel drives around with a cooler of drinks, waiting to run into hikers. He had his baby in the car. He was willing to put in the effort to create a moment of trail magic, even though SOBOs are a trickle instead of a steady stream, and the NOBOs are mostly gone. He passed us, pulled over, and waited for us to get close enough. Just to give us something cold to drink. 

Obviously, you know how much that drink means to me. But what a simple gesture. What a lot of effort to go through for a small gesture. All of the trail Angels go through a lot of effort for small gestures that mean so much. Some make huge gestures, like hiker feeds, but the little ones, like a pack of peanut butter crackers when I haven’t had breakfast, mean just as much. Even a jug of warm water *that I don’t have to filter* means a lot. 
I don’t have much else to say about it. Bent and I have just been talking about how we wish we could take the kindness and generosity and trust from the trail into our everyday lives. If you think about how I became friends with Honeybuns (found a dirty, smelly man with a pack and said “NOBO or SOBO?”) well…that’s perhaps something that requires a bit of trust. And Bent- I met him once at Peru Peak shelter but we didn’t talk. We became friends when I saw him again and we happened to be going to the same place. That’s it. And now, we know the pass codes to each others’ phones (there was one particularly frightening ridge walk that we weren’t sure we would survive). 

It’s just nice, to be able to know people and trust them and talk to them about your life and fears and hopes. 
Miles: 17.1

Trip total: 241.4
MVP: Coca Cola!

LVP: leaving mass. It was such a beautiful state!!

3 thoughts on “17: the hemlocks to limestone spring shelter

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