4: William penn to eagles nest 

I woke up at the shelter, convinced I was alone now. I heard a “tap, tap, tap” in the dark. I turned my headlamp on quickly, hoping to see what was making the noise. A little mouse was trying to take an acorn between the gap in the boards, down into what I assumed was his hideyhole. The acorn wasn’t going to fit. It was like a scene out of the old-school Disney Cinderella. I laughed. And went back to sleep (well, first I snapchatted my sister and used the temperature filter to see how cold it was. 36F! I had only brought my summer quilt!)
When the sun was up, I decided to start walking. I only had 19 miles to Eagles Nest shelter or 28.8 miles to my car. Either way, no bad. I went with just a little water and figured I’d fill up at 501 shelter in 4 miles. 

Well, an hour or so later I figured I should be getting close. I pulled out my phone to check the GPS and realized I’d hiked 4.4 miles…in the wrong direction. 
What can you do? I turned around and 8.8 miles later I was right back where I started. I went .2 off trail to get water only to find nothing but a puddle. I started scooping water, absolutely desperate, and then saw the dead salamander. 

What can you do? I filtered a bottle of dead salamander water and walked on. 

I took like 4 pictures all day. Here they are. 
Two snakes and a view:

There was very little water in this section. Well, there WAS some water but it was always off trail and I was already so ticked off about having walked that extra 8.8 miles that I kept refusing to go. I finally got to this old shelter site with a good water source but I just didn’t see the water. I tried to engineer this puddle into some sort of flow, but it just wasn’t working. 

Then I looked down the side of the trail and there’s a huge stream. Of course. I scrambled down the hill and filtered bottles full, a beaver warning me off with his tail beating the ground. 
And then I walked 1 more minute and it was like some sort of water oasis and all these flowing little streams crossing RIGHT over the trail. Way to go Lindsey. 
So, I walked some more. I changed my socks. And I night hiked. And eventually I got to the shelter. There were two hikers already asleep at 8pm, so I was quiet and slept. 

Miles: 8.8+19.2=28
MVP: beaver water

LVP: dead salamander water

3: peters mountain shelter to William penn shelter

Controversial Opinion: I actually think Pennsylvania is blazed better for SOBOs than NOBOs. I keep looking behind me to double check for blazes. 
I woke up early, mostly because I was freezing. I ate until I was warm enough to get going, and then I started hiking. 10 minutes down the trail and I look up at what I THOUGHT was a huge possum only to realize it was, in fact, A PORCUPINE!! It bristled its quills at me and I backed up quickly. Then, the thing had the audacity to actually chase me down the trail. I mean, it chased me kind of slowly, but still. 

Anyways, I kept walking. 
 It was cold. I saw the sun rise eventually. I kept walking. 

I did 9.5 miles by 10am. Not great, but ok. 

I startled two deer- they were right on the trail! They ran off and then stopped to stare at me. Can you see them? 

Standing on these pine needles instead of rocks seriously felt like clouds. It lasted maybe 10 steps. 

I stopped for lunch at Yellow Springs. 

Rausch Creek had a cool diversion well but I couldn’t get a clear picture, unfortunately. The ruins of the village were cool too. 

I love being able to look ahead and see the next mountain I’m going to walk up. So inspiring. Bring it, AT. My cardio abilities are at an all-time high. 

Never say a mechanical engineer can’t appreciate a nice bridge! 

That moment when you’ve hiked 25 miles and it’s only 5 pm. 

That moment when the trail goes straight up. At least I was listening to a podcast about the presidential debate, so I had plenty of political angst to get me through the climb. 

Warning: graphic image. Imagine how startled *I* was to come across this!

So, at this point I was…oh, 28 or so miles in. 

30 miles. 

And here I am at the shelter, at 7:59, after 31.4 miles. From 5:40 am to 7:40. Not too shabby 🙂

I can’t tell if I’m alone or not. There are some boots but it’s awfully quiet. 
So, not a new record like I was going for, but a much faster time than the last time I did 30+. 
Sometimes people ask me how I do such big miles. Um, well, the answer goes like this (for me):
1. Start early

2. Try to get 10 miles by 10am. It’s sort of a mental thing 

3. I like to take lots of little breaks. I change my socks often and rub my feet when I do that. It helps. 

4. Eat constantly. Drink as much as you can. 5 hour energy helps too. 

5. Podcasts and phone calls keep your mind off your feet. My feet always hurt more than my legs. In fact, my feet will hurt so much that I’m basically nauseated most of the afternoon. You just ignore it. 

6. Have icy hot for when you go to bed. Your feet and legs will be throbbing. Also take a Benadryl to help you stay asleep. 

7. Bask in the glory of having accomplished something so amazing. People run marathons all the time. They don’t do it while climbing mountains with 20+ lbs of gear on their backs. And then sleep outside 🙂
I’m kidding. A little. Do big miles, don’t do big miles. I think it’s kind of fun. It does hurt a lot though. And you DO have to eat constantly and that gets old. 
Anyways. There you go. 
Miles: 31.4

MVP: croissants again. Now they’re all gone 

LVP: cold. 

2: Darlington to Peterson Mtn Shelter

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you wake up early but just…can’t get up? You’re just exhausted and sniffly and over it? That was me today. I stayed in bed maybe 3 hours after I first woke up. 
I was on trail by 7:30 though. And it was WINDY. 

The trail was beautiful, with fall leaves and cool winds and just enough sun. I loved it. 

Do you look at these pictures and wish you were here? I wish you were here!

That’s not to say it was ALL perfect. Pennsylvania loves rocks. Steep rocks. 

Flat rocks. 

Stair rocks. 

Water rocks. 

Medium rocks. 

Big rocks. 

Table rock!

Alllll sorts of rocks. They like rocks so much that I stopped for lunch at the Doyle in Duncannon, even though I was tying to make good time today. 

Whatever. I was hungry and I wanted a Coke. 

And I stopped for a break on the blowdown. Sometimes you just need to sit and you might as well sit when you’re crawling over a tree anyways. 

I made it to the shelter before dark, of course, and found a friendly group of sectioners. I had to climb down more rock steps to get water from a dripping water source, then climb back up, and I was exhausted after that. 

I ate dinner, and then, of course, my work never ends. 
It was time to do some homework. 

Today was a good day. It wasn’t perfect. My feet hurt and I had some blisters to drain and I’m tired and I still have more homework to do…but it was good. 
Miles: 22.3
MVP: Coke and chicken fingers

LVP: it’s so cold. I’m in my bag with all my clothes on and I’m still cold. Time for a winter bag!!

1: boiling springs to Darlington shelter

Well. What’s there to say, really? 
I finished my midterms and drove to Pennsylvania. I got to the hostel at….way too late. Or early, depending on how you look at it. The good news is that driving there wasn’t bad at all. I never got tired, which is what I was worried about. 
The hostel was warm and the bed was clean and tidy. I stretched out and slept. 

I woke up at 9, which is not as late as you might imagine, given how little sleep is gotten all week, and the fact that I’d gotten to the hostel at 5am eastern. 
Craig and Jody made me breakfast and I got situated and we hit the road. My original plan was to hike Boiling Springs, PA north to Delaware Water Gap, PA, which is the state line. I didn’t get on the trail until about 12:30 though, which really cut I to my hiking time. And then I got a text from Craig asking if I wanted him to leave my car somewhere closer. I thought I might need to look at my miles again…after all, I’d need to catch up on sleep and do homework while I was out hiking, so I couldn’t be able to do 30s every day I was out. And that’s when I realized. I’d miscalculated. 

So. The NEW plan is to go to Port Clinton, which still won’t be easy but is doable. Of course I’m disappointed because it doesn’t give me a nice, beat bow on northern PA, and of course I’m tempted to skip thanksgiving to finish Port Clinton to DWG, but I won’t do that to my mom. I’ll spend at least one holiday with her this year. 
So anyways, there I was in boiling springs and I met Lost and Found, another sectioner. He started off while I poked around the ATC, but I eventually caught up with him. We hiked together for a bit, talking about Wisconsin and trails and sectioning and all sorts of things. I decided to hike on, but we met up at the shelter. 

There were several SOBOs at the shelter. Some friendlier than others, but I enjoyed my evening, despite the lingering stress of having to change my plan and still having to do homework. 

I did some really incredible rock moving at this low flow water source. Should have been a civil engineer. 
Had to check my hair for a giant spider. Never found him again after the initial sighting, so I assume he’s living inside me now. 
It did feel so good to tuck myself into my down quilt, warm and toasty, the wind blowing outside and me snuggled inside the shelter. No matter what is wrong or what I still have to deal with and figure out, there’s nothing quite like sleeping outside. 
Miles: 14.3

MVP: croissants

LVP: math skillz 

2: Laurel fork shelter to a campsite near 19E

I woke up several times in the night, and had very choice words for whatever animal was living underneath the shelter. Nothing seemed to scare it off, not even flash photography. I do have several pictures of the bottom of the shelter if anyone is interested, though. 

I got started around 7:30, and it was a rough start. Luckily, the trail rewarded me with some incredibly beautiful scenery and some very interesting blazes. I know I must say that each section is the most beautiful one yet, but this one truly is gorgeous. 

The trail also gave me endless rock steps, though. Eye roll. Gooood morning lindsey. Who’s the unstoppable force now?

But then I got here. 

And then I got endless rock stairs, part 2. Not cold anymore! Now drenched in sweat. 

This morning, the trail felt like I was in a Disney film, honestly. The path was wide and the sun was filtering through the trees. There were flowers on the bushes and trees and birds around me. Rocks and moss gave everything texture. It was hard not to be happy. 

The water crossings reminded me of my very first backpacking trip with Stewart in the 3 Gorges section of the Cumberland Trail. My big mile day that trip was 8 miles and I thought I was going to die. Look at me now. That was in July. It hasn’t even been a year. 

Hiker hunger has hit, hard, but I have too many miles and the elevation profile isn’t as generous today. It’s a “to go” sort of day. 

This cabin was next to a pond with a loquacious bullfrog. 

Another burnt out section. I kept trying to snack but everything tastes like ashtray. 

The cropped picture

The real picture

Found a bench. Sat for 10 seconds. My European buddy Maxipede caught up. We’ve been leapfrogging each other the past two days. He’s doing Harper’s Ferry south, I think. He’s done everything north. Good sort. He took my picture today. 

View from the bench


Here’s a cemetery. I would say “it me” except this was mile…24 and I was hurting too much to be dead. 

And yet again, I was rewarded with incredible views right when I thought I couldn’t make it. I had blisters on my blisters, my muscles were aching, I was making insane bargains with myself and fantasizing about eating an entire pizza…and then this. 

You know, you’re in these dark and shady woods, and up ahead you start to see a little more light filtering through. It’s a sudden thing, really. The woods just…end. It’s really great when you’re listening to T-Swift’s “Out of the Woods” when you break out into a meadow or onto a grassy bald, and the smell of the grass hits you (it’s sweet now, like hay) and the sun is out and even with the wind you just feel…lighter. I love the woods, too, the dark shadows and the filtered light and the birds darting around, but I think it’s the contrast. And hitting this one at magic hour, with the light turning golden and pink, it was just perfect. 

I made it 27 miles. I hit a campsite with a few guys and ate…some things that are perhaps not quite considered dinner. I bear bagged ON THE FIRST TRY* and tomorrow I’ll have 20.5 miles to go. 

I’ve already popped 4 blisters tonight. This won’t get posted until tomorrow or Monday. 

MVP: I’m not much of a music person, but my “lady jams” playlist (Miley Cyrus “Bangerz”, Haim, Grace Potter’s solo album) really got me through today. And Grace Potter was the cause of the unfortunate hike-dance injury. 
LVP: that ashtray taste. 
* my bear bag rope is reflective, so even though I was camped across a bridge from the guys and it was dark, they could very easily see what I was doing when I went off to hang my food. I picked out my branch, tied a rock to my rope, and psyched myself up. “Ok, lindsey. Let’s do this. Don’t look like an idiot section hiker. Think about hyperbolas. You’re good at calculus. You’ve totally got this.” One, two, three, four swings, I let loose, and that rock swung up and over the branch EXACTLY where I wanted it. I looked so freaking smooth. 

For the record, they hung their food on a line strung between two trees and they acknowledged that it was too low. 

Then Again: Devils Fork Gap to Firescald Knob (out and back)

It had been too long since I spent the night on the trail. Everyone knows that John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling, and I must go.” But for me, it is sort of a compulsion. I get antsy. There’s something wild in me that has to go back to the woods, have that challenge of climbs and rocks and sweat, and the quiet of sleeping outside, the bugs and feeling of off-balanceness, that uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next. Will there be people at the shelter? Will I make it all the way? Will I see a bear? Will it rain? Will I be hungry? All things I can manage, but situations I like to put myself in. 
So I went. I spent Friday and Saturday with my family at the lake. I waterskied Saturday, which made for some interesting sore muscles as I set out hiking. I wasn’t sure that I’d make it to the trail. The universe seemed to be conspiring against me. First I was too tired to get up early for my 20 mile section (40 total). Then I decided I had too much homework to do that anyways. Then I did (most) of the homework and found somewhere else to park, making it 11 miles. I started driving, pulled over for gas, and realized I’d left all my money and cards at home. I turned around on 2 gallons of gas and tried again. 
But I made it. I held a steady 3mph for the first two hours, then started slowing. My feet and knees were still swollen and not particularly happy to be hiking again, although the rest of me was ecstatic. 

The mouse car is gone!! A mouse-free car waited for me a Devils fork gap. 

I stopped at Jerry’s Cabin Shelter. I’d thought about cowboy camping tonight, but there were some friendly LASHers and section hikers here, so I stopped for the night. Besides, there was a privy and a fire and a spot in the shelter. 

I have to say, though, I do miss the privies of New England. They were spacious and airy (generally; some exceptions) AND they had toilet paper. That was clutch. 
It’s weird being back to hiking in the south, though, and for such a short trip. 
Miles: 9

MVP: jalapeño chips

LVP: knees

I woke up early. Actually, I’m not sure I was asleep at any point in the night. The old guys kept the radio blasting until some time past midnight. It stopped suddenly and I almost cried with relief. 
What didn’t stop, though, was the symphony of snores. 
I must have slept. I know all the men did. But the alarm went off at 5:30 and I was up at once, holding child’s pose for a few seconds like I always do, then deflating my pillow, then stuffing everything away. I grabbed my backpack and carried it away from the shelter before I stuffed everything inside. I left my food hanging on the bear cables, knowing I’d be back before the men left the shelter and the cables would wake them up anyways. 
I set out with my headlamp, silk blazing. The air held the chill of fall– I’d slept in leggings and my pullover, and even put on my new down vest. Fall is coming, and I was excited. 

I made it to Firescald knob as the sky was just turning orange in one corner. I sat down, wishing I had some food. I’d dreamed I had a snack in my fanny pack, but alas, that was a dream. I guess I’d slept some after all. 

I didn’t think about anything in particular. I’d meant to ponder my future or evaluate relationships that maybe weren’t worth my energy or consider life’s mysteries or do some other *deep thinking* but in the end, I just sat on a rock and thought about nothing. L’art pour l’art and sitting for sitting, I guess. We’ll call it “being present in the moment.”
I made it back to the shelter as the men were still eating breakfast. They hadn’t heard me leave, and were a little surprised by the whole thing. I ate some food, said goodbye, then headed north to my car. 

It was still early, and the meadows I walked through had my shoes soaked with dew. I felt blisters forming, but it was only 7 or so more miles to my car, so I figured I’d just go on. 

I passed a woman heading south. She asked how much longer this mountain went on. I was pleased with myself that my time up north had made me classify that “mountain” as more of a prolonged bump when I took it uphill. We chatted for a while, since it was her first solo section and she had that sort of panicky “what in the world did I get myself into” feeling that I had had on my first section. 
I next passed a man and his dog going the other way. He asked if I’d seen any bears; I said no. 
And then, a few minutes later, I felt a sharp, stinging pain under my sock. I reached down, thinking a thorn had worked its way under my sock. Nope, just 5 yellow jackets, all furiously stinging me. They left my sock and went for my hand and my arm and then finally left, amid shouts and curses and flailing limbs. 
I ran the rest of the way back to my car. Except when I stopped to look at my poor stung leg and curse some more. Sorry mom. There was a lot of cussing. 

It wasn’t my best hike. My legs hurt more than they should have. My wet shoes blistered my feet up. Stupid yellow jackets. No sleep. But…but…as Big Critter (remember him? I met him in the Smokies back in March?) once said, “a bad day on the trail is better than a good day out there.” 
And he’s right. Standing on Firescald knob, the sun just spinning fire into the sky, puddles of fog still settled into Hot Springs below me, wind carrying the smell of fall and campfire and stars into my hair…well, I can’t help but feel like everything will work out. Like there’s no point in thinking about my problems, because life has a way of solving them (the trail provides). 
Of course, back at school, there are problems a plenty waiting for me…but I’ve made it this far. I only have to survive until May and I’m done. It’ll work out and I’ll make it, just like I’ve always made it before. 
Miles: 14.2

Trip total: 23.2
MVP: sunrise

LVP: Yellowjackets 

19: Schaghticoke tent site to Hoyt Rd

I woke up early to give myself plenty of time for the last few miles. Did I ever really sleep? I’m not sure. 

Once I got moving, things were easier. I’d tried to pop and drain my blisters last night but I hadn’t really been successful. Oh well. Walk on. 
I caught the last edge of sunrise. 

I stopped for breakfast– I crammed as many wheat thins into my mouth as I could. 

Some of the walk was downright gorgeous. I knew I had a few miles of flat today, and it was nice. I cruised. 

And then I … Well, I made it up to the top of ten mile hill. It’s only 1000ft over 1 mile and I started off strong but I faded a little. I found a reserve tank and pounded out the rest though. 

And then down, and Connecticut was over. That was it. I walked to Hoyt road looking for the sign, then back to where I’d arranged for my friend Catherine to meet me. In a fortuitous turn of events, my best friend since I was 2 was now living in Connecticut, so I imposed on her for a ride from the trail head and a chance to catch up. I had needed to see her recently, and as usual, the trail provided. 

I finished a few minutes early, and had time to dry out my tent and organize my trash and such. 
I can’t believe it’s all over. My longest trip yet. I can tell a difference in my hiking ability. I’m stronger. I feel like I fit into the rhythm of trail life, and it’ll be hard to switch back. 
I found myself holding on to the generosity of the trail, though. At the train station, a man asked me for $2.50 for his train to make it to work. I pulled out a $5 and gave it to him. Usually I’d say sorry, I don’t carry cash, whether or not that’s true. On the trail, I’d offer whatever I have to anyone. Food? Insoles? Water? Fuel? Clothes? So what’s $5 to a man in a train station? 

He looked at the $5 and asked if I was sure. I shrugged and said yeah. Told him to have a good day, and good luck. I refrained from telling him happy trails, but that’s what I meant. Have a good journey, wherever you’re going. If it’s work or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I hope you get there safely. 
Miles: 8.3

Trip total: 281.7

MVP: a happy ride with Catherine 

LVP: n/a
Thanks for joining me on this trip, friends. It’s been one of the most amazing journeys of my life. The best news is: there are more hikes to come. Happy trails 🙂

18: limestone Spring Shelter to Schaghticoke Tent Site

Wilson Wilson was the first to get up, but we all three wanted to get up early.

In the night, however, I’d decided to change my plans.
“There have been complications.” I announced. “I think I’m going to do a 30 today.” I had some reasons that I won’t go into, but I was bored with Connecticut and was itching to do some big miles, too.
I said farewell to my friends, and set off.

The engineer in me loved walking by the dam and substation.

There were easy parts and boring parts and it mostly just went on forever. I had over 10 miles done by 10am. That’s always a good feeling.

I wondered if I could just…keep on going.

That’s a high school behind me.

I probably climbed that big pile of trees and dirt.

Belters Bump is a stupid name.

When you hike for 32 miles, you let your mind wander. I look at the scenery and the sky and listen to music,hoping to keep my pace up for as long as I can. You don’t think about your body, or at least you try not to. You do think about your feet- are you getting hot spots? Do you need to tape something up to prevent blisters? Unfortunately, I missed two hot spots and went straight to blisters. Oh well. I’m good at ignoring blisters.

I took a few breaks, being sure to stay hydrated but not carry much water, and trying to eat as much as I could. Both mistakes I made the last time I walked 30 miles.

I made it 21 miles to the shelter where Bent and Wilson Wilson would be stopping. I went in for a break and a snack and to leave them a note in the shelter log, and hoped they weren’t too far behind me and maybe I’d get to see them again.

As it turned out, I did. I stayed longer than I meant to, but it was so nice chatting with them that I just couldn’t leave. They told me about this band of roving NOBOs we’d all run in to (they yelled “SOBO coming! Hide your stuff!!” as I stood aside for them, and then, “hey, don’t you know you’re going the wrong way??”). Evidently when they came across Bent, they’d said, “SOBO! Hide your stuff! Oh hey, SOBO, I saw the hottest hiker I’ve ever seen today, and she was SOBO. She had a smile that could steal souls.”
They said the same thing to Wilson Wilson, and he said, “oh, you must mean Birthday Girl.” He said they seemed to like that.
I liked that I have a smile that can steal souls. It was nice to hear.
We finally said our goodbyes, with promises to hike together when they get down south. I’ll miss my friends. They’re both good souls. Gentle, caring, funny, intentional. Different, but similar. I will see them again.

I hiked on, into this mess of a rock scramble. Thanks, Connecticut.

But I got views.

I had a nice chat with Stumbleweed, a NOBO, and got drenched in a thunderstorm, and at some point I had walked 32 miles. I set up my tent and tried to sleep. It wasn’t easy. Everything hurt. Some of you have asked how you deal with pain. I asked Gonzo and Bent if they ever quit hurting. They said no. I think…I think you just live with it. Usually I can sleep through it, and only wake up when I try to turn over. Last night everything was throbbing though. Hips, feet, shins, knees. I put on icy hot and take an Aleve and hope for the best. The hike and knowing that I’ve pushed myself past what I thought was possible is worth it.

The last time I hiked 30 miles I cried when I finished. This time, I quit hiking only because the weather and terrain made it too slow to be worth it. I could have kept going. I would have paid for it, but I could have kept going.

Miles: 32

Trip total: 273.4

MVP: shelter chat with wilson wilson and bent

LVP: thunderstorm

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!!

16: great Barrington to the hemlocks shelter 

Maureen made us pancakes this morning. I slept like the dead in a soft bed with the sound of a thunderstorm outside. I wake up every time I turn over, of course, because my muscles are too stiff and sore to do it while I’m still asleep, but otherwise I slept like the dead. 
We ate our pancakes, I took one last shower, and then we packed up and headed out. A quick stop at a gas station for a little more fuel for me (and I’m not sure I actually needed this; I might be able to squeeze by on what I have buuuuut also I want to eat) and then we were at the trail head. Warm goodbyes and we started walking. 

The first few miles were gorgeous, like the rest of Massachusetts. Farmlands and meadows and sun and bogs. I don’t want this state to end. 

Eventually we started the climb up Mt Everett. We won’t summit until tomorrow, but we did get spectacular views at Jug End. We sat and had a long chat about how lucky we were to be here, seeing this, one this trail, experiencing everything we had already. 

I write my blog because I know there are some people who can’t hike, or don’t have the opportunity to leave on the weekends or take 3 weeks to live on the trail, or are just overwhelmed by the idea of backpacking. But I cannot express how lucky I feel to be one of the people who can do these things, who can climb mountains and meet trail angels and make friends in a day and find watermelon in a cooler on the side of the road. 

We climbed more, and made it to glen brook shelter by 12:30. We sat for a minute, but weren’t terribly pleased with the shelter. The hemlocks was just .1 miles down the trail, so we walked over to check it out. It was a much better situation, so we got water at glen brook and then set ourselves up at hemlocks, a nice Massachusetts bunk and loft shelter. 

We ate and read and talked and listened to music and around 3:30 Wilson Wilson, a SOBO, came in. We chatted until another guy came, a guy who had just started in the past few days and was new to backpacking. 

It’s nice to have a slow day like this, but I’m ready to cover miles tomorrow. It’ll be rough going, I think, especially with this MASSIVE bruise I have on my backside that’s really pretty painful especially on the uphills, but tomorrow we’ll be in Connecticut and my trip will be winding down. Goodbye, Massachusetts. I’ll miss you. 
Miles: 8.0

Trip total: 224.3

MVP: strawberries on the pancakes

LVP: forgot to buy jalapeño chips