Back into the Mountains

Having returned to the AT from Norwalk, I quickly made my way through the rest of CT. Too quickly perhaps, while I picked up a maildrop in Salisbury CT, I had lost my wallet. I was almost a full day outta town when I realized it, my wallet is normally in my pocket along with a phial of hand sanitizer so I was quite frustrated I hadn’t noticed sooner. I pushed forward to the next road that I could walk or hitchhike back to prowl around town looking for my wallet. It took a while, but a few miles into the roadwalk I got picked ip by a pair of friendly stoners, who after hearing my story, signed on to give me a round trip. Back in town it didn’t take long, one of the staffers at Peter Beck’s had found it outside, and lucky I look similarly disheveled in my ID as I do having hiked some 1500 miles, so there was no question it was mine. To celebrate not having to cancel my credit cards I bought my new friends crossaint before they whisked me back to trail, crisis easily averted.

While working out my wallet troubles, I had leap-frogged with a recently started flip-flopper going by the name of First Day or something, because of his fresh enthusiasm when met by tired NOBOs, that name couldn’t last though. After I left him behind he picked up the name Sideshow because he was rocking a very sideshow Bob aesthetic, he was a huge goofball and would’ve been fun to spend a little more time nearby. Some other thru-hikers of note from the third quarter of the AT, Not Yet, who could almost be a body double for Ox, and the Diabolical Duo, a father & son team with a catch, the son is only eight years old. The dad had just retired from the Navy, and pulled his kid from school for the spring, but was determined not to let him fall behind, so I’d come up on them practicing multiplication tables, state capitals, or what have you.

MA was the last of the really quick states on the AT, I turned my guide page and found a note scrawled in next to the marker for upper goose pond cabin reading, “Pancakes!” I pushed a couple days to position myself so it wouldn’t be either too early to stop or too far to make it in before dark. I didn’t have high hopes, this wasn’t the first note my guide had hinting at illusory food allong the trail, I remember hearing stories of missionaries who would keep feeding you as long as you kept hearing them out, but they’d moved away years prior. So I was very much pleasantly surprised to find what was more hostel than shelter, just in the woods, and they had one bunk left, just waiting for me. Stayed up late listening to a fiddler play us into the night, it was a welcome respite from all our long walks. Set out late the next morning, picked up my next ration box from the cookie lady, and continued the previous night’s trend of relaxing. Helped her move some plants’n things, got a hold of Nemo to work out some more dropboxes going into VT and NH, and watched a lot of chickens roaming about.

I was also able to get in touch with Greylock, who lives nearby to the northernmost  mountain in MA, and carries the same name. We set up to meet at the summit lodge, and I well… totally shirked setting my self up for an easy day, sometimes you just gotta mess with future-you. I was practically running though, kept beating my time estimates and the foolishly rewarding myself by stopping for food. Particularly at a couple places Greylock had recommended, got stupid lucky and both places when locals bought my food, so life lesson learned: shirk responsibilities, it’ll be okay. On the way up to the lodge I ran into Greylock waiting at a road crossing, bearing figs, apricots, date bars, and some beer local to the Berkshires. The lodge had been closed when he made it up there, but he’d managed to find me so we caught up with eachother briefly, before I went on my way to make camp. On a whim I tried the lodge door, and someone came and let me in, gave me a bunk, and a shower, the caretaker even let me dine with him and some of his friends who were there for a Ham radio competition. It was far fancier than anything one would’ve expected from a night on the AT, and way above my hiker trash pay grade.

Summer Break at the Beach.

After running into Mammoth and deciding to walk between the triple crown, I came across a trailhead with a map kiosk. (where the trail passes the train you can take into NYC I think) The map showed a zoomed out view of the trail, and coming up soon was going to be one of the closest points on the trail to the Atlantic. Just inside CT the trail passes near to US7 which is almost a straight shot to a beach, in the days leading up to Bull’s Bridge I scrambled a plan with the little resources I had. Basically the AWOL AT guide, which pointed that there was a convenience store a little bit down the way. Got up, set a cache and headed out before dawn to the convenience store, figuring I’d find a map there and plan my route and where I’d pick up extra food since this was off my ration plan. Everything worked out fine, for the most part, US7 turned into a limited access highway by danbury, without me noticing and I got kicked off by a cop. Just sorta wandered south through danbury asking directions every so often till I happened upon an Eastern Mountain Sports.

The EMS was a bit surpised to see a thru-hiker walk this far off trail, there was a staff member who was an AT ’14 thru-hiker, Pockets. Another thru-hiker, K2 stopped in to EMS while I was there, he was taking a break near home and was surprised to see that I had walked from trail. Pockets bought me a dinner on her break and pointed out a place a little farther along the way where I’d be able to stealth camp. She had me come to her parents house the next morning for food and laundry, it was excellent! They had a ton of big dogs who were great and I’m sure loved the smells of the world I was trafficking around with me. She drove me back out to my route and I kept trucking on through NYC exurbs. I got kinda lost coming into Norwalk but after a little wandering I got a ride from a couple of people who’d been sitting out enjoying the summer day, Henry and Benny (Benny had an accent and I am not sure if his name was Benny or Bunny…) gave me a ride to the beach, I had gotten close then made a wrong turn and crossed a bridge away from the beach.

Pleassantly surprised at how early I made the beach, I could get a fair bit of rest before tomorrow’s return trip. I spent the afternoon hanging out with the lifeguards as they cycled through their break schedules. Foolishly telling them I’d have this blog up soon after finishing the AT, took almost 2 months for it to start working. They gave me a Norwalk Lifeguard shirt and wished me well, as they got off shift and the beach was vacated. I cowboy camped just above the high tide beneath a clear sky. In the morning I woke and readied to leave before the dawn, and at first light I waded out and started back towards the Pacific. Before getting off trail I had hoped to make it only 2 days of trail if I could, I made it in 3, quicker than I should’ve expected, got better help dodging the offlimits portion of US7 this time, and made the AT near dark. It was a whirlwind, I practically ran a lot of those miles,  finally picked up replacement tips for my trekking poles, randomly saw K2 like 30 miles off trail, and just met a ton of helpful friends.