Having come out from ADK the reality of the North Country Trail truly began to set in, finding myself totally solitary save for the occasional interaction with post officers, grocers, librarian, or restaurant attendant. Newly armed with a tablet I had acquired while in home I began making great use of it as an e-reader almost immediately, reading Osamu Tezuka’s Buddha, Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, by the time I had made it out of NY. (As a side note: this was when I began working to make this blog more than just a twinkle in my eye.) I had long since abandoned the pretense of having medium-term plans, and picking up a tablet was a great way to keep my short term logistics somewhat in order.
The downside of course is that now I was reasonably exposed to the internet once again, and found myself loitering about libraries, or listening to podcasts and music while hiking. This seemed to make time pass quicker through the endless pastoral Americana of the NCT and Finger Lakes Trail, at least at first. Quickly music and podcasts became a crutch and actually make days seem to drag on longer than when I had been losing myself in the landscapes. Though some of this could be attributed to the paradigm shift and the new proximity to roads, some serenity is surely lost as a semi speeds past only slightly to your side. Overall they’ve made a welcome addition to the kit.
The conclusion to my air mattress troubles came in the mail, as the replacement by warranty arrived, and as a side sleeper I can say the simple folding foam pad I had picked up to use as a stop gap was not ideal. While this is a weakness in that I seem to require a more specialized piece of gear, maybe in a warmer climate I’ll try to get in the habit of sleeping pad-less. With the mattress the rest of my mail carried poor tidings as another bout of ration troubles had begun, this being the one that would ultimately cause the switch from Nemo covering my rations. Once again with these troubles I feel the need to point out how much of a help it was to have someone running ration support, and that these troubles rather serve to highlight how much easier it made things, as I make poor food buying decisions when I am hungry, and I am always hungry.
The FLT itself has many shelters, they were a welcome and familiar place to stay, a reminder of sorts that the land itself was not uninviting, though if the signs on the trees were their thought bubbles it would’ve seemed much more hostile. I became quite accustomed to stealth camping along the road sections, to the point where I ceased planning my days so tightly around the shelters, and frequently made my resupplies into town from a nearby stealth camp, as keeping to the shoestring budget would keep me hiking longer, and if I must spend money I prefer ice cream to lodging. Upstate NY is filled with rolling hills, and given decent weather provided a fine vantage point from which to watch the season shift across the forest, replacing emerald with a cornucopia of warm reds, and yellows to contrast with the cooling temps. NY ended with a surprise early snow, and while it had begun to melt by the time I made PA it signaled what would be a trend, snow would follow me throughout the trail, and I would find snow in every state of the NCT save for ND.