Day 96. It was difficult to say goodbye to Happy and Queen Angel this morning. It was so much fun (for me, not Happy) to include more family on this journey, and last night was a great way to end it together. Oh, and the run of nice accommodations weren’t too shabby either … 5 of the last 6 nights were in a warm bed.
But all things must pass, and the common trail life I’m accustomed to is back. I hit the trail at 11am, after spending an hour fixing yesterday’s video (it should work now, for those who got error messages), and enjoying one more family breakfast. For those keeping count st home, Happy was once again ecstatic to have waffles.
It’s funny how quickly the trail life sets in. Within 5 minutes, I felt like I was back in my familiar routine. Almost immediately, I saw Hungry Cat (a hiker I knew) and hiked an hour with him, catching up on trail gossip. I last saw him with Tarzan and Happy Feet outside Daleville over a month ago. Apparently Happy Feet is only a day behind us, so I may see her soon, but it sounds like Tarzan is much further back.
Then I ran into Reboot, an older hiker I walked s few days with in Pennsylvania. He and I hiked another 10 miles together through the Connecticut ups and downs. We agreed that this state is like one long roller coaster, with short river walk breaks along the Housatonic River. At lunch time, he informed me that Fresh Ground was a few miles up ahead doing trail magic, and if we hurry we could make it for dinner before he packs up. You may recall that Fresh Ground does traveling magic along the trail all year, and gave me a much needed breakfast after my abysmal day in Port Clinton.
We booked it through the forest at a close to 3.5 mph pace, arriving just in time for burgers, baked beans, watermelon, hard boiled eggs, kool-aid, and grilled cheese. This guy is a character, and extremely giving so I hope I am lucky enough to see him again. I asked him for a photo so I don’t forget the face of such kindness (above). Hungry Cat was also there with us, and when we couldn’t possibly eat another bite, all 3 of us headed sluggishly back up the trail.
We saw some amazing sights today, including a racetrack (with live race in action), a huge split boulder we had to squeeze between, and a MASSIVE waterfall called Great Falls. The trail literally hugged the falls and allowed you to walk right out on top of it. Scary as hell to be above it, looking down, knowing one slip and you’re a dead man. But also very, very neat to experience it so closely. Here’s all 3 of those sights in photo, which don’t do any of them justice…
I wanted to have a big miles day to start catching up with my timeline, but eventually my feet begged me to stop. Actually they screamed it. Loudly with every step. My brain wanted to do more, but my feet told my brain to quit being an a-hole and stop. My a-hole did not mind the reference and sided with my feet. My back would have also supported my feet’s demands, but it was busy crying in pain itself. Let’s just say every part of my body said STOP in unison, as I haven’t done more than 12 miles in 2 weeks. I wanted to go at least 20 miles, but decided 17 will have to do unless I want an appendage mutiny in my future.
Reboot fell behind, going into West Cornwall for the night, but Hungry Cat and I set up camp at a stealth campsite near to the oddest landmark, called “Giant’s Thumb”. This well-named site is a huge 10 foot tall glacial erratic sticking out of the ground, surrounded by a dirt sitting area on the top of a wooded hill. I’m not sure what’s its purpose is, but I’d bet it’s been here a very long time and likely has some significant historical meaning to natives of this area. The guidebook doesn’t say much though, so it’s just a wonder to ponder. Connecticut’s Stonehenge or Easter Island, I guess.
Tomorrow I cross the 1500 mile mark, some epic views along the Taconic Range, and the border to Massachusetts. It should be a tough day, hitting 4 huge peaks and going above 2000 feet elevation for 3 of them … and it’s supposed to rain. Just another typical day of slick ups and downs on the Appalachian Trail.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)
- Start Mile: 1479.5
- Start Time: 11:00
- End Mile: 1497.3
- End Time: 19:10
- Miles Hiked: 17.8
- Miles to Go: 693.6
- Lodging: Giant’s Thumb stealth campsite