Mon, Aug 12
Wake at 6 – banana oatmeal and granola. Plus coffee. Begin hiking with Ridgerunner and Tumbledoor, but they get ahead quickly. Hike down to Dalton. Quick stop at Cumberland Farms for a smidge of real food. Hike through town. Catch up with my mom on the phone.
Another 9 miles to Cheshire where I’ll meet MK IRL and stay at her place. MK and Jason used to be caretakers at the Glencliff Hostel on the AT. I never met them, but they hiked the Arizona Trail least year just behind me and we’ve been in touch ever since. Warm and welcoming members of the trail hiking community. Tumbledoor and Ridgerunner catch up to me on the way. I pass Ambassador. I break then catch RR and Tumble for lunch. Dollar General. They have WiFi!? A few snacks.
I hang out with RR and Tumble until MK picks me up at 4 and whisks me back to her place where I transform into a real person via shower, laundry, and real food. MKs mom and her dog Thea are there too. We chat about hiking life and real life things, like you do. Wine and amazing eggplant pizza. Jason returns from work late and we all chat some more. Retire sometime after hiker midnight to a cozy bed with extremely comfortable pillows…
Sun, Aug 11
I sleep ok in the group cabin and wake up at 6 as alarms go off for our morning pancakes made by the caretakers. Blueberry pancakes and coffee for breakfast, pretty sweet! I take a dip in the pond. It’s amazing and beautiful and the perfect temperature. I pack up and leave before 9.
Hike on. Lots of flat today as well. I don’t see too many people except a few sobos until a mid-morning break and I am past by Buffet. I stopped to get water and chat and hike with Lifesaver for a while. Lunch break at October Mountain shelter around 1 p.m. with the two Connecticut girls, Lifesaver, and Buffet. To the Cookie Ladys’ a few minutes later. Not much there. Hike. Podcasts.
Arrive at Kay Wwood shelter at 6. Lifesaver, Buffet, the two Connecticut girls, Ridge Runner, Tumbledoor, and me. And chat. Sleep around 8:15 inside the shelter.
Sat, Aug 10
A mouse was jumping around outside my tent in the middle of the night and woke me up. I wake up for real around 8 and pack up my stuff in the community center tempting area. Breakfast at the Rio Cafe, tofu and veggie scramble and coffee. I’m stuffed. Need to hike it off. Fill my water.
Get a lift. It’s 20 minutes late. Jeffrey, the Lyft driver has lots of questions about safety especially as a solo “girl”. I’m bored with these lines of inquiry. I get to the trail around 10 or so and figure I’ll make it close but not all the way to Upper Goose Pond to take it easy on my feet. Then I run into red line who encourages me to go further and… Yeah I think I can. I run into SOBOer on the International AT. Up and down Tyringham Cobble. few road crossings. I’m tired at the end of the day. I get water about a mile before the pond. The day is relatively flat and time flies.
I arrive at Upper Goose Pond sometime after 7 to a big group of folks hanging out outside of the giant red enclosed cabin. A few drops of rain. My quinoa and salmon dinner tastes amazing. Hang out and chat for a little while with Redline and Ridgerunner and Tumbledoor and the two girls I met at the Brassie Brook Shelter and a handful of others. Eat my peanut m&Ms. I set up my tent outside but decided to sleep inside after all on a real mattress. Go to bed at 9…
Fri, Aug 9
I had a full day off, doing some chores, getting things, eating food. A tick. Plantar fasciitis.
A night tenting at the community center. They have an entire area dedicated to hikers, which is amazing.I realized in the night that oh yeah I have plantar fasciitis! New shoes will help. I massage my leg and research. Sauna. Shower.
After a McDonald’s breakfast, I bus to town. First to Eagle Boot and Shoe – a third generation cobbler! I get a pair of Merrill somethings. I wander through downtown where I run into Fairyflower and co again! We chat. They’re trying to find a way back to the trail further south.
Bus back to community center. Sauna. Shower. Sandwich and juice from the grocery store.
Bus back to town. I chat with Over-It, he’s going to see a movie. And I discover a little black tick attached to my calf. Eek! I pull it off. I exchange my Darn Tough socks with a hole for new ones at Eagle. Gotta love Darn Toughs. Mail old shoes home. Ask the postal service employees about nearby walk-in clinics – just the ER nearby – but they’re helpful and sweet and discuss my tick bite with me. The nearest urgent care is 2 hours by bus. I’m sure I’ll be fine, the tick was on me for a few hours, tops. My mom will send me a few antibiotic pills for any future tick encounters. I get permethrin at the hardware store.
Tired of the one-bus-per-hour schedule. I walk the 1.5 miles back to community center. Permethrin my new shorts and shoes and socks. Eat mediocre food and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. So. Full. Bored. It means I’m ready to get back on the trail! Tomorrow I’ll return. For now relax, write, sleep.
Thurs, Aug 8
Back to the trail. Tired and sore feet. Back to town for a wild thunderstorm.
I wake at 7ish after a fitful night of sleep. The Travelodge pillow was gargantuan and gave me the worst neck crick. Wooby and Kodachrome both snored. I eventually used my inflatable pillow and played white noise through my headphones. Free breakfast. Chat with all the other hikers that appear in the lobby. I’ll either leave town mid-day today or tomorrow. I guess it’s cheaper to catch a shuttle with Wooby and Kodachrome, so I grab some resupply food at Price Chopper and pack up.
Trail Angel Papa Joe picks us up around 10am. Back at the trail. Hike on. See a few NOBOs and SOBOs including Magruber and co, and Giggles and co. Ugh humid and buggy as usual. I’m tired. My heels hurt. I should have taken a zero day. Maybe I’ll go back into town. Some ups and downs and nice views. All the hikers are spread out along the trail. I run into Kodachrome a few times before I realize he keeps waiting for me. Then I realize that he’s hitting on me.
I get to the next road crossing where I can go back into Great Barrington, and Kodachrome is there again and makes it pretty clear that he’s DTF. Not interested. Yeah I’m going back to town. I’m tired of people, I’m tired of guys, and I’m just tired. Time to get some solo rest. I hitch back into GB and get picked up by a woman who is self described as crazy, but she’s nice, and makes me feel even more creeped out by all the possible weirdos out there. Maybe I shouldn’t hitch any more. I’ll Lyft back to the trail later. She drops me off south of the Travelodge/Community Center area and I hobble the 15 min north on my sore feet.
McDonald’s for burger, fries, chicken nuggets, salad. At Marshalls I pick up another pair of shorts to hike in. At Travelodge I inquire about rooms but they’re full up. There are other hotels but I’m tired. Bah to the Community Center and free tenting it is! $8 for a shower and sauna and access to their facility and electricity, etc. I set up my tent and shower. At 6pm I get a phone alert about an imminent severe thunderstorm. Shit, I’d better close my tent door. I hustle over, close my tent, hustle back to the center, and watch from inside with NOBO hiker Redline as the sky turns black, rain dumps, and winds whip trees. Yikes.
My tent still stands, thankfully. I return to the brewery for soup and a glass of wine. Bedtime.
Wed, Aug 7
Caught in a downpour, but made it to Great Barrington
Woke before 6 in the shelter as the other dude there there was stirring and packing up before sunrise. I eat oatmeal, drink sugary chai plus coffee mix. The goal is to get up and over Mt Everett before the rain as it can be dangerous with steep slick rock. I hike up and over a few little mountains – Bear Mountain, Race Mountain, and others. A steep scramble off Bear. I meet a youngish woman with an accent smoking a cigarette at the base who seems freaked out by her descent from that mountain. Slow and steady through the humidity and bugs. Occasional views of clouds give way to occasional views of the hills and valleys below. Into and out of Sage’s Ravine, crossing from Connecticut into Massachusetts.
I summit Everett to find remnants of a fire tower at the peak. An ice water cache left by sweet trail angels in the parking area below. I fill my bottles. Then down the rocky and steep bit. Mostly dry, not that bad. I cross a road and raindrops begin to fall. I quickly don my poncho before the heavens open and water pours from the sky. The rain is so heavy it makes me laugh. Puddles are unavoidable and the water sometimes flows as a stream. I’m soaked from the knees down. Through the woods and fields and marshes. Mostly down and flat. The sun comes out before the rain stops, but it eventually does.
Poncho off. More marshes and fields. The mosquitoes are ravenous and they maliciously bite my hands and the back of my arms. It’s allegedly the “buggiest section of the AT”. Past a memorial to Shay’s Rebellion. Long last at Route 7. It’s a well populated area and I hitch a ride from a nice guy named Greg who drops me off at the brewery.
At the brewery I can’t resist the call of real food and succumb to the call of the chili dog and beer flight. I get to chatting with Woobie and Kodachrome who offer to let me sleep on the floor of their Travelodge hotel room, but Kodachrome says I can have a bed. Okay. It is pouring again and I’d rather not set up my tent at he community center right now. They seem harmless and I, probably shouldn’t but do, inherently trust hikers more than non-hikers. I shower (they give me privacy and vacate the room even though I don my wind gear immediately so I don’t have to exit the bathroom in a towel). My upper legs and butt are covered in pimples, or “folliculitis” from my persistently damp shorts. Damn humidity. Laundry. Chatting. Phone convos. Camelback Santa is texting me and trying to get me to meet him for a drink for saving his glasses not once, but twice, and offers to share his hotel room. I decline. He wants to split a shuttle in the morning. I decline. Woobie is meeting a fellow hiker for a beer at the brewery and invites me. I decline. I’m tired. I must sleep.
Tues, Aug 6
Skunk tales, two towns, and rain.
Up at 7 something. Pack. Eat. Fairyflower and co are already gone. Go to post office and send home excess clothes and a book. Use wifi at the Town Hall.
Back on trail. Great Falls. Up and over Mt Prospect. Hot, humid, and very sweaty. After 7 miles I go into Salisbury – if the rain slows me, I want extra food. La Bonne Market for a sandwich and resupply. I leave to find Fairyflower and co outside. They tell me about the skunk that came into their tent vestibule and stole a granola bar at 4am! Too funny. Glad it wasn’t me!
Hike out. Back on trail it immediately starts to rain. Dang. Wasn’t supposed to rain till 6. Uphill. Rain stops. Run into a Ridgerunner. To Brassie Brook Shelter by 4:30. Settle here. There’s a dude in the shelter and two young women in a tent. The Ridgerunner shows up – and finds a pair of glasses. Camelback Santas again! Settle in, clean up. Chat, eat, hang out, relax. Sleep.