Days 55-59: The Wedding

Rather than finishing Massachusetts in the rain, I spent two days at a hotel in Great Barrington trying to allow my knee extra recovery time with my parents en route to pick me up for my cousin Lyndsey’s wedding.

The wedding was incredible, and the food selection during cocktail hour was unreal (even far exceeding the expectations that my uncle set the night before). I engaged in a lot of eating and caloric recovery over the weekend. I’m excited for Lyndsey and her husband Brian. They were headed to Italy for their honeymoon. That’s next on my bucket list!

With five days of recovery off, I did regain the ability to walk to the bathroom without a brace on my left knee or a whole lot of hobbling and hopping. Unfortunately, there was no decrease in the level of swelling. My dad was pushing hard to have me pull off the trail, and I was thinking strongly about it. My older sister Lisa will be crewing for me this week, allowing me to slack-pack. Hopefully, that will allow for further recovery and big miles. We’ll see.

On a negative note, I remember Catfood talking about how the real world has an ability to reach out and try to pull you off the trail. Tracking Hurricane Irma on its course over the weekend was a big damper as I worried for my friends and family as well as my own house. Hopefully, everything turns out well, but I wish I were home to assist where necessary. My school was acting as a shelter for more than 500 people. And, I’m playing around over a thousand miles away. That doesn’t sit well, but there’s likely not much I could’ve done, anyhow.

Lyndsey and Brian (stolen from Lyndsey’s Facebook)
Day 60: Rocky Beginnings

Lisa drove me back to the trail from NJ today. We got a late start as she had errands to run first, but I arrived back to the trail about 2pm.

Just like taking a few days off of running, the body was not happy to resume hiking. The first few miles felt strange and almost foreign. It wasn’t the same easy Massachusetts trail that I remembered; it was quite rocky today and lots of twisting (although the latter is normal)!

About 40 minutes in, nature was calling… determinedly. With my reduced pack, of course I left out any toiletries. I made use of what nature provided, leaves. While not a box I intended to check, it is another encouraging sign that whatever may come, I will adapt and overcome! (But I’m still going to ensure toilet paper makes it into my day pack moving forward!)

About seven miles in, Lisa met me coming across a bridge and walked nearly a mile with me. She opted to walk back the way that she came; however, had she taken the road back to the parking lot, it would have been about half a mile shorter. Seems like the AT is always adding pointless extra miles! Sometimes VERY frustratingly so!

I had hoped to do 12 or 13 miles, but cut the day short to 10 miles. Darkness is coming significantly earlier and I was not moving at a good rate of speed, despite having a much lighter and faster pack.

Lisa and I went back to the same hotel I stayed at in Great Barrington last week and then grabbed some Greek food. Initial returns on me knee were not good, and I was not making much better than two miles per hour. I’m openly questioning how long I will stay on trail and whether it’s advisable any further based on my knee.

Sometimes you have to walk on the road; there might be posts or blazes on a tree. Sometimes both.
Walking through a field nearing sunset.
Notice the rock wall in the middle of the woods. Apparently, it is illegal to move those rocks as they’re historical property markers?
I passed through a field in South Egremont with a stone commemorating the location of the last battle.of Shay’s Rebellion. Cool.
Day 61: A Little Bit Longer Now

Seems like I say this a lot, but we got a late start this morning. I just wasn’t motivated to get moving early. Prior to getting on the trail, I got a smoothie, oatmeal, and hash brown from McDonald’s. Have to get those calories…

I had a light pack today with about a liter of water, but the trail had no real supply outlets or areas to meet up with Lisa until 19 miles up the trail (unless I wanted to meet up with her within the first mile or walk multiple miles off the AT to other access points). Loaded up on snacks, I headed down the trail.

The morning started similarly to yesterday; I just could not get in gear and was moving slowly. The last time I slacked over Killington prior to tweaking my knee, I did nearly 18 miles in just over six hours. I hoped to do a similar pace with a smaller pack that I use for running, but I still had a hard time cracking two miles an hour.

I climbed several mountains today. Going up Mt. Race, the last mountain in Massachusetts, and then Bear Mountain, the first and highest point in Connecticut, I was doing some hand over hand climbing that had me thinking of miles past in Maine. Surprisingly though, the climbing was a lot more fun than those previous climbs. I think the smaller and tighter pack was a contributor.

The knee felt okay for the morning, but then I tweaked it again on Mt. Race and it was painful on and off the remainder of the day. On a surprising note though, there were some good trails and my legs just started shuffling. It happened unconsciously on a down hill and I managed to do a considerable amount of shuffling the last few hours. I told the legs to try and the legs went into robot mode, moving almost of their own volition until they got fatigued, but, again, I felt as if I had very little actual influence or control over my legs.

Knowing my time on the trail could be limited, I tried to take in and enjoy the views. There was a long ledge along Mt. Race with views of the area below and I spent several minutes sitting there watching a hawk coasting through the air below me. He was effortlessly doing circles over the woods. Again, I found myself jealous and wishing for wings.

Fortunately, the last several miles after crossing into Connecticut seemed to go faster than the earlier miles, despite the climb up Bear Mountain.

At the end of 19 miles, I was thoroughly exhausted and done for the day. I met up with Lisa at her car and we went off to grab pizza.

Lisa fully enjoyed her day off crewing. She went sightseeing including a couple cemeteries, which are really cool in New England because of the old graves! She saw graves marked for Soldiers that had fought in all America’s wars, including the Revolution. She said she also saw an old lady enter one of the cemeteries, they exchanged pleasantries, and then the lady walked behind a locked mausoleum. And was nowhere to be found afterwards. So, was it a ghost or is she just crazy? I know where I’m hedging my bet…

In the evening, I was able to speak with my parents who arrived back in Orlando today. Their house and my sister’s were okay; however, mine lost about 25 shingles scattered across three quarters of my roof. My roof is 17 years old so before getting back on the trail tomorrow, I need to make contact with my insurance company to make a claim and see if my roof can get inspected. I think I’m going to need a new roof sooner​ than planned. Again, the real world is trying to pull me back.

Climb up Mt. Race. Hiking, sure. The picture does not do this justice as it was a straight vertical.
Walking along Mt. Race. Lots of rock walking today.
Connecticut!
My attempt at a selfie on the border.
Bear Mountain, highest point in Connecticut.
1500 miles to go. Ugh.
A view off Mt. Race. Way more impressive in real life.
Day 62: The Wuffle

Another late start, but it was not laziness today! Made a few calls between my insurance agent and parents. Now to get an estimate for repairs on my roof. I’m hoping I need a new roof, at least I’ll be able to put the replacement on at a discount.

Got back to the trail about 10am today. Unlike the last two days, I was moving quickly. I covered the first seven miles in a little over two hours. I created a new word: wuffling. I was moving faster than a walk, but I’m not sure I could quite call it a shuffle. Thus, the wuffle was born.

Prior to linking up with Lisa, I was treated to an amazing waterfall on the Housatonic River which I feel as if I’ve been traveling along for the last 100 miles now. Absolutely gorgeous!

When I linked up with Lisa, she was talking to two NOBOs that gave her the trail name “The Medic,” of which she’s very excited about. Besides helping me, she provided some trail magic (water) to the family of SOBOs that I was leap frogging with the day I returned to the trail out of the Yellow Deli in Vermont. Apparently, they’re still moving well. I never did catch them today.

After meeting up with Lisa, I dropped all my gear until the next rally point three miles ahead. It was glorious! I felt totally liberated! I got in some good wuffling and made quick work of the three miles. Along the way, I passed two [cute] girls with five happy dogs that were jumping into the river and having a blast!

When I met up with Lisa, I took a half hour break. While sitting there, a woman came by  that had section hiked 1700 miles of the trail. She hiked the section I was about to head into yesterday and showed off a picture of a fat five-foot timber rattlesnake she passed yesterday. Fortunately, I was not as lucky!

Going through the next section, I was moving well, but noticeably slower than the morning. The terrain was more challenging. Then I came upon Bard, a SOBO I had not met before, and he was having a moment, just sitting on a rock. I engaged a little small talk, but he just mentioned how this state was breaking him and reminding him of Maine. I thought he was a little crazy, and then he gave me a “happy trails.” I’d just been dismissed. Alright dude. You enjoy yourself, too!

Ironically, the next part of the trail was rugged to the point that I too had some memories of Maine. Fair enough. The end of today’s hike had me climbing down a narrow opening between two large boulders. Very Maineish.

It was warm in the afternoon, but I knocked out just shy of 17 miles in a bit over six hours. This is more the pace I expected, but the next rally point was seven miles away. With the late start, it would have been close before darkness set in, so I called it a day and went to get food with Lisa in Kent, CT. Endless pasta. Perfect.

There’s about 27.4 miles left in Connecticut and the next two days are rainy. As my knee fails to show any signs of improvement, I’m going to call a break at the end of Connecticut. I want to finish New England. Ideally, I finish the state tomorrow and just bare the misery of the rain for a day. Probably means I need to start early…

View of the Falls from the top.
View of the Falls from the bottom. Awesome.
Narrow passageway…very Maineish.
Day 63: Done.

Knee bothered me all night long… I’m over 700 miles, at least, but I lasted two months exactly trail.

Headed back to NJ with Lisa. I’m trying to see some friends, and then back to FL in a few days. Chance to do some reflecting over life, gear, and the next steps.

The biggest lesson from the trail is gratitude — thanks to all those that have helped and encouraged me. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing the journey.

Excuse the cheesiness (and, as my ex used to tell me, the music tastes of a 16 year-old girl), but Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” sums up the Appalachian Trail perfectly. I’ve had my wins and losses, but I will recover and keep moving on.

I can almost see it
That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
You’ll never reach it

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

 

About Scott

Writer. Teacher. Learner. Keen on process and individual improvement. And running really, really far.

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