August 28th, Lee, MA – mile 1549 – 70.8% of the trail complete
August 20th – Tony’s Deli to Shaghticoke Mountain Campsite
Total miles on AT – 15.2
Elevation gain – 2214ft
Elevation loss – 1703ft
Start time: 1:35pm
Finish time: 7:50pm
Total time hiking: 6:00
Weather: sunny, hot and humid
A very bad night of pain again with half awake dreams and brooding thoughts of the hike being over. I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I go to the doctor and get some physical therapy? Will I run out of time before winter sets in in Maine?
I played the day by ear. I bought an ice bag to ice all morning, stretched, and used my tennis ball to massage. By early afternoon I was ready to give it a go and it felt surprisingly good. I hiked nearly nonstop till dark and nothing feels too bad right now. We’ll see how the night goes. I might be stretching and massaging throughout much of the night again.
I crossed into Connecticut and New England! Can’t help but feel pretty good about that. But I thought that I would be here almost a month earlier.
There is only one other camper here tonight, a quiet southbounder. Gosh what a lonely experience southbounding has the potential to be. I’m lonely as it is. It gets dark by 8:00 which seems so early, like early fall. Gosh how did I survive so many dark falls and winters in New England?
August 21st – Shaghticoke Mountain Campsite to Skiff Mountain Road
Total miles on AT – 6.0
Elevation gain – 550ft
Elevation loss – 583ft
Start time: 8:05am
Finish time: 12:15pm
Total time hiking: 3:00
Weather: cloudy, warm, periods of slight drizzle
Craig and his whole crew joined me today for a three mile section and then we went for lunch in Kent. Afterwards we found a spot to go swimming. Craig showed me the weather radar and a huge swath of rain was headed our way. So I made arrangements to go back with Craig and stay with my brother Tom and his family about an hour away.
It’s great to see my nieces. We went to ToysRus tonight which was a pretty big deal, but I couldn’t walk around the store because of my pain which has now radiated down the leg and I had to retreat and wait in the car.
I hope to get a massage tomorrow and buy a new and better pack before returning to the trail again on Tuesday to give this thing a go again.
August 22nd – Zero Day – Avon, CT
Total miles on AT – 0.0
Elevation gain – 0
Elevation loss – 0
Total time hiking: 0:00
Weather: sunny, warm, low humidity, beautiful
Not a bad night of sleep. The hip didn’t start hurting till early morning. I bought compression sleeves for my shins, new socks,and a new pack – good riddance to the old one.
Spent the day with the nieces – seven and almost five years old. My brother Tom took us all to the Y where we swam, and I took turns going in the pool and the hot tub. The back and hip felt improved. Tammy made some very tasty corn on the cob.
August 23rd – Skiff Mountain Road to Silver Hill Campsite
Total miles on AT – 7.5
Elevation gain – 926ft
Elevation loss – 781ft
Start time: 3:20pm
Finish time: 6:55pm
Total time hiking: 2:50
Weather: sunny, warm, pleasant
Very sore hip throughout last night. Ugh!
Last night and tonight have been cool. I heard on the radio that last night was the coolest night Connecticut has had in two months. Feels like fall, which scares me; I need to get moving.
I went to my massage appointment this morning only to realize that I had scheduled it mistakenly for tomorrow, so I had to cancel it. I exchanged my backpack for a bigger fit and in the afternoon Tom and the fam drove me back to Kent.
I’d done most or all of today’s section before. There were beautiful views from Caleb’s Peak and St. John’s Ledges and then there was a five mile flat section along the Housatonic River. The only longer flatter section I can think of on the trail so far was just after Harper’s Ferry when the trail followed the C&O bike path.
I took a 15 minute soak in the Housatonic in six o’clock shadows. I stopped before seven at this campsite that has a pavilion and a swing seat, and it got dark as I was finishing cleaning up after dinner. There is a huge college group here tonight. But no thru-hikers. I’m glad to have the company.
The back feels ok. The tingling of sciatica has started, but it’s not as painful. The pack is much better than what I had. Perhaps a bit too big, but much more comfortable overall.
August 24th – Silver Hill Campsite to Rands View
Total miles on AT – 18.2
Elevation gain – 2081ft
Elevation loss – 1693ft
Start time: 8:55am
Finish time: 7:20pm
Total time hiking: 7:45
Weather: sunny, very warm, not too humid
I was pretty sure I could do 18.2 with my back and hip today. The question is if can I do it again tomorrow. My back was sore throughout the day and tingled when I took a break and got a grape soda from the package store in Falls Village.
A nice soak in the Housatonic River calmed things down back there a bit. We’ll see how tonight goes. Trying to give the kidneys a rest and go med free for a couple of weeks. If I can do that then I’ll feel real good about my chances of finishing. The pain, tightness, and radiation today was such that I fear it’s going to be a bad night. I’ve been stretching like a fiend.
I ran into Special K and her mother and two siblings. Special K is a fifteen year old girl whom I first met in Shenandoah. She’s attempting a thru-hike. I also caught up to the threesome of Luigi, Rambler, and Slug. I hope to catch Friskie again within the next couple of days, that is if my body holds out.
I am camping solo at Rands View where I’ve been many times before. I believe Rands View has hands down the best view on the AT in Connecticut. It’s a field that looks over the range we are about to traverse – Bear Mtn, Mt. Race, Mt. Everett, Mt. Bushnell, Jug End, and all points north.
August 25th – Rands View to The Hemlocks Shelter
Total miles on AT – 17.4
Elevation gain – 3301ft
Elevation loss – 2599ft
Start time: 8:00am
Finish time: 6:50pm
Total time hiking: 7:10
Weather: sunny and warm turning overcast with a slight drizzle
I had less pain last night than I expected and somehow, someway I don’t hurt really at all. I’ll take it for sure. I felt that this was really a make or break day. Perhaps it was the yoga poses I added to my stretch routine. I need to strengthen my stomach muscles.
There was a lot to see today. I bought some ice in Salisbury and ate french toast at an over-priced bistro. Riga Shelter had a great view of Twin Lakes. I passed over familiar territory in Bear Mtn, at over 2300 feet it’s the highest point on the trail since Virginia. A soak at Sage’s Ravine, by far the coldest water I’ve soaked in since southern Virginia. Amazing views along the ridge of Race Mtn, and a steep climb over Mt. Everett. It was cool at the top of these mountains and the drizzle made it cooler.
A lot of elevation gain today with longer climbs, but I much prefer that to the PUDS (pointless ups and downs). I don’t feel as strong uphill as I was in Georgia – losing muscle mass perhaps.
So happy to be feeling better, hope it lasts through the night and into tomorrow.
August 26th – The Hemlocks Shelter to Mt Wilcox South Shelters
Total miles on AT – 19.7
Elevation gain – 2355ft
Elevation loss – 2352ft
Start time: 7:30am
Finish time: 6:10am
Total time hiking: 8:20
Weather: cloudy early then sunny, very warm and humid
I take it back. I had consistent pain through the night. But despite that, it didn’t hurt that much to walk and I was able to make my goal of putting in a near twenty mile day. I imagine it will be another painful night.
Another Yale orientation group was using the shelter last night and they left at 4:45am this morning. The trip leader warned me that they would be up early but common courtesy would be to at least lower your voices as you’re packing up. I had expected more from Yale students. All in all though they were respectful and pleasant.
Water was very scarce as all the stream beds are dried up. I took a small gamble when I heard there were jugs of water ahead at a roadside. Turns out the jugs were empty. I filled up at a mildly clear pond in case the spring at the shelter was dried up and sure enough it was.
Signs of fall continue, not only only is it getting darker earlier, the leaves are showing more and more color. I first spotted some random yellow leaves over a week ago, but yesterday I noticed a whole section of trail where trees had a few yellows. Today I saw consistent yellows, oranges and reds. I’m going to start something called the peak-o-meter to measure on what exact date/s the colors reach their peak. We’ll start today off with a 1. Will it go up or town tomorrow?
The cicadas or not making noise tonight. I think perhaps we’ve traveled too far north for them. Lots of pine forest now dominates the way and the trail is a bed of pine needles.
I am running low on food and hope to make it up the trail to the next town in 32 miles before I’m out completely.
August 27th – Mt Wilcox South Shelters to Upper Goose Pond
Total miles on AT – 15.8
Elevation gain – 1843ft
Elevation loss – 2110ft
Start time: 7:20am
Finish time: 3:10pm
Total time hiking: 6:40
Weather: sunny, very warm, pleasant
My back and hip are holding up okay, but my shin flared up this evening. I think it might be that my second toe on my right foot is again pushing up against the front of my boot. That started today. My feet really hurt when I got out of the pond yesterday evening. Perhaps my arches collapsed? Gosh, it’s one thing after another…I might buy yet another pair of shoes! I took the advice of an older hiker and decided to take Advil again. It’s Katahdin or busted kidney.
The Mass terrain has been pretty easy so far. I cruised up a 1000 foot climb after downing a Coke at a roadside stand. Caffeine is an amazing drug.
I met a couple in their eighties out for the day hiking southbound. He was 85 and she was 83. They didn’t look a day over 65. Inspiring.
I’m here at Upper Goose Pond. There is an amazing cabin with a bunk room and the caretakers are very nice. There are canoes to take out on the pond and as nice swimming area. I caught up with Lando and Friskie. 8 nobos and 4 sobos are here tonight. The hosts will cook a pancake breakfast tomorrow! Some southbounders brought in blueberries from the Cookie Lady’s. And Friskie and Lando brought in blackberries.
Fall peak-o-meter – back to zero , one obvious sighting of a tree with oranges and reds, but much less color overall today