Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hiking Connecticut

We headed back to the Trail from NYC last Sunday. It was every bit as difficult as I assumed. There are only a few trains that run directly to the Appalachian Trail stop and they are only on weekends. We were attempting to catch the very last one(9:48am) on Sunday. So, we wake up early, tell Chesley and Nandita farewell, and head off with our gear. We take the R train to Atlantic-Pacific stop to board the 4 or 5 which would both put us directly into Grand Central. Of course, as we boarded that train, the conductor stepped out and asked for papers on Chaser. Dammit. We obviously don't have any so we immediately run out of the subway and look for a driver that allows dogs. Found one pretty quick. Unfortunately, it was a longer drive than train ride. We showed up at Grand Central with no time to spare. Racing around with Chaser, we get our tickets and ask Information which track has our train. "34", she says. "Right over there". Sweet! we haul ass, get on the train and rejoice we made it. The train begins moving, one of the workers come to punch our ticket and informs us we are on the wrong train. What what WHAT!? Dammit. So, we had to hop off at the next stop and wait 2 hours for a train that will bring us to a station that allows a transfer to a train that will get us as far as Pawling, NY which is about 2.5 miles from the Trail. I guess that'll work. And it did.

We get off the train in unfamiliar Pawling and are immediately given directions by a friendly guy. We road walk all the way to the AT train stop where some Southbounders are waiting to be picked up to go into the city. Ohhh, so they pick up late but not drop off. Plus... SOUTHBOUNDERS? Sweet. It IS that time of year. Suddenly, they are everywhere. The Trail no longer belongs to NOBO's and section hikers. We now get to see an onslaught of people who have just been where we are going and vice versa. Sweet.

When we get to the AT train station it's obvious a storm is coming. Fortunately, we are 20 yards away from the Native Landscape and Garden Center where we are greeted by the owner and welcomed to stay under the long front porch for the evening so we aren't stuck out in the weather. Thanks! There we see Rainbow Dash who we've heard so much about, Palm Tree, who gives us the update on where all our friends are, and Squatch, a fellow filmer of the Trail who was Southbounding the section. The storm was pretty bad and it was late in the day. We figured it's best if we get going the following morning anyway.

We awoke at 5:15 to eat, pack, and start hiking again. It was muggy but was beginning to cool off thanks to the rain. by 9am we did 6 miles. There was even some trail magic. A Bud Light in the cooler. Don't mind if I do. We wanted to take it easy so we can slowly work ourselves back into it. We agreed on about 10 miles. So, we got to the next shelter and took a looong break. We met some SoBo's there and they gave us a full scoop of what's to come. Very exciting. It's also apparently a record breaking year for number of Southbounders. We all hung out for a while then said goodbye because we aren't ever going to see them again. That stinks. We went another 3 miles and set up camp next to Ten Mile River. It was pretty. By that point we were hopping back and forth from CT and NY. By the end of the day, we were fully in CT. Pretty hiking. We missed it. We were feeling good despite our new boot blisters. After only 10 miles that day, we were sore. 10 miles used to be a joke. But a month off took it's toll.

We knew Eva and Short Term were close behind but got by us the next morning before we got up. Which kinda sucks because we are intentionally going slow and they are quick hikers. Fortunately, the Trail has a way of bringing people back together. High Life and Red Fury, too, were and are currently behind. Caveman and Bumble Bee got on at Delaware Water Gap about 150 miles behind us. Belch stayed in NYC. We aren't sure when and if that whole group will be reuniting on the Trail or not. Hope so. In the mean time, we have been seeing some excellent friends showing up and fortunately, it was just in time for Reverie's birthday.
Thursday, August 9th, we knew we would be in Falls Village but didn't want to be there for Rev's bday because there isn't much at all to do there. So, we were gonna stay there the night and get a ride into Salisbury, CT which has a few more options. We arrived in Falls Village, met new hikers to us, Tom & Jerry, and Sanchez. They rolled out and we opted to stay at a local cafe that offered free camping on their lawn. By that point our blisters were out of control. Very painful. Happy to make it an 8 mile day. We got to the cafe were a Southbounder already was, had some food delivered, discovered there was a small packing store(liquor store) open around the corner, and set up camp. We grabbed a beer. Went back for another and discovered Eva, Short Term, StoneDance, Butch, Mouse Trap, and Spot. All friends. They all had been planning to stay at the cafe(Toymaker's Cafe) too. Mild party time! It was already pretty late but we were able to catch up and have some fun. The next morning we grabbed an amazing breakfast at the cafe and got a ride into Salisbury, CT.

We stayed with a lady who has Bronchitis so she couldn't be near Chaser. Damn. So, as far as a ride goes Chaser didn't have one. Luckily, Short Term and Eva said they'd hike him the 6.5 miles into Salisbury for us in turn we slack packed them. Perfect. Chaser had energy and didn't have to carry a backpack. We get to her house and it's nice. Cute town but then it starts raining nonstop. Good thing Rev didn't have to hike in the rain for her bday. Instead we got packages from our parents and relaxed, taking it easy on our open-wound feet. Eva and Short Term dropped off Chaser and hiked on. We thanked them. After that, laundry and more food. Little bit of champagne and more food. Then sleep. It was supposed to be raining today but so far it hasn't. We don't plan on going very far today. But will begin picking up the pace of the next couple days.
Every morning we wake up missing home. We really can't wait to be back. We are climbing Mount Katahdin come the first week of October one way or the other. So, we have a little under 2 months left. It's exciting to actually feel the progress now. We will be in Massachusetts by the end of the day. Then Vermont, and New Hampshire. Finally, Maine when the leaves start changing. We'll be in the Whites in less than a month. That's awesome. And that's what keeps us going. I dream about Louisiana and talk about it a lot. Can't wait to be home. Can't wait to watch all the footage. Can't wait to...shhhh.... hunt. It'll be bow season when we get back.

We'll have friends all over by the end of this. That was one of the really appealing aspects too. So, many people who will be more than welcome to come stay in La with us and us with them. Friends we would have NEVER met if it weren't for a couple nights in the woods with them. This Trail is special in that way. It brings people together who otherwise wouldn't have known each other. I like that the most.
We miss you all so much. Looking forward to not HAVING to hike, but will be well aware of the NONHIKING blues. The real world will be really interesting to go back into. Jobs and driving, not hiking and fetching water. Do I hear the Pacific Crest Trail calling our names?

Where we were trying to go

Soaking our feet in Ten Mile River

CT view

Campsite with a swing and deck!? Silver Hill Campsite

Nice little red home

Dirt line

Do you see the Trail? No? Cause it's so rocky.

Outside the Toymaker Cafe

What a menu graphic

That's our tent back there

Birthday breakfast!!

'its my birthday too!!'

It exists in CT

Birthday lunch!!

Backwards clock.

PS. Couple things I forgot to mention. The bugs are now TERRIBLE. They are so incredibly annoying. Gerber and Onkles is slightly ahead. Hammer went to Ireland and is off the Trail. And every single hiker I've talked to HATED Pennsylvania. Not one enjoyed it. Heat, bugs, and rocks is apparently all it had to offer.

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