Mom – two thirds done only one third to go 😘
Almost every day brings some surprise over our path. This morning, just after 6 when we were almost ready to start walking, a young woman dressed in a g-string and crop top was running on the trail. Wow. After about 3km of walking we saw a pair of running shorts on a trunk next to the trail. She obviously didn’t expect hikers out and about so early (especially on a stretch of the trail that stealth camping isn’t allowed) and must have run in from some parking lot, dropped her shorts and went for an almost nude run. I would have thought it to be quite uncomfortable but each to its own hey.
The first delight of the day was this massive oak tree:
Shortly after we saw the oak tree we walked past a nursery. It wasn’t yet 9h so we waited for 30mins as we read in the AT guide book they welcome hikers, you can fill up on water and most importantly: they sell coolies. This was the second delight of the day. They only sold cold drinks and some (high-end) breakfast bars and protein bars, but they make hikers feel welcome. There is a nice notice “guidelines for hikers” which doesn’t make you feel unwelcome at all (on contrary) but basically tell you how to make yourself at home (where to charge your phone, where to find the tap for filling your water bottle, where to relax: not next to the compost heap in the back but in the gazebo between the plants). The owner makes very little money from the hikers – he really just sell cold drinks as that is what the hikers ask for – yet he created a lovely little welcoming rest area.
After the rest and a few cold drinks and our first taste of protein bars (not bad….) we walked on. Though I like to show pictures of non-forest views we do spend 90% of our time walking in the forest. But after the nursery we had some farm-land walking:
Round 13h we stopped to have lunch – it was just a few hundred meeting after crossing a road. We were just about to get going again when we saw 2 old dudes slowly walking up the trail….Strider 60 (my water angel) and his brother. They sat down with us and started chatting. When we eventually got up to leave it was the final goodbye, we have seen them a few times over the last few days (Strider was walking only where his brother could drop him off and pick him up again 6 miles later) but this would be the last time. They were just driving to a few trail heads, walking up the first few hundred meters and back, driving to the next one. To try to trigger his brother’s memory, Strider said. This was their last trail head, after this one they were driving home. The brother has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow. They started (Strider said) the trail together 18 years ago and it is just fitting that they end it together. I didn’t fully understand – how are they ending it? Suppose they won’t come back again but why not….. The atmosphere was loaded with emotion, Trevor and I didn’t understand it but we were allowed to witness it. When I said goodbye (hikers handshake: fist bump as hand shake is not done, hikers are scared of catching germs from other hikers!!!) to Strider his eyes teared up. And when I said bye to the brother he said “enjoy life, really enjoy life” and he also looked emotional.
We walked away both thinking the brother is probably very ill and that this was sort of a special goodbye trip for the brothers. I felt so sad. Maybe (and I so hope for it) Trevor and I were both just imagining things. But I couldn’t shake the sadness.
After lunch we had 2 climbs waiting. Firstly we walked up 10-mile hill, down the other side and then did a half a mile detour to get to a country store (cold drinks, Gaterade and a pint of Haagen Dazs) in Bulls Bridge, next to the Housatonic River.
A local which looked like a motor mechanic started chatting to us – I think he is probably an engineer! He told us all about the hydro-electric plant running off the river, how it works and all the legal challenges against it. We do meet such interesting people on this trip.
The Gaterade and Ice Cream fuelled as well so the climb up the mountain on the Schaghaticoke Indian Reserve went better than we expected. But with all the delays (nursery, Strider, country store) we arrived at our campsite quite late. It’s past hikers midnight (9pm) so I better post this and go to sleep!