I pass the 1,500 mile mark as I hike the Appalachian Trail through the beautiful states of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Here’s my latest video as I hike through the state of New York and take some time off in the city.
My clothes were still damp when I put them on. Another humid and hot day was forecast. I had about ten miles to hike into the town of Kent, CT, before the post office closed around noon. I was up at 6am and on the move by 6:30. It was an early morning for me.
The trail was a tad tedious with sharp ups and downs. At some point I crossed into New York again and shortly thereafter back into Connecticut. There were no signs indicating these border crossings but now I could officially cross New York off my list. Nine states down, five to go!
I was sweating profusely before 9am. The mosquitoes were annoying. They multiplied whenever I hiked past streams or wet areas. As I hiked I thought about what I’ll do after I’m finished. Maybe I could turn this journal into a book about my hike. A sort of Eat Pray Hike kind of thing. There are so many books out there already about people’s AT hikes I wondered if mine would be any good. At the very least I could self publish it as an ebook and guilt family members into buying it.
It wasn’t long until I reached the road to Kent. It was a mile to the post office so I stuck my thumb out and soon enough a nice woman named Marsha picked me up. She told me how people in Kent are either really friendly to hikers or not at all. She was so nice to me and even offered me money, of which I declined.
At the post office I picked up a new rain cover for my backpack. Mine had torn and was under warranty from Osprey. They’re a great company and their products are lifetime guaranteed. After the post office I hit the grocery store for some food resupply and then the city welcome center to charge my phone and fill up my water.
A nice man was sitting there and chatted me up about the trail. He was a long distance cyclist getting ready for a tour around Ireland by bike. We talked about our lives and how he bikes for a while and then works construction every now and again to save up. At the same time he has a son in college. Interesting lives of those I meet.
I stopped at a pharmacy for some Gold Bond to stop my chaffing. The humidity means nothing stays dry with all that sweat! Later I walked into a store that had hiker gear and they had underwear with a “joey pouch,” as in kangaroos, to hold your junk so that it doesn’t chafe. It said the technology was patent pending. I figured, why not give them a go. My current underwear wasn’t fast drying enough in this humidity so maybe these would work out better.
I had a BBQ pork sandwich at a local restaurant before retiring to the library for air conditioning, WiFi, and electricity. After at least an hour of recharging my phone and myself, I left the town of Kent. An extremely friendly man named Carlos gave me a ride almost immediately. I was very grateful to stay out of the heat a bit longer. He was a big fan of the trail and follows a lot of hiker blogs and YouTube. He hopes to hike the trail with his son once he’s out of high school and I really hope they get that chance!
It was a steep climb out of the Kent area but a breeze picked up. I was in good spirits and cruising after my break in town. I ran into a flip flop hiker who just started a week earlier. I gave her some tips about blisters and mileage since she seemed to be struggling, as I did my first week.
Eventually the trail became flat and followed a river for four miles. This should have been a pleasant and beautiful section but the flies were out and all up in my face. This lasted for an hour at least. I stopped at a shelter but there were tents everywhere. It was Saturday…townies. There was a small island with what looked like good tent sites in the middle of the river. I thought, what a cool place to stealth camp, but I chickened out, not knowing how hard it would be to wade across the river with my pack and knowing the flies would still be on the island.
My feet were sore but I pressed on through the flies. The trail passed through fields of tall grasses that whipped at my legs. Afterward I checked my legs for ticks and sure enough, I scratched off a tiny black tick by accident. I hope it’s head isn’t still stuck in me. That’s two ticks that have bitten me so far.
My day ended with a steep climb into the woods away from the flies. There was a small campsite with a water pump and covered picnic area. Pritch and the other hiker he was with the previous night were there. They had set up their tents under the covered picnic area in case it rained. What have I started, I thought. The night prior I had set up my tent without the rain fly in the shelter with them to keep the bugs out. There were only three of us in the shelter with room to spare. They took my idea a step further and commandeered the picnic area, their stuff all over the tables and clothes lines everywhere. There was no room for anyone else to even use the table.
They were also commenting on how the trail isn’t maintained enough in some areas such as the tall grasses I walked through where the tick got me. They lamented how it needs to be be cut down so hikers don’t get ticks so easily.
I get irritated with this rhetoric. We are out here hiking in the wilderness, on our own accord, for free (the use of the trail is free). I don’t like when people complain about trail maintenance when it’s not like we’re paying anyone for a service. The AT is supposed to be hard with challenges. The fact that there are trail clubs that help maintain the trail is just an awesome bonus.
I sighed and set up my tent in the grass. Two other tenters were nearby but I wasn’t in the mood to be social. I wished I had been able to stealth camp somewhere cool. I can’t wait to get past these low elevation states and back up into the mountains.
Day’s Mileage: 19.0
Total Miles Hiked: 1,487.5
Remaining Miles: 712.2
I packed up and was hiking before 8. The weather was cool and I loved it. Gone were the bugs and the sweat. It was a beautiful day in Connecticut.
The trail offered everything in the 22 miles I hiked. It started off with some ups and downs and many babbling brooks and small waterfalls.
Then there were huge rocks that I had to squeeze through and climb around.
Further on there was a beaver dam followed by forests of pine and oak.
I saw lady slippers and giant trees that split into threes. There was one giant white pine that had died but two branches near the base of the tree had sprouted as big as the trunk and towered higher than the original dead part. It was as if the tree had said, “try and kill me and I’ll come back twice as strong!” Nature is so cool.
There were farm fields with hills in the distance followed by flat sections along a river.
I stopped for lunch at the Toymakers Cafe in the village of Falls Town, CT. I had a waffle sandwich and fruit smoothie. It was cash only and I was running low. Rain was forecast at night so I thought about staying at a cash-only home in the next town. I walked to a bank only to find it closed…Sunday, and the ATM was inside. One bonus mile for me.
Next I passed a beautiful cascading waterfall, the product of a hydroelectric dam.
Then I hiked through more gorgeous fields before entering the woods which were just as picturesque. By now the weather had warmed and the mosquitoes were on the war path.
The last mile or so I felt a twinge of pain in my left knee. This was the knee that had given me trouble before, though this time the pain felt different. It was like it hurt below my kneecap when I was hiking uphill. Before it was the side of my knee that hurt on the downhill. It wasn’t that bad and seemed to fade away quickly. I reminded myself to slow down. 1,500 miles is a big accomplishment but I still had 700 more and the insanely steep White Mountains of New Hampshire await.
At last I made it to Salisbury, CT. I had called ahead and played a bit of phone tag but was able to booked a bed at Maria McCabe’s home. Maria was 40 days shy of her 90th birthday. She was born and grew up in Italy and has been opening her home up to hikers for at least 18 years! In 2017, she hosted almost 200 hikers. When I arrived, three other hikers in their 50s were getting ready for dinner: Osprey G, Milo and IDHATN. Osprey G was also Italian and cooked us and Maria mushroom risotto with carrot and pea salad, and we had apple pie and ice cream for desert. It was fantastic.
I promised to go into town the next morning to get money from the ATM to pay her. Maria is the nicest woman and it was fascinating to hear about her life. She has log books since 2000 of the hikers that passed through. After she showed them to me, I signed in. She likes to read everyone’s comments in the winter months when she’s lonely. She told me she is surprised at all the praise everyone writes of her. I told her not to sell herself short. I hadn’t planned on staying at her home until I saw the rain forecast and I’m so glad I did. It was a heartwarming experience.
Day’s Mileage: 22.0
Total Miles Hiked: 1,509.5
Remaining Miles: 690.2
I woke up but didn’t want to get up. Sleeping in a real bed felt so good. I went downstairs where Maria offered me eggs to make. I scrambled them up and she offered me a banana and pushed bagels on me. It was a delightful breakfast.
I walked into the town of Salisbury, CT, to find an ATM and pick up a jar of peanut butter from the store. I ended up stopping in a bakery for a French toast croissant as well. These small towns in Connecticut are picture perfect like on a postcard.
Back at Maria’s, Osprey G and IDHATN decided to stay another night. They liked helping Maria with chores and also because it rained during the night and there was a treacherous descent ahead that hikers are warned not to attempt when wet. I was tempted to stay as well but did not. I paid for my night and bid Maria goodbye. It was like I had stayed the night at Grandma’s house.
The temperature had dropped significantly from the previous days. I could see my breath and I loved it. In shorts and a t-shirt, I hiked up into the mountains.
There were no views at the top of Bear Mountain (different from Bear Mountain in NY). Clouds were everywhere. The descent proved difficult but not as bad as everyone made it out to be. Most of the rocks were dry but it was quite steep.
At the bottom I crossed the CT/MA state line. Goodbye Connecticut, hello Massachusetts! Only four states left!
I passed countless streams and waterfalls throughout the early afternoon.
By mid-afternoon the sun came out as I was hiking up on a ridge. It was absolutely stunning! I tried balancing my phone on rocks and setting a timer to get some pictures. This was turning out to be a fantastic day. Gorgeous views as I hiked along the cliffs.
I did slip several times on the rocks throughout the day but I’m pretty sure it was because I was looking at my phone. Also, my knee didn’t seem to hurt which made me very happy.
There were two shelters a tenth of mile apart. The first one was big and newer but Pritch, his friend, and Milo were already there. Pritch gets up at 5:30 and they tend to make a lot of noise. I kept going to the next shelter which was old and far down a hill. It was empty, though, and in a drier area. With a chance of rain, I lazily pitched my tent inside the shelter without the rain fly. Despite the cool temps, a few bugs were still out. I have enough weird bites and bruises that I don’t need to take anymore chances.
Day’s Mileage: 13.1
Total Miles Hiked: 1,522.6
Remaining Miles: 677.1
Daily Average: 15.7
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES
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