A Zero and Blueberries
You think I’d sleep well with an early bedtime and a leisurely morning ahead of me… nope. Neither did Hobble-It, reclined in her hammock just past the foot of my tent. Still, I got to lounge in my sleeping bag and watch the forest rustle to life around me. The rest of our tramily came over to eat a little breakfast and we got picked up by a shuttle at 8:30 am.
The shuttle took us by Mills Market for a resupply. I only got a snack as I had a box waiting at our next destination, Human-Nature Hostel. The hostel was housed in a timber-frame geodesic dome on the edge of the woods. The interior had gorgeous wood-lined walls with triangular windows. There was cozy furniture, soft music, incense… a relaxing vibe. We each got the full experience which included lunch, dinner, and breakfast before our ride back to the trail.
The hostel owner, Ryan, cooked fully vegetarian meals with GF options and nutritious ingredients. It was delicious! The brownies we had for dessert were made with black beans (amongst other ingredients) yet tasted entirely decadent. I chatted with tramily members and the other thru-hikers, then caught up with a friend back home. It was exactly the rest day I wanted.
I woke early and enjoyed coffee while chatting with Serendipity about meditation and books. For breakfast I happily ate three GF pancakes topped with pure maple syrup and warm blueberries. Ryan made vegan pancakes for Hobble-It and Blue, regular for everyone else. Then we were shuttled back to the trailhead where I ran into City Slicker and Tanager, who I hadn’t seen since New Jersey.
At 9 am we began hiking up a long hill (it is always uphill after town). However, I felt strong and my body felt good, even with a full resupply. The day was beautiful, slightly overcast and on the cooler side. I walked in silence, seeing many mushrooms. Though we climbed over 2,000 feet, I was surprised how soon I reached the top of Old Blue Mountain.
The ground was often muddy from last night’s rain and a couple times I spotted moose tracks. Serendipity, Tracks, and I took snack breaks in a clearing and at a lean-to. While at the latter location, I gathered water from a clear stream gushing over a rock. As we descended, Serendipity and I came across a multitude of blueberry bushes. We stopped to graze; some of the berries were huge!
At a gravel road directly before Bemis Stream, we came upon trail magic. The group of elderly folks made a bacon burger for Serendipity and fed me a banana with peanut butter. There were lots of home-baked goodies and drinks. It started to rain so we helped them disassemble tables and load containers into trucks. Then, along with Tracks, we hurried to Sabbath Day Pond Lean-to, arriving at dusk after a 17 mile day. It had been drizzling, but started pouring shortly after our arrival. Our entire trail family, Florida Man, and Rawhide slept in the lean-to.
I awoke to grey light and the haunting call of a loon. Since no one else was up, I did a slow breathing practice until I saw others stirring. Pretty soon I was packed and eating oatmeal. Before walking far through the dripping vegetation, I stopped at Sabbath Day Pond to get water. The pond felt warm and the far side was shrouded in mist.
The morning alternated between cloudy skies, drizzle, and brief light rain showers. Though the terrain itself was fairly easy, there were slick rocks and pieces of wood. Several times I used my trekking poles to test the solidness of boards that spanned mud puddles. During a dry spell, I watched a camp robber fly off with a fat green caterpillar in its beak.
In the early afternoon I stopped at Piazza Rock Lean-To for a late lunch. Serendipity, Tracks, and Dinglebeary were there. We ended up stopping for the day. They were concerned about afternoon thunderstorms; I felt low on energy. Dinglebeary left a note for Hobble-It and went in search of cell service. Serendipity and I elevated our legs. She was tired and took a long nap.
It felt strange to stop so early, yet it was fun to have play time on the trail! I hiked up to Piazza Rock and was impressed. It looked like a massive boat adrift on jagged rocks. Then I thoroughly shook and swished my water filter, improving the flow somewhat. I checked out the “Your Move” privy with two toilet seats and a cribbage board in between.
It turned out Hobble-It went ahead to our intended campsite. I was a little concerned that we made tomorrow into a tough day, but it felt great to have a restful afternoon. The four of us slept in the lean-to and got to bed early.
Shortly after 5 am I woke from a dream and promptly got up. I felt refreshed from a good night’s sleep. At 6 am I was on trail, feeling strong. In a couple miles, I passed Florida Man and Rawhide packing up at Eddy Pond. A mile later I encountered treeline and the trail went over Saddleback Mountain and the Horn. Unfortunately a thick mist blew through the air so I missed out on the views.
All day I moved along at a good pace, yet also fell three times. None were bad falls. The first time I skinned my right knee. The second time I somehow ended up on my back with my still attached pack wedged amongst rocks. I’m sure I looked comical struggling to get up and avoid water flowing down the trail. The third time I was accidentally off trail and slid down a slick rock, landing on my butt. Turns out the same spot got Serendipity.
Orbeton Stream required a ford. Halfway across I was doubtful of making the rock hop and sacrificed my right foot to a quick plunge. I lost one trekking pole in the process. Luckily the water carried it only a little ways before it hung up on several rocks. I hurried to shore, removed my socks and shoes, and went back in the stream after my pole. Then I sat on a rock, letting my feet dry. A black, blue, and white butterfly landed on my left foot. As it explored, I felt the light touch of its legs and proboscis.
Serendipity and Tracks caught up to me at the stream. The three of us hiked the next five miles together. After 17 miles and nearly 6,000 ft. of gain, we stopped for the day at Spaulding Mountain Lean-to. I was eager to eat a hot dinner of cheesy broccoli quinoa. We chatted with Lego and discovered via text that Hobble-It was two miles ahead. Since Dinglebeary usually passes us, we were concerned that he didn’t show up. Once again, Serendipity, Tracks, and I slept in the lean-to. We’re on a lean-to streak!
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