Connecticut: It was beautiful until it was shrouded in rain and fog (Plus my trail name reveal!)
Connecticut was a short, and tumultuous time in my AT life. As you can see from the title of this post, I spent a short amount of time in this state, and my experience in this short time was quite varied.
Connecticut was the start of a few things for me.
- Connecticut is where I began to consistently hike 20 miles or more. Up until this point, I was able to hike 20 miles in a day, but often the following day I would be dragging and I would need to cut down on my mileage. It was in Connecticut that I began to hike 20 miles, and then wake up the next morning and do it again. At the beginning, in order for me to hike 20 miles in a day, I would find myself hiking until the evening, rolling into camp around 7pm or so. The amount of time it took me, and the resulting diminished amount of rest time, took more of a toll on me than the 20 miles itself.
- Connecticut is where the rain began (and once it began, it seemed to never end)
Also, I realized while writing this post that I never informed you all, but I have stuck to a trail name now for over 100 miles! Maybe it will stick with me for all the rest of the AT too! Ironically, the name is “Reset” due to the fact that I kept changing, or resetting, my trail name.
The Tenmile River
CT began wonderfully for me. I felt strong and fast. In fact, it is here I believe I began to get a reputation as a “fast hiker” (I attribute all my speed to the use of my hiking poles, without whom I would not be the same hiker I am today).
On my first day in CT I came across the wide Tenmile river, where I forced myself to stop for lunch. I peeled off my shoes and socks, changed into a pair of shorts, and climbed into the river, placing my lunch on a rock in the middle of the river so I could lounge with everything thighs and below in the cool, refreshing water, and everything above in the sun. It was the best decision I made all day because the rain began soon after.
The rain came down, on and off again. When the rain was not pounding, I got to see how gorgeous the trail was (see header image of this post) and I came upon what would have been some really nice shelters/campsites (one of the shames about hiking the AT is that you cannot experience all of it fully. There have been countless times that I have come across a really nice shelter and thought to myself dang, I really wish I could spend the night here but then I look at my watch, and upon seeing that I still have 5+ hours of daylight to go, I sigh and hoist my pack upon my back to set back off down the trail).
But then the rain would return, and since it was so constant, so ubiquitous, I began hiking in a short sleeve shirt+running shorts (less clothes to get wet=less water absorbed=less added weight on my body)
Side effect: this meant more skin for the bugs to eat away at 🙁
Near the end of my time in Connecticut, the trail passed by Salisbury. Close enough, in fact, that one can hike into town for a resupply and some fresh food. So I did.
And two cool things happened in the town:
- Outside the grocery store I met a Jewish man selling Challah. Upon learning that I was a thru-hiker, he pulled out a $1 bill and gifted it to me. From what I recall/understand, he told me that according to tradition (or belief?), if I were to carry this $1 bill with me on my journey, I would be kept safe. I am then to re-gift this $1 bill to someone in need when I reach Maine. I, myself, am not Jewish, but whether or not I believe in it, I still found this to be very kind and I am still carrying this $1 right now, as I sit and write this post.
- To anyone reading this who may be able to shed light more specifically on this, I would love to hear it. I hope not to have offended anyone by not fully remembering or understanding this gift of$1. I have tried googling it and so far have come up short and would love to be reminded of why this gift of $1 will keep me safe on my journey. Thank you!
- I discovered that the town has a hiker fountain! A fountain that pumps out water fresh enough for us to fill our water bottles with! I thought this was cool
- (are you surprised I have a 3 on here? Since I specifically said 2 cool things happened at this town? Well that’s because this point is not so much a “cool” fact as it was something I found interesting). I just want to note that Salisbury is the first town where I really began feeling the increased cost of the trail as I make my way north. Every hiker knows it gets more expensive as one goes north into New England, but the cost of resupplying here really shook me.
Bear Mountain, CT (not NY, that was last post)
Funny thing, is that I actually did not plan on hiking it that day. The rain had started to come down and my mileage for the day had already hit the high teens, so I had planned to stop right before and climb the mountain the following day. But then I checked the weather and found that there were almost guaranteed lightning storms the entirety of the following day and yes, right now, that evening, it was raining, but there was no lightning. I knew I had the energy, and it was early enough in the day (5PM) that I could summit and come back down the other side before the sun set (8:30PM), so I chose to hike it that night.
Honestly, I did not find the climb up to the top of Bear Mountian all that challenging. It is apparently a fairly popular day hike and so I think they have graded the hike to make it less steep, and thus easier for the average hiker. The climb to the top was mostly on rock (this was a tad nerve wracking because the rain had made everything slippery), and as I climbed higher in elevation the fauna along the edges of the trail transitioned from spiky green bushes that hugged the ground, to mountain laurel (my favorite flower of the AT thus far) that dotted the edges of my vision with white and pink, to finally alpine pines that littered the trail with soft needles which my aching joints were glad to walk upon.
And to finish things off, at the top of Bear Mountain I was greeted with this gorgeous, amazing view:
“I was greeted with this foggy, anti-climatic view.”
Yep, that’s better.
Actually, despite the lack of a reward, I quite enjoyed myself on the top of that mountain and on the way down from the mountain (a much steeper, wetter, and overall scarier venture I must add) I not only found these really cool bright reddish-orange baby salamander but I crossed into Massachusetts.
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