Connecticut! I Walked Home!

I think I started smiling the second I hit the Connecticut border and not sure I stopped all the way through. I hit the green Gateway to New England sign and just stopped and stared. I heard two hikers coming up behind me and I turned around and exclaimed, “Oh, I’m so glad you guys are here! You have to take my picture with the Connecticut sign. This is where I live.” I had never met these people before. It’s perhaps an odd way to greet a stranger, but on the trail, things are different. They laughed, understanding the milestone, and quick introductions were made.

Confession time: this was almost my hike. When I first started seeing the Appalachian Trail as a real possibility, I very seriously considered making my hike from Springer to Connecticut. I wanted to walk home and I thought that that would be enough for me. Besides, if I ever wanted to do any other part of the trail it would be easy enough to get to. I, obviously, did not choose to do that. After quitting my job and giving up my apartment, why wouldn’t I keep going until the end?

Confession #2: I had originally considered slackpacking Connecticut. Which means hiking it without a big pack and getting picked up at the end of the day. I, however, tried slackpacking once in Virginia and legitimately hated it. Most people use slackpacking as a way to push out big miles with less effort and just get a big chunk of the trail done. Which, to me, seems counterintuitive to what backpacking, and thru-hiking, is all about. So, I said I was done with it and, even with the offer from friends to slackpack me through Connecticut, I turned it down. And I am so glad I did. I was able to enjoy Connecticut the way I’ve enjoyed the rest of the trail: actually backpacking it.

I was able to enjoy my state while taking my time, and enjoy it I did. I’ve hiked most of the Connecticut section of the AT before and hiking through it and seeing how it fits in as part of the whole was really cool. It sounds corny, but I mean it.

I was also really proud every time another thru-hiker commented on how pretty Connecticut is. I felt as if their reactions were similar to mine about New Jersey. I was surprised by its beauty as all the thru-hikers I came across in Connecticut seemed surprised by Connecticut’s beauty. They would say to me, “I can’t believe how pretty it is!” and I would just reply, “I KNOW.”

Sadly, Connecticut is often viewed as one of the “filler” states on the way up north. Even on social media, and other Appalachian Trail channels, Connecticut is seldom featured. (Fun fact: I tagged as many Appalachian Trail channels as I could remember on my Connecticut Instagram post to try to get Connecticut featured on an AT page somewhere. No dice.) But, I can be happy that, when thru-hikers pass through, they can be impressed by Connecticut’s beauty.

After I passed through Connecticut, as I mentioned in my last post, I stopped in Great Barrington, MA, and got picked up for a few zeroes at home. With my hurting groin they were much needed. I squished in seeing as many friends as I could, got a delicious margarita from my favorite Mexican restaurant, snuggled all the puppies I’ve been missing, and tried to recoup and get ready for the final third!

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