Day 121 – A Tale Of Two Hikes
It was the best of hikes, it was the worst hikes. But reverse those and that’s how the day went. The morning dragged, the afternoon was great. What happened in the middle? Trail magic and the cookie lady.
The morning got off to an amazing start, actually. I got up on time to have fantastic blueberry pancakes and coffee made by the cabin caretaker, Vlobster. Afterward, I went down to the dock by the pond just after sunrise. I was a day late in recording my audio for next episode of The Trek’s podcast, “Trail Correspondents Season 4” (Yes, he also does podcasts, available wherever you listen to podcasts).
Spoiler alert, the next episode is a wildcard episode. My topic was a further explanation of my soul-searching motivations for the final three states. After recording, I jumped in the pond again and swam, soaking up all the beauty this place had to offer. I almost didn’t want to leave. There were canoes available to take out and an island on the pond that begged exploring. Alas, there will be many more ponds upcoming.
Despite getting up early for pancakes around 6:00, I didn’t leave the cabin until a few hours later. I had some last-minute conversations and took the opportunity to douse my pack and clothes with 100% deet that I found in a hiker box. By 8:30 I was back on trail. That’s when things went downhill.
Terrain-wise it was actually fairly flat, but the morning hiking was a slog. It was oh so boring. They were bugs, it was hot, and it was silent. The silence was so odd and out of place (like a glitch in the matrix). There were no ambient noises that you would typically associate with a forest. There wasn’t a breeze, no rustling of leaves or branches. No bird sounds, which was the craziest part. Just my footsteps plodding on the dirt (and sometimes muddy) footpath.
I stopped into a shelter ten miles in for a snack and to use the privy. While stopped I met a trail maintainer who came by to clean up and collect trash at the shelter. I thanked him for volunteering (as I try to with all volunteers I pass on trail) and he informed me of some trail magic at the next gap.
I’m not sure if it was the mention of trail magic, or my snack, or the evacuation of my bowels, but I had a new pep in my step. I made quick work of the next two miles and found the magic he spoke of. Coolers with lemonade and snack bars boosted my spirits and energy. There were even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but I passed on these. For this was a double trail magic day!
Not more than 50 yards down the road was the famous ‘cookie lady.’ I stopped in at her farm, where you can hand-pick your own blueberries (also where the pancake blueberries came from). In a wooden box on a picnic table, they have chocolate chip cookies baked fresh each day. They brought me a mason jar of cold lemonade as well while I answered questions about my hike to inquisitive passersby.
My afternoon was upbeat, partly due to the rise in blood sugar levels, and partly due to the music I listened to. I listened to music of my buddy’s band, Magdalena, and then abruptly changed for the rest of the day to listen to Drake. Afternoon hiking went quickly thanks to the music as I danced up the trail, two-stepped off rocks, shuffled over logs.
As I approach Vermont, I’m noticing a slow transition to more muddy trails. Vermont is affectionately called “Vermud” and that fact is becoming visibly apparent. I got to the edge of town and had to wait for the train to pass before crossing the tracks into Dalton, MA. While waiting, Waffles walked my way (say that five times fast).
My plan for the evening was to camp in the backyard of a trail legend, Tom Levardi. He owns a house on a corner lot that the AT road walks right in front of. For 40 years he’s let campers set up tents in his backyard, he’s got charging strips on his front porch and in the morning has coffee and pastries ready. He’s a true gem.
That evening I went with Waffles to the pub in town. I had the buffalo chicken mac and cheese. We camped that night in his backyard with Tiger, Buttercup, Buggs, and Widower. Tomorrow I’m planning to get to Mount Greylock, the tallest peak in Massachusetts. It should be in the neighborhood of a 17-20 mile day.
Until then, stow away in my pack for day 122 on the Appalachian Trail.
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