Day 122 – Questioning The Meaning of Life
I woke up in Tom Levardi’s backyard to people eating breakfast and talking at the picnic table. It was 6:30 a.m., but I was up. I tried to sleep more but it was futile. Eventually, I gave up around 7:00 and dragged my body from my tent.
I went up on the porch of Tom’s house to chat with Widower and explore the spread of breakfast pastries and coffee Tom had set out for us. Widower is headed southbound (SOBO) and he and I exchanged tips and information about what lies ahead in our respective directions. Widower is from Georgia originally, so he is hiking his way back home.
Waffles and I walked into Dalton after taking our time getting packed up. I asked him if he wanted to do something fun, he said yes. I said, “Let’s go to Taco Bell!” (My favorite line from “Mean Girls”). Only joking, I went to a coffee shop for a breakfast sandwich. Not realizing I was joking, he still went to Taco Bell (To be honest, I was kind of jealous).
I got on trail and started listening to a new audiobook, ‘A Confession’ by Tolstoy. It’s a book in which he questions and grapples with the meaning of life. Here I found myself having shared many of the same struggles elucidated by Tolstoy.
At points in each of our lives we had struggled with questioning our faith and beliefs in a higher power, the pursuit of perfection, desires to attain wealth, women, and status, struggles and contemplations of suicide, and how best to live life amongst a swirling conundrum of desires, questions, and meaning. However, I don’t quite have the same nihilistic tone in which he approaches the topic of the meaning of life.
What is the meaning of my life? “You are what you call your life” he says. I take that as ‘life is the identity with which we give it.’ Each person has different motivations, comes from a different background, and has different things that give them purpose.
Having a purpose is one of main tenets that’s makes life worth living. It’s also one of the ‘12 Rules For Life’ in Jordan Peterson’s book of the same name. It will likely be the next book on my list to read (I did say I was soul searching this week, right?)
Just before finishing the short book, Waffles caught up to me as we reached Cheshire Cobble. It’s a rocky outcropping with a view of the town of Cheshire below and of Mount Greylock on the next mountain range over. We stopped for a quick snack and to chat with the locals that were asking us about our hike (would become a theme for today).
An hour later we were down in Cheshire. Walking past and pretending to eat a giant wheel of cheese. Then walking to a gas station to drink my weight in Slurpees. I packed out three 20 oz coke drinks (borderline diabetic behavior). But there were three for $5 and I couldn’t pass up the deal. They fueled the 2,500 feet elevation climb over the next nine miles to Mount Greylock.
The climb was not as bad as either of us expected it to be. I climbed to the top of the spire to view the mountains in all directions. It was reminiscent of the views from Clingmans Dome in Tennessee. The tower at Mount Greylock is the eighth on the trail I’ve had a chance to climb. A family of nine had many questions for us at the top as well. They were super nice and gave us some amazing chocolate and peanut butter cookies before they left.
With rain forecasted for much the next morning, I was trying to decide where to camp. The idyllic “forbidden cabin” on the pond was 0.5 back downhill in the other direction, however, would have been a pretty place to post up. The next shelter was 3.3 miles further downhill, and dark was approaching rapidly.
There were great grassy spots up at Mount Greylock, however stealth camping there is probably not allowed (like that has ever stopped me before, though). But on the other hand, the lodge is closed Mondays and Tuesday and not likely to be staffed overnight or the next day (dilemmas).
I ended up pushing forward to the shelter. A mile or so in, we had to put on our headlamps. It was a fairly steep and rocky descent. Nearly 0.6 miles from the shelter, we came to a road crossing and found a perfect little grassy patch to stealth camp at. The comments on FarOut had said some of the tent sites at the shelter ahead flood when it rains so we opted not to take our chances.
Tent up, dinner in my belly, I rested easy. Fully intending to sleep in tomorrow because the rain is supposed to last until close to noon.
Until then, stow away in my pack for day 123 on the Appalachian Trail.
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