Connecticut isn’t a particularly difficult section of the trail. Its 52 miles is a blip to hikers in their stride doing 20 miles per day. Kent and Salisbury are friendly towns for resupply or just a cup of coffee. Its highest peak is a modest 2,316′ in elevation. It may be easier in general than New York or New Jersey. Connecticut’s River Road and the walk next to the Housatonic River are some of the longest and flattest sections on the entire AT.
Just north of Salisbury – Photo by Jimmy Emerson, DVM
Day 1 – Time to Meet Back Up with My Friends
I crossed over into Connecticut after a hotel stay and on a full stomach. The plan was to meet up with my trail family at the Mt Algo shelter. Just another great day on the AT.
Day 2 – Broken Phone, Feeling Sick, Deep Cut
My phone was dead when I woke up. A drop had shattered the screen three months early in Hiawassee, GA. It reached Connecticut before the moisture must have finally creeped in.
I got my dinner stuff out. Summer sausage, a knife, and rain led to greasy hands. The knife slipped and sliced my finger. I knew it was a bad cut by the amount of blood that came out before I could stuff my finger in a bandana. I was still behind my friends, but I couldn’t keep going in the rain with a bad cut. My finger stopped bleeding but I had to be careful not to let the cut open and start bleeding again.
The shelter log had a note from my friends. “Moving on to catch Auto Draft!” They thought I was in front of them, and I couldn’t tell them I was behind because my phone was broken. They would be 8.5 miles ahead by the end of the night. I figured I may not catch up to them.
Day 3 – Long, Tiring, Productive
The night of rest cleared my head. I realized dehydration was causing me to stop so many times the day before. Somehow, I’d lost some hiking skills in Virginia and Pennsylvania. I reminded myself to take smaller steps up the steep parts. I made myself stop for water and actually drink it. And then, I hit the trail hard.
One mountain went by and then another. I stopped on Bear Mountain (highest point in CT) for a minute and was about to push on when a family also up there offered me an apple. I conceded I wouldn’t be able to cover the last 8 miles that night, took the apple and enjoyed some conversation that went with it. I said good bye and kept on moving, trying to close the gap between my friends and me.
It was getting dark and I started to panic a bit when I couldn’t find a camp spot for the night. Options were marginal at best, and I tried imagining how to improvise a spot. It wasn’t looking good. I got lucky and saw a level spot through some tree branches with just enough room for one tent. I crammed food in my mouth without cooking it and hung my bear bag. This spot was on a bed of red pine needles and the low sunlight was coming in through the side of the mountain, hitting my tent and making it glow.
My toes and balls of my feet swelled and pushed together. A salt rash stung my lower back. I’d reached my limit, but I had gained about 6 miles on my friends. It would be my first and only time on the entire AT that I had a camping site entirely to myself – something I would cherish after the trail.
Day 4 – Back in the Groove
Those days rudely reminded me about hydration, calories, hiking at my own pace, and taping up sore spots if I had any. I even put tape on my back where my pack was rubbing me raw. I went down the mountain and flew over the next one. A hiker told me he’d stayed at the same spot as my friends the night before, which meant they were close. The CT/MA border passed by and there they were on the trail when I came into a clearing.
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