Pre-gaming Post-Trail Blues

20/20 here. I know it’s been a while since my last post, sorry about that. It’s been a strange time on trail. Anyhow, I’m reporting in from Vermont! The moose are loose here, I’ve been tracking some down for days now.


The End In Sight

The humid, calm morning that I climbed up the rock garden on those last couple miles of trail in Massachusetts and pushed down the Ridgeline to the Vermont border, I could already feel what was coming. A overwhelming sense of the nearness of the end. It felt like every mountain I could see in the distance was Mt. Washington, firmly guarding the Maine border, but in itself a sign of the end. “Vermont, I’m looking at Vermont” I thought, standing there gazing at the sign that marked the southern terminus of the Long Trail and the border between Massachusetts and Vermont. I knew (and still know) that it was going to fly by. I knew that I would enjoy it as much as a human possibly can, as is my hiking-way. Drinking the waters of experience with every ounce of my being. “Vermont…. Now I’m actually getting towards the end”. And I moved forward, into the muddy, remote, green wilderness of the northern stretches of New England. 



Since the last post, I’ve gone through the rest of New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Like every step of the trail, each of these stretches were beautiful in their own ways. Also, I am alone again on the trail. My friends and I have started going our normal paces and just naturally parted ways. Such is the way of the trail! It’s fine though, I still keep in touch with the people I hiked with or around back in North Carolina, that’s just what thru hiking does. Creates bonds that last. 


Bearly a Chance

I finally saw my first bear on the entire trail while hiking up Mt. Greylock the other day. I was hiking, not on a crazy incline yet, and had some music playing on my phone. It exploded out of a bush in front of me and ran away faster than I thought something that big could move. It was huge, like huge huge. He ran directly away and then got up on a steep rock embankment and watched me through the leaves. I was able to get some proof on camera after fumbling my phone out my pocket and putting it in video mode. You can see through the pixel soup it’s beige snout and jet black fur. The fur, it was so strikingly black, like flowing obsidian juxtaposed against the happy green leaves of the forest. We sat like that, nervously staring at each other from a safe distance for a couple minutes. I thought I could get closer, the thought of how dangerous this animal could potentially be did not cross my mind, it seemed far more scared than aggressive. I tried in vain to get closer, but it turned and climbed up the rest of the embankment with the agility of a chimpanzee, leaping and swinging it’s huge arms, then disappeared from sight, but sounded like a semi truck driving up the side of the mountain. Finally! After 1587 miles I had seen a single bear! 


More Changing Conditions

The weather has gone from mostly pleasant all the time to downright depressing or tedious. I guess it’s this New England spring, but since being in New York, it seems like most days are grey and rain at some point or another. It’s taxing mentally. For me, it elicits a strong sense of “I wish I could be inside drinking hot coffee and watching TV or playing video games”, which is a tough urge to control after you’ve been hiking great distances every day and the creature comforts just seem that much more enticing. You’d think a thru hiker at this point would be ok with all that, and I am, but good lord am I ready for some real relaxation and shelter from the elements. The closer I get to Katadhin, the crazier the people who are going to yo-yo seem to me. 


True Angels

It seems like all my best encounters come from hitch hiking. Today I got off the trail planning to go to Manchester, VT for resupply and a fresh burger. I started walking in the rain (it had been raining all day) and holding my thumb out, it took a minute, but finally I heard a car slow down behind me and give a short, friendly honk to me as it pulled off to the side of the road in front of me. I awkwardly jogged to it, pack slamming up and down with every stride. I opened the door and asked the usual “want my pack in the back?” It was an old man. Smiling, he told me it would be fine in the backseat. He cleared everything up in the front and I got in. We hit it off and got to talking. “So where you going?” He asked, “North” I replied, “Well I can see that, where are you going in town?” “Just the post office, right down this road” and we were off. He told me about how he hitch hiked from Michigan to Alaska a long time ago, said he only had to get out of a car one time. But he was great, he offered to take me wherever I needed and take me back to the trail, but I wanted a meal so I just told him to drop me off. Cool dude! 

The second one today was on my way up to the hotel. I had my resupply and was walking down Main Street, getting ready to start holding out my thumb. I wasn’t looking forward to how long it was going to take. But as I started coming to terms with it, a car slowed down beside me and pulled into a parking lot right next to me, parking so that I would walk by the passenger seat. then I saw the driver looking at me and roll the window down, I immediately realized how lucky I was. “Need a ride?” The guy said. “Yes!” I replied exuberantly. Through the happiness about having a ride, I saw he had on a World of Warcraft hat. The horde emblem. “Love the hat!” I told him while I walked to the back of the car and put my pack and groceries in it. “Oh this?” He said, them I confirmed I meant the hat. You don’t usually expect hikers to be big into video games, I definitely didn’t. But we got to talking and he thru hiked a couple years ago. It was awesome getting to nerd out about WoW with another thru hiker, a crazy coincidence that has happened one other time on trail and was just as surprising then as well. We talked about how different our hikes were, he was in the bubble, which really makes for a completely different experience than what I’ve had. He said it was a great time, maybe one day I’ll be crazy enough to do another thru, but in the bubble.

We rode around town for a while looking for a good hotel, he even helped look for one on his phone. It was honestly a chill time and we probably would be good friends if we were in the same town. We found a good spot and he dropped me off, saying our goodbyes and good lucks. You don’t get interactions like that in normal life.


So Long

And now, for the final word. Everyone who finds out I’m thru hiking up here has the same reaction: “you’re early!”. And they’re right! I’m pretty early! I’m actually going to run into issues in the Whites, there’s still snow on Mt. Washington. But y’know what, it’s going to be an adventure, hopefully one that’s not too dangerous. 


20/20 signing out.




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Comments 1

  • Steve : May 16th

    Good to see you are still heading North!!! Safe travels with the rest of your journey!


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