Shakedown Numero Dos
24.3 miles from North Adams, MA to Dalton, MA. The final shakedown before Maine. What did I learn? Trail life.
Wes, Hillary and their black lab Salem reside at the base of the Williamstown. They have for 8 years. The AT literally goes up their driveway. What do they do about it? Garden. With SMILES. As well as mingling with the Hykerz. #RealTrailAngels
The trail took me up through North Adams and up Mt. Greylock. As the highest point in Massachusetts, it’s a climb. Little ‘ol me made this mountain my beach. (Sp?)
I saw this shack, with snow-covered pond on the Real Hiking Viking Snapchat and Instagram. Totally stoked I recognized it. It’s like I’m famous or something now. Seriously feel like I’m walking in the footprints of greatness. Or a bearded monster. I haven’t met him Not sure yet. Will update.
Meet Albert. The nicest 2005 Thru-Hiker I know. After his 10 year hiatus from hiking he spent his first night back in the “wilderness” next to me on my third. Do you know how to bear bag? The PCT method? Albert does. He’ll show you, for snacks.
But this is my snack. A super tasty, 400 calorie snack mind you. Not for Albert, just for me.
“I’m Dirt.“ I chose not to ask the origin of the name, although I imagine it’s just as rad as his ska-tactic hiking shirt. As kind and supportive as this soft-spoken 2016 Northbound was, I have walked away from, dripping with envy. And also sweat.
And then the OTHER 2016 northbounders I stumbled upon. I saw them teleport 100 yards down the trail the second I turned away. Seriously. They’re cheating and using magic to crush miles. HoHo and Chickery. Be forewarned. I’m onto you.
This is Chan. Short for Chandler (like in the show Friends?!) He loves GPS, Cell Phones and Ham radio. At the age of 68 and in remission, I saw he’s earned it. His wife Hillary (also know as “Mass Backwards” or “Halfstick”) would much rather a map. And she’s not afraid to say it. A 12 mile day hike for them isn’t a problem at their age and it’s only one of many for them. I’m running out of excuses for sub-15-mile-days.
I ended my last night on the trail in my Tarptent Protrail. And although I paid full price for it ($209, UGH), it made it through the night. More importantly, I figured out how to set it up.
Tomorrow AM, 6:00 start to get to Dalton, MA by 9:00. It’s 4 miles, downhill, but I’m still gonna have to truck it, if I want to get Breakfast as a smelly hiker for the first time.
Posted from the Trail in Lanesboro, MA.
And then edited from my computer in Chicopee, MA.
Aftermath of the Final Shakedown
So I got home. Unloaded my gear. Checked out the pictures and passed out on the couch. Once I awoke from my coma, I thought about the changes that I needed to make. Fewer stuff sacks, better waterproofing and some nonstick nylon for my ground cloth made the top of the list. This trip was a huge victory for me, and I did something that I’ve never done before in my last 23 years on this earth.
As you walk down the trail, people are everywhere. Some with backpacks, some without. Some young new fathers with their children and some seasoned hikers with over 60 years of experience. Everyone has a story and most people only need a little bit of prompting to share it. Whether it be gear, hiking strategies or some great beer they tried in the town before, everyone has something to share. The pictures of these people of the trail are way more interesting than the typical pictures of trees and mountains that everyone seems to snap off without question. And while its sometimes awkward to have a stranger pose for a picture, conversation has a way of breaking the barrier and offering some amazing stories.
People are amazing. People of the Appalachian Trail are extraordinary. Follow me for 2,189.2 miles and I’ll share as many of these amazing stories with you as I can.
(L to R) Trudge, Zora and Strider finishing their section from New York to Dalton, MA. Trudge is planning on making the trip another 600 miles to Maine, while Zora and Strider are headed back to NJ. After a few minutes of what I refer to as “Hikerchat”, Strider offered his support in anyway he can. Even offering up his email and phone number.
People are amazing. AT SOBO 2016 is gonna be rad. Stay tuned and I’ll do my best to show you as I find it. *Applause*
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