That Which Didn’t Kill Me in New York and Connecticut: AT Flip Flop Days 45-53

Day 45

The heat wave had begun. I do not fare well in the extreme heat and humidity. I am prone to heat exhaustion, and there isn’t always the ability to get off trail and indoors on the AT. 

There was a swimming beach at a lake 4 miles ahead with a shelter nearby, so I knew I could stay there if I needed to. 

The hiking was easy, and I kept a slow pace to avoid exertion. We arrived at Lake Canopis in the late morning. It felt great to take a swim, bringing back memories of summers in Wisconsin as a kid.

I was surprised when Jingle and Subtitles wanted to resume hiking at 1pm, into the heat of the day. I reluctantly put my pack back on to join them. It was only 5 more miles to the RPH shelter, so we took a break every half hour. 

We arrived at RPH around 4pm. I claimed the only hammock spot I could find in case anyone else showed up, but we camped there alone. I’ve actually been surprised by how few other hammockers I’ve seen. We ordered pizza, delivered to the shelter, for dinner and made plans to stay inside for a few nights to beat the heat. 

The sun was intense today, and it was hot, but it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. I live in the South now, and it wasn’t Southern hot yet.

Day 46

Sleeping in the heat wasn’t bad. I woke up feeling well, and it felt decent outside. We got on trail at 7:15, earlier than I normally like, but it helped with the heat. We made quick work of the 5.1 miles to the deli we were aiming for.

The deli had incredible sandwiches. I ordered one for second breakfast, one to take for lunch, and another one for later at the Curry Estate Inn, where we were going to be staying. We called the innkeeper to pick us up, and we were able to check in early. We quickly set about the familiar town routine of taking showers and doing laundry right away.

We were all short of food and went to Walmart for the first good resupply in a while. We ate dinner and drank a few beers in the room and watched Netflix. Jingle and Subtitles are planning to slack pack 15 miles tomorrow, but I am on the fence between joining them or taking a zero. 

Day 47

I woke up and knew I was going to take a zero. It was a great zero; I didn’t leave the room all day. I watched TV, organized my gear, and worked on the blog. Most of all, I relaxed. 

Jingle and Subtitles returned around 5pm. I chatted with them for a while, then I finally left the room to have dinner at the bar. Dinner was great and the bartenders were super friendly.

Day 48

It was hard to leave the inn this morning. The heat wasn’t too bad in the morning, but the bugs were awful. I had my second fall on trail after stepping on a rock I couldn’t see through the overgrown grass. My legs buckled and I landed hard on my knees before falling forward onto my hands. Thankfully I landed on grass and was unharmed. 

I felt strong and walked the first 9 miles of the day quickly. I was starving for lunch, but struggled to find a good place to sit and eat. I eventually found a spot to eat lunch after passing by Nuclear Lake. Between the heat and waiting too long for lunch, I struggled through the next 3 miles to a shelter where I hoped to take a long break. 

I arrived at the Telephone Pioneers Shelter around 1:30 for my break. I was hoping to walk another 9 miles to the Wiley Shelter so that I could catch up to Jingle and Subtitles tomorrow. 

I was ready to push on again around 3, but I checked the weather and saw there was a storm on the way. I decided to stay put, since being wet is miserable on trail. Sure enough, a big storm came through and dumped rain. The forecast called for more rain every hour until 8. I ended up spending all afternoon and evening in the shelter. After a nero and zero, I was frustrated at cutting the day so short, but at least I was dry. I ended up setting up my hammock just before dark near the shelter. 

Day 49

I woke up to an alarm for the first time on trail. I was ready to push to try to catch up to my friends, and with the heat wave continuing, an early start was the best way to do so. I was packed up and on the trail by 6.

Yesterday afternoon before giving up on the day, I had plotted a road walk that would get me to Wiley Shelter. It wasn’t any shorter than the AT, but at least it avoided some pastures and overgrown sections of trail. I hiked the trail down to the Dover Oak, the largest oak tree on the AT, and then began my road walk. I stopped at a deli in Pawling on my route and had a great breakfast sandwich. Most of my road walk was along a beautiful gravel road that passed by a lake and through a nice, mature forest. From what I’ve heard, I made a great decision to reroute.

I stopped at the Wiley Shelter for a break and to fill my water bottles. I confused several section hikers I had met yesterday by walking up to the shelter from the north. After my break, I continued on the road until it became too busy. Luckily where I rejoined the trail was at the border with Connecticut! I was so happy to be out of New York, my new least favorite state on the trail. 

Connecticut showed off that they care about the trail right away. It was beautifully maintained. However it was now getting late in the morning and very hot. I struggled up and over the first climb to get to the first shelter. I made it to the 10 Mile Shelter (that’s the name, I walked more like 13 or 14 miles to get there) around 1:30 absolutely exhausted. 

Lunch and a quick rest got me back on my feet. I took a side trail to see Bulls Bridge and stop at the shop for a cold drink. I ran into Stingray, whom I had met in New Jersey and had seen off and on throughout New York. The cold drink gave me the second wind I needed to get up the last hill to the next campsite. I was now only 3 miles behind my friends and 1 mile from my 500 mile mark. However this was my longest mileage day on trail (19 miles), which I accomplished in the heat, and I couldn’t go any further. I set up camp and ate dinner as quickly as I could. I had heat rash and bug bites all over, but I was too tired to care. 

Day 50

I woke up late, still exhausted from the long day before. I thought Stingray and the other hiker who camped with us would be gone already, but they were dragging too. The heat was getting to everyone.

I packed up and hiked into Kent, CT, where I needed to resupply. I got lunch at a restaurant in town, but I struggled to eat, and the food didn’t sit well. The heat had stolen my appetite.

I ran into Stingray at the grocery store. He wanted to hike together going out of town, and I was all for it. We hiked out together and stopped for water at Choggam Brook. You can read all about what happened at the brook here, but basically, we survived a tornado by ducking next to a rock. 

We continued hiking the trail after the storm. The AT joins a gravel road for a while before the shelter where we were going to camp. We met a hiker doing a supported thru hike with her partner driving a van. They filled our waters and gave us a sleeve of crackers, the only food they had to spare. Walking down the road a little further, a speeding car swerved at and almost hit Stingray. It was starting to feel like we were in a Final Destination movie. 

We finally made it to the shelter a half hour before dark. We set up camp and ate dinner quickly. I went to bed shaken by the storm and had trouble falling asleep. I was still about 3 miles behind Jingle and Subtitles.

Day 51

The heat wave was finally over! Everything was still wet from yesterday’s storm, but I was happy for cooler weather and happy to be alive. We still had flat trail ahead, and Stingray and I knocked out the first several miles in no time.

I stopped at Silver Hill Campsite to dry my stuff out, especially my shoes. I got a message from Jingle telling me not to bother with my shoes since there was a creek crossing ahead that wasn’t rock hoppable. I resolved to road walk around the creek and spent a few hours sitting around while my shoes dried.

I set out, happy to have dry socks and shoes for the first time in a few days. I met a trail maintainer, who said the creek was totally passable. 

When I got to the road I decided to go down to the creek to look for myself. The crossing at the trail was submerged, but I thought I saw a crossing upstream. I rock hopped up the stream but couldn’t find a place to cross. I looked back the way I came and couldn’t find my way back to the south bank. I yelled out in frustration and walked through the water, soaking my briefly dry feet. 

This water crossing broke my spirit. I was ready to quit the trail right then and there. I screamed at the creek in frustration as I put on my socks and wet shoes. Not only was I back to having wet feet, I had wasted the whole morning and now had to do nearly 12 miles that afternoon if I wanted to finally catch up to Jingle and Subtitles. 

I hiked angrily, thinking about what quitting would look like and what I would do instead of the AT. Next thing I knew, my feet weren’t as wet and I had walked 10 miles. It was 6pm and I had 2 miles to go to catch my friends. I took a quick dinner and vowed to make it to the campsite by 8.

I arrived, exhausted, exactly at 8, but I was happy to be reunited with my friends. Jingle and Subtitles were already in their tent, so I texted them that I arrived. I talked with Stingray for a bit, and when Jingle responded to my text, I went over and talked to them briefly. I found a place to set up my hammock. Despite my exhaustion, I had a hard time falling asleep, because the strong wind and creaking trees were giving me anxiety just a day after my brush with the tornado. 

Day 52

I wasn’t the only one suffering. Jingle’s feet were giving her a hard time, and according to Subtitles, Jingle quit three times yesterday. I joked that those were rookie numbers, since I had thought about quitting all day yesterday. 

We arranged to stay in town in Salisbury and take a zero the next day. After an easy 4 miles, Jingle yogied a ride to Salisbury to get an early start to her rest days. I was happy she got a much needed break, but if I was going to continue, I didn’t want to skip miles by riding ahead.

Subtitles and I knocked out the last 7 miles of the day quickly after ditching some of our gear with Jingle to lighten our packs. We went up and back down a pretty good mountain, but the draw of town kept us moving.

After getting settled into the house where we were staying, we settled into the usual routine of knocking out showers and laundry. Jingle had gone to the store while waiting for us, so she and Subtitles were all set for dinner. Stingray and I ordered a pizza and salad; it was the best pizza I’ve had on trail so far. I slept soundly, happy to be clean, dry, fed, and reunited with my tramily.

Day 53

I didn’t quit and decided to keep the thru hike dream alive for a while longer. We had a great zero in Salisbury, resupplying at the grocery store and picking up packages at the post office. I had lost enough weight that it was time to size down my hip belt. Aside from the jaunts in town, we just sat around the house all day relaxing. I will finish Connecticut tomorrow and cross into Massachusetts.

Lack-of-Shower Thoughts

I survived a tornado, heat wave, wet feet, and temporary separation from my tramily. This week pushed me to my limits, but I persevered and remained on trail. During this difficult time I was also feeling drawn home, as I was missing my family’s biennial vacation with my grandpa, aunts/uncles, and cousins. I tasked my dad with having family members record video messages for me. These videos were exactly what I needed to lift my spirits and keep going on this journey.

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Jul 8th

    Thx for the post.

    Good luck.


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