Into the Mystic
Smell the sea and feel the skyLet your soul and spirit fly Into the mystic
– Van Morrison
The week leading up to my departure was hectic. From buying a brand new phone that didn’t work to getting bumped while walking behind a car whose driver wasn’t paying attention while backing out of a spot, the last thing on my mind was going on some spiritual journey. With all the nonsense before I set off to leave, I questioned if I even wanted to do this anymore. A woman of my word, I hastily packed up; took the world’s fastest shower (the last I’d have for a while); and made the 4.5 hour drive north to my mom’s in Vermont. The evening before, I shared my estimated itinerary with my mom, voicing last minute fears and concerns.
It’s a lot of miles.
Do I have everything I need?
I should have spent some more time in the gym leading up to this.
Eventually my mind grew tired of running itself in circles; I passed out around 11:00 PM, an early morning and a big day ahead.
Day 1: Pine Cobble Trailhead to Congdon Shelter (13.8 mi)
I was up well before my 5:30 AM alarm; from nerves, excitement – I’m not quite sure which. My bag packed the night before, I pulled on my hiking clothes and we headed down to Massachusetts. I couldn’t believe I was finally here and about to do the damn thing. After an emotional goodbye, I started up the suspiciously steep Pine Cobble Trail. Soon I reached the summit of Pine Cobble Mountain, a little exposed peak with views of the Taconic Range and Mt. Greylock to the south.
The trail then meandered over a wooded ridgeline before joining the AT. A mile after this junction, there she was – the iconic wooden sign reading “Welcome to Vermont – The Long Trail, a Footpath in the Wilderness.” I spent a minute to take it all in and asked a kind stranger to take my photo before signing the register – 3.8 miles down, only 273 to go.
The day was marked by moderate climbs, weaving through the green tunnel with the occasional power line view. Water sources were flowing well and the temps were perfect – truly an ideal day to start. It was a mostly lonely day on trail – I only ran into one or two other people. I hiked with an AT section hiker, Titanium, for a while. We shared lunch and some fun conversation about hiking, rock climbing, working in tech, and quite an eventful hitch from Madison to Montreal courtesy of Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey’s father in 1975. Just an introduction to all the interesting people I’d meet on trail.
I caught a second wind and pushed through the last few climbs of the day, the trail intertwined with beaver bogs and splattered with painted lady flowers. Rolled into camp around 4:30 PM and set up my tent immediately as the black flies were out for blood. Spent some time chatting with other hikers at the shelter before hanging my bear bag and crawling into my quilt. Went to bed so happy to be surrounded by people just as enamored with the trail as I am.
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Love Van Morrison. Made me pull out some of his old vinyl to play.
My incredible, inspiring friend! You are out there doing it! Living the dream. I couldn’t be more proud of you.