New Friends

I get a hitch into Great Barrington from a nice lady that leaves me with a bag of apples! *Trail Magic* I eat a burrito the size of a small child, and head to the grocery store to resupply. There are no hostels for a while in the trail towns so I contact Jess, a woman that hosts hikers in her home. She picks me up from the grocery store and shows me where I’ll be sleeping. Her son is out of town for the weekend so she sets me up in there. I admire his movie collection as well as the piano and ukulele. The bed is so comfortable and sleep comes easily. I’m awakened by the lights being turned on and I think, “Oh no I’ve overslept again!!” I lazily roll over to see a well dressed young man tossing dirty laundry on me. My belongings are spread out as I was taking inventory earlier so I sleepily apologize for the mess I’ve made. Not noticing my presence until now, the startled young man exclaims, “Oh!! Are you an appalachian trail hiker??” “I am” I reply.”Oh.. my gosh I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize anyone was up here!” He responds. Apparently he wasn’t supposed to come home until the following day. Personally I think the whole situation is hilarious, bursting into laughter as he sheepishly leaves the room. I don’t know how I would have responded in his situation, a strange hiker taking over my bedroom! The next morning we are properly introduced and I find out he is a fellow vegan! Which works out perfectly because breakfast (which is normally eggs) is included in my stay, so I am offered granola with rice milk and toast as a replacement. After a filling breakfast and great conversation Jess returns me to the trail. I walk through rolling hills and fields full of cows and sheep.

 The fall colors are breathtaking! That night I land at the smallest shelter I’ve seen that holds only 4 hikers. I decide to move on to the next shelter but before I leave two ladies out for the weekend come down to check out the shelter. I tell them it’s a bit creepy but if they stay I’ll stay too. They decide it’s just fine as it begins to get foggy and rain. They suggest a fire and I set to work on building one. I’m shocked that my attempt is sucessful! We enjoy the warmth and dryness of the fire and they share their wine coolers and fireball with me. They dub me Firemaster Flicker!

 The following day I cross into Connecticut! It feels good to move through states. I arrive at a shelter and two young men are there setting up. They ask if I’m staying for the night and I haven’t decided yet. They tell me they are starting a fire and that there is trail magic in the bear box. After raiding the bear box I decide to stay for the fire. We enjoy a night of laughter and internet humor. The next day they suggest hiking to their truck and hitting the town. I have pizza and beer on my mind despite the fact that its 11 am, so we go.

 After eating we grab a case of beer and hike to the next shelter. They are inexperienced hikers, reminding me of my first treck on the AT. Their packs are way overloaded and they don’t have their trail legs yet. They tough it up though and we make it to the shelter after hiking into the night. We enjoy our well earned beers and another fire. That night he rain comes down pinging loudly against the shelter roof. The next day the boys head out to the road to get a ride back to their car and I hike out on the trail. 

I meet a nice couple and they give me an apple. Later I see them as I’m following a portion of the trail that follows a road. They pull over and offer to take me out to coffee and I accept! After coffee I am dropped back at the trail and I realize that I’ve been here before. I did a short section with my good friend Kelsey before starting my thru hike and this is where we began in Falls Village. I open the registry and see our entry signed ‘Becca and Kelsey’ because neither of us had trail names. 

I’m filled with nostalgia as I retrace our steps remembering every bench, boulder, and log that served as a resting place. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, completing 3 days of hiking we did back then in a mere 4 hours. I remember my pack was at least 15 lbs heavier and my body 35 lbs heavier then, just 3 months ago. I return to the Hitchingpost motel where we stayed, to reminisce and enjoy a nero. 

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