The sun was setting as I cooked dinner at RPH Shelter. I had such a wonderful time in NYC and was somewhat bummed out when I returned to the trail. I knew I would be a couple days behind the hikers I had gotten to know when I returned to the trail after Sugar died…and even further behind any of “The Fam.” I wanted to make a little progress that night, so I decided to eat dinner and hike on a couple miles until I found a spot to stealth camp.
I woke up the next morning pretty early, but the chilly rain kept me hiding in my tent for an hour or so. After finally emerging, I was ready to hike. Time to get some miles knocked out! Later that evening, I stopped to take a quick snack break near a road crossing. Trying to get as many miles in before dark, I packed up and pushed on. A few hours later and about four miles down trail, the sun was setting so I pulled off my pack to get my head lamp out. I began to panic when I couldn’t find it anywhere. Nausea crept over me when I realized I must’ve left it at my last break spot. In the bag with my head lamp was my wallet, phone charger, and back up battery. I dumped my entire pack out to make double sure I didn’t have it. Sure enough, it was nowhere to be found. I took a few deep breaths and began to weigh my options. I could walk back–no way. Who wants to re-hike 4 miles of trail there and then back again? I could set up my tent right where I was and worry about it in the morning–eh, maybe if my wallet wasn’t involved. Sigh. It was getting late, but maybe if there was a road nearby I could hitch hike back to that spot. I looked at my guide book and saw an upcoming road in a tenth of a mile. Using the light of my phone (which had a battery charge of about 40% left), I walked to the road. To my dismay, I saw it was a rarely traveled gravel road. Not sure of what I was doing or where I was going, I dragged my feet down the gravel road in the dark. Suddenly from nowhere, a car appeared! I waved it down and a young couple rolled down the window and asked if I needed help. I explained my dilemma and they offered me a ride. I was completely blown away at how I had just barely been in the right place at the right time. By chance, the couple had made a wrong turn and come down the dirt road to turn around. Thank you SO much to Olivia and Kyle for delaying your movie/date time to offer this stinky hiker a ride. I can’t thank you enough. When they dropped me off, I found my bag with all of my important belongings–whew! Once I had calmed down, I walked the 4 miles back to the gravel road. Deciding there was enough excitement for one day, I set up camp.
The next morning, I hiked past the largest tree on the AT–the Dover Oak. It measures 20′ in diameter and is estimated to be about 300 years old. Passing interesting land marks along the trail is definitely the cherry on top of the experience!For lunch, I stopped in at a deli located 0.6 miles off trail. I let my phone and back up battery charge while I ate and took a short nap on the bench. It’s strange how trail life changes people. I would have never slept on a bench outside of a business before–but now, I was thankful for the shady spot to rest on. As I laid there, I thought about how I felt fairly clean after not showering for two days…my hair looked pretty to me even though it wasn’t blow dried or straightened…and my face no longer looked naked without make up. It dawned on me that maybe I’m finally becoming comfortable in my own skin and I’m happy just being me. Does this mean I won’t shower regularly when I get home? No. But, I will definitely not spend near as much time, effort and money on my hair and makeup. I certainly won’t feel inferior to women around me regardless of their or my own appearance. I am me, and that’s exactly who I want to be.
Wow, that feels good to say!
So, after getting everything charged up, including my spirits, I hiked on to cross into Connecticut and completed another 20-mile day.When I reached Ten Mile River Shelter, everyone was sleeping. I crept in quietly and set up. I was excited to see that Waldo and his brother, Gourmet Greg, were there–always good to recognize fellow hikers. The next morning, a girl I had met before named ‘Cookie’ emerged from her tent. We ate breakfast and talked about all of the things I had contemplated about natural beauty the day before. She was happy to hear another female had reached the same conclusions. We hiked together during the day and ended up camping together that night. We were thrilled to find a deck at the campsite to set up on and cowboy camp under an amazing meteor shower!
Although the meteor shower was beautiful that night, I FROZE. Since it had gotten warmer, I was only sleeping with a fleece liner and had sent my 23 degree sleeping bag home. After shivering most of that night, I decided to have my real sleeping bag sent back.
The following day, I was happy to find Rebel Yell on the trail. We hiked together, catching up on all of the people we had met and events that had occurred since hiking together in Pennsylvania. We also crossed over mile 1500!
The trail only wanders through Connecticut for a little over 50 miles, so within a few days I had already hiked over the Massachussetts border!Just a few miles shy of the road that leads to Great Barrington, MA, I came across an interesting land mark–the site of Shays Rebellion. It’s surreal to stumble upon sites you’ve read about in history books. I always try to visualize how it all played out and the emotion and actions that led up to the actual event. It’s strange to see such a significant moment in history so simply marked by a crooked stone monument in a farm field in Massachussets. But, there it is! Once I reached Great Barrington, I decided to take a zero day. I didn’t explore the town too much, because I decided to actually rest and relax. I also answered some Q&A that will be posted on my YouTube channel before too long, so keep a look out for that! During this stretch of trail, Sugar’s birthday came around. She would’ve been 11 years old on August 15th. Last year in Colorado, Sugar, Hank and I celebrated her birthday with some delicious cupcakes!
This year for her birthday, Frank placed some beautiful flowers on her grave. I never imagined on the last birthday I spent with her that she’d be gone in less than a year. I suppose that’s why we shouldn’t take anything for granted–especially…time.
Make today the day you finally decide to grasp the dream you’ve always wanted to chase. Step out on a limb and take a chance. Hold your loved ones extra tight. Reconcile your differences with the friend you’ve resented. Call a loved one and tell them what they mean to you. Take a walk and savor the beauty of nature. Do something worthy of your time today.
Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.
Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone; and do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.
-Ida Scott Taylor
Well, until next time–
Happy Trails 🙂