Tuesday, 7/21

AT Miles = 19.7 / 1558.8
Other Miles = 0.9 / 53.2
Total Miles = 20.6 / 1601.1

Miles to Katahdin = 619.5

Well. I was up at my usual 5:45 in the morning. And as usual, a swarm
of mosquitoes was buzzing around my hammock, underneath the tarp and
just outside of the mosquitoes netting. God bless whoever invented
mosquito netting!

As usual, I struck camp as quickly as possible, to avoid exposing
myself to the mosquitoes any longer than necessary. I had gone swimming
the previous afternoon in the pond, and my shorts and shirt had dried
very little overnight, so I got to enjoy the pleasure f pulling wet
clothes on first thing in the morning. Ah! That’s got to beat a cup of
hot, fresh brewed coffee for waking you up in the morning!

The best part of staying at Upper Goose Pond Cabin is that the
caretakers cook pancakes for everybody every morning. I sat at the
table long enough to eat four before giving up my place to the next

When I let it was obvious that rain was imminent, so I rigged my pack
for rain. Since it has been so humid I haven’t washed my socks in
several days — I can’t wash them when they won’t dry for days and
days — so I was wearing damp, dirty socks. Yuck!

About 2 miles after leaving the cabin the AT crosses the Mass Pike,
and then almost immediately Route 20. Just after crossing Rt 20 there
was trail magic in the form of a cooler of soda chained to a tree and
a bucket of goodies like oatmeal cookies and Yodels. I stopped the
chug a cola — yeah, I know, it was right after breakfast. So? — and
put some cookies and yodels in my pocket to eat as I walked —
mosquitoes, remember? A couple minutes later the rain started, and it
rained all day.

Shortly before reaching October Mountain Shelter I saw my third bear
of the hike as he or she ran off crashing through the undergrowth.Just
a few minutes later I passed a trio of southbound section hikers. As
hikers often do when traveling together, they made quite a bit of
noise chatting with each other. I told them about the bear just ahead
of them thinking that they might want to hike quietly in hopes of
catching a glimpse, but they responded by telling me they would be
sure to make plenty of noise as they hiked. Oh well. Their loss, I
guess. I also saw a pile of moose scat today, the first I’ve seen on the trail.

I took a break at October Mountain Lean-to, chatting a bit with Dixie
Dawg who was already there. It was cold sitting around in my wet
clothes and it soon looked like the rain was tapering off (though that turned out to be so very wrong!), so I set off again, bound for the Cooke Lady’s house located just off the trail
in Becket, Massachusetts. There is a couple who own a house very close
to the trail who let hikers fill their water bottles and, if they are
home, offer cookies to every hiker that stops by. If you ask
permission, they will even let you camp in their yard. I stopped there
to fill my bottles with water that didn’t need to be treated, and I
stood in their open garage and ate the cookies offered and chatted for
a while. I even plugged my cell phone in and charged it up a bit, and
ate most of my lunch in their dry garage. Then I headed back out into
the downpour.

From here my day went downhill fast. I had cooled down a lot while
standing around at the cookie Lady’s house, so when I left I was
wearing my rain jacket over my already soaking wet clothes. Well, I
just got colder and colder, it rained harder and harder, I slogged
through mud several inches deep, I climbed up and down wet rocks, and
eventually I took a tumble and smacked my knee on a rock pretty hard.
Now I was cold, dirty, wet, and could hike only very slowly. Hiking
slowly meant I was not generating much heat, and my personal misery
quotient was hovering dangerously close to the red line.

I talked to Jodi on the phone several times yesterday and today, and
we agreed that she would drive out to Dalton and meet me this
afternoon. Unfortunately her job went way longer than expected and she
couldn’t leave Boston until nearly 7:30. When it rains, it pours, you
might say. On the other hand, if she had been able to leave early she
would have been stuck in Dalton waiting for me, as I didn’t manage to
reach town until 7:30 myself. By that time, with the heavy rain and
all, it was pretty dark in the woods and I could barely see where I
was going. There is a guy in Dalton named Tom Levardi. who for some
inexplicable reason just likes hikers and opens his home to them. By
the time I arrived there he had a houseful of hikers but I told him I
just needed a place to wait for my wife to arrive with the car and he
welcomed me in. Whew! It was so nice to be warm and dry for a change.
A couple of hours later Jodi arrived and we were off headed back home
to Quincy for a couple of days.

It is Thursday now. I made a trip to REI yesterday and bought a new
pair of hiking poles to replace the pair that, after over 1500 miles,
finally died on me. I also bought a new pack rain cover which
hopefully will be more waterproof than the one I had, and a new pair
of socks to replace a pair that now has gaping holes in the toes.
Tomorrow morning we will drive back out to Dalton. It is ten trail
miles from Dalton to Cheshire, and after stopping at the Dalton post
office to pick up my mail, Jodi will drop me off and I will slack pack
— hike with only a day pack — the ten miles to Cheshire, then Jodi
will pick me up in Cheshire and we will retire to a motel somewhere.
On Saturday Jodi will slack pack me again as I climb up and over Mount
Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts. Since there is a road up
Greylock, Jodi can even meet me on top with a nice lunch! I’m hoping
by doing this I can continue to give my feet a bit of a rest, yet
still continue to make some miles. I will also be able to eat better.
I feel like I have been getting really run down lately, and that my
body is getting weaker and starting to break down on me. With the
Whites and the rough trail of Maine facing me, that worries me a lot.

By the way, Jodi and I cycled Greylock one weekend back in 2005:

619.5 more miles to Katahdin.

Allen F. Freeman