Friday, September 20, 2013

Day 5: Don’t Become Roadkill!

Dscn4874September 8: It rained a lot during the night, but fortunately (once again!), it had stopped by morning. Tree snot still dripped down getting me wet, so much so that I pulled out my umbrella. I used it for about five minutes until I realized that it was more of a hassle than a help—there wasn’t even really much tree snot to worry about.


Tom and John left the shelter before me, and I hoped to catch up to them by the time I reached routes 11 and 30 that led into Manchester Center. They were section hiking the Appalachian Trail and had a car waiting for them there for their drive back to Connecticut and had offered me a ride into town—if I was around at the time.


So I hiked marginally faster than I normally might have, glad that my right knee wasn’t slowing me down anymore. There was still a slight soreness to it, but not enough to limit my mobility or speed.


I caught up with Tom and John leaving the Spruce Peak Shelter. Or, actually, they gave up looking for it. The sign on the trail pointed the direction, but it had no distance listed and they weren’t sure how far away the shelter was. When it started heading downhill, they decided to quit looking for it and turned around. My guidebook said it was only 350 feet off the trail, though, so I pushed ahead to look for it.


Previously, on my long distance walks, I’d happily pass by shelters that weren’t immediately on the trail. “Nothing I need there!” I’d say to myself, passing by the trail junction. Now that I’m collecting photos for, though, I’m much less likely to pass them by. Every lookout, every vista, every shelter—if it’s within one-tenth or two-tenths of a mile, I’ve been visiting them. Even if the day is foggy, rainy, and otherwise miserable, I’ll go out to the viewpoint to take a picture of the fog and rain. It’s my job. =)


So I walked out to the shelter even though there was nothing there I really needed—just a photo. I’ll also sign the register and plaster a sticker in it to visit my websites. I’m here for the photos, but I’m more than happy to plug my websites in the shelter registers while I’m in the area as well. =)


Dscn4878This shelter wasn’t really a shelter at all, though—it was more like a lodge with all four walls and a roof. A wooden, sliding door marked the entrance, and I poked my head into the darkest shelter I ever did see. It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Inside was a wood-burning stove which was still smoldering. It seemed more like a winter hut—the stove to keep people warm, and all four walls to trap in the heat. But the place was positively dark inside.


One hiker was still there who moved around with her headlamp on. I grabbed the register and took it outside to sign in.


I talked with her for a couple of minutes while I signed the register, and she told me about trying to complete the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) earlier this year but failed when she couldn’t adjust to the altitude. She’d done the Pacific Crest Trail, including a summit of Mount Whitney, but on that trail, she would drop back to lower elevations to spend the night. On the CDT, though, she said she’d be above 12,000 feet for days and weeks at a time and never acclimated. Bummer.


So now she was hiking other trails. She was headed southbound, though, so I didn’t pay as much attention as I normally would have. I wouldn’t be seeing her again after I left the shelter.


I commented on how dark the shelter was, and she said she has an urge to turn on a light switch whenever she walks into the place. I chuckled, easily imagining such a thing. They really should install solar powered lights or something. It was dark in that shelter! I thought the one I was in last night was bad, but this one wins that contest, hands down.


I put the register back inside then hiked back up to the trail trying to catch up with Tom and John again. I knew they weren’t far ahead and I caught up with them a couple of miles later shortly before reaching the road.


Dscn4887They gave me a lift into town, letting me off in the center. We actually went passed the EconoLodge where I had a reservation, but it was a couple of miles outside of town and I figured I’d rather get a ride into town and walk two miles back to the hotel than get a ride to the hotel then walk two miles into town and two miles back to the hotel again.


So they dropped me off in town and we waved goodbye. I’d miss them on the trail. As it turned out, we camped at the same places every night since I started the trail. They were my trail buddies, but they were gone now.


My first stop was to throw out my trash in a garbage can—no reason to carry that around town with me—then I headed into a supermarket to buy a little food. I didn’t need much since I had carried way too much leaving Williamstown. Basically, I needed about one day of food!


Then I walked over to McDonalds for lunch. I’d rather have eaten somewhere else, truth be told, but I knew McD’s had Internet access (most of them do now!) and I wanted to get online. It was about 11:00 in the morning and I didn’t know if the EconoLodge would let me check in so early. I could get some work done at the McDonalds, though, which I did for a couple of hours before I closed up my laptop and headed back out.


On my way out of town, I decided to stop at the post office. I knew it would be closed—it was Sunday, after all, but I had hoped the kept their lobby doors unlocked and that they had a self-help postage machine I could use. I really wanted to mail my laptop and other unnecessary items ahead to myself on the trail, and I figured if I could get a flat-rate priority mail box that was already paid for, I could ask the folks at the EconoLodge to mail it for me the next morning when I checked out. I had absolutely no intention of walking two miles into town to mail a package!


But the post office was locked up tight. Nope, that wasn’t even going to be an option.


My map of the town showed a backstreet that paralleled the main street through town, so I followed that out of town. I preferred walking on the less traveled backroads than the busy main streets, and I arrived at the EconoLodge to check in.


When I walked in, there was nobody at the counter to help me, but the doors did chime a bell and a fellow came out to help while talking on his cell phone. It sounded like a personal call and I thought it seemed a little tacky. I was even less impressed when he was searching through his pockets for a card of some sort and flipping over the ones already on the counter looking for one in specific. He seemed rather disorganized, like he didn’t know what he was doing and I was a bother to him.


Yeah, well. It was an EconoLodge. I wasn’t really expected 5-star service, but I was still a little disappointed in him. Eventually, though, I got my room and made myself comfortable for the night. I took a shower, then washed my dirty clothes in the shower. They didn’t need to be clean—just a bit cleaner than when I walked in. =)


And the rest of the afternoon and night I spent working on Atlas Quest, fixing bugs, catching up on emails, and writing this blog.


The Spruce Peak Shelter—the darkest, most claustrophobic
shelter I’d ever seen!


That’s the road into Manchester Center!


I don’t know what this plant is, but they looked like
marshmallows already on a stick. Just pluck and
roast over a campfire! =)


Always a good motto—don’t become roadkill!
This sign was posted just before crossing Vt. 11/30.


Roadkill, just waiting to happen…




Did some grocery shopping at Price Chopper. =)


Manchester’s oldest sign company? Given the size of this
town, it might also be the town’s only sign company! =)


Anonymous said...

White Baneberry aka "dolls' eyes" aka Actaea pachypoda. Poisonous - don't eat.

John Folsom said...

The two older gentlemen (we do not consider our selves all that old), Tim (not Tom) and John, very much enjoyed our 5 days and 4 nights on the Long Trail. Ryan freely shared his backpacking experience and we entertained him with our bear bag hanging expertise. One addition, on our last night, Day 4 of Ryan's blog, as was our usual practice we arrived at camp, cooked dinner, cleaned up and then by 8:00 PM at the latest we were in our sleeping bags. Cackles, a north bound Long Trail through hiker,the fourth person in the lean-to was also in her sleeping bag. Ryan would generally read or write some notes. On this night, as the rain fell, Ryan recited a good night poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee. The scenery is great but it is people you meet along the way that make it special.
Thanks Ryan, Cheryl, Cackles for making the hike more than just exercise and scenery.

Eidolon said...

You are using freaking STICKERS to sign the registers?!? I am so disappointed to hear that Ryan... you know what stickers do to logbook!!!
::shakes head in shame::

Ryan said...

Tim... Tom.... It's a typo, I tell you! A typo! =) Sorry about that! Welcome to my blog, Tim and John!

As for stickers.... I don't use stickers to *sign* the logbook--just stick in my websites so they're legible and I don't have to write them all the time. =) I still stamp my stamp and write a blurb, though.

-- Ryan