Thursday, October 10, 2013

Day 15: Trail Mail

Dscn5941September 18: The trail started off bad—muddy and demoralizing. It wasn't long into the morning when I was picking my way over the trail. Hoping on rocks, branches, and logs through the all mud trying not to lose a shoe in the mud that could pull a shoe right off a person's foot. And at one point, my eyes were so focused on my feet--every nook and cranny I could use as stepping stones across the mud, that I wasn't paying much attention to anything else. You know, like logs that had fallen across the trail but were suspended five feet above the trail when they caught on another tree during their fall.

Now, I'm about six feet tall, and when there's a log five feet above the trail, this is the kind of thing you have to pay attention to. I saw a good rock in the middle of a large mud puddle, and I jumped for it. I didn't make it. My head collided with the log. My feet continued forward--even beyond the mud puddle--while my head was essentially dragged along after its sudden stop from the log and I crashed into a large heap on my ass. The good news, however, was that I had cleared the mud puddle. The bad news, of course, was that it felt like someone had just taken a baseball bat to my head.

I cussed and grabbed my forehead, withering on the ground in pain. I sat on the ground for a minute or so as the pain subsided and eventually picked myself up again, still rubbing my forehead and still cursing the people who maintain this sorry excuse for a trail. I slowly continued down the trail and after about five minutes, the pain was largely gone--but I was sure it was going to leave a bruise. How could it not?! Good thing I have a thick skull, I suppose. =)

A remarkable thing happened shortly after I passed by the Cooley Glen Shelter: The trail improved dramatically! The mud became almost non-existent and the steep, exposed rocks because solid dirt that was a pleasure to walk on. My speed improved, and so did my mood. =)

Midway through the afternoon, I found a water bottle on the trail. It was a solid, metal container and looked sparkling new. It definitely hadn’t been there long. At first I thought it might be a fuel bottle for someone’s stove, but I shook the bottle and found it was empty. Most people don’t carry empty fuel bottles. When I opened it and smelled inside, it definitely wasn’t fuel. Just water. Or what used to be water.

I knew a couple of the north-bound thru-hikers were about half a day ahead of me from reading the shelter registers and wondered if it might have fallen out of the backpack of Greylock or Cackles. It seems like the kind of thing I might have seen in their pack once upon a time, but I couldn’t swear to it. And since I had only seen one southbound hiker all day, it seemed much more likely that it was dropped by someone hiking northbound. I went ahead and packed the bottle in my pack. Maybe I could catch up with the person who lost it and restore the bottle to its rightful owner.

A mile or two later, I reached Sunset Ledge with a fantastic view towards the west. The trail has numerous “lookouts” along the way, but most of them have very limited visibility. A small gap in the trees, but this ledge opened up into the sun with grand views. Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains lined up behind them. It was one of those “wow” moments that makes the whole day worth it.

Dscn5959Also, somewhat surprisingly, I caught up with Greylock! I set down my pack and greeted him, then pulled out the water bottle asking him if it looked familiar. “You found it!” he exclaimed. It certainly didn’t take me long to find the owner! He figures he must have lost it from his pack when he took a spill on the trail and didn’t notice it falling out of his pack. He was rather pleased to get it back. “Trail mail,” I told him, “is a wonderful thing.”

I’ve been a recipient of trail mail myself in the past when stuff has fallen out of my pack without my notice or I’ve left behind a trekking pole that I forgot about, and more often than you might thing, the gear catches back up with me. I like to return the favor when I can.

Greylock explained that he’d been at Sunset Ridge for the past several hours admiring the view and getting in his vitamin D. He had also suffered a knee injury which was slowing him down and was going to head into town soon to get a doctor to look at it.

I stayed at the viewpoint for the better part of an hour admiring the view (and looking for a letterbox which I didn’t find) while chatting with Greylock who I hadn’t seen in over a week. Eventually we left and moseyed onward, ending the day at Battell Shelter. Nobody else was in the shelter so Greylock and I had the place to ourselves, but Greylock decided to sleep at the caretaker’s tent with its nice, thick pad since the caretaker didn’t seem to be in town.



Moose poop! They seem pretty fresh too…
…but alas, no moose sightings today!



I pose on Sunset Ledge.

Greylock chats with a couple of people at Lincoln Gap.
Turns out, they’re from Germany and don’t really know
English well, but Greylock knew enough German to actually
speak with them a bit. I just stood around looking dumb. =)

Battell Shelter

Save the microbes! This sign on the privy door amused
me greatly. A lot of the privies have signs asking people
not to pee in the privies, but this was the first one
I saw about “saving the microbes.” I had no idea
they were in such mortal danger!


Anonymous said...

What, no pictures of the bump/bruise on your head?

Papercrafts by Cindyellen said...

*sigh* you're almost "home" can't wait!! it's coming. pro'lly about. . . 30? more miles. i should go look it up. . .