Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Day 105: Off to the Races!

June 20: It didn't rain during the night--thank goodness!--so I never had to move my camp under the pavilion. But I did wake up early and was on the trail hiking by 5:45 in the morning.

The morning was clear and sunny! Beautiful! Afternoon turned overcast, and late in the afternoon it rained for about an hour. But I'm getting ahead of myself.... at least the day started beautiful and I managed to get as many miles in as I could.

The day started off sunny and warm!

It wasn't long before I heard very loud, far off vehicles. It sounded like a car race, and the fact was confirmed when I reached a particular vantage point on the trail and could see cars racing around on some roads in the distance that looked like it could have been a track. The view was brief, but I could hear the noise all day long which got old fast. VROOM! VROOM! Hardly a wilderness experience....

Late in the day, I hit a trail detour. The trail normally passes through the small village of Falls Village, but do to work on a bridge that crosses a creek running out of town, the bridge (and therefore the trail) was closed to traffic. Not a big deal, however, since there was a road walk around it that added about 0.2 miles to the hike.

The road walk took me past the Lime Rock racetrack--the source of all the loud noise I'd been hearing all day--and next to a church that had a register outside for hikers to sign along with a note that water was available from a hose on the side of the building. I'm always in the mood for clean water! =)

So I went to find the hose and met the pastor (I think) who took me inside to fill up from a kitchen sink, and from her I learned that they did benediction for the races. And she'll also show up if she hears emergency sirens, even before she gets a call, because that means that there was a wreck and her services might be needed.

We only chatted for a few minutes, though, before I wandered back to the trail and continued the detour around Falls Village.

The detour reconnected with the main trail on the far side of the Iron Mountain Bridge which was closed for renovations. The trail went back into the woods for a few minutes before coming back out again on a small street when I heard the first sprinkle of rain. Noooo! Rain had not been in the forecast at all today, so it took me something by surprise. Overcast, yes, but not rain!

I stood under a group of trees at the edge of the road, next to one of those crash barriers so cars don't go over the sides of cliffs. I hadn't planned to stop here, but the trees provided some protection from the rain--for the time being--and the crash barrier gave me something to sit on and snack. I didn't know how long the rain would last or how heavy it would be, and I thought it would be a good idea to eat some snacks now while I was still dry and before the rain could work its way through the thick canopy of leaves.

So I was sitting there, on the side of the road, eating some Skittles, when a vehicle pulls out of a driveway and stops next to me, the driver's window going down. Was he going to ask about the trail? Maybe say, "Hey, before it gets too wet, you want to crash in the spare bedroom of my house?" How awesome would that be?

So he stops in front of me and leans out the window a bit saying, "It wasn't supposed to rain today! I have things to do!"

Yeah, okay.... Of all of the things I expected, him complaining about the rain wasn't one of them. And frankly, I wasn't at all sympathetic. It's like complaining to a homeless person when you're dry and indoors about how miserable the rain is. At least you're DRY and INDOORS! *rolling eyes*

"Yeah, well, I'm not too excited about it myself. I have to hike in this weather, and then sleep in it!"

The man nodded, agreeing that that didn't sound appealing, then complained about the rain again before rolling up his window and driving off. I was astonished. Seriously? He's complaining to ME about the rain?

Ideally, I'd have liked to set up camp in the Limestone Spring Shelter, but unfortunately, it was closed for unknown reasons. There wasn't even any warning on the trail--the first time I learned about its closure was from some hikers who'd been heading southbound earlier in the day. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have known about the closure until I arrived at the junction for the shelter and saw it taped off with what looked vaguely like police tape (but pink, instead of yellow) and a sign saying that the "area" was closed. No reason why--just that it was closed. Did it burn down? Was it being refurbished? Was there a rock slick between the trail and the shelter that just made the shelter inaccessible? (The shelter was a half-mile off the AT, however, so I wasn't going to walk down to find out! Not while it was pouring rain!)

The nearest shelter to get out of the rain was about 10 miles in either direction and there was no hope I'd get into one of those before dark. Nope, I'd have to set up camp somewhere and sleep under my tarp.

Turns out, there weren't very many places to camp along this stretch of trail. It was rocky, uneven, and with lots of undergrowth that made finding a place for a camp difficult. I continued walking and walking, eventually entering the city limits of Salisbury. The trail didn't go through the middle of town--just skirts around the edge of it--and I wound up finding a flat place just beyond a cemetery but hidden in the woods.

These woods were largely pine trees which left a thick layer of pine needles on the ground--my favorite to sleep on! Feels like a mattress! =) There are not very many places along the AT where I can camp on pine needles. The rain had finally stopped--temporarily, at least--so I didn't feel a huge rush to set up camp in just a few minutes. Tree snot still dropped from trees, however, and it looked like the rain could start up again at any minute, so I didn't want to wait to set up the tarp either.

I looked around and found an area I liked... until I found a needle laying on the ground. I'm not talking about a pine needle, either. I'm talking about the kind people use to inject stuff. And being in the woods at the edge of town, I didn't think it was for injecting medications. Probably some sort of illegal drugs. That gave me a little pause. Is this where drug addicts hang out? I was pretty much IN the town of Salisbury, on ground that was utterly flat and easy to walk on. It wouldn't be a bad place for drug addicts to go if they were trying to find some 'privacy'. I didn't mess with the needle--I certainly didn't want to carry it in my pack for miles on end--but I found another place to camp about a hundred feet away where I didn't see any needles sticking out of the pine needles.

I got my tarp set up, and it wasn't long before I started regretting the location. Every half hour, I could hear some church bells ringing nearby. Those were just annoying!

Later in the evening, a man walked by who was carrying two large duffel bags, one in each hand, plus a giant backpack with a thermos cup swinging wildly on the back of it. He said hi as he passed me but didn't stop to talk. Who was he? Why was he there? He looked like he was planning to spend the night out here like I was, but I'd never seen anyone carrying so much crap out into the backcountry! Two duffel bags and a large backpack?

It soon started sprinkling again, but by then I was dry and warm under my tarp. Let the weather do what it wants--it's not my problem anymore!

The Lime Rock racetrack was certainly making a heck of a lot of noise today!

Detour! The trail is closed ahead, but not to worry--they provided these directions to detour around the closure!

The detour had even been marked with these (temporary) white blazes! Easy to follow! But road walking the entire time....

Heck, the detour is signed better than the regular trail is! The church I stopped at is in the background where the trail turns.

The Lime Rock race track
It's a hiker-friendly church!

The Iron Mountain Bridge was closed for renovations. The AT normally crosses over this bridge, but since it's closed, we had to follow the detour to where we reconnected with the AT here.

Great Falls, just outside of Falls Village

The shelter is closed--but no explanation for why or how long!

Giant's Thumb

Entering the outskirts of Salisbury! (See the white blazes on the telephone pole?)

Passing by a cemetery.... I'd have loved to camp here if it wasn't so exposed!

That can't be a good sign....

Home, sweet, home for the night. The pine needles were wonderful! The loud church bells every 30 minutes... not so much.


Karolina said...

Wow, a 5:45 start - that's darn early! And that man who pulled over just to tell you that rain hadn't been in the forecast, that's just weird...

Mary said...
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Mary said...
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Anonymous said...

ah, my old stomping grounds...bummer the trail was rerouted, you would have walked right past my high school....I remember many times sitting in class staring out the window watching thru hikers going down the road (before they rerouted it mostly off road). And our xc race course was on the AT, never did run into any hikers funnily enough... And that bridge has been closed I don't know how many times for floods,etc. And I worked a few times at the race track when I was in high school...
california bluefrog