Monday, November 30, 2015

Day 110: The Dalton Day Zero

June 25: Today would be immensely boring, but lots of fun! =) The funnest boring day you can imagine!

I woke up early at dawn like I usually did despite being in a hotel room. Habits are hard to break! And I spent most of the morning and afternoon just working on these blog posts. Knocked out a whole lot of them, but that's pretty boring. It's pretty boring to do, and it's pretty boring to read about, so I'll skip ahead to later in the afternoon.

Waterfall in Dalton, MA.
I headed back over to Tom's place at around lunchtime, both to look for somewhere to eat lunch along the way and because I was hoping Tom could help me. He's the trail angel who owns a house directly on the Appalachian Trail, and I did pass by it yesterday although Tom had currently been off giving rides to hikers or something.

In any case, I dropped in to see who was around, but more importantly, after over three months without a haircut, my hair was getting a little unwieldy! I needed help! I started the trail after shaving my head bald and I wanted to go back to that state. I didn't really need a fancy, trained professional to cut my hair. I could have done it myself without a mirror! I just needed clippers to buzz the hair off, and I was hoping it might have some that I could borrow.

This time around, Tom was there, but he asked if I could wait a bit because he was going to give some hikers a ride somewhere. Sure! No problem! So I sat down on the front porch and chatted with other hikers until he returned maybe 20 minutes later. At first, he didn't realize that I was a thru-hiker. My clothes had been freshly laundered, my shoes were brand spanking new, I was freshly shaven, and not carrying a giant, bulky pack because most of my gear I left back in the hotel room. Not the typical look for a thru-hiker! Of course, he hadn't known that I'd already spent one night in town and had time to clean up a bit!

He pulled out the clippers he had, telling me about all sorts of hikers whose hair he'd cut over the years. "I'm just looking for something simple," I told him. "Bald!"

"Sure you don't want a mohawk?"

"Nope. I just don't want to mess with any hair at all. It's a hassle. Get rid of it all!"

After over three months of hiking, I've gone from bald to this wild mess on my head. Goodbye, mess!

He went to work, buzzing my head and he seemed to take great pleasure in the experience. After a few minutes, he gave me a small mirror and asked me what I thought.

It was a mohawk.

"You missed a spot!" I joked.

He just wanted me to see it, just in case I would change my mind. But I didn't--I wanted to get rid of it all. I was amused at him wanting to give me a mohawk, though.

You missed a spot!

He quickly buzzed the rest of it off and it felt great getting rid of all that extra weight. I offered to sweep up the mess from his yard, but he said not to worry about it and swept my hair under some bushes. "The birds like it for nesting material," he told me. I nodded with approval. =)

While Tom was putting the clippers away, two other hikers with a dog arrived. Cauliflower and.... I don't remember the other girl's name. Street something? One of them already had mohawk hair, but the sides around the mohawk were growing back and she seemed quite excited about the opportunity to get rid of some unwanted hair as well. So she took the seat and her friend buzzed her head as well, leaving the mohawk in place. She missed my short-lived mohawk but I showed her a photo of it that Tom took on my camera and she said I should have kept it. Nope!

Ahhh.... much better!

The girls asked if it would be okay to camp in Tom's backyard, but it had to tell them no because of the dog. He, personally, doesn't mind dogs, but he'd had neighbors who've complained about barking and undisciplined dogs during the night so he can no longer allow them. Apparently, not all of his neighbors are was welcoming of thru-hikers as he is so he has to walk a fine line in accommodating hikers and keeping his neighbors happy. He tells hikers not to throw trash in any of the neighbors trash cans, but tells us where in town we can dispose of it. And he's had to set a cap on the number of hikers who can camp in his backyard at any given time.

I'd mentioned that we actually met briefly back during my 2003 thru-hike and asked if he still had the register he used then. He did, and went into his house to retrieve it. It took me about 5 seconds to find the entry I wrote--mostly because it was marked with the green turtle stamp that made it especially easy to find.

He'd seen my current turtle stamp in this years register, but was surprised to see it in the 2003 one. "You had a stamp back then too?" he asked. "Yep, I've been stamping for a long time...." It's not the same stamp, however. The one I used then had been lost years ago, and my new one was much more intricate and representative of my carving abilities now.

My register entry at Tom's from my 2003 thru-hike! Back when I was still known as Green "Turtle."

In any case, I eventually wandered off. There were other things to be done! But I really enjoyed catching up with Tom. He is, I think, the only trail angel I met on both my 2003 and 2015 thru-hikes. (Well, there's Amanda, but she's a stalker who actually goes out to look for me on the trail!)

Late in the afternoon, I headed over to Manny's Pizza. I'd predicted a week earlier when I would arrive into Dalton, and knowing I'd be taking a zero day here knew I'd have a little flexibility in my arrival, so I announced my upcoming arrival online as a letterboxing gathering. Anyone who wanted to come out to meet me or chat with some other letterboxers, come on out!

In all, seven people came out: RIclimber, ladybugsmom, Bungalow Boxer, Honeybearclan, wishful thinkin' and Kimoppi (with son). I was the first to arrive and grabbed a table, then ordered a meal which included a can of Coke with my name on it. Literally, it was one with my name on it. I saw it in the display case and thought I definitely should get it to put on the table so everyone would know it was me--in case they didn't recognize me without my hair. =)

We dined, exchanged stamps, and generally just had a good time telling stories. But as they say, all good things must come to an end and this was no exception. Many of them had quite lengthy drives to get back home as well.

I think it was RIclimber who took this photo. I didn't think to get any of the mini-meet in Dalton.

While walking back to the hotel in the growing darkness, it suddenly occurred to me that today didn't have to, strictly speaking, but a zero day. I walked down the main street to the hotel, which was off trail, but the trail led through a residential neighborhood and passes just a few blocks away from the hotel. I could walk down the actual trail for the quarter mile--if that much--walk back. Then jump off the trail again and walk the few blocks back to the hotel. I don't normally hike at night because it's hard to get the photos I need, but it's such a short section of trail.... I'll give it a try! There are lights in the city too, which at least partially solves my problem of it being too dark to get photos of anything.

So I followed the trail the short ways back towards my hotel. The photos weren't easy to get. Despite the lights of the city, it's still dark enough to give my camera seizures. I'd have to rest my camera against a telephone pole to keep it steady enough to get photos that weren't horribly blurry. But I got a few, and they looked like they'd be suitable for my purposes. I figured I probably just saved myself a half hour of hiking tomorrow by no longer having to hike so far back to the trail, just to walk on a nearly parallel street back where I started.

And then I was done for the night. Into my hotel room, and back to working on my laptop.

Walking back to my hotel in the dark along the Appalachian Trail. It was still hard to get decent photos in the darkness. Even using telephone poles and such to help steady the camera, the images are still blurry!


Karolina said...

I agree with Cauliflower - you should have kept the mohawk! =)

Unknown said...

Yes! You could have totally Rocked that mohawk! =)