Monday, December 28, 2015

Day 122: Places to see, things to do!

July 7: While I had enjoyed the nice weather the last couple of days on the trail, it didn't seem destined to last. Weather forecasts called for rain later that afternoon, and the clouds looked ominous in the morning. I woke up and got an early 6:00 AM start in the hopes of beating the afternoon rain.

This chipmunk is giving me the evil eye!

The trail was uneventful. I was amused at one point when I caught up with a hiker who was surprised to see me.

"I heard you had quit the trail!" she exclaimed. "That you left all of your gear in a shelter and just quit!"

"Nope, I'm still here," I replied. "That was the other Tortuga on the trail who quit and left his gear in a shelter back in New York."

Clearly, somebody had gotten the Tortuga confused with Green Tortuga and assumed I was the one who quit the trail. She said she was surprised when she had heard that because she knew I was taking photos for Walking 4 Fun and had done the trail before already--I didn't seem like the kind of person who'd just quit and leave all of their gear in the shelter.

"Even if I did quit the trail, I certainly wouldn't leave my gear behind in the shelter. What would I use for my next hike?" Then I pointed to my pack, "And I sewed this pack myself. It's a beautiful, one-of-a-kind masterpiece that took countless hours to create. I'd never leave that behind in a shelter!"

By 2:30 in the afternoon, I had covered a respectable 16.6 miles--not a huge mileage day by any stretch, but enough that I didn't feel like it was a wasted day either. That landed me at the Thistle Hill Shelter. It hadn't started to rain yet, but the air was thick with wetness and felt like it could start up at any time so I decided to call it quits while the quitting was good. I was dry and warm in the shelter, and it was a good way to end the day.

The only other person at the shelter was a young woman named Caroline. She was planning to thru-hike Vermont along the AT from the New Hampshire border to the Massachusetts border. It was her first time backpacking and she'd been a little nervous at the prospect. She didn't like the idea of sleeping in the shelter so she set up her tent just outside of it, but then spent all of her time sitting in the shelter chatting with me and reading her book. The tent was just for sleeping, I guess. She also admitted that she needed practice at setting it up. In fact, when she arrived at the trailhead, she had never set it up before. Ever.

When one of her friends had asked if she knew what she was doing, Caroline assured her that she had practiced setting up the tent at home. "But I lied," she said. "I'd never set it up before."

I'd have probably recommended setting it up before taking it on the trail myself, but I was glad to see that she was so excited to try this adventure despite this lack of experience--and without a hiking partner no less. It must have been a little scary for her, but she did it anyhow.

She had started hiking only the day before and didn't have a trail name yet so I told her to tell me a little about herself. We'll figure out a trailname for her! What kind of hobbies did she enjoy, what's her occupation, amusing anecdotes from childhood, etc.

And eventually, we settled on Banana Bread. She had a story about loving Banana Bread ever since she was a child and I suggested that that could be a trail name, and she seemed to like it. For all I know, she could have ditched the trailname the next day when we went our separate ways, but she seemed genuinely interested in using it.

As the afternoon turned into dusk, the rain never materialized and I was a little disappointed at the fact. I stopped early in the day to avoid the rain. I could have easily have gotten more miles in but chose not to. What happened to the rain?!

I expected more thru-hikers to drop in as the afternoon progressed, but by sunset, it was still just Carolina and myself at the shelter. What the heck happened to everyone else? I didn't exactly put in a big miles that would outpace everyone.

After the sun set and darkness descended, Carlina went back to her tent to sleep and I had the shelter to myself.

The Lookout had this private cabin that was open for thru-hikers to use. The observation deck at the top was irresistible!

View from the observation deck

The problem was that once you were at the top, there was only one way down! And it looks like a long way down!

Bzzz! Bzzz!

This line was stretched across the creek to help people cross safely, but I rock-hopped across a bit further downstream where I wouldn't have to get my feet wet. =)

Good advice. Very good advice. *nodding*

The Thistle Hill Shelter. That's Caroline in the shelter, which is where she spent most of her time except when she went to sleep at which point she moved into her tent.
This shelter had one of the cutest privies of the trail! My only complaint, however, is that it was located slightly downhill between the trail and the shelter so anyone walking by might get a "view in" if anyone is doing any business here--it's a rather exposed privy!

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