Day 126: Poughquag, NY to Ten Mile River Shelter // 17.3 miles. We had a really hard time getting out of town. We tried hitching for awhile to no avail. Then Eric asked the motel owner for a ride the three miles back to the trail but he refused (big surprise). We walked up the road to see if there was a better spot to hitch. Nope. We kept walking and hitching, slowly, found a deli, stopped for breakfast. A guy in the parking lot wanted to chat with us, and we indulged him by telling our signature stories (caught in freezing rain, charged by a bear, etc), hoping that in exchange he would give us a ride. Instead he said we were “dumb as rocks” for wasting our college educations. He also refused to take us. Eventually we gave up and walked all the way back. Once we got hiking again we passed the train stop for NY City and, awhile later, crossed into Connecticut. It was a “super moon” that night, and we talked a little bit about doing some night hiking in the moonlight to get away from the large herd of weekenders at the shelter. But there were lots of rangers out and the camping was very restricted and we’d walked 20 miles so we settled for just looking at the moon. Actually it’s unusual that I’m still awake when it’s dark, so you can’t say I didn’t make an effort!
Day 127: Ten Mile River to Stony Brook campsite // 16.3 miles. We did some ups and downs in the morning, then went into Kent, CT to resupply. It was so quaint and perfect it seemed kind of fake, like a Disney-town. They were having some kind of sidewalk festival thing and was really crowded. The resupply came with some major sticker shock–Connecticut is expensive! Even cereal like Cheerios cost way too much. The crowds started to get to me and it was getting very hot, so after some lunch we rolled out of town. Animal had just given up on hitching and started walking back when a guy picked Eric and me up. We waved at Animal as we passed, which was maybe kind of mean, but then we convinced the guy to go back and pick him up, so hopefully we made up for it. We climbed out and hiked on. We camped along the Housatonic River, so it was nice to splash off in a large quantity of fast moving water. It sounds so sterile that way, but usually our nightly water comes from little streams and creeks maybe three inches deep. I do the best I can with those, but a good rinse in a foot or more of flowing water is a treat. It’s like the difference between a sponge bath and a jacuzzi.
Day 128: Stony Brook to Falls Village, CT // 17.5 miles. We hiked hard over a roller coaster (lots of little ups and downs) most of the day. The forest was beautiful. We came down to a hydroelectric plant that had a shower on the outside of one of their buildings. No privacy or anything, so it was a quick one hoping no cars came along the road. We met Rottman there, a cool German guy we’d seen a few times before–his name means “Red Man”, because apparently every redhead’s trail name is required to reference their redheadedness. We cleaned up, then we all walked into Falls Village…or was it Canaan? We were in “The Town of Canaan, Falls Village, CT”. Can’t get the hang of Connecticut’s plan here. Got some beers, ordered a pizza, and set up camp in the backyard of a cafe. Usually sleeping in town isn’t that nice because of light and noise, but this town was so quiet.
Day 128: Falls Village to Race Brook Falls campsite // 19 miles. More big climbs today but with very rewarding views. In the morning we stopped to see a big waterfall, but it was really trashed and we didn’t stay long. We walked through fancy picturesque Connecticut neighborhoods with fancy houses. That was different. We also caught up to Walter White, whom we hadn’t seen since Damascus. Rottman hiked with us too and we spent the morning chatting. Walter White is a big talker. At one point we were discussing the epic downfalls of the education system, and who knows how we got on that topic or where we went from there. It was entertaining and different for me, and the miles melted away. Walter White and Rottman left to go into Salisbury and we hiked on, following Animal, who had pulled ahead while we chatted (he is not a big talker). We summited Bear Mountain, highest point in CT. Coming down from there we passed into MA and the most beautiful valley called Sage’s Ravine. We followed a brook, full of perfect little swimming holes and natural rock slides. It was really hard to walk past. I have to come back there someday and spend a couple of days just meandering down the ravine and soaking in every pool. Some gnarly rain was projected to blow in that evening and it was starting to drizzle. We stopped to debate whether to set up camp or press on to our planned spot. We decided to press on so that we’d have a shorter day into town tomorrow. The next mountain we climbed took us along a cliffside with awesome views. The drizzle made the rocks slippery so it was sort of slow going. But Eric and Animal, who are faster than me, were ahead and out of sight and I was hiking alone, which is nice sometimes. I felt like an epic warrior princess or something, emerging above tree line and surveying my kingdom in the rain. It just felt good, being up high, looking down, the chill, the wind. Especially after slogging through heat and humidity for so long. I heard the boys whooping when they got to the summit, and the coyotes below me answered them. We got down and were able to set up camp and cook outside without the torrential rain we kept expecting. It cooled off magnificently for an excellent and cozy night of sleeping, though our campsite was rather low and we were concerned the creek nearby might swell if it rained and turn the area into a marsh. The rain didn’t come though, so we had no flood worries.
Day 129: Race Brooke Falls camp to Great Barrington, MA // 9.8 miles. It wasn’t raining still in the morning. Our plan was to hike to the road to town and get a ride in from 44, a guy Animal had hiked with at the beginning of the trail who lived nearby. We planned to resupply and sleep inside since we expected to be soaked. We had a really steep climb (hand over hand up walls type) first thing and wanted to get that over with before the heavy rain. Wet rocks are really rough. It started drizzling on our way up and picked up at the summit. I didn’t put up the umbrella because it made climbing down the rocks hard, so I got pretty wet. At the bottom I put it up and felt better to have the rain off me, but I was soaked. I’d been counting on just getting into town so I hadn’t tried very hard to stay dry, but I hadn’t really thought about how long it takes to hike eight miles. It was cold and miserable. I listened to Game of Thrones and tried to console myself that the characters were usually much colder than I was. At one point we were hiking through some low lying swampy areas, and the boys were ahead of me. I was getting attacked by mosquitos, and wishing I was with them so I could use some of Animal’s bug spray. Suddenly I saw it lying in the trail! I thought he had dropped it accidentally, but turns out he’d done it on purpose. Now there’s a hiking partner! It was such a relief to get to the road and have a car waiting for us. He dropped us at our surprisingly reasonably priced motel, and we got showers and Thai food. Then 44 came back and brought us to his house for dinner along with a southbounder named Moonshine he’d seen walking on the road earlier. We ate until stuffed and slept well back at the motel. After a some traditional HGTV, of course.
Day 130: Zero in Great Barrington. It was not the plan to stay here, but the town is so awesome and the motel room so nice that this morning we all looked at each other and knew we weren’t going anywhere. I’m also dealing with knee pain and my left knee was really swollen last night. I’m excited to walk around the town a little bit–there are so many options for food and lots of cute little shops. It’s the first trail town I could see myself living in. We’ve got the HGTV going, a quality latte is in hand…nothing better! (Edit to add: Eric realized his continually disappointed dream of very spicy Indian food. The chef overhead him ordering his vindaloo, asking them to make it so hot he cried, and he said, “You want to cry? I make you cry.” It is the only time I’ve ever seen Eric satisfied with the spiciness of a vindaloo.)