Location: Toy Maker’s, Fall Village, Connecticut
The group of girls from Smith College woke up before I did this morning. I woke up around 7:00am to a misty morning and seven girls giggling about the night over steaming bowls of oatmeal. The shelter was surprisingly quiet last night and I slept well. I snored though. The shelter was built to accommodate 10 hikers. We squeezed 14 people and one dog into the bunks and the loft. People slept under bunks and the girls slept two to a bunk. One NOBO there, Seed, used a space blanket to keep warm. Every time he rolled or twitched, it sounded like he was crumpling tin foil in his hands. Every person in the shelter rolled when he rolled. Still, I slept well. Again, I was told that I was snoring loudly, ‘sawing trees’ one girl said.
Bears and I started on the trail first. We planned a 22 miles day to Falls Village, CT. If we couldn’t make that mileage, we planned to stop at a shelter 18 miles away. We left the group of loud girls at the shelter. They all looked so young to be entering college. Bears agreed. Maybe we are getting old and we don’t even realize it. We had several mountains to tackle in the first five miles today. The first few weren’t bad, but then we climbed Bear Mountain, which was steep, rocky, and slick, the theme of the trail this week. The rain that fell all day yesterday left the trail as a creek. Seemingly innocent rocks presented dangerous steps. Bears fell hard on Bear Mountain and smashed his kneecap on a small point of a rock. He has limped all day and has been abusing Aleve.
I felt well most of the day, but towards the end of the day my right shin started to hurt. I’m not sure what has happened. I was walking on flat trail at a quick pace when I felt something shift in my leg. After that, my shin hurts and sometimes throbs when I walk down hills.
Bears and I had finished the 22 miles around 7:00pm. We walked into Falls Village to discover that stores and shops are only open from Thursday to Sunday. Today is Wednesday. We completed the 22 miles faster than I had expected, but I suppose the thought of pizza in town motivated us to get to Falls Village. The village, founded in 1739 (1729?) is the second smallest village in Connecticut. Some of the buildings date back to before the 1720’s, but the people we talked to weren’t sure which buildings in town were those. Bears and I went to the Toymaker’s Café, a place that allows camping in the backyard of the restaurant. The man that owns the café was in the backyard, working on a motorcycle when we walked up the short dirt driveway. He greeted us and said that he would fix us cold cut sandwiches if we wanted them. We thankfully accepted his offer and were treated to delicious roast beef sandwiches. I ate my first sandwich today that had lettuce and tomato on it. I didn’t want to insult the man so I ate it all. It was delicious. Bears and I ate dinner and chatted with the owner and his wife. The owner has recently retired from environmental engineering and has opened a café and a motorcycle repair shop. Many of the motorcycles that he works on are low-mileage, vintage bikes. Many are sent to England. When he went to England for a bike show, the people there called him the Toymaker because they believed that Americans kept bikes as toys and not for everyday travel because of the low mileages on the 50 years old bikes. For that reason, this is the Toymaker’s Café. There are toys inside the café, a building standing since 1884, but the Toymaker does not make them.
Bears and I set up my tent in the backyard of the orange house. Bears carries a hammock to sleep in, but there are no trees, so he and I will share my tent tonight. I’ve never shared the tent with another person, and it should prove to be a tight squeeze.
Cold Feet was supposed to come to Falls Village tonight, but at the shelter this morning I suspected that she might not make the 22 miles because she was leaving so late. Hiker Bee stayed late at the shelter too because he is preparing for his personal challenge, the Connecticut challenge. Today he planned to hike seven miles to the Massachusetts-Connecticut border and then sleep as long as he could. When he wakes up, he intends to hike 51.6 miles through Connecticut without stopping. It will take around 24 hours to hike. I think he’s crazy, which is why I refused the offer to join him. His mind and his body will be mush at the end of the trip. I hope he doesn’t hurt himself too badly. Of course, this morning he rolled five blunts that he said would let him complete the challenge. He is being picked up at the border of NY and taken to his parent’s apartment in Manhattan for three days recuperation after the challenge.
I nearly forgot to mention that Bears and I crossed into Connecticut today. Although context reveals it, I still wanted to state it explicitly. I’ve now completed four states, and Connecticut will be completed in two days. Tomorrow, I’ll hike another 20 mile day and also stop in Cornwall Bridge, CT for Bears’ mail drop. In the morning, I’m going down to the hydroelectric plant on the way out of town to take advantage of a free cold-water shower that they have there. I saw it today protruding from the ivy covered brick wall on the utility house. It will be quite a wakeup call in the morning. Now I’m going to the tent where we will see how much of a two man tent this Kelty Crestone really is.
One more story from today. When I found out that the man making our sandwiches was going to charge us for them, I walked down the street to the ATM at the bank. The bank was small like everything else in the town and the ATM was just inside a glass door in a tiny room. I walked up to the door, actually I limped to the door, and I pulled firmly on the handle. The door shifted but didn’t open. On the glass, a sign read 24-hour banking. I pushed and pulled a few times but the door wouldn’t open. I took a step back to consider the problem. I looked around for help. There was no one around to help. I started to dread having to return to the restaurant without the money to pay for the meal that the man had opened his café to make. Then, I noticed a key card scanner beside the locked door. I examined it closely, noticing the red light and the green light. I thought for a few seconds about the scanner and then thought about the debit card in my pocket. A sense of mischief came over me as I twirled the debit card in my fingers. I compare the feeling I had to the feeling one might have just before sticking their tongue to frozen metal or prodding a caged animal at the zoo. I wasn’t sure what might happen if I swiped my card and it were denied. Would the alarms sound? Would dogs bark? Would sleepy cops screech around corners with shotguns cocked? I swiped the card with a grimace and the door released. I exhaled my held breath and withdrew my money, laughing about my ridiculous thoughts.