Location: Unknown Shelter
Well, Flying Tortoise snores. He sounds like a chainsaw. I suspected that he might when I saw him smoking American Spirit cigarettes and choking on phlegm. He wore a manicured handlebar mustache and a bushy ponytail. He’s from California. When he turned off his headlamp to go to sleep, he fell asleep immediately. It didn’t take 90 seconds for him to start snoring. He snored as he exhaled though, through his mouth and not his nose. He coughed and swallowed occasionally. I began to mimic his snoring, trying to be louder and more obnoxious, just for fun. Whether it was my snoring or not that caused him to wake up, who knows? But, he rolled over and stopped snoring. I pretended to wake up and stop snoring, to cover up my antics.
We woke up this morning to steady rain. In fact, we went to sleep to the rain. It rained all night. The thunder and lightning woke me a couple times in the night. It rained for hours on end. Flying Tortoise won’t leave a shelter if it’s raining. He will hike through the rain, but it must start raining while he is hiking or he won’t be in it. I woke up rested at 6:15am and 8:00am. At 8:00 am, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Tortoise had just finished his book and was smoking a filter-less cigarette. He had been awake since 4:30am. He doesn’t sleep well. He also has Restless Leg Syndrome. I don’t know if he knows it or not, but he kicks his feet and legs constantly while he sleeps. Flying Tortoise and I chatted lazily about nothing until about 10:00am. He mainly told stories about drinking and drugs. I told him I had decided to quit drinking for the duration of my trip. At 10:30 am or so he packed up and left. With his fifty pound pack, fingerless gloves, and do-rag, he hiked north as soon as the rain ceased and a cool mist moved onto the mountain. He left behind the novel he finished, Lehane’s Mystic River. I took it to the privy and started reading it. I read another hour and left the shelter at Noon, with the book.
I decided that I would only hike ten miles today, two shelters further down the trail. I hiked the first five through soaked trail. Mountain runoff had swept across the flat trail and one area the swelled river had dislodged a beaver dam. My boots are on their last leg. I’ve noticed that they have holes in them through to my sock. The leather is pulling away from the sole. The leather is disintegrating in some areas. I’ll need to replace them soon. Maybe I’ll mail them ahead and let them meet their death in the Boot Graveyard of northern Pennsylvania.
Anyway, I hiked the first five miles through water and that didn’t help the condition of my boots. I passed Caughnawaga Shelter, built in 1932 by log laborers given work during the Great Depression by the vision of Benton MacKaye and his Appalachian Trail. I’ve learned that the trail may not have been accomplished if it weren’t for the need of huge civil projects in the 1930s.
Only a couple hundred feet from that old shelter, though it looks good to be nearly 80 years old, a new shelter has been built. I stopped there for a long lunch. I met a father-son pair of thru-hikers named Fish and Minnow. I liked the name, so they are worth mentioning here. I ate my lunch and guarded my food from two bold chipmunks that would come into the lean-to and climb on the tables and bunks. The register entry says that there is also a porcupine that visits each morning. Porcupines are notorious for eating gear, anything that has sweat on it. I didn’t get to see the porcupine, but I would have tried to hit him with a rock or stick to teach him not to eat boots, clothes, or the handles on Lekis. I enjoyed a long lunch and read more of the book, which is already very different than the movie. I left the shelter around 4:00pm to hike the remaining five miles of my day. The trail was not quite as soggy, but it was mainly uphill. I made good time up Glastonbury Mountain. There was a fire tower at the summit. I climbed up the stairs to get a view, but when I got above the treetops I got nailed by a cold wind that chilled my sweat. I didn’t make it to the hut on top. There wasn’t a view anyway.
I arrived at the shelter around 6:00pm. I was alone at first, but then more NOBOs and an overnight hiker showed. I met Redcoat, a young British man named by his hiking partners at a 4th of July celebration. I also met the Ghost of Natty Boh and Miss Direction. All were friendly, but Miss Direction has flu-like symptoms. The symptoms that she describes sound like Lyme disease. Lyme disease has been frequently reported this year, and some say it had been a banner year for the disease. Many have been forced from the trail temporarily or entirely. I am entering tick regions soon. I’ll make sure to check often for ticks, because I’ve heard stories of people having several on them at a time. I think that the last thing that I could want on this trip would be Lyme disease. The disease itself and the antibiotics take every bit of energy out of a person. I’ve met many people who try to stay on after Lyme and they struggle to pull 10 mile days.