Location: The Birdcage, Dalton, Massachussets
We slack-packed today. Bears, Cold Feet, and I decided that we would hike 20 miles with daypacks back into Dalton from the south. The terrain that we planned to cross was gently rolling. We only needed to carry water, water purifiers, and snacks. Mountain Squid took us to Mass. 20 at around 10:00am. I had eaten a great bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich from a local store in Dalton so I was feeling good when we started up the first mountain with lightweight daypacks that Rob lent us.
Bears and I pulled away from Cold Feet who listened to her MP3 player and changed her pace with the beat of the song. Slow songs, slow walking, fast songs, fast walking. Bears and I made nearly three miles an hour on the flat Massachusetts terrain. For a while I talked to Bears about his life before the trail. He graduated from Georgia Southern in computer science. He dates a Peruvian girl named Manda, who lives and works in Claxton, and he writes a weekly article for his local newspaper. He has acquired a small fan club. An elderly woman sends him sporadic letters and expresses her concern for him and asks questions about the things he carries and eats. She lost her husband last year and she tells Bears about all of the places that they once visited that the Appalachian Trail happens to cross. He let me read the letters.
After several miles, I established a pace faster than Bears could maintain. I finished fifteen or so miles alone. The terrain was flat and I managed to move at just over three miles per hour. The light pack let me jump and hop around the trail, avoiding roots, rocks, and creeks with ease. I made it back to Dalton at around 6:00 pm. I showered immediately and plopped down on the couch to wait for Bears and Cold Feet to return. When they finally did return, we decided to go to the Old Country Buffet. Mountain Squid took us three and several northbounders to the buffet. The food wasn’t good, but there was a lot of it. I ate five plates of food, including fried chicken, tacos, pastas and many sides. I had a couple servings of dessert. I feel like I got my ten dollars worth of food at the buffet. I left feeling sick was so full of food. I went to the Wal-Mart after dinner to get a phone card. When I got back to the house, I called Mom and Dad and Katie. Rob gave me the bed in the basement, affectionately called ‘the cave,’ because there are no windows, a concrete floor and loose rocks piled in the corners of the room. I went to sleep early because I had slept poorly the night before and just finished my second 20 mile day in two days.