Location: Ten Mile Shelter
Our timetable was delayed slightly today. We only hiked 16 miles because we spent three hours in Kent, CT. Also, we didn’t get out of the lean-to this morning until 9:00am. We stayed awake late last night and when we finally fell asleep, a train woke us. Bears and I reached Kent, CT around noon.
I arrived at the road first and met a man standing by his car while his wife/girlfriend/sister sat behind the wheel of the late 1980’s light blue Chrysler. He informed me that two nights ago he had been knocked on the head and robbed of his backpack at Mt. Algo lean-to. He suffered a bloody wound and minor concussion, but he didn’t report the incident to the police. I’ve heard of crimes occurring in this area. A month ago, two NOBOs hid their pack in the woods while they went for supplies. When they returned, the packs had been stolen. A few nights ago, a NOBO told me, a middle aged man with grey beard and hair carried beer and chips to the lean-to. At first he was kind, sharing his beer and chips. After the hikers went to sleep, the man stayed up drinking and became paranoid and belligerent. All four hikers at the shelter packed and left for the trail between 1:00 and 4:00am.
As it turns out, the man that picked us up today was the one allegedly assaulted and robbed. I did not get a good vibe from the man, and I quickly got paranoid about my pack being in the trunk of his car. When hitching, you always run the risk of having someone speed away with your pack. Most people keep the pack on their laps in cars. I cannot because my pack is so large. When we parked at the gas station in town, I decided that it was time for Bears and me to get out of the car though the man and woman were originally going to take us to Kent Pizza.
The driver was surprised that I had decided so suddenly to leave the car, urging me to stay and he would take me just down the road. I dragged Bears out of the car with me and retrieved my pack from the trunk. (My instincts about the sketchy man proved accurate, as I later found out that this man had terrorized some thru-hikers one night on the Appalachian Trail, and the robbery was perhaps fabricated.)
At the gas station payphone, I called home to find out that mom is sick. The news put me in a dismal mood because I could do nothing to help. The news made the rest of the day drag on for what seemed like an eternity. I supplied at the Kent IGA with enough food for five days although I only needed four. I bought a bunch of goodies too, like Sour Patch Kids, Hot Tamales, honey mustard and onion pretzels, and drink mixes. I love sweet things on the trail. The pretzels are probably one of the worst foods I can put into my body, but out here it doesn’t matter. After supplying I met with Bears and Cold Feet for lunch at Kent Pizza. I had the standard town lunch, one pepperoni pizza.
The couple who gave us a ride to town sat a couple booths away from us, and they didn’t acknowledge me when I walked past their table. I was concerned about my pack since the restaurant wouldn’t let us have packs inside the building, so I chose a booth from where I could keep watch over our packs. After lunch and a quick stop by the yuppie outfitter in town, we returned to the trail with a shortened plan for the rest of the day. Instead of crossing into NY today, we stopped short in Connecticut and will hike into NY tomorrow. We did cross the border today, but we crossed back over the border into CT. Today was challenging and unusual. Much of the terrain reminded me of Maine. It was rocky and steep and unforgiving. The end never seemed to come. After many turns in the trail and crests over hills, I told myself that the shelter is going to be right here, but a dozen times I was wrong. I raced against the darkness once again and barely beat the sunset to the shelter. Cold Feet and Bears showed up an hour or so later by headlamp.
I did see some neat things today though. We crossed part of the Schaghicoke Indian reservation today and passed by some sacred rock sights but of course not over them. The reservation has recently been recognized by the federal government. The state is appealing the decision because the Indians plan to exercise their right to erect a casino. I also saw several deer today, all big does. I haven’t seen much wildlife for a while now. The only animals that I have been seeing regularly are the cows in the pastures that we pass through. We climb little ladders to get in and out of the fields. Cows can’t climb ladders and I can’t climb barbed wire. Walking through pastures is fun, especially when the cow is standing on the trail and won’t move so I must walk around her. You have to watch for the cow patties though, manure is everywhere.
Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit! The first day of September and Ernesto bears down on New England. The once hurricane is now a tropical depression; but forecasts say that the system will drop massive amounts of rain on the area. I saw the Doppler image on Bears’ Blackberry and it looks as though it might be able to cover all of Texas if placed over the state. The storm certainly will make our mission more difficult.
I have come to Ten Mile lean-to. Hopefully there won’t be any crazy people that show up tonight. When I got here, there were three other SOBOs that I have never met. They are Wasp’s Nipples, Beebo Fox, and Bonefish. They started their hike in July. They must have passed while we were in Kent, CT. They had planned to resupply in Kent, but at the last minute decided to stay on the trail. They are low on food, so I shared some of my candy and giant loaf of French bread that I had strapped on the outside of my backpack.
Today was a short day, 16 miles. Tomorrow I’ll hike 20 and be in New York. I’m excited for another state. I’ll finish NY in five days or so. We will see. I’m really excited about getting closer to the south. I can’t stop thinking about family, friends, and fishing. Hopefully the Regulator survived the hurricane. Hopefully I’ll survive the next few days through tropical depression Ernesto. We now have 165 miles to complete in nine days. Whether the sun shines or Ernesto pours, we will make the miles. Well I will make the miles. Bears and Cold Feet are bailing out and going to Pauling, NY. I would go, but they plan to skip sections of the trail to stay on pace. I have been given a mission and I will complete it. Delaware Water Gap by September 10th.