Location: Seth Warner Shelter
It rained on and off last night. When we woke up this morning, a cold mist swirled in the air. The temperature had dipped into the 30’s in the night and the wind blew at the high altitude. I stayed warm all night in my zero degree sleeping bag, unzipped. I saw that everyone else was bundled in their mummy bags, wearing beanies and jackets, and huddled together. Nattie Boh had moved close to Miss Direction and it looked like she had wormed her way away from his attempts to cuddle with her. I was the first to rise and the first to leave. When I put on my wet T-shirt in the cold morning, I strapped on my pack and bolted. I said ‘goodbye’ as I passed by the front of the lean-to and then I hurried into the woods as I tried to get my blood moving and warm my body. It seemed like it took forever, but finally I was sweating and getting below 3500ft.
Today I had planned to hike 22 miles. I decided I would take breaks twice, each time at a shelter. The shelters were spaced 6-7 miles apart. The plan worked well. I made my destination, Seth Warner Shelter. The shelter is the first shelter on the Long Trail, a trail extending from the Mass-Vermont border to the Vermont-Canada border. The trail is older than the Appalachian Trail, and the AT follows the LT for a hundred miles south of Maine Junction. Many say that the Long Trail presents much more difficult terrain than the AT, but it is only 250 miles or so. Tomorrow I’ll cross the Mass-Vermont border, the southern terminus of the LT. I will go into Williamstown, MA tomorrow and forward my boxes to somewhere six days south of Dalton, Mass. I’ll probably climb Greylock Mountain tomorrow, the last really high mountain that I’ll climb for a while. The next day I’ll reach Dalton and take a short break at The Birdcage, but probably not a zero.
More on today, though not too much happened. One mile led into another until 22 soggy miles were completed. The trail had puddles galore. I slipped and slid down hills and up hills. I had one bad fall. My foot slipped on the face of a smooth rock and I ate it. I smashed my elbow, but there was no blood. It doesn’t even hurt now, but that is probably because of the ibuprofen. I have narrowly escaped serious injury more times than I can count. I hope good fortune continues, because I have been lucky that there always seems to be a branch, root, or rock nearby that I can grab to keep me from tumbling and sliding.
Just before I fell today, I met an interesting northbounder. When I first saw the hiker and heard the voice, I immediately began trying to figure out if the hiker was a man or a woman. He/she was much taller than I am, with curly red hair, no facial hair and broad shoulders. The voice was unisex. It could have been a man’s voice or a woman’s voice. I couldn’t see breasts through the loose shirt, but I think I might have seen a seam of a sports bra. Nothing for sure pointed to a definite sex, not even the trail name, which was Fire. In the course of our quick conversation I intentionally talked about how I was still used to introducing myself by my real name. He/she said that they did also, and that they often introduced themselves as Chris. . . or was it Cris, Krys? Was it short for Christopher, Christine or Krystal? I couldn’t believe that the name didn’t reveal the sex. We parted ways without me knowing the truth, so I’m stuck here wondering.
I caught Plays with Bears today. I had been trying to catch him for some time now, about a week maybe. He had taken a zero to celebrate another southbound hiker’s birthday. I also caught up to Not Bad, Cold Feet and Drew. All but Cold Feet are from Georgia, she is from Alabama. I’m excited to have some people that I might get to spend time with on the trail. I have been disappointed to miss out on the camaraderie and lifelong friendship possibilities on the trail. Maybe this group of southerners will offer me both.