Appalachian Trail Mile 1352.6

Monday, August 7, 2017 (Day 96)

The morning was cold. I donned my raincoat over my puffy. I did not care that I would be uncomfortably warm soon. I collected my ground tarp from the floor boards overhead. Pools of water had in fact collected, and sat stagnantly atop it. So it did serve a purpose, I thought. I was pleased with myself.

The rain was gentle. The moisture seemed to hang in the air, rather than in the threading of my clothes or fabric of my pack. This, I appreciated. By the time I reached the pastures the sky was a brighter shade of grey, the birds sang, and the flowers were magnificent.

It was all so beautiful! The colors were so vibrant, each flower –each petal– so individually vivid in its contrast with the grey sky, with the green grass, the brown earth! The plants all seemed so happy, so crisp, so pure. They seemed to call out in a sort of inaudible jubilence. A collective sigh of relief and nourishment and thanks drifted upward and outward from the plant-world. I could have sworn I felt their joy; it was contagious.

I passed ponds and pastures and bogs.

I discovered blackberries that rivaled the deliciousness of the red.

I came to Lott Road. I turned left. I felt my orientation was off by the many recent twists and turns in the trail. There was no sign of sun in the grey sky. I asked a man on a bicycle if I was headed in the right direction towards town. “Yeah, Unionville. There is a pizzeria and general store to your left.”, he replied.  His accent was so undeniably “New York”. I was elated. I was in New York.

I sit at the general store sipping coffee from a foam cup. Water drips from the brim of my hat on to the speckled grey cement. I repackage my light resupply, and press on.

Back on the trail, light patches of grey, mist rose in the distance.

I crossed the Wallkill River on State Line Road and entered the Wallkill National Wildlife Refuge.

There were certainly many bugs that enjoyed biting and flittering about me, but also many birds…and oh, was it beautiful!

I reentered the woods, to a deer peering at me shyly from behind a tree.

I crossed Liberty Corners Road. I then followed a short side trail, to collect water from a spigot protruding from the side wall of an abandoned building. The building was owned by the National Park Service. I glanced through the windows. Empty, white walls, sharp corners. I sat for a moment on the abandoned drive-way.

It began to rain again, still ever so softly and slightly sideways. I hiked on passed the shelter. The night was thick with fog. It became so terribly difficult to see. The rays of my headlamp struggled to push through the thick, low-hanging clouds. The shards of light that were not refracted by rain, were swallowed whole in the clouds dense hunger. I was discouraged, and moved slowly.

I crossed a stream and came to a relatively open area of ground, blanketed in pine-needles. I would have to set up my tent tonight. The spot was near a stream, this was good. It would have to do. I set up my tent and crawled in. I tenderly wiped its inner walls free of mold with a wet-wipe.

I reclined and slept.

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