Appalachian Trail Mile 1434.1

Saturday, August 12, 2017 (Day 101)

I had a late start, an all too common occurrence when I sleep within the confines of a tent.

I had travelled but two miles before crossing Dennytown Road. I had intentions of filling up at the water spigot on the side of a building near the roadside parking lot. After the road, the trail crosses a grassy lawn and ventures between the trees and back in to the woods. I stepped out on to the road. I immediately took notice of a man beside a truck. It was not possible to miss him. The truck was parked on the lawn, directly on trail. I inquired about the spigot. He offered me cold bottled water and a single serving of peach flavored green-tea mix in a long shiny plastic pouch. He sipped a bottled IPA beneath the guise of a red bandanna. I shook the water bottle, now filled with the amber colored powder, and watched the colors change with satisfaction. It had a strong and enjoyable flavor. I have always liked strong flavors. He was a local who often came out to the trail and chatted with hikers. Another hiker came along and was offered a beer. I accepted one as well. A Bud Light. A very cold Bud Light, and an apricot.

I headed back in to the woods.

Glancing upward, it seemed the rain filled clouds may be swept away. The giant, grey, wet-wooled sheep of the sky, were coralled and swayed by the shepherding breeze to be wrung out above some distant land. Well done.

I took notice of myself. I laughed. It seemed I had in fact maintained a “buzz” from said Budweiser. My body was giddy with movement.

Another hiker I knew came up from behind. I let them pass. We chatted. They were headed to the Canopus Lake Beach campground for the night. There was a shower there and a restroom and outlets and a food stand. The thought of a shower and electricity was appealing. I decided to stop in as well. We had great difficulty finding the correct green-blazed connecting trail. I quickly decided it was not worth the effort.

I stopped at a flat spot above Canopus Lake and ate a small serving of potatos and a Clif Bar. I was very low on food. I was lower on energy, however; eating seemed to help.

I was determined to make it to the Mountaintop Deli half of a mile South of the trail, off of NY Route 52. I had read of hikers camping in the back of the deli, on the lawn. They also had an electrical outlet and water spigot on the side of the building, and a selection of goods for a light resupply.

I hiked on in to the night. I stopped for another break and ate the small bit of dehydrated potatos I had remaining, and examined the Chicken of the Woods I had found at the base of a tree. I had read that you should not consume it without first cooking it. Without a working stove, I pondered my options. It was not worth it to build a fire, nor did I have the time or desire. I pulled out my small blue lighter, ignited it, and held it to the corner of the fungi. When the flame began to cook my finger as well, I paused, let the metal cool, and sparked the flame once more. I repeated this process a few more times, sitting beneath a tree beneath the darkness of night, until I was satisfied. I then nibbled on the scorched corner of the mushroom. I had never identified, picked, and consumed any sort of wild mushroom before. I ate cautiously and with focus on my senses. All was well.

Eventually I made it to the dark, winding asphalt of Route 52. I headed South along the road. I was pleased with my arrival. The road was surprisingly busy for such an hour. A truck dissonantly hummed North. I noted the sound of its engine fading in to the distance. I noted the sound of said engine turning and strengthening, growing closer. It was 2 am. I glanced behind me, clenching my trekking poles, imagining what various forms of harm they might bestow. The truck pulled up beside me, it’s passenger window disappearing in to the rubber lined slit at its base.

“You looking for the trail?” the driver asked.

“No. I am heading to the Deli.”

“The Deli is closed right now.”

He squinted his eyes, shielding them with his hands and withdrawing his head a little. I covered the beam of my headlamp with my palm.

“I know. I heard they let hikers camp there, and I am looking to charge my things.”

“You want a ride? You can hop in the back of the truck. You’re really close. It’s just to the right of the stop sign there.” He pointed ahead.

“I’m alright, thank you. It’s not far.”

He smiled, turned his truck around, and drove off. I felt great relief. Though an uncomfortable hour to be approached, I appreciated the gesture of kindness.

I soon came to the deli.

I surveyed the area. I found the outlet and plugged in my things. I then found a grass-free patch of earth beneath a tree behind the deli and out of sight, and slept for the night.

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