Sunday, August 13, 2017 (Day 102)
I was up early, rolled over for a bit, then finally lifted myself from my dew-dampened sleeping bag. The deli had already opened. I noticed vehicles in the parking lot that were not there before. It was my intention to rise before the opening of the store, to spare being spotted. It seemed this did not matter after all; I had not pitched a tent, and beneath the tree, at the angle by which I reclined for that small window of night, was not easily visible.
I packed up my things and drank spiruluna from my nalgene. I wiped the blue-green algae from the tip of my nose and the corner of my lips and entered the store.
I felt welcome, greeted with kindness. I was told that there was a place to collect water and charge my things on the side of the building. So, they had not seen me after all. I thanked them, and wove up and down the aisles examining the goods.
I selected coffee, canned beans, pretzel rods, bagels, and a fresh cucumber and paid for these at the counter. I then tip-toed across the wet grass to the far end of the yard, and sat at a bench to enjoy breakfast.
The sun was shining. I smiled in anticipation of a lovely day.
I headed North down the road and rejoined the trail.
I passed Nuclear Lake, first from a distance, then a stones throw away as the trail weaved around, skirting its shores. However curiously named, the lake was quite beautiful. It glinted and gleamed in the sunlight, reflecting white puffs of cloud on its gentle surface, its welcoming waters fringed with tall grasses and green trees.
I crossed West Dover road. Beside it stands the West Dover Oak. At over 300 years, it is the oldest tree on the Appalachian Trail.
There were three hikers gathered, chatting, smiling, reagailing, in the lot beside the tree. Distracted by their presence I hurried passed and up the trail to where it travels through open pasture. That was not right. I paused, turned back around, and returned to the roadside lot, to the Dover Oak. I stood by its side, shielded from sight by the vastness of its trunk. I pressed my palm against its bark, thick and rough and full of wisdom; then my forehead; then I whispered, almost inaudibly, “hello”.
I continued through the pasture and along the Swamp River Boardwalk.
I crossed the railroad tracks and the little plank from where you can catch the train to New York City.
When I reached NY Route 22, I veered from the trail and walked East along the road towards Tony’s Deli. I purchased coffee and a Clif Bar and some fruit. I sat and ate and listened to the joking and jesting and sarcasm between coworkers. They certainly appeared to be enjoying themselves. I was gifted expired grapefruit juice and a cup of ice.
I returned to the trail at dusk.
The trail traversed another sloped pasture, and then back in to the woods in the region of the Pawling Nature Reserve.
There was much mud and roots and wooden planks. I grew tired quickly. I found a flat area near a trail junction just before a stream, and retired.