Appalachian Trail Mile 1467.3; Kent, CT

Monday, August 14, 2017 (Day 103)

I did not wish to rise. I wished to sleep. I could hear a dog barking in the distance. I shut my eyes.  I did the math in my head, trying to determine for how much longer I could delay movement. I calculated miles per hour, and distance to be covered, and the closing time of points of interest in town.

Kent was just over 14 miles away. It was not far, but things closed early. I had to get moving.

The trail began smooth, and clear of obstacles.

The last miles in to Kent, however, were rocky and my body moved slowly. They did, however, provide nice views.

Finally, I reached CT 341. The town was under a mile away. I was exhausted. I did not care to walk an extra step. I began heading east down the road, sticking my thumb out at the sight of each passing vehicle. Alas, a kind lady picked me up before I had covered but a fraction of a mile. By request, she dropped me off at the grocery store.

With my pack in the cart, I wheeled the metal basket up and down the aisles, looking for dinner and a few items to supplement the packages awaiting me at the outfitter.

I sat outside of the store and ate black beans and grapefruit and repackaged the oatmeal and potatos. I then set off for the outfitter. The space that housed the outfitter was shared with an ice cream shop and a fishing store. It seemed only the ice cream shop was active with employees. I inquired about my packages, and an employee of Annie Bananie Ice Cream quickly and kindly came to my assistance.

What an overwhelming display of boxes! I carted them to the front of the building, sat on the pavement beside them, and slit each box open with great enthusiasm. Upon liberation, I examined each object, sat it beside me, and moved on to the next. It was not long before I was surrounded by mounds of packaging and cardboard. This display made me somewhat self-conscious. I moved quickly to flatten the boxes and other forms of packaging and deposit them in the street-side recycling bin.

My replacement stove and shoes and headlamp had arrived! I marveled at the brand-new pair of Lowa Renegades. They did not even appear to be the same boot! After repackaging the food items and repacking my pack, I strapped on my new boots. I could not believe their rigidity. My feet felt hot within their unworn confines. My ankles rejoiced at the great increase in support, however, and my feet, overall, were far happier and more secure. I sat my old boots by the trash, feeling slightly sentimental as I discarded them.

The next task at hand was laundry. I had heard that the lady who runs the laundry mat was quite particular. I headed to the Welcome Center, in search of a secluded place to change in to my wool undergarmets. Though bathrooms were supposed to be locked by 8 pm, the lady’s bathroom door had been left ajar. I entered, changed my clothing, organized what needed washing, and set off for the laundry mat.

Now with clean clothes, it was time to determine where to sleep. There was no place to camp in Kent, and the only hotel in town was quite pricey. On my way to the laundry mat I had noticed some other hikers had pitched a tent in the grassy shadows behind a bank. I thought that setting up a tent, and in day-light no less, was a bold move. I made my rounds about town. I surveyed the perimeter of the post-office and the grocery store in search of a reasonable place to sleep, preferably with a nearby electrical outlet. It seemed the Welcome Center was my best bet.

I returned to the center and sat on the cool grey tiles of cement at the front of the building and charged my phone and wrote. I grew weary, quickly. I reclined momentarily. This was far too visible a spot to sleep. I rose, gathered my things, and shuffled to the back side of the building. There were squares of pavement that formed a strip of walk way near the outdoor shower. This would do. I laid out my ground tarp and mat and unpacked my sleeping bag.

In the middle of sleep my senses alerted me to a crinkling of sorts, and the rustle of a rummager. I glanced in the direction of sound to see a small mammal investigating the contents of one of my bags. With the light of my headlamp, I revealed more clearly the contours of shape and color of fur; A skunk! It was startled by my light and scurried off. I sat in great relief that I had not been sprayed. I quickly returned to slumber. Then…the rain came. This I had not anticipated.

I was not sure of what to do. It was very late, 2 am or so. I was uncertain of where I could take cover. There was no place to pitch my tent. I remembered the bathroom, and the door that had been left ajar. Do I dare? It was a rather clean bathroom, I thought. The center had just opened the previous month. Everything was shiny and new and unsoiled. It was still a bathroom, nonetheless. It was also still raining.

In the end, I made my way in to the bathroom, and slept.

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