Appalachian Trail Mile 1586.0

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 (Day 111)

I woke at 5:30 am, still on the side of trail. I suppose that break was a bit more extended than planned.

I looked forward to the day ahead. It is amazing what difference nourishment can make on energy and outlook.

After just eight miles, the trail led through another town, the town of Cheshire. The town was cute and quiet, with mail boxes shaped like little houses. The breeze blew through the tops of trees, fallen leaves scratched the speckled asphalt. Many trailers and boats sat on driveways and in side-yards. It was significantly hotter, without the full tree cover and cool forest floor.

The day continued through cornfields and meadows, and a gradual climb up Mt Greylock, the highest point in Massachussets.

I stopped for a break just short of the summit. I noticed the weather change. It was so sudden. The sky darkened, the wind blew fiercely. The sun was resigning. I hurried to the summit.

I reached the top of the mountain at dusk. I went round to the back of the Bascom Lodge to collect water from the spigot attached to the building. As I filled my platypus with water, I had to hold my sleeping pad between my legs to keep it from blowing away, coerced into flight by the strengthening wind. A light rain began. There was a great chill in the air. I donned my raincoat, secured my pack, and set out in search of where the trail begins again. I walked in a circle. I could not find it. I strapped on my headlamp, and engaged the light. There was a clap of thunder. I became anxious in my search. I was doubtful of my ability to make it to a suitable place for shelter before the storm raged, before visibility was swallowed by the clouds.

Finally I found the trail. I also found the Thunderbolt Shelter. It is an emergency stone hut. It is not intended for overnight use. A flash of lightning. This is a suitable exception, I thought.

I stepped inside. It was quite nice. I made myself comfortable on a stone plank, trying not to feel guilty for cutting my hike short. I did not mean to be here. I meant to hike in to the night. I meant to make it to Vermont. I am due to meet my brother in Bennington tomorrow afternoon, just over 24 miles away.

The rain pounds the outside of the shelter, blown sideways by the wind; heavy sheets of rain, flashes of lightning, the boom of thunder.

I will certainly have my work cut out for me tomorrow.

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