Appalachian Trail Mile 1698.9

Thursday, August 31, 2017 (Day 121)

I woke at 5:30 am. My phone had been on silent. No alarm sounded. Darn it! That’s alright. I will get an early start nonetheless.

As I enjoyed the sight of the bright and valiant sunshine streaming through the pines, I jammed the side of my left knee in to a protruding limb of a tree. F#@%! The pain was sharp. I slowed, but did not stop. I cursed to myself softly, beating both of my trekking poles in to the dirt in unison– once to release the frustration, and again to release tension and pain. I glanced down. It had only taken a small piece of skin. The red that had risen in place of flesh was quite beautiful. A deep crimson. I smeared the trickle across my leg. It was a badge.

I stopped for breakfast at a brook. It looked like rain may come. I pulled my stiff, dirty socks from beneath the elastic that affixed them to the outside of my pack, and removed my puffy. I stuffed them both within a heavy-duty plastic bag, rolled down the top, and stuffed them in my pack to keep them safe from the potential rain.

I crossed a bridge over the beautiful Clarendon Gorge.

I came to a parking area at Route 103. A southbounder sat at the trailhead eating a peanut-butter filled tortilla. “You trying to get to Rutland? You hitch to the left. It was a pretty easy hitch.”

I told him that I planned on making it over the mountain first, and hitching from US Route 4. Though it was terrifically tempting to hitch early, I pressed on.

On the other side of the road, was a beautiful expanse of wildflowers!

The trail then climbed. I stopped for a quick lunch break at the Clarendon Lookout.

I contemplated the psychology of motivation. Which played a stronger role, the body or mind? Surely, as a team, they are unstoppable. I should work on that. I continued on.

I crossed Keiffer road. I strolled through another field of wildflowers, and picked rosy apples from a lovely tree. Birds chirped, loose-limbed evergreens waving their pine draped arms, swayed gently in the breeze.

I was ready to climb Mt Killington! The climb was not difficult. Leaves of red and orange and gold and taupe and brown and deep purple float from the tips of trees to the dirt of the earth, decorating my path. I smile at the shimmer of a brook in the sunlight. Though there were many roots and rocks and tight spaces on the ascending pathway, it was not steep. I stopped a mile from the top to enjoy a lovely spring on the side of the trail. I reached the top as the sun was setting.

I had many miles to go, yet. I continued the descent under nightfall.

My legs were growing tired. The pads of my feet, sore. I stopped and drank from a lovely spring. The sweet, fresh taste lifted my spirits. It was cold. I stopped and put on my puffy and gloves and hat. This helped. I continued on comfortably. To hike comfortably in such attire was a sign of the coming seasons. The year was turning cold.

I came to the Churchill Scott Shelter trail junction. It was just under 2 miles from Route 4. My body was tired. There was a flat space suitable for sleeping, just accross from the trail junction. I have travelled a reasonable distance, I thought. I unpacked my pack, ate a hot meal, and drifted in to sleep.

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