Appalachian Trail Mile 1523.5

Friday, August 18. 2017 (Day 107)

I rose early. The clouds were thick with moisture, low hanging, draping heavily over the limbs of trees.

An eerie coolness, a foggy beauty, permeated the forest.

Rain was on its way.

I packed my things in a hurry, hoping to be in motion before the first drops fell.

The climbs and descents were rock-filled. The dampness of the morning, and intermittent bouts of rain caused the stones to be slick and slippery beneath my boots.

I took my first surprising spill on the summit of Mt Race. I quickly rose, thinking nothing of it. My side ached, specks of blood rose to my skins surface through shallow scrapes from rough stone against my calf.

The rain came and left. It would be back. Again I fell, while descending a slanted rock. I was able to catch myself this time– within the gap of two rocks–supported by the heft of my pack on top, my arms to the side, and my legs locked against a stone in front. I lifted myself and continued.

Next was Mt Everett. The steep climb was made easier by wooden steps drilled in to the mountain side.

Finally, the ascent and sumitt of Mt. Bushnell.  The fog seemed to be lifting. I could faintly make out trees and pastures and little homes below the line of cloud.

It was yet another challenging descent. Again, I fell. When I reached the bottom, I was greeted with cheers from three middle-aged siblings.  “You made it!” They pointed to the flask in the center of the trail. “Want a celebratory shot of whisky!?” I accepted, made pleasantries for a moment, and continued on my way.

I was happy to be on the forest floor, solid ground, stable dirt beneath my boots.

Oh, how everything is so beautiful, so magical in the hemlock forest after a rain! The sun peaks through the leafy canopy, highlighting the green of a patch of ferns, a brown strip of earth, catching in a smear of dissipating fog . A drip, drip, dripping, as little drops of rain gather, and in their collective weight, roll from the very tips of the outstretched, green fringed limbs of hemlocks.  A stray popping of yellow and gold catches the eye, a call to autumn.
I crossed US Route 7.

The trail then threaded through pastures and corn fields. Hungry, I gathered ears of corn from the stalks at the perimeter. The wear in the grass showed I was not the first. Some ears were so small, all with an edible cob, all tasty.

The rain fell, softly.

I came to Homes Road by the light of my headlamp. I climbed back in to the woods but a short distance. The fog was thick. It would rain through the night. I found a flat space, pitched my tent, and crawled inside.

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