Saturday, August 19, 2017 (Day 108)
I rolled around in my tent, guiding and repositioning the sticks and stones beneath the silicone coated tent floor, for optimal comfort.
I could hear the hikers pass. I could tell the difference between the day hikers and the thru-hikers by their cadence and manor of speech. There were many day hikers. It was the weekend.
I decided to treat myself. Over my feet, tired and sore, I stretched a clean pair of wool socks. I extended my legs, arched my feet, wriggled my toes. Oh, what delight! Snug, and clean, and soft. There is hardly a feeling that compares!
I began…at 12:30 pm .
The afternoon was glorious; blue skies and fluffy clouds. This is good. With such a late start, I must travel well in to the night. Clear skies will serve me well.
I did not have much water. After passing a small, dry, gorge the next reliable source was the Tom Leonard Shelter. Collecting water from the shelter would require me to travel half of a mile off trail down a steep hill–not appealing. I decided to hold out for the large stream that flowed another 1.6 miles up the trail.
I was quite thirsty by the time I made it to the trail junction to the shelter. I sat on a rock and poured Propel powder in to my mouth, chasing it with the remaining water in my bottle. It was just enough to coat my tongue. I winced at the tart, concentrated kiwi-strawberry flavor. I think it helped.
Finally, I came to the stream. I sat on the stone slab of a bridge over the water, collected, and drank. There was a slight brown tinge, but it tasted fine.
The murmuring sound of the flowing stream was lovely. Dozens of dragonflies danced and flirted about in jerky yet graceful movements, like some abstract, baroque modern dance. Thin bodied and long winged, in colors of blue and brown and purple, all glinting in the sunlight. Tall grasses grow in the distance, the sun and clouds reflect in the water. I reflect as well. I am happy.
At 5 pm I stopped just off trail, mid-climb, to eat. I was still carrying much of the water from the dragonfly stream. My dislike for filtration was leading to dehydration. I masked the discoloration of the water with a drink powder, and drank without filtering. I hoped this would not prove unwise.
Just off trail, near the South Mount Wilcox Shelters, I was thrilled to come across a spring. There was no flow, but the pool was ice-cold. The sun was setting. In order to see within the little pool of magic, I employed the beam of my headlamp. As I approached, a frog leapt from its depths, a good sign. I collected slowly in order to reduce the upwelling of sediments. This water I would surely not filter. It tasted divine!
I continued on in to the night. The trail seemed to forever twist and turn, rise and fall. Where oh were is the road! Once I reached the dirt Fernside Road, there would be just over two miles left to Jerusalem Road. There I would find Running Stream Farm with a food stand and outlets.
A flash of lightning! Could that be!?
Alas, I came to Fernside Road. I stopped to rest my aching feet but for a moment. Then I heard it, what seemed to be a great rustling through the trees. No, no, it was not wind. I glanced about me, searching for signs of precipitation. The plants that lined the trail were in fact moist. The rain was not hard, though. I seemed to be protected by the tree coverage. Then, it ceased all together. I continued.
Oh, how I adore walking through the open fields of pastures at night! The swishing of dewy grass with each passing stride, the dark sillouhette of trees, the glow of a porch light of a farmhouse in the distance, the grey ominous clouds looming above. Then, a weaving through wooden gates and back into woods.
Under night-fall one surrenders themselves to the trail. With the reduction of sight, one is at the mercy of the blazes and the well trodden passageway of earth, or grass, or stone.
Finally, I came to Jerusalem Road. It was very late. The little trail-side stand was locked. I did not have access to electricity. The little village of Tyringham was only a mile away. I decided to head there, hoping to find some place to sleep and charge my things through the night.
As I followed the road north, it felt as though I was wandering in to the perfect little doll house village; crisp and quaint and ornate and full of flowers. Stately, that is the term. It was oh so very stately. A large water pump stood in the center of town, encircled by red brick. Curious, I pulled down on the old rusty metal. No water came out.
I made myself comfortable behind the post office, next to the Town Hall. A police car was parked in the distance. There was an outlet and faucet on the side if the building. I filled up on water and left my things to charge. I accessed the villages wifi and did a little writing, until, alas, I was overcome with sleep.