As we both know, I’m terrible at a few things. One, arguably is my driving(depends on who you talk to. I mean hey, this is NJ) and the another is keeping this blog updated. The second one is very apparent. What’s pathetic is that I like writing- I truly enjoy it. It’s a nice creative outlet and its sad too because I enjoy talking trail. I enjoy talking about gear, sharing stories, and even helping aspiring backpackers. But I think this time it’ll change. There’s more to come. I get myself involved into several things so that sometimes there’s just time for that. But as I have recently learned by the passing of a good friend, life is short. Don’t take your time here for granted. Whatever it is you do in life, just live your legacy and be a good person. So here, I write.
So back to trail(sorry for the rant). As you can probably tell from the header, I’m no longer on trail. 🙁 But that’s ok. I had to get off trail a week before Thanksgiving(this is how crappy i am at this blog). Two weeks before the holiday, I was in Dalton, MA considering on getting off trail. The trail goes directly through this town so I stopped in a pub to get my thoughts in order. About my second drink in, I found I was sitting next to a former thru-hiker. Her name was Purple and she hiked in 2000. I told her my trouble – it was getting cold, I have about 160 miles to get home(two weeks approx), and I’m not sure what to do. By cold, I mean it was forecasted to get into the lower 20’s and teens. Purple pumped me up, suggested I take a zero, resupply, and just get on with it. Well so I did.
To be honest, a whole mess of stuff happened in Dalton and Pittsfield(resupply town). I got into an disagreement with the hotel but the next day I received a nice hug. It was an elderly woman at Wendy’s which said to friend as they were hugging, “I don’t get these anymore since my husband passed.” My heart melted so I dropped the tray down holding my spicy chicken sandwich combo and offered a hug. She happily accepted and I then had my sandwich. See, I totally won.
It was after this hug I was able to get a ride from Pittsfield to Dalton where my ride ended up being a really nice person and the other person in the original aforementioned hug. They had one helluva story. I felt like I was lucky to be there with them. He dropped me off, we exchanged info and I kept on hiking. I then had 11-12 days to get to my goal point of the Bear Mountain Inn in NY, which is before Bear Mountain going SoBo. I’ve done Bear Mountain three times so I think I could have gotten away with it.
I’m not crazy about backpacking the cold. I can’t operate as efficiently in that kind of weather. Cold day-hikes, bring it. Cold backpacking, nope. Either way, I guess it’s still nice to be outside. The cold weather surely did creep in and fast. My first night from Dalton was actually kind of fun. I had a shelter to myself and made a blazing fire from blow-down trees. But holy cow the cold settled in. While backpacking, I use a Marmot Sawtooth 650-down filled. For specifics on the number, the amount of cubic inches one ounce of down occupies. With the labeling and knowing my bag, I can sleep in the 30’s comfortably with some layers. It’s the same bag I used on the first stretch. Anything below that, it starts to keep me awake at night tossing and turning to find the warmest most comfortable position. So to make the story short, it did get into the mid-low 20’s. I didn’t think those few degrees would make a difference but they really do. I hiked from Dalton to Great Barrington, MA over a few days and had to call it. I couldn’t handle sleeping in that kind of cold. I was only 30 miles from Connecticut.
I got home to NJ a week before Thanksgiving. I was slightly disappointed in myself for not making it to Bear Mountain but if I’m not going to be in safe conditions while hiking, I’m not taking that risk of hypothermia or frostbite. Trail-No.
A few lessons learned here.
-Offer/Give/Receive more hugs
-Get a higher rated winter weather sleeping bag.
-At least I tried to hike it.
So to sum things up here for the miles
2016- NoBo – 1023.1 miles
Springer Mountain, GA(Southern Terminus) to Harper’s Ferry, WV. The ‘half-way point’ of the AT.
2017 – SoBo – 669.2
Mount Katahdin, ME(Northern Terminus) to Great Barrington, MA
*Small parts of trail are moved, re-routed or reconstructed every year so this has a margin of a few miles.
Now this blog isn’t over. All I did was ramble on to you my last few days of trail. I didn’t even get to mention the people I’ve met, the perspective of going SoBo vs NoBo(I think there’s a clear winner), and about the trail itself. So over the next few weeks I’ll plan to post on every Thursday regarding the AT and section hiking. I’ll go into gear(of course), terrain, trail etiquette, and a number of other topics. And I can’t forget the pictures! Trail season is very close so at least I’ll be able to help those getting ready, right?
Here’s a tease regarding the pictures. Hiking with the Autumn was something else….