Trail Journal

Date: August 24 2000
Trail Day: 85
Miles Today: 0
Location: Rutland
Section Mile: AT 490
ECT Mile: 1183

Another O day today. Wasted money watching Nutty Professor - II. Made another alcohol burning stove using beer cans. This one seems to be the best performing. We also went to the AT and took some shots 1 2. Other than that a relaxing day.

Date: August 25 2000
Trail Day: 86
Miles Today: 20
Location: Mad Tom Notch
Section Mile: AT 510
ECT Mile: 1203

Suriyan's flight was in the early morning from Boston and he needed about 4 hours to get from Rutland to Boston. We therefore had to check out by 2 AM. He dropped me off at the parking lot. I set up my sleeping bag near some trees with no tarp. He then left. We had had a great time together.

I could not fall asleep for some time. I woke up at day break but decided to get some more sleep. After another half an hour's sleep I packed and started hiking. I met two of the maintainers that I and Suriyan had met. They had taken our photos. I chatted for a while and continued.

The first climb was gradual but long. However once it was over, the trail stayed fairly high. Got to a place called White Rock. Someone had made all kinds of little towers and designs near the peak. I took a photo. I personally think its the work of aliens. Also met a caretaker called Abby. She said she will be working here till mid October and then moving to Sarasota to work at a wildlife Conservation agency. I had decided to do a 20 mile day today and managed to do just that. I am now cooking using my alcohol stove. With all the banging while hiking, the parts had become loose and flames started coming through the gaps - workable though. I may have to tweak it some more. Also will be sleeping in my tarp.

Date: August 26 2000
Trail Day: 87
Miles Today: 21
Location: Near Stratton Mountain
Section Mile: AT 531
ECT Mile: 1224

Went into a deep sleep last night. I haven't had that kind of a sleep since early in Quebec. Ate a third of the carrot cake Karen had sent with Suriyan. She bakes very well and judging from the weight Suriyan has put on since he got married, she is also a good cook. Thanks Karen.

Ran into Tag Along and Solid. I had met them when I had done a O day at the Thistle Hill Shelter. Looks like Tuba Man is a day ahead, Nature Boy's having problems with his pack. I dont know if he's ahead or behind. Digger is 2-3 days ahead. He seems to be moving now.

Not a bad day of hiking. It was up and down almost all day. But they were short. Got a good view from a place called Prospect Rock. Took a shot. It sits right on top of a cliff and misses being a good suicide point by a hair.

The last climb near the end of the day was up Mt. Stratton. It was easier than I had expected although towards the end it was somewhat steep. There is a nice observation tower on the peak. You can see very far. Too bad I could not identify any of the mountains.

Hiked about 2 miles down the peak and am now tarped in a fairly good spot. As I was writing this my wonderful alcohol burning stove tipped over along with the pan of food. Managed to salvage it while losing only almost 2 spoon fulls. The ground here is covered with leaves and do not offer a firm surface for my cooking.

I am also trying to finish off the novel that I started. I want to get rid of the weight.

Date: August 27 2000
Trail Day: 88
Miles Today: 23
Location: Melville Nauheim Shelter
Section Mile: AT 554
ECT Mile: 1247

Last night I did not put the tarp and slept in the open. Got up at the crack of dawn as a result. Aimed for a 20 mile day and managed a 23. This doesn't happen often. I met 13 north bounders today. I think the peak is starting to taper off.

Also heard that one of the thru-hikers had a stroke and died. His name was Crash. Very surprising that he had a stroke so late in the hike.

Today I have completed 25 % of the trail. They say that for north bounders the first 75 % of the trail takes only 50 % of the energy. I don't know what they base the calculations on but according to that I have done 50 % of the effort for the AT.

The last 9 miles of the trail to the shelter had no good landmarks. I wasn't sure where I was along the trail and neither were the north bounders. Met Happy Hiker. He is from Quebec. Other thru-hikers I met today - Bumble Bee, Steam Rollin, Leon, Jester, Flipper, Hi Bob.

Also met a thru-hiker couple in a bad mood in one of the shelters. They were snapping at one another and I was sure there would be a full blown fight after I left.

Met Go Slo and Freight Train at the shelter. I had met them back in Gorham. They had taken a bunch of O days there and showed no signs of moving. I am glad they are back on the trail although I'm positive they are yellow blazing.

Date: August 28 2000
Trail Day: 89
Miles Today: 18
Location: Near Sherman Brook Campsite
Section Mile: AT 572
ECT Mile: 1265

My new stove has been performing poorly on the trail. The whole thing burns in a big red flame and the water does not even boil. Both Go Slo and Freight Train had alcohol burning stoves. So last night I decided to demonstrate to them how badly my stove worked. Voila ! It worked like a charm - even got the water boiling. I thought it was supposed to be the other way around - things failing during demonstration and working perfectly otherwise. I think the amount of alcohol I pour in it needs to be less.

Got a ride to Bennington; It was an old gentleman who gave me the ride. We could not understand each other half the time. At one point I thought we were talking about values and said that we tend to lose the core values in the business of modern life. He said actually it was not much of a problem in Bennington because they plow the snow quickly and people know how to drive in snow. I was completely lost.

Picked up my mail, had breakfast, got groceries and fuel and tried calling Vivek twice - could not get him. I was very frustrated with my financial situation. Kumar was supposed to deposit some CD's into my bank account but he has done nothing. It was too early to call him. I think I may have to live under a freeway overpass very soon. This experience in minimal living will sure come handy. I went to the library to check the e-mail. I was there 10 minutes before it opened and was the first one there. Once they opened it, I had a hard time finding their computers. By the time I found it there was already a waiting list and the soonest I could get access was 2 hours later. I asked one of the users if she could give me 5 minutes to check my e-mail. The librarian interrupted and said, "Sir we really do not allow people to switch slots, please come back in 2 hours." Between my financial situation, frustration at not being able to contact Vivek to confirm where he had sent the next set of maps and now this, I went berserk. Things quickly went downhill. I got into a very bad mood and started cursing the whole world (in my own mind). It was actually quite insightful and I realized some things that I never knew before.

I had worked up so much steam that I just flew through even the up hills. This is a first. I did not talk to any of the other hikers except Bivouac Jack who wanted to know if I had any messages for hikers behind me. I said no and talked to him for a few minutes. He is quite talkative.

I completed 18 miles which was way over what I had hoped for considering I made a town stop. Today I crossed over to Massachusetts - my sixth state. I am cooking as I write this and the stove is screwed up once again. I am thinking of making a little scarecrow so that it thinks I am demonstrating to it !

Date: August 29 2000
Trail Day: 90
Miles Today: 20
Location: Near The Cobbles
Section Mile: AT 592
ECT Mile: 1284

Did not have a good sleep last night. I got up slightly late as a result. Went down hill into the outskirts of North Adams. Its all residential where the trail is. Then began a long hike up Mt. Greylock - a climb of about 3000 ft. North Adams is situated in a deep valley which makes both the descent into and the climb out of, rather long. I was huffing and puffing but enjoyed the climb.

The view at spots was wonderful. The mountains have become heavily forested since I left Mt. Mousalauke and it is rare to get views. The views also have more towns in them. Mt. Greylock has a war memorial on top and a radio tower. The memorial looks good, the tower ugly. Had 2 burgers, and an icecream at the lodge there. These were the best hamburgers I have had so far on this hike. The ones I got in Canada were horrible.

Continued on as the trail descended to Cheshire. There are several open fields just before you enter Cheshire. Excellent places to camp with no water though. Saw some crab apple trees and ate some. Also got stung by some wasps here. This is the second time I have been stung. I could see some wasps still in my sock trying to find a good place to sting. I ran. I was amazed at how quickly I can run with a back pack if I had to. Cheshire was a disappointment. The Deli, the thru-book indicates is closed. All other places were a good distance off the trail. I met Wildman - a north bounder. We went to a pizza place.

I managed to get hold of both Vivek and Kumar. Looks like we have a problem with the next set of maps. Usually every set I receive from Vivek also has the relevant portion of the data book with the next mailing location outlined in blue. I had done the outlining before I had started out on this trip. However I could not see one in my current set. This was the reason I was worried as to where he was going to send the next set. The next address that I had given him on a different sheet of paper was Delaware Gap. I thus wont be having any maps for the New York or New Jersey nor the data book section. I will have to copy it from some one else.

Anyway, I decided to haul half the pizza back up the trail. Got some beer to wash it down also. Hiked another 2 miles and found a nice place to tarp. I think I will be tarping most of the times now. I am beginning to hate shelters and towns.

Date: August 30 2000
Trail Day: 91
Miles Today: 25
Location: Near Mass Turnpike
Section Mile: AT 617
ECT Mile: 1309

It was a very overcast morning, so I got up late. Hiked the 6 miles into Dalton. Sent journal entries to Suriyan, and got groceries for 4 days. Went to Duff and Dela's restaurant and ordered breakfast. They said it was too late for that. It was 11:30 AM. I was thinking it was 9:00 AM. That's how off I was. Had a meat grinder and a bowl of soup. Excellent food. Had I known the food was so good I would have bought some subs there and cut down on the groceries.

The rest of the hike was fairly flat. A lot of it was through marshes - tons of mosquitoes. The north bounders had warned me about this. Its going to be like this till I leave Connecticut. Did a 25 mile day today. Towards the end I was trying to find water as I was all out. Had to hike in low light but found water.

Tarping again near the Massachusetts turnpike. Can hear the drone of traffic. Its a mile away though.

The north bounders wave seems to be coming to an abrupt end. Saw only one today as I was entering Dalton. After Dalton I saw only 4 people - 2 in October Mountain Shelter.

I was also hoping to catch up to Digger before he leaves the trail on September 1. I don't think its possible now. He's still about a day ahead.

Date: August 31 2000
Trail Day: 92
Miles Today: 24
Location: Tom Leonard Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 641
ECT Mile: 1333

I was glad it did not rain last night. I was sleeping in a cozy hollow and would have been in trouble had it rained as water can collect there and get soaked in the sleeping bag. There were no suitable places to tarp.

Crossed Massachusetts turnpike - took a photograph. The flash did not come on so I think it will be a silhoute of me with the road in the background. Mosquitoes continue to be bad. Sit for 5 minutes and they make your life miserable. Things are OK when you are going downhill or flat but on uphills they start biting.

One of the hills had a large bush bursting with blueberries. The bush was about 10 ft tall - not the low ones. The berries on this one are bigger and numerous. I stopped and spent about half an hour picking and eating. If life gets any better than this, I sure would like to know. Also came across several apple trees - not the store kind but smaller. Some were good, others OK. Also saw a 1.5 ft snake. I was surprised when it slithered rapidly towards me - turned out that's where its shelter was. Saw several salamanders.

Met 4 north bounders. I am almost starting to miss them. They were a nuisance in a crowd but a good source of information on future trail conditions. All of them will have to do a good clip to get to Katahdin before they close for the season (Oct 15).

Today was another beautiful day. Started out cloudy but cleared up later. Also saw 3 groups of Yale freshmen. One of the group leaders was Amanda. She is from California. Nice girl. They are very concious of their status as ivy league students. I hope it doesn't go to their heads. In life, humility goes a long way. I got to the shelter and there was a group from Yale. I went to them to ask for directions for water. I caught them spelling out names of things with their butts. They also have a song for when they hang their bear bags. I heard this one from the group that I met near Barrington. It goes ( I am not sure of the first line)

Hey Black Bear
You are big and strong
If you eat our food
We will kick your ass

The shelter is located near a Gulch. Quite awesome. Some of the trail runs on a narrow ledge with a 100 ft drop on one side and a 50 ft rock, the other.

I did not get any chance to meet Digger. He left a last note near Benedict Pond. I think I must have missed him by a few hours. I bet he went into Great Barrington for the night and then to Eaton to catch a flight to California. It was fun interacting and hiking with him. I now feel somehwat alone. I had gotten to know some of the hikers when I slowed down and stopped to meet Suriyan. All of them except for Nomad are now behind me and I dont think I will be seeing them again.

Date: September 1 2000
Trail Day: 93
Miles Today: 18
Location: Near Peak of Race Mountain
Section Mile: AT 659
ECT Mile: 1361

Last night at about 10 PM a north bounder showed up - name: Falafel. He lives in Bardstown. I used to ride my motorcycle to Bardstown a lot when I was in Louisville. Today morning I copied the Data Book section for New York/ New Jersey from him. I will try and get maps in Kent but if not I will manage with just the data book numbers.

I packed, put on my backpack and left. The pack felt very light. Then I realized that I had forgotten to pack my food which was hanging in the shelter. Went back and got it. Falafel and I had a good laugh over it. Continued up East Mountain. This place should just be called Blueberry Mountain - tons of them as far as the eye could see. I spent about a half hour plucking and eating. I was also very thirsty since last night and was out of water. I had to hike several miles before I came to a road. Decided to get water at one of the houses. The lady had just gotten up. She asked me to go to the back of the house and get water from the faucet. She said she had spent a year teaching in Maharashtra, India.

The trail then went past corn fields. I tried eating some of the young corn. It tasted excellent. Ate several more. Then came across an apple tree with the best tasting apples I have come across in the wild so far. Ate some and put 5 in my pocket.

Then a sharp short climb up a mountain. It became very cloudy and started raining. I was hoping to do a 20 but had to settle for what I got.

I am now tarped about half a mile from the peak of Race mountain. I think I am in some buck's territory. He keeps stomping and snorting. If I yell he runs away but then comes back.

I met no north bound thru hikers today. First time this is happening. I did meet a section hiker - Gerard. He is from New York city. He took a photo of me with my camera and I took a shot of him with his. He showed me several photographs of his trip to Canada. They were beautiful.

The mosquitoes are horrible again and I hope the buck doesn't keep bothering me.

A tree with a massive trunk.
A scenic view.

Date: September 2 2000
Trail Day: 94
Miles Today: 26
Location: Pine Swamp Lean-to
Section Mile: AT 685
ECT Mile: 1377

It rained quite heavily last night. I got my sleeping bag slightly wet, quite good considering the heavy rain. There was a lot of thunder and lightning. I waited for it to stop raining and got out of the tarp and started to get it down. It started to rain again and I got soaked.

Continued the climb down Race mountain. I met Waterfall near Sager Ravine. She is a pretty south bound thru-hiker from Louisiana. She has a slight southern drawl. Her real name is Nina Baxley. She was extremely active in about 8 months ago and she had also transcribed a '99 thru- hiker's journal. I knew she was originally planning on a north bound hike but then switched to a south bound hike.

I hiked with her to the junction of Under mountain trail. She was going to blue blaze Bear mountain via this trail. I tried to talk her into climbing Bear mountain (white blaze). She almost agreed but then a north bounder came by the blue blaze and said it was much easier. He had heard from a south bounder that the climb up Bear mountain was steep with climbing bars and stuff. Waterfall then changed her mind and decided to blue blaze. I took a photo of her before we seperated.

The climb up Bear mountain was steep in places but very short. In fact, I had to ask the people already up there if it was indeed the peak - it was so short. There were also no metal bars. I don't know what the north bounder was talking about. I am sure Waterfall could have done this easily. I got a photo of me at the peak. Absolutely no views because of the fog. I was also in Connecticut now, my seventh state.

The climb down Bear mountain was gradual. I made good time on this. some places were rocky but otherwise the trails have a lot of dirt on them - good for friction. We had no such thing in New Hampshire and Maine.

The trail then skirted the town of Salisbury and climbed Wetawa mountain. I met a group of guys doing a day hike to the falls on the Housatonic river. All of them seemed to be in good shape. I got to a place called "The Thumb". It is a vertical rock looking like a thumb. Time for another photo. Also met an older gentleman who had worked for the embassy in Madras, India. He knew several phrases in Tamil. For Americans they say, "The world ends at their borders", indicating their lack of interest and knowledge of foreign cultures and countries. I have found this to be true in general. However I have met a lot of people who not only knew about India but had actually been there and worked there in some instances. I was having Indian food in Thistle Hill shelter about 2 weeks ago and a scout looks at me and says, "Palak Paneer" - the name of the dish I was eating. I was extremely surprised. Bivouac Jack the hiker I met about 5 days ago was married to a Nepali - not Indian, but close enough. He knew several phrases in Hindi.

The trail then climbed down and ran along the Housatonic River. Portions of it were very good, others bad. Also a lot of cutting in and out of roads - easy to lose the trail.

The trail then climbed Sharon mountain. The mosquitoes were very bad, so I had to put on my T-shirt and spray poison (DEET) on me. Got to the Pine Swamp shelter - 26 miles. Cooked and ate rice with tuna - came out good. All I have now is a handfull of cookie crumbs to last me the 17 miles to Kent where I resupply. I also want to do laundry and take a shower there. Also, try and get maps for the NY/NJ section. I should be out of Connecticut tomorrow - small state.

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