Day 39

I let the air out of my sleeping mat about 7 this morning. I didn’t get much sleep but I didn’t feel too tired. It was getting hot and the sooner I start hiking the better. The sun was streaming through the tall trees as I was stuffing my things into my pack. It sprinkled on and off over night and the ground was still damp. I set my pot to boil water for breakfast. I was going to eat some more chili Mac in hopes of lightening my pack for the pointless up and downs that I would have to traverse today. This section of trail is called the rollercoaster.

At 8:30 I said good bye to Chug and Skunk who were going 7 miles to the next shelter. They were very friendly to me and that helped my morale. The morning light was beautiful but I could feel the sun rising higher. By 10:30 my shirt was saturated. It was going to the a rough day. I counted 9 summits until the hostel. The rocks were not as bad as I had heard they would be. I made sure I stopped at each creek to drink water. By 12:30 I was hungry enough to stop at a shelter for lunch. 2 hikers were there looking pretty tired. One said I’m writing a memoir about the trail titled Every Thing Hurts. I agreed and was relieved to know that I other hikers were hiking through their pain too.

I continued north with renewed energy and sweating through 4 more miles of up and down in 90 degree heat and humidity. I hatched a plan as I walked remembering Warren’s advice: be a smart hiker, not a strong hiker. It was too hot to enjoy hiking. Pennsylvania would be brutal in July. I could do that section in a much cooler month and probably enjoy it more. Jumping up the Connecticut makes a lot of sense right now. I could stop rushing too.

Satisfied with my decision I pushed up hill to the Bears Den hostel where I saw Tad Pole had already arrived. I was so happy to be finished for the day and claimed a bunk, drank a Coke and took a shower.

This hostel is owned by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. It’s in a big stone castle looking building. It used to be a fancy hotel. I got a bunk, shower, laundry, frozen pizza and a pint of ice cream for $30. I enjoyed the shade tree and Adirondack chair in the afternoon while I caught up on writing. Tad Pole’s parents were in town and so we made a plan to slackpack the 20 miles to Harpers Ferry tomorrow.

About 9 hikers were staying in the bunk room and I saw at least 4 tents in the yard. Most of these hikers had just reached 1000 miles. Most of them weren’t in too good a shape. Lots of foot pain and drained energy. I’ve heard that once you’ve built up your trail legs, you plateau and then you fall apart. At 8:15 I walked down to Bears Den Rocks to watch the sunset. I went to bed to the sound of a noisy rotating fan and the powerful smell of musty feet.

Miles: 995 – 1005 (10)

Total: 399.7