September 20, 2016
“Where am I? How do these covers work?” I wondered as I tugged at the thick comforter on the hotel bed. “Maybe this is another world from the trail, after all!”
Yesterday morning, light rain pattered on the tarp a couple of feet above my head. I pulled the down bag around me and snuggled back to sleep. “The rain was predicted to start around 3 a.m. so I have time to sleep some more before our final dawn walk to the border.”
A few minutes later John stirred, wondering what time it was. “6:05! The sky is getting light. Time to get up!” We would have slept in, delaying our arrival at the B&B at trail’s end where a shower and laundry beckoned.
It was indeed raining, although lightly, so we went ahead and fixed our morning oatmeal, pouring on the last two tablespoons of our maple syrup, and half of the remaining olive oil. “Save some for the tuna sandwiches!” It was time to finish our last section on this walk, judging by our diminishing food supply. Four dates, four ginger snaps, one pack of tuna, one small serving of mashed potatoes, five cloves of garlic, and a couple of tablespoons of olive oil were all that was left in the food bag.
Breaking camp took the usual 20 minutes, and we were off with 4.4 miles to walk to the end of the Long Trail. I savored the details of the forest and even the guesswork of maneuvering each step. Too soon, I knew, we’d be out of the woods.
A short two hours later we touched the “end of the trail” sign and emerged from the woods to the cleared corridor that signified the U.S.-Canada border. We chuckled at the frolicking blue jay as it wove back and forth over the imaginary blockade only we humans perceived. The bird made no meaning of the surveillance apparatus poised secretively a hundred yards up the corridor, its glass eye aimed at the celebratory obelisk of our accomplishment. We posed in our victory stance and snapped our photos.
Not quite ready to leave, we spread out our cooking gear and prepared the very last food items – oil roasted garlic, tuna, and basil on exactly four slices of sourdough bread – two full slices and two heels. It was, of course, the best repast ever! Oh yes, that small serving of mashed potatoes topped off the celebration. Now, we truly had no more food.
As we were finishing up, two other hikers arrived. We had met Mike and Austin the night before last at Hazens Camp where six of us had shared the four-bunk cabin during the rainy night.
“Congratulations on finishing thw whole trail!” Mike said, as he took our monument photo. I always like it when someone will take our team shots, instead of relying on my awkward selfies! “What’s next?”
“We’re going into North Troy to stay at the B&B and get a ride to Burlington tomorrow morning – at 3:30.”
“We’re going to Burlington now! We could give you a ride there today!”
And that’s why I’m in a Ramada Inn in Watertown, NY, waking up feeling disoriented! We rented a red Toyota Corolla at the Burlington airport and drove through the Adirondacks, part way to Buffalo where our van is parked at my sister’s place. Just like that, without even getting a shower or doing laundry!
Maybe the trail and the city are two worlds. I’m grateful to be blessed with both!