August 31, 2018
If I had only one word to sum up today, it would be “pleasant.” Here are ways it was pleasant on my walk today:
We started the day at Stephanie’s house playing with her two young daughters and getting to know Stephanie. We had met briefly on the Appalachian Trail, probably in 2014, but none of us know exactly where. Funny, I had a “distinct memory” of meeting her at a hostel in Vermont. According to her, she never went there, and wasn’t even on the trail the year of my memory! Her offer to pick us up from the trail yesterday evening gave us the chance to meet each other in a memorable way! We pitched our tent in her back yard. See if you can find it among the yard objects in this photo!
August 29, 2018
We got up at 6 a.m. to get on the trail before the predicted heat sapped our energy. We didn’t set a destination because we didn’t know how we would do. Our first challenge was to navigate the half mile roadwalk on Rt 185 from Paul’s AirBnB back to the trailhead. Yesterday, on our road walk from his house to Wade’s Farm Store, I had experimented with signaling to drivers to give me space on the shoulder. I gave a downward wave, trying to communicate “Slow down” and “Move over”at the same time. It seemed to work, as fewer cars crossed over the sideline and some did slow down. That seemed to work again this morning, giving the commuters to Hartford a wake-up signal and us a way to survive the walk. Only once did I jump off the edge into the vegetation on the side! We made it! And onto the trail at 7:02.
August 26, 2018
Today, we reached an important milepoint. Well, two milepoints. The first was Little George’s restaurant on the north side of the Westfield River. It closes at 2 pm on Sundays. We got there at 1:20, just in time for breakfast – and lunch! I ordered an omelette and a Big Burger. John added a couple pieces of French toast. We split it all and felt very happy! Monica, our server, asked about our walk, so we filled her in. Most of the people we’ve talked with ask if we’re on the Appalachian Trail. They’ve heard of the Metacomet Trail, which comprises some of the NET. The AT passes through Massachusetts about 40 miles west of the NET.
August 25, 2018
Breakfast at a kitchen table in an antique New England home, described by the owner as “a great place to have lots of visitors”, was a sumptuous respite from the trail. Our treat for breakfast was smoked salmon from yesterday’s Whole Foods shopping, an English muffin, a banana, and coffee brewed in our host, Mark’s, glass brewer that looked like it came from a chemistry lab.
Easing into conversation with Mark and Dianna, we started looking at Dianna’s pictures of their family of three adult daughters, two spouses, and a boyfriend. The grand finale was a video of their eldest daughter’s wedding dance, a whimsical swing dance with moves the new couple had practiced for this gracious performance. I had fallen in love with their family!
August 24, 2018
We’ve walked for a week. Our planned average of 10 miles per day grew to 12.6, putting us at a recognizable landmark – the Connecticut River. The river poses a logistical consideration because there is no trail crossing provided. The trail simply ends, and not even at the riverbank on the north side!
For us, this is where trail community comes in, and why clearing my emotional path before starting this walk helped me! Doing that (using the tools of Radical Forgiveness), opened my mind to asking for help on Facebook. And I got help! Two friends suggested getting in touch with Dianna, who lives three miles from the river crossing. She is a member of the Appalachian Trail: Women’s Group, and has been shuttling hikers across the river. It’s true that calling for a taxi also works for hikers, but Dianna provided additional benefits as well. She hosted us at her home for a half day and over night! Even more, she drove us to a shopping center where we bought a new fuel canister and food for our break. We relaxed, cleaned up, did laundry, recharged phone batteries, and had delightful conversation with her and her husband, Mark, who teaches paleontology classes at nearby Holyoke College. Her contribution to our walk elevated our experience from accomplishment to fulfillment! The thread of trail now connects pearls of friends.
I know you love photos! Here are some scenery shots from our first week in the New England Trail, 95 miles from Mt. Monadnock, NH to Mt. Holyoke, MA at the Connecticut River.
August 21, 2018
We were up without hurry and enjoyed our breakfast of Apple oatmeal, cooked gently on our butane stove. We had camped in easy reach to an old road we hoped would lead to Diamand Farm. It did! What a great thruhiker find!
It’s a family run egg and poultry farm in its second generation.
Annie, one of the dozen Diamand siblings, gave me a small block of cheese. They don’t sell cheese in the store, and that’s what I wanted! “I like cheese,” she replied to my query. “I have some at home for you.” As we enjoyed our warmed up quiche from their well-stocked refrigerator of prepared homemade foods, Annie came back with a beautiful creamy hunk of cheese. “It’s Marshetto Cheddar,” she reported. “You can have it.”
August 19, 2018
Our nice and early departure at 6:45 got nixed when we decided to make the side trip to Royalston Falls. “It’s only three tenths of a mile and it’s unlikely that we would come back here just to go to these falls. So, we should go.” I don’t usually use should, but this is the kind of time that warrants a should!
Of course, we were glad we went. The 45-ft falls is magnificent! Its unique quality is its carmel color. How often do you see a falls the color of root beer. This one is complete with foam! What’s that song about lemonade springs? Oh, the big rock candy mountain?
We stayed dry all night, even though three or four thunderstorms came through during the night. The Big Agnes Fly Creek tent worked! I’m a fan of my tarp over the tent because it covers a larger area with minimal weight. This tent is a one-person size! We fit snuggly, and the raincover hangs just inches out from the inner tent, not the generous two-feet overhang of the tarp. What I like about the tent is its free-standing setup. That works well for this walk.
Our walk down Gap Mountain into Troy, NH took only an hour, winding steeply through birch trees and hammocks amid big rocks. I do enjoy the northern woods!
August 17, 2018
We woke up at 6, took a shower in the Monadnock Statr Park campground shower with just 2 quarters for three minutes! I noticed my judgements and loved myself for having them when John drove the van to the shower, then suggested I cook breakfast in the parking lot while he finished up toileting. “That’s what our campsite is for.” He thought my driving the van back to the campsite was a better idea, so I did that. I do wonder how well I can quickly shift judgments like this to peace! Yes, it seems like petty stuff and gets me huffy too! I could use the Four Step Process: