Muck: Southern New England

It took us over a month to get through New York State due to Claudia’s injury. When we got back on the trail, we found ourselves wanting to cover ground quickly but ultimately we did shorter days to ease back into hiking. We took advantage of our lax schedule by stopping in towns every afternoon for lunch and iced coffees, letting the heat pass. We visited Kent, Cornwall Bridge, amd Salisbury, CT, this way. When we passed West Cornwall, CT, where Claudia stopped hiking on her south bound 2010 hike, we took a second to celebrate. She had walked the entire AT. I thought it might be more of an exciting moment for her, but it’s obvious where her heart lies. She is aiming for Kathadin.

The hiking for this stretch was some of the most challenging we’ve experienced. Unrelenting 90+ degree days paired with a mosquito population still burgeoning from the wet summer. The strain was especially hard on our psyches. Moral was low. We disagreed on how to deal with the hike. Claudia thought we should get through as quick as possible to higher ground, up ahead in Vermont. I felt like I’d rather not deal with mosquitoes all day, and do shorter days. Before we killed each other, Claudia came up with a solution.

We got a ride back to my dad’s house from Great Barrington. From there, we’ve been commuting everyday to the trail. Claudia will drop me off at the north side of the section we are going to hike that day, and I’ll start hiking south. Claudia then drives to the southern point, parks the car, and hikes north. We’ll give each other a high five when we cross paths midday, and then I’ll make it to the car and pick her up where she dropped me off. Then we drive home. Doing this we have been able to hike with minimal weight (also known as slack packing), do big days (of around 20 miles), and get home for a shower and hot meal everyday.

It feels strange doing this. It’s not exactly hiking straight through to Maine, but it’s also okay to do. Many thru-hikers will slackpack for a day or a short section, but it’s not often done for so long. it’s the compromise we made to keep ourselves out here. What’s important is that we’re still hiking, and that we’re walking every mile of the trail. This situation won’t be forever, only as far as Hanover, but it’s good for us right now.

It can feel daunting to have come so far and still have so much more to do. Our feet and knees ache, and our bodies are stiff. Still, I’m grateful to be in the fresh air and using my body everyday I’m on the trail. We feel excited and inspired by what lies ahead. The rolling hills of Vermont. The dramatic climbs and vistas of the Whites. The huge mountains of southern Maine. The challenge of the 100 mile wilderness, and waiting for us in the end is Mt. Katahdin.

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