Crystal Something-or-Other tentsite [mile 1634.3; SOBO 615.9]
I should know where I’m tenting, but I threw away the page from the guide. Threw it away? you say. You live in a tent! Does your tent now have trash service? No, my friend; no, it does not. But the page is crumpled and squeezed and packed and stowed, and I’m feeling lazier than Jabba the Hut minus the minions.
Today went ass-up early.
It started well enough. I slept like the dead with my wonderful old-new setup. One nightmare, but that’s typical when I switch from sleeping around other people to sleeping alone. I have to readjust to the primordial fear that porcupines will eat me.
So I hit the trail at dawn: 6:40. I could see the sun rising red through the trees. I was aiming for the town of Cheshire, about six miles away. The trail went right through the town. My plan was to eat at the deli there and grab food for the rest of the day, then hit the trail again.
As the sun rose, the day turned into summer. I’m loving that, down here in the flatlands, although the mosquitoes are the size of Volkswagons. Sometimes the trail would slip out of the woods and wind through an autumn-tinged field. Once it was a broad cornfield, with all the corn gone—just rows of nubs of brown stalks. I wondered if the corn had been green and tall when the NOBOs came through.
I was almost out of water when I came to a little forest stream. And what was sitting there guzzling and completely blocking the trail?
Yes, another freaky baboon-faced porcupine. It looked at me. I looked at it. It turned sideways. Was that the signal that it was going to blast me? Or was it just deciding to move along? I backed up. It watched me. This was getting ridiculous.
I yelled. ‘Yo!’
It perked and looked harder at me, then turned at a leisurely pace and began to waddle south on the trail. I went a few feet forward. It stopped and looked at me.
Finally, it shuffled slowly up into the woods. They move like babies with full diapers. They’re creepy, those things. Porcupines, I mean. Not babies.
I made my way to Cheshire. Pretty little town! Picture perfect New England, with the autumn foliage and the pumpkins and cornstalks decorating the clapboard houses.
And everything was closed. The little deli seemed closed forever—desolate. The market turned out to be a hardware store with a coffee pot, but it was closed. The convenience store had been torn down entirely for renovations.
Hiking in the off-peak season has disadvantages. So does hiking on Sunday.
That sort of screwed up my food plan and my expectations, and I never quite recovered. I did my best to enjoy the walking, but gravity was just twice as heavy today, and twice as hot, and I didn’t feel well at all.
Eventually I reached this tentsite and decided to call it a day. I’ll try the whole thing again tomorrow with a different little town—Dalton. It won’t be Sunday then, and Dalton looks a little bigger.
I saw a snake today! And a little while ago when I went to purify my water there was a baby catfish in one of the bottles. Oy. A mean person might have just dumped it out. I need good karma, though, so I sighed and pulled on my shoes and hiker-hobbled a quarter mile down to the stream and put it back in. Take care, little one! May you eat your fill of garbage and create many young catfish! Or whatever it is that makes you happy.