Shacked up near Lee, Massachusetts [mile 1657.5; SOBO 639.1]
Well, this is new! I made 16 miles, and at the end of it I wasn't finding a great place to camp. What I did find was this motel a tenth mile from the trail. So I checked in. Decadent! Cheap motel instead of a tent!
So. I got up before dawn and was walking by 6:11. I don't think I'll be able to do much better than that. It took ten minutes to get to the main trail, night hiking. The leaves make it so tricky. (I retrieved my piece of orange cord on the way past.)
Slowly, morning came. It was another spectacular day: mid 70s, bright sun. (Tomorrow should be near 80; then next week, it'll be raining for days. But we'll deal with that next week.) The leaves! I like it when the trail is strewn with red ones, like rose petals: a little romance from winter.
The trail was kind today, for the most part: flat parts as smooth as a dog-walking trail, a stroll through a city park. The mosquitoes were out in force, but they haven't bothered me much. Maybe they're startled to find summer back for a brief interlude. One did land on my finger, and woah—that was a lot of insect flesh. Big bug!
Eventually the trail turned more trailish—roots, rocks, boggy bits hiding under a blanket of leaves. My pace slowed down, but I kept chugging. I thought I might make it to the famous Upper Goose Pond Shelter, but I realized that the cabin is closed now. The disadvantage of hiking this late is that I miss some of the landmarks.
And that was it. I only passed one other hiker, a day hiker, I think, because of his jeans. The trail's getting deserted on weekdays.
I saw a couple of toads. I touched one! Why? I have no idea. It was early morning, still cold, and the thing was moving sluggishly. I had gloves on. The devil made me do it.
Toward the end of the day, I passed a lake. The water was deep blue, and the trees on the far shore were like an autumn still life.
My feet hurt! But it's a good kind of hurt; not the hamburger foot of old, when I was pushing my shoes too far and ignoring the Achilles issues. (Knock wood; there are still 500+ miles to go.)