Tom Leonard Shelter [mile 1680.2; SOBO 661.8]
“The weather was still calm and fair, after one of the most lovely summers that people could remember; but October had come, and it must break soon and begin to rain and blow again. And there was still a very long way to go.”
How long is there to go? Let’s see. Two more days in Massachusetts; 30 miles in Connecticut; 100 miles in New York; 75 miles in New Jersey; 130 miles in Pennsylvania; then a week or so to polish off the rest. Not bad.
I did miss mentioning one milestone. A few days ago, when I hit 1640, I’d completed 75% of the trail. They say that the first 80% of the miles is 20% of the work—in which case I’ve done most of the miles and most of the work. It’s still hard walking, though. Especially when the days are getting so short.
So. I didn’t sleep well last night. With all the leaves on the ground, every tiny rustle sounds like a porcupine. Also, the trees continue to drop all manner of tree-stuff—leaves and acorns and seeds and twigs—and all those tap-taps sound like porcupines, too. But aside from that, there was something big nosing around the tent site last night at around midnight. I’m pretty sure it was a deer from the way it bounded past my tent. But just in case it wasn’t a deer, I thought I’d better be aware of what was foing on, so I took out my earplugs. Then the rustling kept me up.
Eventually the alarm went off and I hit the trail at about 6:15. There was an immediate climb that went on for a while. I was glad it was dark; I could pretend it never happened.
I got lucky with the weather one more time. The morning was cool, but summer was back by noon or so. Hot, humid summer. The bugs finally figured out that they’ve got a reprieve, because armies of them were buzzing all day. Mostly it was little gnats (as opposed to giant gnats, I suppose), but the skeeters were out, too. I swatted one on my arm. It was breezy off and on, and that kept them from chewing on me.
Here’s something that took me by surprise. I’m having trouble with boredom. Boredom! I was actually warned about this, but it still blindsided me. The woods are pretty much the same every day now. The trail’s basically the same. It’s like walking on a treadmill: tedious. I feel like the Roadrunner sometimes; the same tree and rock in the background, repeating and repeating and repeating. I’m glad I have music!
The scenery did change a bit this afternoon. The trail got rocky again at something called the Ice Gorge (this shelter’s on the edge of it). It looks like New Hampshire. I grinned when I got to do a little hand-over-foot action (for like… a step). It broke up the monotony.
I stopped to pee this afternoon, and while I was doing my business a giant branch came crashing down about thirty feet from where I was standing. That was unnerving; the tree that threw it was a tall old one. I don’t know what made the branch come loose just then, unless it didn’t want me peeing there. But that patch of forest was littered with trunks and branches, so I’m guessing it just reached its… er… breaking point.
I’m alone at the shelter so far. At some point I might just start sleeping in them. My main tent zipper’s acting up now. I still need to sew a button on my pants; they’re not falling down, though, so I haven’t been able to muster the energy.
There are chipmunks rustling in the leaves, playing tag. Don’t they know it’s bedtime?