Mt. Algo Shelter [mile 1741.7; SOBO 723.3]
I got up early (I use the alarm if I have enough juice) and hit the trail at 6:15: full dark. That’s kind of the status quo these days. As far as sleeping goes, despite the temperatures in the low to mid 30s, I was blissfully warm! I still wake up a lot, though—usually eight or ten times per night, minimum. A lot of things wake me up: drafts, hip or back pain, anxiety over real life or something happening the next day, things skittering in the leaves, needing to pee, fear of porcupines…. One of the things I’m looking forward to is sleeping in a bed, where I can shut the door and wear earplugs to drown out the noisy neighbors.
Today, though… today I was heading into the infamous Kent to resupply and recharge the phone. I was happy because I was almost out of food, and nervous because what I’ve been hearing since March (and what I read on White Blaze last year) was that Kent hates hikers. A NOBO friend of mine on my last day in the Whites (her first) told me that “they really don’t want us there.” Would they throw things at me? Give me dirty looks? Close the grocery store when they saw me coming?
Of course, I had to hike twelve miles even to get there—which set up my logistical nerves. Would I have time to walk twelve miles, walk a mile into town, find a place to sit for two hours while the phone charged, walk to the grocery store, resupply and repackage all my food, walk a mile back out of town, then climb a half mile uphill to the nearest shelter and get my tent set up before dark?
That’s a lot of hoofin’.
Of course, I had a plan B this time, so I wasn’t all that nervous. If time got too tight, I figured I’d just go to the shelter and sleep, then slackpack into town in the morning to do my errands and still be able to hit the trail at a reasonable hour. I’ve always tried to set things up where a plan B was possible. Sometimes C and D.
But first, twelve miles! Well, as it turned out, this morning Connecticut decided it was Maine. Plenty of rocky climby stuff, steep (nearly vertical) uphills, and slabs of rock faces to maneuver over.
But it was dry—cool and crisp and sunny. A perfect fall day.
And I was cooking! The trail spent a good portion of the day meandering next to the Housatonic River. It reminded me of the Schuylkil at home—about the same size, slate colored in the dawn light, the surface dancing with those mist sprites you see in fall and spring. It made me a little homesick.
I’d made myself some pita sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. I ate one. Later I went to eat the other one, only to discover that my hip belt was unzippered and the sandwich was gone. Gone! I’d lost my lunch!
But get this: I still had enough food for one more sandwich (which I never did stop to make), so I wasn’t going to starve. It wasn’t my wallet or my phone or my chargers or my trail guide pages. It was a cheese sammich. I regret the inadvertent littering more than anything else. I’ll pick up some trail trash to make up for it!
And Kent? Kent’s a very upscale town: public sculpture and legitimate antique stores. It’s not your standard grubby hiker town. It’s not that they don’t want hikers there; in fact, people were both cordial and curious. Rather, they don’t need us there.
So I cleaned up before I went into the local cafe, I left a big tip in the hopes that it disposes someone to kindness toward hikers, and I managed to do all I had to do with plenty of time to spare.
If I’d known in March what I know now, I think I could have done this hike in six months—maybe six and a half, given the atrocious weather.
But it is what it is, and I’m happy with it. And you know what happens tomorrow?