Tenting to Congdon Shelter – 35.8 miles – “Because I Can”
It takes over 1,500 miles of hiking, but I finally come up with a simplified answer to the question many people have pestered me with: “Why so fast?” Answer: Because I can.
My goal is Katahdin. So, I…am…getting…there. I have a family at home that I miss (and that needs me), I have a career to return to, and I am very fit. If I train hard to get myself in three hour marathon shape, why would I enter a race just to do it in six hours? Where’s the challenge and reward in that?
Folks have the impression and ask me if I am running. I am only walking; just walking for more hours per day than most other hikers.
People always say, “But there is so much to see along the way.” Yes there is, but there are not “things to see” all day, every day! What about all those days of rain and clouds and fog and dense forest and darkness? I see everything others see, plus I see more of it per day, plus I see things others will never see. Because I hike early, I see sunrises and wildlife (bears and a boar I saw early and late in the day) and I hike late, during and after sunsets. What do you suggest I do, take a zero day and wait for the weather to clear, or for the trees to go away so that I always have “things to see”? C’mon, I came to hike to Katahdin. Hike your own hike. That’s good venting.
Big day! It rained last night, so once again I pack and carry a wet tent. I see a bear this morning at about 6:30. It is in the brush and promptly runs away. I’m glad it goes away from me and not towards me because I was less than 20 feet from it. It looks like a black ball careening through the brush and small trees. At least I think it is a bear, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a baby Sasquatch or silverback gorilla.
I get to a road crossing just before leaving town of Cheshire at about 8:30 AM. I see a Shell gas station about a quarter mile (trail) west. I debate and then cross the road to start up the trail. But then I stop and turn around to go to the convenience store. There are not many opportunities to get extra food and I know the further north I get, the rarer they will become. Rain starts to drizzle so this is also a nice chance to get out of the weather for a few minutes.
There’s a Dunkin Donuts inside the store, so I get some breakfast. I eat a sausage, egg, and cheese croissant, hash browns, donut, and small coffee (poured into a large cup of ice for iced coffee; cost savings). I also get chocolate milk and sour gummy worms. I forget to buy root beer, that I am always craving and part of the reason I stop here. This food is a perfect calorie boost.
The terrain is fairly easy. The weather is cool, 50 degrees in the morning, with misty rain, fog, and clouds all day. No views. I go over Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts and later cross into Vermont about 4:30 PM.
I go another 10 miles north of the state line. I arrive at the shelter at 8 PM. What a long day. The shelter is overpacked with a large group of loud college kids, so I’m tenting. The forest is wet and my tent is wet, but hopefully my tent will dry some overnight.
It’s already 9:30 PM as I write this. I need to get some sleep.
Trail marker on path to monument on Mt. Greylock
Mount Greylock: the highest mountain in Massachusetts
Welcome to Vermont! Three states left! The AT joins the Long Trail for the next 105.2 miles.