We're in Dalton, Massachusetts! I keep waiting for all of the hiker-friendly trail towns to disappear but they just keep getting better and better! We are staying at Tom Levardi's house here on Depot Street. It goes something like this: hiker walks up off the street smelling like sour socks and butt funk. Tom offers hot shower. We leave our packs on the porch, get all clean, and Tom drives us to the all-you-can-eat Old Country Buffet and then to the movies (my turn to see The Dark Knight). We come home, crash out all over his house. Wake up and ride bikes to the laundrymat, Duff's Deli for breakfast and then here, the library. Tom has been hosting hikers like this for over 30 years. You can't even imagine what a round-the-clock committment this is, because hikers straggle up to the porch at every hour. Tom is constantly doing loads of towels and sheets, giving rides to dinner, shuttling for slackpacks - it's really really really incredible. He's basically at our beck and call and I'm always amazed at how selfless these full-time trail angels are. What would all us hiker trash do without them!?
The hiking has gotten progressively harder the past weeks because 1) we're done with rocky flatness and back to straight up and down 2) it rains a lot more causing rocks to be slippery and 3) MUD. Mass is all mud (and we hear Vermont is even muddier) which translates to lots of gingerly placing one's shoe from rock to root, trying not to get totally slogged. Sometimes you're successful but most times you roll up to camp with 8 extra pounds of mud on the bottom of each shoe. We were excited to pass the 1,500 mile mark and as you can see in the photo, I got another cut on my face just above my eyebrow. Slipped on a wet rock (rolling eyes) and hit my head on my trekking pole which had sunk into the ground. Dustan is an official pro at butterflying head wounds, and it is healing up nicely. No worries!
We've seen some beautiful sights lately - Sages Ravine was a gorgeous babbling brook slicing through old forest right on the Connecticut-Massachusetts state line. Also Bear Mountain in CT, Race Mountain in MA, and two really nice beaver dams on serene swampy ponds (doesn't sound serene, but with the rushes and the stark trees jutting up and the reflection of the sky, they are).
Our hiking routine has been pretty solid. We wake up and get going around 7:00-8:30, take a lunch break long enough to peel off our socks n' shoes and dry out the feet (sun willing) and arrive at camp anywhere between 6:30 and 8:00. Breakfast is a no-brainer now: Pop tarts. Coffee and oatmeal take too long, but we may go back to cooking in the morning as the cool weather returns (notice I refuse to use the word 'cold'). Lunches are our best meal. Brahma eats brie or Swiss with apple on a bagel and I have cheddar and tomato on bread. My lunch staple is anything Cheetos. Cheetos Puffs, Paws, All-Natural white puffs, or just the regular misshapen crunchies. And for dinner we eat the same mac n' cheese, mashed potatoes and brown gravy, occasional spaghetti, etc. Snack favorites are yogurt-covered pretzels, Little Debbie cakes, Mounds, Snickers, Kit Kats... and yup, still losing weight! :) Don't worry Dawn, we take a big handful of all those vitamins you loaded us down with every day so we're not getting scurvy or osteoporosis.
We were ecstatic to arrive in Salisbury, CT and find lots of love waiting for us at the post office. Thank you so much for the letters everyone - we feel so blessed to have good friends. Right up there with JJ's sweet care packages came one from Carl and Scottie, our Waynesboro hookup. I must say the best treat was the mini bottle of Coconut Lime Verbena body lotion. I almost started doing a jig right in front of the posh little Eliza Peet Gallery! Someone asked this lady on the street "Is there a pharmacy in this town?" and she says "Our village has an apothecary." Give me a breeeeeaaak. Although I did love LaBonne's Epicure (translation: the grocery store) because they had a mean deli/bakery and I packed out fried chicken, canolis, bananas and GrapeAde for dinner.
We expect to be in Vermont within the week. (Whoohoo!!) Our friend Blaze is there and you can read all about his trail drama here, we're excited to see him even under the crappy circumstances. Lately we've been hiking on and off with Holler, Keychain (his blog here) and Vachon.
Here's a parting shot of Dustan on Bear Mountain.