My journey has taken me through a myriad of states recently as I traversed New England on my way to Maine. The New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts sections now are all complete. Vermont is next to conclude as I rest in the ambience of the matè loving denizens of The Yellow Deli in Rutland. There are just shy of five hundred miles left in the total journey.
What was immediately noticable as I crossed the Delaware a month ago was the emergence of the mosquito. I got chased out of the first shelter in Jersey by them, and don’t even bother trying anymore. The vile insect thrives out here and makes taking any breaks in the forest an exercise in vigilance to avoid or slay them. I liken setting up my tent in an infested area as though it were a game of Space Invaders. In case you’re wondering, I give as good as I get from them.
NJ, NY & CT were a mixed bag. While trail magic and restaurants were in abundance and I was fortunate to see many of my friends, the area was a unique trial of ‘elemental deprivation’. I had few fires (disallowed entirely in CT), the water had nearly run dry (trail angels thankfully cached water at some road crossings), and the seemingly endless hills that defined the Blue Ridges in the South faded; it was short, strenuous cliffs and descents that defined the elevation profile in these states.
Starting with Mass., however, the mountains (& their massive climbs) have returned and so too have the campfires, flowing water (still diminished nonetheless) and my sense of communion with nature. Vermont, besides its mud, has the humorously distinguishing factor of having a bit of bedlam on the trail not seen since the start. It owns its own 272 mile rite of passage, the Long Trail, concurrent with the AT before going North to Canada (while I branch East to New Hampshire). Add those hikers to the (surprisingly abundant) Southbounders I’m now also colliding with and I have no idea of who is who anymore.
I’ve been solo most of this month as Slim Rims, Forrest and I each attended to our separate friends and/or families (after enjoying a pool party together). I don’t mind being alone again, the confluence of all these hikers has given me many interesting crossings and short term partners. All the friends from “real life” that I’ve seen each have rejuvenated my spirits and remind me I’ve got a lot to look forward to on my return.
That transition after is now worth a proper mulling over as I walk this final month. By no means am I feeling beat down or eager to end this, but a mindful approach for the next phase is worthwhile. For now, I am simply looking at each day with gratitude, preparing mentally to return to my career in web development and locking down where exactly I will live. The future is bright and there ain’t no mountain high enough to stop me. Katahdin, I’ll see you in a month!