AT Update: 7 – Berkshire Blitz

I went almost a hundred miles in less than a week. For a while there I was afraid that I wouldn’t speed up in time to avoid hitting winter in the South. Granted, I’ll hit winter anyway, since there’s no way I can maintain that pace through serious mountains, but! at least I know I can do it.

I was slow getting out of Connecticut. There’s no science behind this, but I’m pretty sure that every percentage point of humidity above sixty feels like another pound in the backpack, and there were a couple of days where the temperature and humidity were both in the 90s, even in the mountains. I spent four or five days soaked through, and it hadn’t even rained. The heat just wore me down, and when my shoes started squishing, I decided that I’d had enough and took a day to wait out the heat (and to sleep somewhere dry). I stayed with Maria McCabe in Salisbury, an extremely pleasant, slightly batty old lady from Italy who is famous along the trail for her hospitality. I was the only hiker there that night though. Instead there was a small family who I just completely confounded. I don’t know why I made them so uncomfortable (I’d showered and everything), but I also didn’t really care. If they thought a bearded dude reading a book was sketchy, I can only hope they get to travel more. Who knows what wonders they’ll find.

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The next day, the temperature dropped, and I made it to Massachusetts. I actually went to school a few miles from the trail, and probably would have stopped by if I hadn’t taken the day in Salisbury. It would have been nice to see the campus again, plus, the gym has a pool. I’d spent enough time wandering around the woods in and around the campus that I could camp there without being found as well. I wouldn’t be the first alum to do so either, but I decided I needed to keep moving.

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I’d experienced small windows of nice weather in this area, but most of the term was spent frozen over, and after marching through as fast as possible, the Berkshires are the first part of the trail so far that I want to come back to revisit. It was gorgeous, all pine woods, lakes and ravines.

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I was focused mostly on moving fast, but some highlights were spending the night at a cabin, talking to southbounders and eating pancakes, and stopping by a blueberry farm and being given cookies by the owner. On several occasions, I heard thunder behind me, but when I reached the top of the mountain and looked back, I saw black clouds moving across where I had just been. That’s always a good feeling.

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For the most part, I’m just thrilled to finally (finally) be going fast. The only day I went less than fifteen miles was the day I went into town to run a bunch of errands, and even then I moved on to the next town over when they were done. At this point, I’m just trying to bank as much time as I can before the trail really gets difficult.

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Total milage: 610, ~28%

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