Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dimension Hopping: AT Section 2 Part 4

We sat on our packs on the sidewalk in a residential neighborhood, squinting at the map, thankful the car had broken down or we'd be trying to hike another 7.5 miles. The fix-it-fairies had given the car a once-over and deposited it in Dalton. We were in Dalton. The car couldn’t be that far away. We just had to find it.

Who’d have thought following blazes through a town would be harder than through the forest? Apparently we’d made a mistake following the sidewalk. We were supposed to have cut through the hedges at the gas station.

We’d started that morning from the Kay Wood Lean-to just south of Dalton, MA hiking northbound on the Appalachian Trail. Having hiked 15 miles in two days we were giddy. There were ferns lining the trail in the dappled sun as we descended into town.

The day was fresh until we crossed a set of train tracks and began searching telephone poles instead of trees for the white blazes of the AT. As the sun rose higher, our blistered feet grew rebellious. We couldn’t walk a straight line. We staggered through the streets giggling madly, aching all over and wobbling under the weight of our packs drunk on endorphins and exhaustion.

We steeled ourselves with faith in Newton and his laws of physics. Objects in motion, stay in motion, right? It would have been that way, if we hadn’t got lost.

Tired and sore, I shifted onto the ground and swung my legs up onto my pack. I wished we'd brought a dog. On our first trip, puppy-pacing had worked so brilliantly. Where did we go wrong?

A mere eight months after our maiden trek, we’d hit the trail hard-core. Having done so well on our first trip (ten painless miles over two days), we set the fantastic goal of 27.5 miles in four days. Fantastic, as in based on fantasy, not as in wonderful.

We folded the map and kept walking. The car was on the far side of town, where the trail heads for Cheshire, our delusional, I mean original destination. With every step we took we thanked the gremlins for sabotaging my car. And we thanked the faeries, for bringing it to the trailhead and assuring us there was nothing really wrong with it, was ‘only the brakes’.

Watching our packs fall into the trunk with a thump was as refreshing as a cold glass of water. We smiled at each other. Took off our hiking boots, changed our socks and slid into our seats.

After two and a half days hiking 19 miles, driving away in a 4-cylinder diesel felt like jumping into the eighth dimension in Buckaroo Banzia’s Jet Car.

[I gakked this photo from One Guy's Views. If you haven't seen The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, you should. This section of the trail (Kay Wood to the north end of Dalton was hiked 6/1/08. It was the third day of our hike from Lee to Dalton. And the second step in our nefarious plan to section hike the AT on the 30-year plan.]


  1. Great belching volcanoes, you've done it again! Not only is the story intriguing, the images/ photos are great. You have the magic ;-)

    Now, back to the books, seriously

  2. Where did my comment go? I think I forgot to hit the submit button. I'm so glad you wrote this stuff down. I had already forgotten about being lost in the town. Great stuff.

  3. Tara,
    I swear the submit button doesn't always work! I agree it's pretty fun to have a record, as random as my records are.... but we're going to have to hike more. I'm running out of miles to reminisce about!