13.6 miles, 1471.5 overall (Silver Hill campsite)
I get a great night of sleep as expected. When I wake it isn’t extremely early but the other camper is still asleep. I pack my things, break down the tent, eat my breakfast and leave before I hear him stirring. In some ways I envy the overnight hikers who have no distant objective forcing them to get moving every morning. I look forward to the days when I can plan <10 mile days again without worrying how it will affect my average miles or when I will get to the next town. At the same time, I still enjoy the feeling of getting out of camp earlier than others.
Today I plan to stop into Kent, CT. I have a maildrop there waiting for me at the outfitter and I’ve read in the blogs of other hikers that it is a cute little town. I only have 3 miles to go to reach the road crossing. On the way I run into Breezy who is hiking southbound. I’m confused by his direction since he is a NoBo (northbounder). He informs me that he has been called home to Florida for some sort of legal matter and will be off the trail for a few days. His best way home was to hike back to the Appalachian Station and catch the train into NYC this weekend. We catch up for a few minutes and I find out the fatigue and nausea he had back in Shenandoah (last time I saw him) passed in a few days so it was likely some sort of flu bug. We eventually part ways and I wonder if he’ll catch me somewhere up the trail.
I reach the road crossing to Kent and, still averse to hitchhiking, walk the 0.8 miles into town. The outfitter is on the way in and I see Jihad et al there. I pick up my mail drop and ask them about food in town. They have already eaten at a place called The Villager and they highly recommend it. Once I move the contents of the box into their appropriate places in my pack I head down the street to get second breakfast at this Villager.
Kent looks just how I would expect an upper class New England town to look. On the way into town I passed what appeared to be a boarding school with pristine sports fields. On the way to the diner I pass a bakery, an antique shop, and a coffee shop, among others. At the diner I find outside seating in the shade and it is a nice day so I take advantage with the added benefit of not imposing my smell on others. Pretty soon I have a western omelet in front of me with coffee, toast, and home fries. I shovel them all down while watching life pass by on the town’s thoroughfare.
Once I’m done I head back to the outfitter. I know I should get going but I’m lacking motivation so I head inside and buy some ice cream from the attached ice cream shop. While I eat it I plug in my backup phone battery to get some juice and I take advantage of the free wifi to download some more audiobooks. I add some full-length Sherlock Holmes novels to the short stories I already have and I get some more chapters of the Count of Monte Cristo.
Around 1:00 I finally get moving out of town. On the way out I see Tipsy and Fetch who are on their way in. I hadn’t seen them in a while and hope I’ll get to catch up with them soon. They are a nice couple of a similar age as me and I enjoy their company.
The trail out of town has some uphill climbs to it so I listen to one of the new Sherlock Holmes novels while I hike. It is so interesting that I continue to listen for the rest of the day. The trail comes down off the ridge (making the uphill pointless) on some very steep steps called St John’s Ledges and follows the Housatonic for several incredibly flat miles. The river is picturesque despite the gnats and mosquitoes and I appreciate the views of a gravel river versus the more sandy type I’m used to in the south.
Around the time the trail heads back up into the mountains I finish the novel. I’m really enjoying listening to audiobooks. They make me feel like I’m doing something somewhat productive during my hiking rather than thinking about the same things over and over day after day. However I remind myself not to get carried away and decide that in the morning I’ll have to hike without one for a while to make sure I also experience the sounds of the trail.
I head up the ridge and pass lots of recent blowdowns. They all have fresh green leaves so they can’t be from the hurricane last year, but they are already cut with chainsaws to clear the path – the wood chips are still fresh on the trail. It seems the CT trail crew is really on their game! I make my way up to another campsite for the night rather than a shelter. I’m the first to arrive so I choose what I consider the prime tent spot and set about dinner. Pretty soon Jihad, Easy Turtle, and Tittie Sprinkles all arrive with a friend who is hiking with them for a few days. A bit later Tipsy and Fetch also arrive, giving me a chance to catch up with them since the last time I saw them I fainted. I relate my hospital visit to them and they relate to me how they hiked naked for 3 hours on Hike Naked Day.
All caught up with my trail friends and fed, I head to my tent earlier than the others. I have my nightly routine and though I hate to miss out on good conversation I like to stick to it. I can hear the others though and it isn’t long before they head to bed too. Being in another campsite on a flat tent site I expect another great night of sleep on the Appalachian Trail!