Day 1: Thursday, August 14

In the Stewart Hollow Brook Shelter (AT SOBO mi 715.6), walked 19.1 miles today, plus maybe 1.5 extra before and during

At 6pm yesterday, Scott and the Bry-man dropped me off in bustling downtown Falls Village, CT, whereupon I called up my old Carleton friend Rebecca, aka RJP. People who have been to Falls Village will recognize the improbability of knowing someone who actually lives there, but RJP does actually live there now (she grew up there too), and only about a half-mile from the AT. After a very fried dinner in nearby Canaan and a trip to the grocery store, I decided it was too late to start hiking, and there were still sprinkles of rain in the air, so I took her up on her offer to crash at the RJP ancestral home for the night and start walking in the morning. Whether this counts as a zero day is up for debate. Regardless, it was a pleasure catching up and being their guest, and I woke up ready to make tracks.

Had a standoff with a grumpy dog while taking back neighborhood roads down to the trail in the morning, then finally got on and was so excited to be hiking again that I walked the first nine miles nonstop. This despite the fact that it was steep, rocky, rooty, damp, shady ... all the usual New England AT traits that just aren't an issue anywhere on the PCT. Took a first break at a shelter (a shelter!) with one of the cleanest privies in history, where a very stoned guy named Deppy asked me questions in great detail about an upcoming section of trail that I had already told him I hadn't seen since one day over three years ago. He was one of the only non-thru-hikers I met today; might have encountered 20 NOBOs by the end of it. Some had hopes of finishing (as they should: they're not in bad position to make Katahdin by October 15), some had given up already. I only made real conversation with about five of them.

Took a big ass siesta in the middle of the afternoon when I realized that I was on pace to make my target by about 4pm, and that was just a little too fast, not only because it leaves me with too much time at the shelter, but because I'm not in the kind of shape to be knocking out 19 AT miles in 7.5 hours, no matter how much I may want to. The post-siesta hike took me up some horrendously steep short climbs and on a roadwalk around a flooded stream crossing. Got here about 7pm and chatted with Grubnugget, a NOBO thru-hiker, for a bit. There's a really neurotic dog named Flicka in this shelter, who seems to think it's her house, and her owner, a section hiker, has had to yell at her and physically restrain her many times already. I'm not sure what will happen if either Mr. Grubnugget or I have to get up to pee in the night, or maybe Flicka will just forget about us entirely after a couple of hours and I'll wake up to her growling in my face at 2am. Can't say I missed dogs on the PCT last summer. There are a lot of other differences too that I kept thinking about but to list them all would belabor the point; this is a very different trail experience, but it's still pretty nice and I'm very happy to be out here. Tomorrow, maybe brunch in Kent and then I'll be in New York in the afternoon.

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