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Week Seventeen: More food, high mileage days, and into Connecticut

Sunday July 31st, 1983
Woke up late and pigged out once again courtesy of the monks of Greymoor. I don't remember what I ate, but I am sure it was a lot!

The day was hot and humid, but the trail was easy even though at one point it contained 5 miles of continuous road walk. While on the road walk, I remember crossing a large highway with cars zooming by that seemed quite dangerous.

Paul and I easily covered eighteen miles and arrived at Ralph's Peak Hikers Cabin by 6:00pm. There was an overgrown field that I walked through with a mowed path going right to the cabin. As I reached the cabin I saw the ride-on lawn tractor beside the trail. Earlier in my hike I remember going through some tall grass in the morning and getting soaked from the early morning dew so I was pleased to see the path had been well maintained. The place really turned out to be more than a cabin. I was thinking it would be more rustic like maybe a log cabin. Instead it was a suburban house with a working stove and refrigerator. It was actually a cinder block building, but had been converted into a hostel, and it seems like everyone was here tonight! The place was jumpin'. As I walked into the cabin, I was greeted with watermelon and ice cream! The caretakers are great people - they also bought us beer. I was told by the caretaker that there was a bicycle that I could use to go into town with for supplies. I didn't need supplies so I didn't bother.

It was such a short hike from the cabin to the monastery that I really wanted to get going, but the cabin was so inviting and my friends were there. I thought that it would have been nice if these stops were spaced further apart.

I was told that Ralph, the person who the cabin was named after, had been a thru-hiker in the past. When I asked where he was I was told that he was off on a hiking trip. He hiked back in 1975.

Monday August 1st, 1983
I left Ralph's Peak Hikers Cabin a bit late due to a restless night that caused me to try to get a little extra shut-eye. I don't know why I had a restless night, but these days felt more like day hikes - where you hike all day and have a nice shower and plenty to eat before heading to bed. It was almost domestic.

Having had such a poor night, I was fortunate that today was a really easy day. I hiked sixteen miles, ten of which were road walk. I ended my day at Murrow Park where there is a pavilion. The management charged me a buck for a shower and the privilege to sleep in the pavilion.

(Possibly general store in Holmes, NY. L-R Eric Olson, John Beckstrand, Marcel, Marcel, Tim Platts, Bruce Berlin, Terri Zimmerman, and Paul Nichols)

(L-R Marcel, Marcel, Tim Platts, Bruce Berlin, Terri Zimmerman, and Paul Nichols)

My tent was a hand-me-down, one person Eddie Bauer tent given to me by my cousin Sonny. Made of rip stop nylon, it was a small pup tent that was wide at the head and tapered toward the feet. Faded red in colour, it stood with one pole in front and one at the rear and both poles were held up by one guy line each. There were six loops to stake it out and one guy line on each side to hold the sides of the tent out. When you got in you had to maneuver yourself around the centre pole being careful not to knock the front of the tent down which I did from time to time. It also had a small window/vent at the foot and a zippered front doorway both of which were fitted with no-see-um netting.

Tuesday August 2nd, 1983
Turns out that I had problems sleeping in the pavilion last night. First, I pitched my tent near the pavilion because the bugs were swarming all over it. Then it started to rain, so I ended up pitching my tent inside the pavilion and got a lousy night's sleep. Pitching a stake up tent on a concrete slab is definitely a problem, so the setup was a bit shakey, but I managed the best I could. I also owned a Sierra Design tent which I left at home, but it was made for alpine climbing and was heavy plus it took up a lot of space. On the other hand, my Eddie Bauer tent lived in the bottom of the main compartment in my pack.

Got up late once again to make up for lost sleep, and pulled an eighteen miler into Kent, Connecticut where I stopped at the post office expecting to receive a care package. It had arrived - and so had everyone else! They all eagerly crowded around as I opened the package. We all munched it down and then immediately headed for pizza and beer courtesy of a local
pizza place.

My mom made these awesome care packages with all manner of goodies. She regularly made penuche, brownies, and prune bread. Also, the packages had letters from home and whatever I had requested from my folks while at the previous PO stop. These packages were a lifeline for me. Many times I heard from other hikers that their packages were not sent on time so they would have to wait in town to get them, or forward them to the next stop and miss out on much needed supplies. My mom and dad were great at logistics, and I never had to wait for the packages to get to me. They were diligent and caring, and that made all the difference for me. For me, every PO stop was like Christmas day as a child.

There is a picture of all who were in Kent that day somewhere. It is a wonderful image of Fuzzy Jim entertaining us as we hung out in back of the PO.

Tonight we will tent behind the post office.

During one of my town stops, perhaps Kent, I placed a paper bag with my photos inside behind a store or a P.O. near a dumpster. We had been hanging around the dumpster while we systematically threw out as much of the packaging from our store purchases and care packages when I suddenly had to go get something. When I came back, the bag was gone. I believe that the dumpster had at just that inoppoportune moment been emptied, and mistakenly the bag was picked up and thrown into the trash truck as well. It may very well have been here in Kent where that had happened. I knew that my parents would be picking me up in Kent, so why would I have send my film back home in the mail? They never received them and never picked them up. If you have not noticed, photos are missing from this part of the trip, so I think this must have been the place it happened.

Wednesday August 3rd, 1983
Today is a day of rest, from hiking that is. I did laundry, wrote letters, did shopping, repacked my pack and even had some time to just hang around. Everyone else left early this morning. Paul hung around, but then left about 4:00pm. He is anxious to get home for some rest and relaxation as well. I had padded time into my rendezvous to be sure that I would get there in time. I had no way to get in contact with them should I be delayed. Timing was of the essence in these matters since phone contact can only be made during a town visit. A wasted day
meant a zero mile day.

(Letter sent to Pep, my grandfather)

Mom, dad and Dia will be coming to see me tomorrow. Can't wait!

Thursday August 4th, 1983
My parents and Dia got in about 11:00am and it was great to see them. We went to Macedonia State Park for a picnic, and then ate some Haagen Dazs ice cream. They bought the ice cream in town. Haagen Dazs is premium ice cream so it was indeed a treat.

(My parents, Simone and Francis Montville and me) (Kent Falls, Kent CT)

(My mom, Simone, Dia, and me)

It was great to hear from those at home, made me feel as if I was there. Eventually, they dropped me off at the trail head late in the afternoon, and I hiked to Chase Mountain Lean-To. It rained on me a bit, but my spirits are quite high.
Years later my mom told me that she cried when I left them that day as it was raining quite hard.

(My parents dropping me off at the trailhead) (Rhode Island Red heading north from Kent in the rain)

Tonight is the first night in a long time that I have a lean-to to myself - what a nice change it is!

Friday August 5th, 1983
Got up at 4:45am and put in a 20 miler today.

I met "Mister Connecticut" doing some trail maintenance. He has a gruff exterior, but inside he is a hell of a guy. He and I talked for roughly an hour about the trail, drugs, drinking and many other things. I called him Mr. Connecticut because he was in charge of trail maintenance for all of Connecticut.

After leaving him, I hiked to the package store at Cornwall Bridge, Connecticut where I drank my free beer for having hiked all the way from Georgia to the package store. All the hikers know about this place by the time they arrive there. One beer of your choice for free! It was blistering hot - so I selected a large can of ice cold Fosters Lauger (the largest beer in the store) which I guzzled down even though it tasted like skunk piss. At the package store I met my first two south bound thru-hikers, it was a male and female couple. I don't believe that I ever got the names of these southbounders, but afterwards, it was off to the grocery store for Haagen Dazs and two Hostess cherry pies.

Ah, the gate. One of the man made wonders along the trail that I experienced. I hiked by it during a road walk today. Hiking along the one lane backroad was shady, so I didn't get the full intensity of the sun and was pleased at that. The gate, embraced by a several trees, formed the entrance to a home. The house it guarded stood on the lot as a small, unremarkable structure. As such, what caught my attention was the very unusual and quite large entry gate which had the unmistakable shape of a harp. Made entirely of wood, it featured a lacquered clear coat to accentuate the grain of the wood which flowed as if it were sculpted. I have often thought of going back to see it again.

(Massive Maple gate on Great Hollow Road, CT)

I continued on toward the Y.C.C. lean to where I expected to stay tonight. Upon my arrival at about 7:00pm I was unhappy to find it full of screaming kids. The shelter was right off of a nearby road. Consulting the databook, I saw that just down the road about .3 mile there was a water pump, so that is where I elected to stay and tent. I hope that it doesn't rain because the weekenders don't seem too friendly; however, even a wet tenting experience seemed better than having to share the shelter.

Saturday August 6th, 1983
Did another twenty miler today. Along the way I met a southbounder who stayed with Paul last night. That puts him about ten miles ahead. No need to catch him though for I am quite content hiking solo.
Opportunity knocked for me at the Corner Diner on the A.T. near Falls Village where I was able to eat some veal parmesan. Today was extremely humid and I even got rained on a few times, but it wasn't much. I am hoping that it doesn't rain tonight.

The bugs were unreal today! They were biting me from the second I got out of the tent this morning until just a few minutes ago when I got back into the tent which is pitched near Limestone Spring and it is 6:17pm. There were a few dozen mosquitos perched on my front door netting just waiting for me to exit. From time to time I would hit the netting just to aggravate them. Hats off to the man that invented no-see-um netting! There were so many other bugs that you could hear them flying around in the dark silence.

Lying here quietly in my tent near Limestone Springs I can hear the drone of thousands of bugs - and I am not exaggerating! I can also hear thunder in the distance.

(View from Barrack Mountain in CT)



Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983