June 4, 2018
Destination: Stealth Campsite next to Giant’s Thumb at Mile 1497.3 Today's Miles: 21.50
Start Location: Stony Brook Campsite Trip Miles: 1497.30
I woke up early to the sound of rain on my tent. It had rained much of the night.
I checked the forecast and saw that it was supposed to start clearing up after 8am, so I went back to sleep for a bit. I woke up at about 7:45 and started getting my things in order. I heard Chimney, No Excuse, and then Transformer leave. I ate a Cinnamon Toast Crunch bar inside my tent, then hit the trail at 9. That’s pretty late for me, but the timing was good as the rain was halting.
It was chilly outside so I hiked in rain gear until I got through a few nearby meadows and some climbs and had warmed up. I passed a Flip Flopper named Princess. She had recently slipped and fell, hitting her face. She said her eye swelled shut and it was pretty bad a few days ago. Yikes! I also heard that NOBO hiker Spice broke her ankle and is off trail. I feel bad for her, but it could happen to any of us. That’s the scary thing....
I came to a river crossing, Guinea Brook, and it was flooded and the rocks that are normally there as a pathway across were submerged and part of a big rapid that has formed there. Unfortunately, I didn’t check Guthook to learn about a bypass trail for this crossing, so I spent the next 40 minutes climbing over deadfalls and walking off trail along the bank trying to find a place to cross. Nothing! There were no safe spots to cross. I climbed up the hill to a road and saw a hiker getting dropped off at the trailhead. Just then No Excuse responded to a text I had sent and told me to take the bypass trail. I saw the blue blazes now and cursed myself for not thinking to check the guide. I must’ve spent 40 minutes trying to find a way to cross!! As I got closer I realized the other hiker was Sharkbait! I hadn’t seen him since Daleville, VA. We walked along together on the bypass trail until we got back to the AT on the other side of the Brook.
The rain held off and the cool weather made for awesome hiking. It helped keep the bugs down, and probably helped me sweat less. I passed another NOBO I hadn’t met yet - Reboot. He started at Springer a little before I did. Originally my plan was to hike to Falls Village and, before proceeding, try to see if there was a good and close to the trail food option. I figured I would try and duck in for a meal or snacks and then keep hiking. I never made it to the village though, because as I came up on a nearby road crossing, two guys standing in the parking lot waived me over and said they were going to feed me. Turns out it was the famous trail angel Fresh Ground! The man, the myth, the legend, was here in the flesh and feeding me! I had been hearing about Fresh Ground since Tennessee, but had yet to run into him. He travels up and down the trail feeding hikers. It was really amazing, and the timing couldn’t have been better as I’d run out of snacks and was quite hungry. I sat down and he made me two cheeseburgers. I also had a grilled cheese sandwich, banana, some watermelon, pringles, celery, carrots, and beans. Lie I said, it was pretty incredible. I washed all that down with Koolaid. Sharkbait and Reboot showed up and ate as well. We all talked for a while and then hiked north. When I first got to that lot, Fresh Ground said something to the effect of: “I represent all the people out there who support you and want you to succeed.” That resonated with me because there have been so many people who have supported me in doing this in so many different ways. That statement, along with the timing of it all today, made it feel truly magical. Thanks Fresh Ground!!
I hiked further to camp by a huge rock called Giant’s Thumb. I took a picture and you can see why it is named that. Sharkbait hammocked nearby. The hiking in Connecticut has been difficult so far, with lots of steep climbs and steep descents. I really needed the boost I got today! I felt like I had the energy I needed to finish out my day from all of that great food!
I was grateful for the weather not dumping rain on me today, grateful for the temperature staying a bit cooler, and also for the amazing opportunity to meet Fresh Ground and to eat his delicious offerings. What a day!