June 9, 2018
Destination: Cheshire, MA, (Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Mile 1578.8) Today's Miles: 12
Start Location: Kay Wood Shelter Trip Miles: 1578.80
Last night was interesting. Right around the time I started to fall asleep, fireworks started exploding in town.
I only saw one or two, but there were a lot! It’s funny camping so close to a town - I’m in the woods, but I still hear road noise and, well, fireworks! I got up at about 5:15 and was hiking at 6. I had a lot I wanted to do today, and stop number one was breakfast in Dalton, 3 miles away.
I made it to town in an hour and took in the scenery and houses as I walked. Dalton is cute. It struck me as a classic small Massachusetts borough. There were some really nice houses in the neighborhood that the trail passes through. I diverged from the trail where it turns off of Main Street and headed to the Dalton Restaurant, which is really like a diner. Apollo and Skutch dropped me a text and said that it was good. It was also conveniently across from the Dalton CRA community recreation center, which has free showers for hikers. Step one: eat. Step two: eat again. Step 3: shower. And that’s pretty much what I did.
Dude met me at the diner and had breakfast with me. I started with an omelet with a bunch of stuff in it and Swiss cheese, rye toast with butter and jam, and a side of corned beef hash. You know, some light fare. I drank coffee and loaded it with creamer. As a second course, I had a giant Belgian waffle with strawberries and a mound of whipped cream on it. Of course, I poured syrup all over it a la Elf, and ate it all even though there was a long black hair on it. Just a hair? No problem. After breakfast Dude split and I walked across the street for the shower.
The lady at the CRA desk was like an angel. She was so nice and didn’t flinch at my nastiness. She handed me a beautiful puffy white towel and just touching it felt amazing. I went the wrong way at first and walked right into a ladies yoga class with my pack and trekking poles and towel, like a heathen bursting in on some Buddhist vow of silence retreat. Whoops! I, the hobo invader, quickly closed the door and heard the front desk lady laughing. She pointed me down the stairs.
The locker room was super clean and had shampoo and soap. It also had a sauna. I was tempted, but I did have a lot to do today so I stuck with just the shower. I spent a long time in that shower! I washed my hair at least three times. Similarly, I washed the rest of my body multiple times, trying my best to scrub the dead skin off without a wash cloth. It felt incredible! I used my Swiss Army knife scissors to trim my gangly nose hairs, because that’s a thing I have to do now. I trimmed up some of the mustache hairs that were growing into my mouth. I looked like the opposite of Crocodile Dundee. I wasn’t shaving, and I was using scissors from an inch and a half long knife. There was a guy shaving next to me. He didn’t flinch or comment though!
Once clean, I put on my laundry washing attire - my rain pants and rain jacket. I wear these so that I can wash all of my clothes. There was a laundry in town, but I had heard that The Shamrock Inn would let non guests do laundry on occasion. That was a lot closer, so I walked there. I lumbered down the street with my pack in my rain suit, completely commando underneath, like some kind of hack flasher. I wore crocs and carried my shoes, trekking poles, and ditty bag with my money and charger handy. I charged my battery pack and phone at the diner and the CRA, but it needed a bit more time. And time it would get....
The Shamrock Inn was awesome and let me do my laundry there for five bucks! I hung out in their guest lounge, dusting my nasal palate with that special motel bouquet. I detected hints of cigarettes, lost childhoods, kool aid, and regret. In all seriousness though, the Inn was great and a good spot for hikers. They had a “catio,” which was a sun room built out for their two cats, who lounged in it. One cat was super sweet. I spent some time petting her. The other cat reminded me of that rabid raccoon. It had an oddly psychotic way about it - the way it’s face looked when it meowed for me to open the door, the way it tried to bite me after I petted it too long. I think it’s name was Sassy or something like that.
The laundry took 45 minutes per cycle, so I sat there a while and read some, as well as did some logistics planning. I saw Blueberry leaving the motel. He had stayed last night. He said he hiked in at almost 11pm. When my laundry was done, I used their bathroom to change into my shorts and T-shirt. Wow it felt good to have clean clothes on! They probably would have benefited from two washes, but they were clean enough.
I walked back towards the trail for my next mission: lunch. I wanted to go to Angelina’s Sub Shop. I had heard good things and it was just around the corner. Before I even got there, I saw some hikers waiving and yelling Hungry Cat. It was No Excuse, Chimney, Good Push, and Happy Feet! They had camped at the Cookie Lady’s house last night and hiked in from there. I caught up with them a bit while eating a sub and a whoopie pie. I found out that No Excuse had hurt his big toe. He got a weird blister that was full of nasty fluid and his toe was really sore. He then kept hiking and adjusted his stride, which made him strain his leg. It was not good. He wanted to try hiking a few light mike days to see how it feels, so they were just going to a campsite 3 or so miles out of town. I hope that he takes care of himself and doesn’t push too hard and make it worse - he’s so close !! It would be rough to get taken out by injury now. At the same time, I understand the challenge of holding back given my experience in Damascus. I felt badly for him and I hope he improves with a bit of rest.
I hiked out of town with No Excuse and Happy Feet. I still planned to push on to Cheshire, do a light resupply, and hike out of town. However, I then remembered that I needed to go to the outfitter in Cheshire. I wanted to get some permethrin and a fuel canister. I had a little over 8 Miles to go, and the outfitter was 2.5 miles out of town (a hitch) and they closed at 5. At that point I probably wouldn’t make it. Happy Feet was on the phone with someone, so I apologized to No Excuse for rushing off, but explained to him the timing issue. He suggested calling them to see if I could make the purchase over the phone and have them leave the stuff outside their store. This was a great idea and ultimately what I ended up doing.
I hiked off with great purpose towards Cheshire and made good time there. I just love how the trail took me to two towns in one day - it was really fun! I called Berkshire Outfitters and the gentleman Steve was really cool. He said his daughter was hiking up in the Presidentials now, and he ended up driving the canister and permethrin to me in town after closing the shop. He was awesome, and also snuck in a free energy gel for me! Super cool Steve! On the way into Cheshire, the trail passes through a cute neighborhood and then by an ice cream and sandwich shop called Diane’s Twist. I grabbed a strawberry cheesecake milkshake, a nod to the day Sourkraut and I got milkshakes at the Brushy Mountain Outpost when we thought it would be closed. After I met with Steve, I decided it was getting late and I shouldn’t attempt to resupply and do the climb out of town. Instead, I went to a church just down the road where hikers can stay for free. It was pretty awesome and Transformer was there. It had a huge parking lot, so I set to work treating my stuff with permethrin, which will be the final treatment I do. After that, I walked over to Dollar General for a light resupply. I LOVE how cheap DG is! This one even had cliff bars. Conveniently across the street was a gas station with a Dunkin Donuts inside. I went over and got a breakfast sandwich to take back to the church.
Today was a good day and I felt like I got a lot accomplished. I feel clean and organized and ready to tackle Mt. Greylock, the highest peak in MA, tomorrow. I was grateful for the kindness of others today and for all of the good eats, as well as some of the town scenery. Tomorrow I will wake up on a church lawn and start the day!