Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chapter 95: Prelude to Madness

Megan, Liz, and Steven drove off around four. I loitered in town only so long as to take care of a pressing bodily function, my digestive tract still overwhelmed from my week-long sojourn into civilization. Considering that it was getting late in the day, I was only planning a ten-mile hike out; a trek I didn't anticipate being too difficult.

And it wasn't hard, but it was unexpectedly beautiful. The trail followed a mild grade up to the height of land, then skirted the edge of the hill, offering frequent and spectacular views of the river valley below. Before long, I found myself meandering past Sunfish Pond, a dazzling glacial lake that twinkled gold and violet in the fading daylight.

Despite that, it took me just about three hours to do those initial ten miles. I arrived at Camp Mohican Road just before sunset. I would be staying at the Mohican Outdoor Center, a lodge and campground run by the Appalachian Mountain Club.

The atmosphere at the Center was more than a little subdued. I figured that most of the guests had already turned in for the night, but there also didn't seem to be anybody working there to tell me where to go. I eventually found an empty tent pad next to Ten-Fiddy, whom I had met briefly sometime in the indeterminate past. I felt reassured that here, at least, was one person I actually knew.

Sleep came easier to me that night than it had my first day out of Harpers Ferry. Maybe that was because I knew more what to expect, both of the trail and of myself. Or maybe it merely helped having something else to look forward to: home. My parents, my friends, my bed, and a refrigerator full of juice awaited me just over 150 miles away.

My dad was having a kidney stone removed in a week, and I kind of wanted to get home before he went in. I don't know if I thought we would have been able to hike together at all before his surgery, but I knew we certainly wouldn't be able to hike together after it. And the Delaware Water Gap was was only 161.5 from the Connecticut border. That meant I only needed to average a little more than 23 miles a day. Unfortunately, I'd only managed those ten miles my first day, bumping my required average to just over 25. But Merf and I had just done 19 miles a day through Pennsylvania, the toughest state on the trail, and that hadn't proven too difficult. So twenty-five miles a day didn't seem like that big of a deal...

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