Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Chapter 105: Heat Wave

Shocking as it may seem, Major Chafage is as entirely capable of making an ass of himself in civilian life as he is on the trail.

For example, while I was at home for the Fourth of July, I got pleasantly drunk and decided to drag some beers over to a neighbors house with the hazy intention of roping them into continuing my spontaneous party. Unfortunately, I stumbled into the aftermath a massive personal tragedy, and my presence was thus justifiably regarded with some annoyance, if not open hostility. Not having the good grace—or sober self-awareness—to realize my mistake, cut my losses, and leave, I stuck around until the withering glares became far too obvious, and then went home, head hung low, contrite, and hopefully appropriately humiliated.

My myriad recent personal failures haunted me as I blearily made my way from the Stewart Hollow Brook Lean-to towards the Limestone Springs Lean-to. The day would take me twenty two miles, across the Housatonic River and down an interminable trail reroute through a couple of less than idyllic small New England towns. Apparently a bridge had been flooded sometime in the late 20th Century, and the state was only now—thanks to the lousy economy—getting around to rebuilding it.

After passing a turnoff towards the world-famous Lime Rock race track, I stopped for dinner outside a cemetery, where a helpful local told me I could find a running water spigot. Apparently the sight of a forlorn hiker sitting on a stone wall outside a cemetery eating cold Indian food out of a foil pouch was too much for some passersby, however; I had multiple people stop to offer me bottles of water. Connecticut was in the grips of a historic heat wave. Temperatures reached 102° F in Hartford that day, with a Heat Index of approximately 120. I was very grateful for the help.

At some point, I managed to find the time to scribble the following in my journal:
July 6,

This pen is going to die.

Holy crap, my balls hurt. Had another nervous breakdown today. That makes three and a half... thousand.

Thought a lot about Melanie this morning, and her whole situation. I guess her--Arrrgh! fucking ants!--Sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah.
I'm not sure where I was going with that. Well, I have a pretty good idea, but I don't know if this is the appropriate setting to get into it. Some things are more important than for me to besmirch them by mentioning them here.

I never made it to the Limestone Springs Lean-to. It was approaching dark as I reached the summit of Prospect Mountain. An older woman, a section hiker, was stealth camping up there, which seemed to me to be as good an idea as any. I asked if I could join her, she cheerfully agreed, and I settled in to my tent to watch the sunset.

And so what if camping is prohibited anywhere along the trail in Connecticut, except at designated sites?

Let a ridge runner come along and arrest me, I thought. I'm dying to quit! Or at least go home again, drink birch beer, and then maybe yellow blaze...

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