No chocolate milk (yet), but trail magic. Two Mountain Dews, two ginger ales, and a Brisk iced tea. Yeah, that's five. Eat your heart out, Caveman.The trail magic was kept in a milk crate, just above some railroad tracks that marked the unofficial boundary of Dalton, Massachusetts. I knew Smokestack, Fredo and at least the one other guy had already rolled through, yet the trail magic box was still fully stocked with sodas, as though someone had just been out to refill it. Thus reassured that it was impeccably maintained, and not knowing any other northbound thru-hikers within two days of me to the south, I gleefully plundered the magic without a twinge of remorse. Besides, it was really hot out that day. And I was cranky. I mean, thirsty. I deserved it.
Some unfinished business while I'm here and trying to contain a pressing bowel movement until town: A) that was not the first time I peed on my hand. This week. B) Seeing a trail maintainer out and about doing his job is a bit like seeing the emperor without his clothes. You expect a burly outdoors-type, either wielding an axe or a machette or a flock of goats, not a fat guy in jeans with a weed-whacker.
I can hear someone in the woods behind me. Creepy. No desire to push hard to get to Cheshire (Just been passed by the guy. Never seen him before. He may be this dude Popeye I've heard about. Will not investigate further.) on time to see the World Cup game. Only desire to get there on time to take a crap.
Just sneezed (really loudly) and a voice comes out of the woods, "Bless you!" ... Again, creepy. Should keep moving.
I was still sipping my Brisk as I reached the north end of town, where Fredo was loitering, adjusting his pack. Feeling inexplicably compelled to justify my actions, I explained to him what I had done. He didn't seem particularly enamored of my reasoning.
"You just can't do that," seemed to be his message. "You have to be considerate, and think of other people."
But I am, I thought. I'm thinking about all those policemen and paramedics who won't have to come out here to clean up my mess after I murder everyone for not giving me soda.
But I kept that to myself. I was already on thin ice with Fredo. I didn't want him to think I was a deranged, possibly dangerous lunatic and an inconsiderate ass hole. Just the one was bad enough.
It was about five miles later that I started needing a privy—or better yet, a bathroom with running water—and hearing the voices in the woods. By which I mean real, live, human voices, and not at all merely hallucinated ones. Despite all that, I made it into Cheshire with my compression shorts unsoiled, and my sanity intact.
How? I honestly don't remember.
However, I do remember stopping at O'Connell's Convenience Store & Shell Station for a half gallon of Cumberland Farms chocolate milk. Delicious. I then remember walking back into town, to the Cobble View Pub and Pizzeria, where everyone else had gathered to watch the finals of the World Cup. Not quite the worst pizza I've ever had. It didn't make me vomit. But it wasn't good. And then I and one other forlorn section hiker trudged off towards the St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, to stay for the night.