First Day of School

8:18 AM

I put too much honey in my coffee but I guess in reality there’s no such thing. Now my entire coffee tastes like liquid honey. I can already feel my shoulders disagreeing with my decision to thru-hike the 272 miles of the Long Trail. With a ticket to Williamstown, MA in my sweaty hand I convince myself I am ready.

1:26 PM

I am so nervous I have to ask myself to take a deep breath. My heart’s in my throat and I feel nauseous to say the least. The bus is passing through Pittsfield and I realize I am one town away from the trail head. The night before I barely fell asleep, only to rise three and a half hours later.

View of the first (small) mountain to climb from the road, Williamstown MA

View of the first (small) mountain to climb from the road, Williamstown MA

It feels like the first day of high school. I worry, what if I’m slower? What if there’s no water? Will my body adapt to Vermont’s highest peaks with over 30 lbs on my back? Will the thunderstorms be at their worst? Will the temperature suddenly drop? Will I be able to easily hitch a ride into town? What if I can’t?

Will I pass this test?

First Green Mountain National Forest sign!

First Green Mountain National Forest sign!

“Patches” and “Crazy Lady”

Ten miles away from the bus stop in front of the Williamstown Inn, I am on the floor of Seth Warner shelter. “Groom,” more precisely Keith from Colorado, also started his Long Trail thru-hike today. But he has a timeline – he’s hiking to his wedding. “Patches” and “Crazy Lady” set up their tent a few miles before the shelter. These are trail names, earned in the Native American style – something happens at some place at some point in time and someone will exclaim, “That’s it! You’re ____!” And it sticks. Patches got his trail name because his beard has been growing out but in patches. Crazy Lady is Patches’ mother-in-law. She was born and spent most of her life in South Africa and so she has an accent. Whenever Patches is a few miles ahead of her, he inquires if anyone has seen an older woman on the trail behind him. But most would only remember her based on the description of “old, crazy lady with an accent.” Crazy Lady, Patches and his wife, Charlotte started on the Appalachian Trail in April in Georgia. After about 600 miles, Charlotte decided that was enough hiking for her and Patches continued with his mother-in- law. They’ve been going strong for the past 1,200 miles.

Patches and Crazy Lady

Patches and Crazy Lady

Quickly the sun is out of sight and the night’s breeze reminds me to rest for my next day on the trail.

One response to “First Day of School

  1. I am Patches’ mom – loved reading this and seeing this image! thank you!

    Peggy King

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