Appalacian Trail - Day 4 - 8/22/12Thistle Hill Shelter - Happy Hill Shelter (8.8 Miles)
I awake first with a sore back similar to every other morning thus far on the trail. Being up first I head deeper into the woods to snag tinder and sticks to have a fire with breakfast. We take our time this morning knowing we’ve only got a few miles today vs our longest day yesterday.
I snap a photo of the pooper with a view as we leave camp. I feel confidant on my decision to not use this effective, yet odd privy. Just like the past couple of days, after an afternoon of climbs we start the day with a long decent into the little town of Hartford. We're treated with more southbound views towards Askutney throughout the morning. Occationally we'll come to a nice field sections that seem completely out of the blue in the middle of the forest.
The group decides to break for lunch on the banks of the White River, cook up some food and go for a swim. The damage from Irene are still viable along the riverbanks and the buildings that line the waterway. Rumors were that the next stretch of trail was very sparce of water so we fill our water bottles and figure better safe than sorry even though we've got a long climb ahead and this will add a few extra pounds to our packs.
On the climb out of town we cross train tracks just ahead of a train. I pause briefly to snag some grapes on the tracks. Before too long, but what feels like forever on pavement we head into the woods and climb up happy hill.
We pass some more runners on the next climb and PackCow tries to get in their way. I grab her and say, “come here bonehead.” Blonde running down the trail says, “awww bonehead?!” It gives Inchworm and I something to chuckle about over the next few miles. About how ‘turkey-brain’ and ‘bonehead’ were used as both positives and negatives by our parents.
As Inchworm and I wait for the ladies at the spur to the shelter a wide eyed barefoot hiker approached. His earbuds are in and can hardly hear us when we wish him hello. He asks about water and we tell him how the water by the shelter is dry, but there are a couple of streams just ahead that he could filter some water from. He looks thru us, but seems to aknowledge, and then moves forward. We scratch are heads and just assume dude must have been in the woods too long by himself.
The girls catch up with The PackCow and we head down to the old cool shelter. We think about how nice this is going to be to spend our last night on the trail while grabbing wood for a fire. Then they start rolling in. One after another. And the droves. About 15-25 hikers pass through the site over the next 3 hours, some dropping their packs and setting up camp, some just passing through. What was once a quiet shelter and promise of a fire and fun turned into a ‘hey look at me, I’m a thru hiker with tons of money’ frat party. A lot of the SOBOs having just drank their butts off in Hanover and ready to get back in the woods want to share their stories over and over with anyone that will listen. "WHOAA look at the size of that pickle!" and "I think whoever built that privy was a hobbit," had to be the two that cracked me up the most. They seemed like jovial folks but the volume level which was once birds and squirrels was unbearable.
A short time later, the same sketchy guy wanders back into camp with 90 nutragrain bars. He stands there for a bit and appears as if he's surprised to see people. After what feels like forever he says he's from Boston and doesn’t have any way to purify the water up the trail. Luckily for him he buddies up with the AT-ers and they help treat his water for him. God knows what is going to happen to this guy if he ever leaves the pack.
We decide we don’t want to be part of this and debate packing up camp and heading into Hanover and potentially the truck tonight. After taking a deep breath, and setting up our tents further away from the shelter we play some cards and try to stay to ourselves while they talk over and over again about the AT and pies. With the knowledge of us leaving the trail tomorrow Leah and I surprise the Fortin's with our early anniversary gift of little cans of champane. I think it was exactly what the doctor ordered as the chatting from the ATers went from painfully annoying to a pure specticle to watch. It was like being at VTC all over again. 8 men, 1 woman. Each guy trying to one-up the other in hopes to winning her favor. We continue to play rummy 500 while murmuring to ourselves things like, "wait....is that dude eating his tuna with a stick? You've gotta see this!" and then we'd laugh hystarically.
QOTD - "...so happy I want to grow a penis and slam it in a car door"