Day 141 – July 26 – 20.9 miles – The Lookout to Stealth Camping Spot
Elevation Change: 11,218 feet
Sometime during the night, I got up to look at the stars. There was a slight haze but the milky way was still clearly visible. There weren’t too many nights on the trail where we were up late enough, and had a clear enough view, to see a large swath of the sky.
Stoat woke up at 3 in the morning. He couldn’t get back to sleep, so he went up on the viewing platform to look at the stars. By that time, the skies were completely clear. He said the 360 degree view of the sky was amazing.
Stoat and I woke up early to see the sun rise. It was cold enough to have to put on our jackets. We tip toed up the stairs, being careful not to wake the people sleeping inside.
Even though the sun was still below the horizon, the view was great. A few minutes later several other hikers came up to join us.
When the sun started to come up, I tried to photograph it from two angles.
Several hikers watched the sunrise with us, but Stoat and I remained up there longer than the rest. It was just too nice of a view.
Zeus and Flashfire waved goodbye. We planned meet up with them again at the end of the day.
Eventually, we were able to pry ourselves away from the view. I took a few more pictures and then we headed out.
After a few miles of going up and down through the forest, we passed through farmland.
After going through the farmland, we came to a bridge that crossed a larger stream. For some reason, there were several hikers lounging around. When we found out that they were waiting a little bit for a nearby bakery / general store to open up, we decided to join them in their lounging. Some of the hikers we had seen at The Lookout but several others were new to us.
After about 15 minutes, the group started to make its way to the bakery. The name of the place was On the Edge Farmstand. We got there a little early and hung out at the picnic tables that were setup on one side of the property.
When the place opened there was a line of hikers eager to get in.
They had all kinds of freshly baked goods as well as frozen food and much more. I got a giant chocolate chip muffin, a breakfast burrito, and several other snacks. Stoat got something similar.
It was such a nice day out that we wound up spending almost 2 hours hanging out at the picnic tables with the other hikers. When we did get back on the trail, it climbed steeply out of the valley over a wooded viewless mountain. After the climb, we went back down into another fertile valley. For the rest of the day this pattern was repeated over and over. Steep climb followed by a descent into farmland. Repeat
At one point we passed by a really old stone wall. There were a few fallen trees that were laying against the wall in various places. I stopped to look at the wall and examine it more closely. I noticed that the moss that was growing all over the wall didn’t grow on the white quartz/marble(?) stones and wondered why that was.
As I was thinking about the moss, I noticed there were several half circle impressions that were a few feet in diameter on the top of the wall. My thoughts turned to what the impressions were caused by. I looked over at where the trees had fallen on the wall, and then I looked back at the mystery impressions. The way the wall curved under the fallen trees was the same way it was curved at the mystery impressions. Then all of a sudden it hit me.
These walls were so old, that a large tree had fallen on it, and had completely decomposed without a trace. How old does the wall have to be for that to happen? I knew that a lot of the stone walls in the Northeast were from the 1700’s and some dated back into the 1600’s. The sudden realization that I was standing next to something that was abandoned in the woods several hundred years ago fascinated me
Most likely the land wasn’t even woodland when the wall was built. A lot of the walls were built to note the borders of farms.
What would have the builders been like? What was their life like back then? Was this even the United States at the time? Could they have been British? What would they think of what Stoat and I had been doing for the last several months?
These thoughts and many more flooded my mind. I guess what really struck me the most, was that I was looking at the physical embodiment of a large passage of time.
The trail continued to go up and down through forests and fields.
Near the end of the day we had a short road walk. As we were walking down the road we could see Flashfire and Zeus walking back toward us. When they got to us, they gave Stoat and I some cold soda!
When we asked where they got the soda they said that they got it from the Trail Angel down the road.
As we walked with them, we crossed a bridge. It was somewhat of a tradition for Thru Hikers to jump off it into the river. By the time we got there we had no interest in jumping. It was dinner time and we were tired and hungry.
The “Trail Angel down the streets” name was Linda. She owned a house on the other side of the river. Her husband had converted their garage into a free bunkhouse for thru hikers. Sadly, he had passed away fairly recently. Linda kept it going in his honor.
When we got there, the bunkhouse was full and there wasn’t a place we could hang our hammocks. Stoat and I would have to hike on. But first, we had to eat.
We cooked our food at a picnic table in the front yard. Several other hikers joined us, including one guy named Shoo Bear who ordered a ton of Chinese food.
Stoat and I hung out there longer than we should have. Dark clouds started to roll in and we had to get going. Stoat, who had cooked and eaten his food long before I did, decided to get back on the trail. We looked at a topographical map and chose a spot that looked like it might be suitable for camping. I would meet him around there when I finished eating.
By the time I was done, it was getting dark. After leaving Lindas house, the trail followed a road for a while. I was a little concerned that I might get hit by a passing car in the low light conditions. Thankfully, my only interaction with the cars was when several drivers shouted words of encouragement as they passed by.
By the time the trail led back into the woods it was almost dark. I turned on my headlamp and kept going. As the trail went up a climb, and went through a field of ferns, I had the distinct feeling of being watched. It was the first time on the trail I had that feeling, and for some reason I couldn’t shake it. I hiked faster.
When I got to an area that looked like the place we picked out, I heard Stoat call out from somewhere off to the right. When I went over to him I saw that he had his hammock set up already. Thankfully the spot he choose had enough room for two hammocks so I didn’t have to waste time finding a suitable spot.
By that time, it was fully dark out and I wound up setting up my hammock by the light of my headlamp. The feeling of being watched never fully went away. What ever it was, I was too tired to worry about it. If something bad was going to happen, it would have to happen while I was asleep.