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July 18, 2018 / Comments (2)

Week 20 – Recharging the Emotional Batteries

7/1 – Bulls Bridge, CT to Kent, CT
7/2 – Zero day with Amy
7/3 – Kent, CT to Cornwall Bridge, CT
7/4 – Cornwall Bridge, CT to Salisbury, CT
7/5 – Salisbury, CT to Glen Brook shelter, MA

I have tried, especially the last number of weeks, to create a theme for these blog posts. Hence, some “weeks” are 6 days and some are 8 days and some are 7 – all in an effort to best bookend the week’s theme as possible. After a very long post last week (by far my longest post), this week is a 5-day week and a similarly short post – it is essentially my time hiking and visiting Connecticut, the state of my birth and my youth (until college).

If you read last week’s post about “My Banana Pudding Moment,” you know that I reached a low point mentally/emotionally on this journey. This week’s post tries to describe and explain how – mercifully – I came out of that low moment. At the time I was terribly concerned that the emotional low would continue. If I had not pulled out of it as quickly as I did I’m not sure how candid I would have been last week. So here’s how this Week 20 went and how I was able to escape the mental funk and recharge my batteries.

After my banana pudding moment I had three days off, mostly planned, waiting for Brooke to arrive so we could hike together, which we did until Pawling, NY. I had a night off the trail after Brooke took the train into the city and then headed out the next day, which was warm, but beautiful.

After leaving Pawling, NY, the trail was great, packed earth and very few rocks. I very quickly recalled how much I enjoyed the hiking experience when you could walk relatively free of a rocky trail. This continued as I entered Connecticut.
When I arrived at the end of first day into CT my brother-in-law picked me up at Bulls Bridge and brought me to their home in Monroe, CT (my sister Jennifer and her husband Jim Halloran). The next day Brooke and Amy came out to Connecticut from New York City and we had a family, July 4, cookout with other friends and family.

The day I left Pawling was the start of a near-record heat wave in the NY-CT area. The temperature extremes peaked in the mid-nineties (“feels like 102”) on the day after the cookout – the day that Amy and my brother-in-law hiked with me. We only carried day packs with lunch and lots of water. The hike included what some have called Connecticut’s own “roller coaster.”

The hike started with an immediate climb – the longest of the day. (For the initial climb the temperature was very tolerable.). We handled it fine and then rolled along the ridge. We took frequent water breaks as the temperatures clearly rose. I ran into Steady (NOBO) at a stream who immediately recognized me from the podcast. Other than Steady, we passed a few day hikers and a group of Boy Scouts.

We tackled two bigs “rolls” at which time we really started to experience the heat. The final descent into Kent was steep, but we all handled it fine. It was fun to have Amy and Jim along. We finished the day with my sister Jen and half of her family for dinner.

Amy and I took a day off together the following day and did a Thimble Island cruise in Long Island Sound off Branford, where we escaped the heat and then enjoyed clam chowder, steamers and lobster rolls. I took Amy to the train and she headed back into the City.

July 3 I hiked from Kent to Cornwall Bridge and for the Fourth of July, I hiked from Salisbury (southbound) back to Cornwall Bridge. I ended “the week” by hiking into Massachusetts from Salisbury. The heat wave continued, so with the help of my brother-in-law, I slackpacked July 3 and 4 and spent the night in air conditioning in Cornwall Bridge. The hiking was pleasant again, like I experienced leaving Pawling, NY and coming into Connecticut.

The good Connecticut trails and hiking experience culminated with the hike out of the state and into Massachusetts. Here is how I recorded that day in my journal:

OBSERVATIONS:

The heat continued and I returned to the trail with a full pack. The day looked to be a considerable challenge with three or four serious climbs. In the end it was a great day of hiking as I climbed Lions Head, Bear Mountain, Mt. Race, and Mt. Everett.

The day began immediately with a climb up to Lions Head. Unfortunately, with the heat the sky was somewhat hazy, the view was not all that it could be. On a perfect day with the sun coming out of the west, the view here is likely among the best of the trip.

Then I had to descend slightly, follow the ridge to the base of and get ready for Bear Mountain, the highest peak in Connecticut. This climb was fairly steep heading up, but severe on the descent, requiring much cautious work through the rocks, ledges and steep grade.

Coming down off of Bear Mountain leads hikers to the border between CT and Massachusetts and into Sages Ravine – a lovely mountain stream cutting a deep ravine and featuring modest falls and deep pools. The trail follows this stream for some distance making for a most pleasant walk. I also resupplied on water here.

Next was climb number three for the day – Mt. Race. This was a longer, but reasonable climb, but the heat of the day was increasing. The last half mile of this ascent is over and along ledges offering 180 degree views east – quite beautiful.

Originally with the heat I planned to camp after Mt. Race and save Mt. Everett for the next day when I’d be fresh – Mt. Everett is known to be a tough, vertical climb and an equally tough descent. Rain was forecast and I did not want to tackle Mt. Everett in wet conditions so I pushed myself to complete this fourth climb of the day. It was a severely vertical climb over and through rocks including many large, smooth rocks where footholds were so hard to find that the trail maintainers bolted wooden steps over the rocks in places. Coming down was equally challenging but probably not as severe as the descent from Bear Mountain.

I was quite pleased to have gotten all four climbs done the same day, especially considering the heat. We descended from Everett down to Glacier Pond and were pleasantly surprised to find plenty of jugs of cold water. I ran to Trey (working on his third thru-hike and his Triple Crown), Savage & Po and Ambassador here and then pushed on an easy half mile to the tenting area. Ambassador, Sunshine, Summer Breeze and their dog were there as well as a large summer camp group of boys out for one night. Ambassador and I ate dinner together and then headed in for the night. It was warm, over 70 degrees, and sleeping proved hard.

This was one of my favorite hiking days in a long time. The opportunity to visit with family, hike with Amy and reclaim the joy of walking in the woods brought me out of my banana pudding trauma much easier, and quicker, than I expected.

On to Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: July 18, 2018

2 Responses to :
Week 20 – Recharging the Emotional Batteries

  1. Pony says:

    I enjoyed swimming in Sages Ravine, but *man*, that water was chilly, even in July!

    I heard some hikers grumbling about “Mt. Everest,” and it’s surely a bit of a crank. But I reckon ever’ single one of ’em thought of it as kid stuff once they hit NH/southern ME!

    Glad you are out of your funk, RTK. Honestly, I don’t know of a single thru/LASHer who didn’t experience a bottoming out, emotionally, at one point or another. For me, it was in Bennington, VT, after I’d simply pushed myself too hard — not a single zero since Waynesboro, Va./beginning of Shenandoah.

    So that night at the Catamount Motel in Bennington, I “quit” — but the next morning realized I just needed a break. So I took 10 days off, then flipped up to Katahdin. As I’d hoped, that totally renewed my energy and excitement.

    Keep on rollin’!

  2. Joel S. Woodruff says:

    Bruce,

    It has been wonderful following your journey. You remain in our prayers and are excited to see how far you have already come on the trail!

    Your friend,
    Joel

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