It hurts SO bad! All of it! My feet hurt, my knees hurt, and the darned deer flies are a pain in the butt (or in my case the shoulders and back). They have been eating me alive out here. I've again considered quitting because of those little buggers.
And I still survive!
I'm over 1700 miles at this point and have less than 450 miles to go. I'm about 80% complete with the trail and have completed 12 out of 14 states. And what's even more exciting is that I've lost about 40 pounds :)
Now I'm looking forward to getting back into higher elevations and colder weather to help the days on the trail become more enjoyable. Since leaving Virginia, the trail has flattened out in that there are not many mountains to climb. The trail itself stays covered with mostly rocks and tree roots that tend to cause havoc on boots and body parts.
I've fallen on this trip over 14 times! The last fall I had the other day was the scariest. While I was walking on wet rocks going down hill, both of my feet came out from under me. I landed about 6 feet down the rock slide square on my back. Luckily the backpack absorbed the impact and prevented any serious injuries. Still the thought of that happening in a more dangerous area of the trail is enough to make me pause a little longer on those wet rocks. Last thing I need to become food for the squirrels.
Speaking of squirrels, the red squirrels in Vermont are viscous! I had one in tree looking at me as I was getting ready to take a picture. He obviously didn't want his mug on the internet because he decided to attack me just as I going to snap the photo. He jumped from the tree right at my left shoulder. I just barely moved out of the way of his little dagger claws. He screeched something at me too as he flew by that sounded something like "Bonzai!" Thankfully the little kamikaze just kept running after he hit the ground as I think I would have lost round 2.
Crazy squirrels are not the only opponents we hikers encounter on the trail. Sometimes we have to deal with idiot hotel owners.
I arrived in a small town in Vermont in hopes of getting a hotel room for a night. I came across the first small motor lodge owned by a gentleman from India named Salesh. Now Salesh was obviously not used to dealing with hikers, and was a tough man to bargain with. The exchange went something like this:
Me: How much is a room for the night?
Salesh: A room is $60 for one night.
Me: Oh that's not too bad. Do you have anything cheaper?
Me: Ok, well I may go find a couple of hikers to share the room with.
Salesh: Why hikers?
Me: Because I'm a hiker. See my backpack? I'm hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Salesh: The Appalachawhat? Where you going?
Salesh: What?!? Where you coming from?
Salesh: What?!? You crazier than my wife. Why do you want to do such a thing?
Me: Because I want to see so many parts of the trail.
Salesh: Well, you wasting your time. You can drive to these places or see them on tv. My daughters love the National Graphic channel...
Me: Well I appreciate the idea...
At this point Salesh came out from behind the counter to see my gear.
Salesh: Whoa! You smell.
Me: Yeah I know, I'm a hiker. I just want to get my room, take a shower and...
Salesh: Well I have to charge you more!
Me: For a shower?!? Doesn't the room come with water?
Salesh: Yes, but you smell so bad I may need to call a cleaning service after you leave.
Me: Why doesn't your hotel have maid service?
Salesh: Yeah my wife, but she's crazy. She don't always change the sheets. I'll have to charge you $70.
Me: Oh come on!
Salesh: No this is serious, if my hotel smells I won't get customers.
Me: You only have one car in the whole parking lot right now.
Salesh: See! I have a hard time getting people to come back.
Me: What ever. I just want to get a shower and wash my clothes. Do you have a laundry room?
Salesh: Yes, it's coin operated. That'll be another $10.
Me: The washer and dryer costs $10?
Salesh: No I give you detergent and quarters for the machines.
Me: Well I have quarters. How much are the machines?
Salesh: They take $2 in quarters but I give you the right quarters and detergent to use.
Me: Then why is it $10?
Salesh: Because I need to call the mayteg man to come fix the washer today instead of tomorrow.
Me: Nevermind. I'll go to the coin laundry down the road.
Salesh: I can drive you... for $10.
Me: No that's ok. I think I can walk the extra quarter mile.
All of sudden Salesh's wife comes out the back. She's a heavier woman, also from India, wearing a white t-shirt with all sorts of stains down the front...the kind of stains that look like they have been there for weeks.
Wife (yelling): Salesh I heard you taking about me! I'm nit crazy!
Salesh says something very meekly in their native language. I assume he apologized. He then turned back to me...
Salesh (in the same meek voice): I'm sorry. She crazy. I have to live wit that.
Me: Ok so $70 for the room then.
Salesh: No, $80.
Me: For what? I'm doing my laundry down the street.
Me: Ok well I need to get more hikers to share the room.
Salesh: There will be more of you smelling up the room? Ok I charge you $100.
Me: Oh wonderful... I'm going to camp out somewhere instead.
Well I'm off for more adventures on the AT. Here I come White Mountains!