Friday August 27th, 2021, 0615-1730
Father Tom Campsite to October Mountain Shelter, SOBO AT mm 632.7
4196 gain, 3258 loss
I slept fitfully all night because it was so dang hot and humid. Even though I’d taken a final dunking in the late afternoon, I still felt sticky and gross. I never used my quilt all night. I woke to dense fog in the valley, leaving everything pretty damp. I started another day already wet with sweat. Come September, I really hoped this heat wave would subside.
Picky was up so early that he left camp well before me. I knew I’d catch him again so I didn’t rush while packing. I wanted to take some departing pictures of the area.
There was a pretty good climb out of town, ascending above the clouds. I stopped at an overlook to admire the view of Greylock rising from the valley fog like a sea monster. I caught up to Picky just before the next little town, Dalton. The AT again went through the center and we couldn’t resist the lure of a breakfast diner. We’d been hoping for something like it the day before, but had to settle for the grocery store. I splurged to order eggs Benedict and we split an order of French toast with strawberries and whipped cream. Oh the decadence of this trail. No wonder people go broke and never finish.
The vortex was strong in this town. We got pulled into Tom Levardi’s place on the way out. He allows hikers to camp in his backyard and offers sodas and other treats. We had the pleasure to talk to him as we drank his sugar water…come to think of it, we’re kind of like hummingbirds as we migrate through these towns, stopping at any feeders we can find. Tom seemed to really just enjoy hikers’ company. There are so many trail angels like him on the AT. Case in point, the Cookie Lady, only 10 miles down trail, which was our best motivation to get moving once again. Off to the next feeder to satisfy our insatiable metabolisms.
The trail was semi-flat for a good spell and we hummed along. We stopped yet again when we came to a creek with a good dipping pool. It was another scorcher of a day but cooled off a bit when some clouds rolled in. The creek was satisfyingly cold, enough so that I actually felt a chill. This refresher propelled us all the way to our target road…well almost. We made another stop to receive cold water from a guy at a crossing. He had his trunk open and a look of desperation to give away trail magic…that or kidnap us. Just kidding, he was the sweetest man and very eager to talk trail. Too bad we were equally eager for cookies and lemonade at the next crossing. Richard needed a NOBO train to come by but unfortunately for him, those seemed to have suddenly petered out…we’d seen only about 3 other hikers all day.
After downing some water, we expressed our thanks and bid farewell, then hurried along. Mosquitoes helped in this matter and finally we were there…the cookie lady house! This had been a legendary fixture of the trail for over 40 years. It’s exactly as it sounds…a lady that gives away cookies to hikers. I’m very sad to report that the original cookie lady only just passed away a few weeks ago. She’d been gone to live with her family for awhile, though. The property was fortunately sold to a family that’s passionate about carrying on the tradition.
Ruth, Cookie Lady 2.0, came out to visit and show us her lovely garden. Her son also served us delicious lemonade while we lounged in the shade of the fruit trees. The blueberry orchard was about done fruiting but there were still a few to be had. On a hot, late August afternoon, this place was the most perfect oasis you can imagine. Just divine. Thank you Ruth and family for continuing this tradition. It’s so heartwarming to be the recipient of such compassion and good will.
We took our time, relaxing, eating, and learning some about the history of the property and surrounding area. I had wanted to walk about 25 miles this day but the trail was speaking to me, saying it was time to smell some roses. I listened and just enjoyed all these treats. These stops and interactions are a part of this trail, ingrained in its history.
We could have camped in the yard but decided to leave these nice folks some peace and quiet for one night. There was a shelter a mere 2 miles more and we wanted to hang out with some SOBOs that we had just caught up to. The shelter was not too busy and for once, almost all SOBOs. We met Pathfinder, Smokey Bear, and 2 others whose names have escaped me. I set up my tent but cooked dinner at the shelter.
I had to force down a free dinner that another thru-hiker had given me on top Greylock. It was a homemade culinary piece with soba noodles, dehydrated peppers and chicken. It sounded awesome but was the spiciest thing I’ve eaten in a long while and I feared the effect it may have tomorrow. Oh well, once I’d made it, I had to eat it, as there’s no place to throw food out so as not to attract bears. Even though this meal would probably have served as a deterrence…like pepper spray only more solid.
Some NOBOs showed up after dark to ruin our SOBO party…not really since I was just going to bed anyway. But their headlamp beams were kind of abrasive…thank goodness they picked some tent sites farther away. I was prepared to tell them that the spot next to me was reserved for my imaginary buddy. Now that there were some other SOBOs around, I felt more emboldened. But thankfully there was plenty of room for everyone.