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 had taken a final dunking in the late afternoon, everything still felt sticky and gross. I never even used my sleeping bag all night. Come September, this heat wave better subside.
Picky was up so early that he got out of camp before me. I knew I would catch him again so I didn’t rush while packing. I wanted to take some departing pictures of the area, too.
There was a pretty good climb out of town. I stopped at an overlook to admire the view of Greylock rising out of 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 had been hoping for something like this the day before. I ordered 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 take 6 months.
The vortex was strong in this town! We got pulled into a guy’s backyard on the way out. Tom Levardi allows hikers to camp and offers soda and other treats. We had the pleasure to talk to him as we had a soda. He seems to really just enjoy hikers’ company. There are so many trail angels like this on the AT. Case in point, the Cookie Lady, only 10 miles down trail, which was our best motivation to get moving once again.
The trail was semi-flat for a good spell and we hummed along. But 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 seem to have suddenly petered out…we had seen only about 3 people 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 has 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 had been gone to live with her family for awhile, though. The property was fortunately sold to a family that is passionate about carrying on the tradition.
Ruth came out to visit and show us her lovely garden. Her son also served us delicious lemonade while we lounged in the shade of all 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.
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 the 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 a girl had given me on top Greylock. It was a homemade culinary piece with soba noodles, dehydrated peppers and chicken. It 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 since it can attract bears. Though this would probably have served as a deterrence…like pepper spray only more solid.
Some NOBOs showed up after dark to ruin our party…not really since I was just going to bed anyway. But their headlamp beams were kind of abrasive…thank goodness they picked some tentsites 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 room for everyone.