Today was the earliest that I have gotten up. Coco and Banyan get up at 5:00 every day. They got me up, and I organized the stuff in my tent before waking Tandem. We packed quietly so as not to wake those hikers still asleep and hiked out first at 6:00.
It was rolling and rocky for the first four miles. Mio was soon way ahead, and it wasn’t long before we were passed by Coco and Banyan. I led and we all stayed together. We walked around the west side of Nuclear Lake and flew past the Telephone Pioneers shelter down to County Rd 20 where the northern version of the largest Oak on the trail is growing. We had covered nine miles in 3.25 hours.
After pictures, we went back across the road to hitch the 3.5 miles to Pauling. In a very short period of time, an old man in a Subaru mini station wagon stopped for us. We loaded in and introduced ourselves. The conversation centered on his dislike of country hicks and the government. He dropped us in front of the laundromat in the center of town. We thanked him and went in.
While we did two loads of laundry, we got drinks nearby and changed clothes in the library between the loads. I had torn a seam in the seat of my convertible pants.
I had lunch from my food bag under the village’s gazebo. Workers were dressing up the village by repairing the crosswalks and wiring things up for the holiday weekend. After lunch, I wandered into the Yarn & Craft Box looking for a needle to fix my torn pants.
Marie, the owner for 24 years, was helping other knitters with complicated looking projects they were working on. I asked her for a needle, and she gave me the pin cushion full. I picked one and started sewing the hole shut, but when Marie saw how I was doing she offered to help me. Five minutes later, using a much easier same-side stitch, she had sewn the hole shut and reinforced it! I related our trail story while she sewed, and they loved it. I thanked Marie and left my battery plugged into her plug.
I went over to the Pawling Tavern, and we watched the end of the Argentina v Switzerland soccer match, which Argentina won 1-0. To pass the 90 minutes before the USA v Belgium match, I found a geocache in a cemetery then walked to CVS to get a few trail food items and a half-gallon of chocolate milk. It started sprinkling as I walked.
I downed the milk and returned to the tavern in time for the start of the match. Studebaker, Ferris, Sparky, and Jukebox, who had caught up with us, were there. The match was well fought, but USA lost 2-1.
We headed out to hitch back to the AT. As trail magic works out, we got lucky, and Sparky and Ferris had hired a cab to do about nine miles of slack packing back to Pauling. They rolled up next to the three of us and asked if we wanted a ride. We grabbed the opportunity and got driven back to the AT where we’d been 10 hours earlier.
We thanked them for covering the additional cab fare and started hiking the 2.5 miles to Native Landscapes on 55/22. They allow hikers to camp on their property and shower outside for free, and right behind their property is the Appalachian Trail MTA station, but trains never seem to stop there.
We found Studebaker and Jukebox waiting in the gazebo there with cold bottles of Coors Light. I had a beer and went to set up my tent on some grass on the back corner of the building. After I was set up, the big security light on the side of the building came on. I decided to not move, even when Mio decided to go tent on the grass by the MTA train track. The trains flew by late into the night
Today was a fun 11 mile day.