I may have to cut this one short...
So, I've left Vermont for Massachusetts and all the Huggy folks there. I liked the people much, much, much more, than I liked the hike through Vermont. I hit a mental barrier that I used to laugh at when I read other people's accounts of hiking long distances. I thought they just didn't like nature as much as they thought, or were just quitters. As I've learned, after walking 600 miles, it is just hard to get up and spend another 8 hours walking. I'm still going. I'm just not sure anymore that I'll be walking all the way to Georgia. I keep having to remind myself that this trip isn't about walking from Maine to Georgia, it's about jumping at opportunities, learning, living a more full life, meeting great people, seeing great things, and shitting in the woods.
If walking Vermont killed my soul, it's people helped me forget that I don't really believe in souls. I popped into towns as much as possible to help relieve the boredom that I was feeling while walking. I met several folks along the way... and now they are on this list as well... Howdy newcomers! Hitch hiking has been loads of fun, but sadly almost no terrible stores have come about due to hitching. I was picked up by a couple of guys in a sporty yellow 2 door, that looked like they were up to no good, but even they turned out to be okay; they weren't the gang banging shoot-a-guy-in-the-face-for-his-shoes type of guys they appeared to be at first blush.
It took me much longer than expected to do the last couple hundred miles... I'm physically able to do 20+ mile days now, but I just have a hard time getting my head to do it. I find every excuse to sit down, or get distracted, or sleep in, run to a town, read a book, or pluck a banjo. I've seriously considered getting off the trail. Before Vermont, I never doubted that I'd finish, but now I just can't say one way or the other. I've been trying to figure out what I'm really doing out here, and if I ever figure that out, my plans may very well change.
Today I'm sitting at around 620 miles in Dalton, Mass, in the cool (AC!) library. Thanks to yet another trail legend I have a place to sleep as long as I need. I had planned on staying only one night, but now I'm on my second zero day here. I'm doing some thinking, I think... and some resting, some drinking, and some reading, and lots of eating. I've been having a grand old time, but I'll be moving on shortly, hopefully with a clearer picture of what the heck I'm up to.
I'm feeling pretty good in the head today, but we'll see how that is when I get walking again. I've picked up a new pair of shoes today, as the last pair are pretty close to dead. By the smell, they've been dead for quite some time... and rotting in the sun. I've also picked up a banjo (punny!), because I got it stuck in my head that I'd like to learn how to play the banjo. The sales clerk was cruel enough to keep trying to lead me to the much smaller and much lighter mandolins, but finally agreed to sell me a banjo when he realized I was seriously going to put cash in his hand that moment. That I agreed to not playing the banjo in the store also made the transaction go much smoother.
So... the banjo is yet another excuse to move slower. It's also one of the goals of my hike. This trip is partially to help me change how I live. Impulsive acts and enthusiasm for learning are on the list of things I want to keep alive.
I think I'll be getting to NYC in around 3 weeks. As I get closer, I'll be calling down the list for folks that want to pour beer into my burger hole. On the other hand, maybe I'll just show up, that way you can't cheap out on me by leaving town before buying me a beer.