Helpful NOBO tidbit: If you are planning to receive a winter gear mail drop, Connecticut is a good place to begin planning when and where to receive it (we received ours in Bennington, VT). Depending on the season and time of arrival, it can get quite cold in the remaining states. It’s best to be prepared!
Connecticut… home of this fine country’s first juicy burger, headquarters to ESPN and the World Wrestling Federation, and birthplace of George W. Bush (listed in order of quality contributions to American life).
Also home to Connecticut? Quaint New England towns, polo-shirted men, and charming countryside.
This air of sophistication hits you like a brick wall as you walk into Kent, CT to resupply. Incorporated in 1739, Kent is home to three boarding schools and is connected to a large number of notable people considering its population is just shy of 3,000. Such people include Henry Kissinger, Oscar De La Renta, Ted Danson, and Seth MacFarlane (not listed in order of quality contributions).
While I am certain there are plenty of kind-hearted people in this beautiful town, this was the first place where I felt like a significant outsider. People did not reserve staring at us while we walked through downtown. The laundromat had a list of rules on their door that stated hikers must wait outside at all times except while switching or taking out loads and can only enter/exit through the back door. The library did not take to our desired computer use too kindly either. I would have loved to spend more time here but the combination of feeling like we did not meet class requirements and the high expense had us leaving before the sun set.
I won’t say that some snobbery is not warranted, however. As with any group of people, there are plenty of hikers that are not respectful of the place they are visiting. When you have droves of [insert homeless adjective here] people continuously walking through your town all summer long, you are bound to feel overwhelmed and resentful of the hiker coming in with poor attitudes. I cannot stress enough the need to treat all places with the same kind of respect you grant your favorite grandmother. There is a constant cycle of hostels shutting down or trail angels halting their charity due to destructive attitudes and lack of courtesy. Your attitude is a reflection of all other hikers enjoying the Appalachian Trail. All is takes is one entitled hiker to ruin a really great thing for the rest. It has happened and, sadly, will happen again.
With that being said, we did enjoy a delicious breakfast, clean clothes, and a short reconnection with society before heading onwards and upwards.
Leaving Kent, you’ll do a bit of climbing and a bit of descending before reaching a beautiful stretch of trail paralleling the Housatonic River. There is nothing more calming than a leisurely stroll amongst rolling hills with water trickling beside you. Needless to say, Enya was soon playing on repeat as we levitated our way into Falls Village, CT while in the uppermost level of enlightment.
That is what enlightened people listen to, right?
After a night resting our Gumby-esque legs, and our ears, we walked into town first thing in the morning. Town may be a bit of an overstatement. There weren’t many services anywhere near our route besides a looming power plant. What could a power plant possibly offer to hikers, you ask?
Facing a road.
Hey, it’s simply fantastic that they permit its usage to hikers at no cost or requirement. We kindly accepted their offer and felt like we were putting on quite the show to passerby’s. We were naked, after all…
…under our swimming suits, that is.
I did feel a little awkward as an employee came over and struck up conversation with Rob while I was showering. A stranger walking up while showering is not something I had been accustomed to (thought process may have been something like: “now to clean right here…AHHH, okay, I’ll do that part in a minute…”). We were a bit nervous at first because, while the guidebook listed the exact description of this place offering free showers, there were “No Trespassing” signs everywhere on the grounds.
Had things changed?
Was there an identical power plant offering free showers down the road?
We risked it and decided to indulge anyways. The best things in life require some risk, right? Fortunately, the curious employee was sweet and said to help ourselves to anything. Rob later joked that they probably offer this as it surely gives the employees an interesting show while at work. I suppose that would make the work day pass by much faster.
Happy to oblige, folks. Happy to oblige.
After drying off, the trail led us alongside the village’s namesake waterfalls. They were a sight to behold and were the biggest waterfalls we’d seen in awhile.
It wasn’t too far down the trail that same day, being the small, sweet and condensed state that Connecticut is, when we walked into Salisbury. When I pictured a quaint New England town in all my quaint New England town-type dreams, Salisbury, as it turned out, is what I pictured:
Well-kept historic buildings lining the main street through town, rolling hills composing a gentle horizon, boutiques, coffee shops, khaki trousers worn by 89% of the population, over-priced dehydrated groceries… you know, the essence of dreams.
Yes, groceries and supplies are expensive but you can plan ahead for this. It begins to get more isolated from here on out, thus leading to the higher costs, along with the general priciness that is New England. We did find an outfitter in town that offered to replace my missing trekking pole tip for free. It was a sweet gesture so we didn’t mind buying some over-priced fuel here. Seriously, this place was cool… Peter Becks Village Store (update: it looks like this place may have shut down).
When leaving Salisbury, an older woman yelled out to us from her parked car to hurry as a storm was moving in. Hurry we did as getting sopping wet is the antithesis of a happy hiker. However, we couldn’t help stopping at the top of the ridgeline to take in the splendid views from a spot called Lion’s Head. This rocky outcropping has views over, well, this:
It never rained that night, though. Perhaps this old lady knew what to say to hurry rambunctious thru-hikers out of town.
It worked, old lady, it worked. A++.
Interesting to note were our increased energy levels from this point on. Knowing that our diet was lacking nutrition, we decided to supplement it with multi-vitamins purchased in Salisbury. This must have been key as we had been quite sluggish and noticed a distinct increase hereafter.
Finishing out the state is the climb up Bear Mountain. While it is Connecticut’s highest summit, the highest point in the state is on the slope of Mt. Frissell whose summit lies in Massachusetts. A bit anti-climatic, isn’t it? The descent was quite steep and, as it turns out, a warm up for the climb later in the day up Mt. Everett. This is after crossing the Massachusetts border so let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?
NEXT UP: Massachusetts, where the pines begin to dominate.