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I did a lot of stretching, sit-ups, pushups, reading, and even watched a
mosquito on the wall of my tent for a full 30 minutes.  Paul, the
caretaker here, was kind enough to invite me over for some coffee and hot
chocolate.  His tent is as big as a small room and the thought of getting
to move about and enjoy a hot drink swayed me to brave the rain.  I
haven't had my stove with me for a few weeks now and today was the first
time I really missed it.

I finished _The_Education_of_Little_Tree_.  It was an excellent book and
had me laughing and crying before I was done.  Paul and I did a swap on
books afterwards.  I gave him the _Little_Tree_ book and he in turn gave
me a book called _Woman_Warrior_ by Maxine Kingston.  I'm glad to have
something else to read.

I hate that I'm losing some hiking days because of all this, but I'm just
going to have to cancel the day off I had planned for this weekend and
suck it up.  I'm planning to try and hike out in my Teva sandals.  I
don't think it will be more than maybe 6 miles before I can get to a road
that's big enough to hitchhike on.

8/22  	Day 165		0 miles	
My feet were worse than I had thought.  I woke to more rain, but I was
determined to get off the trail today.   I had figured that I could get
to Rte 7 by taking the Lake Trail off the AT and then it would be another
4 miles to the road.  I left camp by 7 and started out in Teva sandals. 
That lasted about 1/2 hour.  My feet were so cold and I kept banging into
rocks and slipping.  I switched back to the dreaded boots and continued
on at a hobble.  

At one point the Lake Trail traverses a steep rock face on a wooden
walkway.  To my left was a wall of rock.  To my right was a single metal
railing about 3-1/2 feet up and then nothing as the rock face fell away a
good forty feet below.  Under foot were extremely slippery wooden boards.
 I hate heights and I know I've mentioned it before.  I had one hand
gripping the railing, one hand clutching my walking stick, and I was
proceeding at a shuffle.  

Sure enough, just as I thought I was going to make it, I slipped and
couldn't catch myself.  My feet shot out from under me and my legs went
towards the abyss.  I landed on my left hip with my legs dangling over
the edge of space.  My body continued to move towards the edge, sliding
across that slick, wet surface.  I don't know how, but my left hand
released its hold on my walking stick and gripped the left edge of a
board just in time to keep me from plunging off the edge of that walkway.

I layed there, barely breathing, for a few seconds and then gathered
enough sense to roll myself over onto my belly and inch my way back on to
that blessed piece of walk.  I lay there with my face pressed against the
wet wood.  I could feel the grain of the wood and a light drizzle
pattering on the side of my face, and then I got violently sick. 

I was in such shock from my fall that it took a few moments for the
immensity of what just happened to hit me, but when it did it sent me
reeling.  I could barely move.  I was too terrified to get back up.  I
continued to lay on my stomach until I could feel some of the trembling
in my limbs let up.  There was no way I was going to try and stand on
that surface again, and I couldn't turn myself around on that narrow
walkway.  I was facing the wrong direction, but that surface was still
slick enough for me to slowly slide my body down the planks to the end of
the platform, a mere 30 feet away.  As I felt the end of the planks hit
my thighs and my feet touched the solid earth beneath, I just broke down

I eventually rolled over on my side and righted myself to a sitting
position.  I think I sat there for about 15 minutes feeling sorry for
myself.  I just kept thinking over and over again that the trail had won.
 It had beaten me.  There was no way I could continue.  I didn't know how
I was even going to get to the next road, forget about Katahdin.  All of
these thoughts were just swirling in my mind until I just felt too
overwhelmed by them all and went numb.  I stood up on extremely shaky
legs and stumbled off down the trail with the intention of just getting
to that road and getting off the trail.

Micah was so anxious and worried about me.  He had seen the whole thing
and knew that things weren't right.  As soon as I fell, he was at my side
licking my face and shoving his nose at my ears.  As I continued down the
trail, he was continuously poking his nose into my dangling hand.  I
could barely muster more than a little pat on the head for him.  I knew
that if I stopped to hug him, I would probably break down again.

I reached the road in a daze and just stuck out a thumb.  I stood there
for over 45 minutes.  I didn't realize how long it had been until a car
pulled over and let a man out that was carrying a gasoline can.  He'd run
out of gas and had gotten a ride just seconds before I got to the road. 
He'd been standing at that same place trying to get a hitch for two hours
before a friend that knew him finally stopped to pick him up.  He'd seen
me coming down the road as they pulled away.  45 minutes later he came
back with his can of fuel and there I was, still standing there with my
thumb out.  He only lived a few miles away, but I explained to him my
boot problem and that I needed to get to a big town like Rutland to try
and fix the problem.  This guy offered to drive me 30 miles out of his
way to Rutland, he bought me some coffee, and then waited until I could
find a hotel that would allow dogs.  He then hand delivered me to the
hotel door after having spent half his day off trying to get gas for his
car.  I will always remember this man's kindness.

8/23	Day 166		0 miles
A day off in Rutland.  FireBall drove out to meet me last night.  We went
shopping for new shoes for me.  I found some Reebok running/hiking shoes
that weren't too expensive and felt pretty good.  My feet are still a
bunch of opened blisters.  

We went to the farmer's market in downtown Rutland.  I really enjoy
visiting farmer's markets when I travel in other areas of the country.  I
just love the variety of vegetables, flowers, baked goods, and other
products that you find.  Of course maple syrup was the big thing here,
but there was also a surprising number of organic food growers.  We
bought blueberries, fresh-baked breads and muffins, and a little pie
called "Aldaberry".  I think it would have been a lot easier to figure
out what it was made of if they had spelled it "All-da-berries".  It sure
was good. 

We then drove around looking at the old New England churches and covered
bridges in the area.  In the afternoon we went out to Clarendon Gorge for
a little while.  The AT passes over  this gorge on a suspension bridge. 
I hadn't yet reached this point of the trail before I got off yesterday.

More rain moved in this afternoon.  I stopped by the PO to pick up my
mail in Killington.   I had care packages from Gus and the DeCroixs as
well as letters from Bubbles, Tom, Kojac and Michael Houser.

8/24 	Day 167		0 miles
My schedule is basically shot after the events of the last few days.  So
many things had depended on me sticking to the mileage I had set out for
myself up until the Whites.  I've made a big decision now--I'm going to
skip ahead on a section of trail and put myself back on the trail at the
point where I should have been had the mishaps of the last few days not
occurred.  I just can't face the idea of having to rehike that Lake Trail
back up to the AT and of being 5 days behind where I had hoped to be. 
It's hard enough just putting myself back on the trail right now.  My
feet are healing slowly and I think I'm ready to try again.  Once I make
it to Katahdin, I promised myself that I would turn right back around and
do this section of trail so that I can truly complete my thru-hike.  

FireBall took me up to the closest road approach to the Winturri Shelter.
 That means I skipped ahead on a 56 mile section of trail.  That
shouldn't take me more than 4 days at most to complete after I summit
Katahdin.  It was only a 2 mile hike in to this shelter and FireBall
hiked in with me and Micah to spend the night.  I will begin my thru-hike
once again in the morning.

8/25	Day 168		6.9 miles to the Rosewood
Inn		1697.9
I only planned a short day today to try and get my feet broken back in to
the trail.  I'm glad I planned such a short one.  I was glad when it was
over.  I got caught in the rain once again, but this time I knew I'd have
a bed to sleep in tonight, so it didn't matter too much.

I'm staying at the Rosewood Inn in South Pomfret, VT.  It's owned by
Donna Wood Jones.  She's quite an amazing woman and this house and the
surrounding lands have been in her family for three generations.  This
was the house she was raised in and to keep it, she has renovated the
entire inside of the home and converted it to a B&B.  She welcomed both
me and Micah into her home and Micah got to spend the evening mooning
over her little white Spitz, Abby.  Dingle and HatTrick showed up later
in the afternoon and I was glad for their company.  

I had dinner plans for the evening with Donna, a woman who I'd come to
know through the internet.  We'd been talking back and forth for some
time, but this was to be the first time we would meet in person.  She,
her husband, and her daughter Michele met me at the B&B and whisked me
off for a great seafood dinner and a little New England hospitality.  It
was a great evening of trail talk and they even had a little birthday
celebration for me when they found out my birthday would be this Firday. 
It was good to spend some time with such nice people.

8/26	Day 169		13.7 mi to Happy Hill
Cabin		1711.6 cum
I had a great breakfast at the B&B and it looked like it was going to be
a beautiful day weather-wise.  I was on the trail by 9 a.m. and knew
pretty quickly that it was going to be a long day for me.  My feet were
hurting and I just didn't have it in me.  I passed quite a number of
southbounders today.  They all looked so happy and full of energy.  I
think I can vaguely remember feeling that way not too long ago :-)

It took me until 6 pm to get to complete just 13.7 miles and get to my
campsite.  The Happy Hill Cabin had been torn down and now there is just
a tenting area with a fireplace, privy, and nearby creek.  I set up my
tent pretty quickly and went to bed early.  There are a number of other
thru-hikers camped on the other side of the creek:  Dingle, HatTrick,
Easy, Baby Steps, and Lost Soul.

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