Monday, July 15, 2013


7/14: 11.8 miles. Graymoor Spritual Life Center to Clarence Fahnestock State Park

7/15: 16 miles to Morgan Stewart Shelter

Current AT mileage: 1,433.6 miles

When I was a child, my family had a 20-year-old blue Volvo station wagon. It had close to 300,000 miles on it, and and air conditioner that had never worked. There was many a summer day when we would be driving down the highway, the windows down and the heat on full blast. This was the only way to keep the engine from exploding in a column of smoke. The Volvo drove us across the country, our sweaty bodies velcoed to the cracking leather seats. In and out of the back of the station wagon went wet dogs, old towels, destroyed sneakers, sandy beach chairs and coolers oozing withe melting ice and old cheese. Years of frito crumbs were ground into the floor, and passengers would routinely cough up an anonymous pet hair that may have been floating through the turgid atmosphere.

This is what my backpack smells like.

Like the volvo, I have a ferocious, deep abiding love for my backpack, in spite of its many faults. You could drive the volvo directly into a brick wall, reverse out of the rubble, drive to a flea market, buy an antique mahogany clothing dresser, load it into the back and drive it to Ontario without the car putting up a fuss. Similarly, I feel like I could drop my backpack off a cliff into a ravine without causing any damage. Woe be to the mouse who would dare to chew a hole through my pack. Woe.

I have figured out that hiker smell is not wholly in the body of the hiker. I can be freshly showered and put on laundered clothing, but the moment I slip my shoulders into the damp embrace of my pack, the smell settles comfortably into my skin like a retired man settling into the worn impression of his own butt in the seat of his favorite easy chair. I suppose I could wash my pack, but what would be the point? I'd just sweat into it all over again. Sometimes you just gotta accept it. Like the fact that you had dallied with the idea of becoming a children's book writer, but then googled your own name and found that someone with your exact, unique name is already a published writer and she makes her living on poorly-written erotica. No, really. Google it: Kit McCann.

On Friday Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I made it to Bear Mountain, and we had a few hours to kill before our friends from NYC were going to meet up with us. The trail actually goes through the small zoo there, and there is a note in our trail guide regarding the bear cage:

What they mean is that it is the spot on the trail with the lowest elevation. While the 4 of us stood looking over the fence of the 100% concrete bear enclosure, the bear curled up in a miserable ball in the corner, and 15 bloody-beaked vultures standing in the place where the bear's last meal must have been, we all grimaced quietly and Whistle voiced our simultaneous thought:

"Huh. This really is the low point."

This was particularly poingnant, as the last bear I had seen in the woods was less than a week previously. He had been at least 400 pounds, and eating blueberries less than 7 feet off the trail. Dumptruck and I had walked away from this scene with a determined, brisk pace. We walked away from the cripplingly sad bear cage with the same sense of urgency, albeit with different motivation. Whistle fought the urge to jump the fence and mercy kill the bear. 

The rest of Friday was an absolute blast. Our super wonderful, beautiful friends Bekki, Kelly, Suzy and Jeannine rented a car just for the day to come up and see us. We picnicked on the lawn of the adorable Bear Mountain Park, and rode the carousel. They shuttled us to and from our hotel, so that we could be somewhat clean for the rest of the evening's festivities. Dumptruck's coworkers SURPRISED US! Martin, Helen, Lauren, Vanessa, Lara and Jill brought a bunch of libations and food to grill. They also brought Martin and Helen's 4-year-old son Felix, but we didn't grill him. He's way too cute. At some point Felix was talking to Lauren and said:

"Did you know Mike lives here now? He eats dirt!"

This reminds me of 2 other interactions we've had with other young children over the past few days. A young girl asked me how I got my pink hair: did I go to the fairy salon? I assured her that I had, but that my fairy's hair had been purple. She noddded, approvingly. 

The other interaction requires a bit of explanation. Every night Whistle has been reading aloud to us from a book series called His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass). She does a superb job, and has consistent voices for all the characters, it's amazing. In the books, every character has an animal companion which is an outward manifestation of their soul. These animals are called daemons (pronounced demons). We 4 have been discussing what our own daemons would be. Mine is a fox. Dumptruck's is a raccoon. Grim's is a jackal. Whistle's is a goose. Whistle found a large goose feather near a lake and has been wearing it in her hair. Proceed:

5-year-old Child: Why do you have that feather in your hair?

Whistle: It's a goose feather. My demon is a goose.

Child: (nodding with understanding) Okay.

We have had a veritable parade of kind locals doing amazing things for us. Whistle's sister Charlotte and her boyfriend Alex came to visit and took AMAZING care of us. An awesome guy named Scott gave us a hitch. A wonderful wandering spirit named Matthew offered us shelter. A deligtful camper named Joe made us eggs and coffee one morning.

This trail is a beautiful place. 

Clever Girl

More perfect care packages from my parents and my sister!! THANK YOOUUUU!!

A katydid that rode Dumptruck's hat for hours


  1. Love the pictures (and the stories)! We see what you mean about Whistle's hitchhiking ability...who could resist that earnest wholesomeness? Looks like cars are lining up to give her a ride. Love the shout out to the Volvo...a stalwart companion, indeed...steady as a Dumptruck. So happy your NYC pals came to see you. What a treat. Less than 30 miles to CT and New England. Hooray! Love and miss you bunches...Mom and Dad

    1. I love that Volvo, even as it sits in the woods behind the house, ready to donate its parts. I love it so much.

  2. The sad thing is the poorly-written erotica writer is a guy.

    1. Haha, oh my goodness. I guess I have some pronouns to change!

  3. I've been loving reading your blog. Gets me even more excited for my trip next year. Hope I can be as entertaining. Looking forward to the next one

    1. Hey there! Thanks so much! Let me know if you have any questions about prep for your trip next year, I'd be happy to help.

  4. "Poorly Written Erotica"

    Great name for a band. Or a racehorse.