On Track (Days 97-101)

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What’s wrong with this picture?…

I’d heard that the hiker friendly people at the garden center allowed thru-hikers to camp at the north end of their property, so I followed the path at the edge of their property and found a beautiful place to camp (surrounded by pink fireweed and Queen Anne’s lace).

I pitched my tent (the spot was even fairly level), ate my dinner, and as the sky pinkened for sunset I crawled into my tent. As I lay there, I heard a train blow it’s whistle in the distance.

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The whistle blew a couple more times and then was quiet. A few minutes later I heard a dull roar that was getting louder… And louder… And louder! The train was definitely headed my way.

As the train approached, my tent began to vibrate and then shake. Little droplets of moisture were flung off of my fly onto whatever was nearby.

Within a minute or two the roar of the train passed and the shaking of my tent subsided. I was surprised and impressed by how much my tent was affected by the passing train… How close was I to the tracks?! I got out of my tent to look and take a guess… Maybe 10 yards?

I crawled back into my tent and idly wondered if the train ran all night long. About 15 minutes later I heard a dull roar in the distance again, but without the whistles this time. As it got louder and louder I supposed that this must be the train coming from the other direction. Sure enough, as it passed me the tent was blown from the opposite direction and it vibrated and shook with the same ferocity as it had before.

The trains ran once an hour all night long. Luckily I’d hiked 24 miles that day and was tired enough that the roaring and shaking didn’t really keep me from sleeping. When I got up in the morning I waved to the commuters as they zipped by, though I have no idea whether or not any of them saw me.

New York was dense with roads, people, and trains, so it sort of seemed appropriate (after the fact) that I’d spent my last night in New York down by the tracks.

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P.S. I’m still on track for getting to Maine by the first week of October.

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