Originally posted on allwomanalltrails.com; you can find the link here

Every time I step foot on this trail it provides. My heart is so full from the kindness strangers offer. I drove straight from work to a trail angel’s house (Tom Lavardi) that allows you to camp in his yard and gives out breakfast. As I knocked on his door at 8pm, he graciously welcomed me and would allow me to keep my car parked in his backyard for the weekend.

Day 48, Levardi’s to Upper Goose Pond 20.4 miles

Shortly after stepping on trail and walking past the first shelter, I saw a SoBo hiker was walking in front of me. I thought to myself impossible… I nearly chased this hiker until I caught him at a water source. This same hiker I had met in Stratton, Maine a few weeks ago, Plank. We both needed the company and hiked the rest of the day picking blueberries at the Cookie Lady’s house, which I was informed I needed to pick and bring to the Upper Goose Pond for pancakes in the morning.  We made it to Upper Goose Pond Cabin around 4 PM. I happily sat on the dock taking in the view. Surprisingly given the holiday weekend, there were only three other hikers staying for the night: myself, Plank, Skinny (a NoBo hiker, who decided to end his trip in Dalton), and a section hiker.

Upper Goose Pond Cabin is unique as the caretaker changes every week and is a volunteer-based program. Motorcycle Momma was present the day I arrived. She stays for the week and serves pancakes and coffee in the morning. The cabin is first come, first basis and runs on donations.

Day 49, Upper Goose Pond to Tom Lenard’s Shelter, 21.3 miles

After my delicious breakfast of blueberry pancakes made by Motorcycle Momma, I said goodbye to my fellow hikers and set off. This morning was a bit of an emotional walk for me. I knew my journey was coming to an end. I needed to start accepting the fact that I was no longer going to be a SoBo hiker for this season and would willingly follow along the rest of my trail companions journeys.

I encountered a ridge runner after coming down from the Cobbles, Cosmo, who planned to camp at the same shelter as me later that day. He was headed back to Dalton the next morning and offered to give me a ride back to my car! Also I was flip-flopped several times by a local trail runner. I stopped for a break at the AT trailside stand and met a NoBo hiker, Hound. I attempted to get a ride back to my car to move it but did not have any luck. I also ran into the college group that would be staying at the same shelter as me.

I arrived at the shelter around 4:30 only to call it an early night. It’s a little different when most of the people are weekenders or section hikers camped at the shelter even though I technically am a section hiker. Plank had an interesting perspective of SoBo hikers he recounted from the day before, “When you meet another SoBo hiker, you spend 15 minutes with them and decide whether or not you want to continue hiking with them. There is an unspeakable bond that your share given the journey.”

Day 50, Tom Lenard’s Shelter to Sheffield-Egremont Rd, 8.2 miles

The last morning I easily crushed the miles and beat Cosmo to the trailhead parking lot, which was our agreed-upon spot. I even spotted my first porcupine! I had a tough choice to make: continue to hike the entirety of Massachusetts once I retrieved my car, or head home to rest up for my first day back to work with students. I ultimately decided to head home.

Cosmo arrived a little after 10. He drove me back to my car as we chatted along the way. When I got back to Tom’s house, I met a flip flop hiker, who had stayed there last night and was waiting for his ride. This same hiker informed me that all the hikers heard all about me and how I was a teacher from New Jersey section hiking and had left my car there. I’m glad someone was able to feel as fulfilled as I did as I drove home reflecting on this journey. It’s time to hang up my summer shoes after 671 AT miles.