July 15

Start: Upper Benson Trail Head
End: Hamilton Lake Stream Lean-To
Mileage: 20

The Northville-Placid Trail! I thought I would be more excited today, but I just haven't felt great.

My brother picked me up from the airport last night and we drove to Northville, arriving at a motel around 11:30. After an early breakfast this morning, he dropped me off at the trailhead in Upper Benson at 9:00. The first 10 miles of the trail, from Northville to Upper Benson, are a road walk, and that part is not required or recommended for thru-hikers.

The trail itself has been pretty nice. It's very well trodden and well maintained, so it's easy to walk on and I don't have to worry about finding the trail. There are lots of lakes and streams. The good part of that is that I don't have to worry too much about water. The bad part is that there are tons of mosquitos and black flies. I've avoided using bug spray so far, but I'm going to try to buy some when I have the chance. There are also lots of beaver ponds, some of which flood the trail.

The day was pretty uneventful. I didn't see anyone else except for a few day hikers around 4:00.

I really just haven't felt right since I started hiking. A friend of mine, who is a very experienced backpacker, once told me that sometimes he goes on trips and it just doesn't feel right, his head isn't into it. That's how I felt today. Physically, I felt excellent, but mentally I wasn't into hiking. I feel anxious and impatient to get to Lake Placid.

I'm not sure why I felt that way. Maybe it's because I've spent almost ten days in civilization, out of the woods. Maybe it's the sudden transition from flying on airplanes to walking with my backpack. I'm also distracted by events I had to confront during that break.

I read in the guidebook that there's a motel in Piseco. When I got to the lean-to (my intended destination) around 5:30, I was considering hiking another two hours to the motel. But there was a group staying here at the lean-to, so I decided to stay as well. I thought the company might boost my spirits.

I'm tenting just behind the lean-to. The group is taking up the lean-to and a tenting spot. I think they're a youth program or camp. They're on a three-day hiking trip (they said each year they did a three-day trip on the Northville-Placid Trail, with the goal of eventually completing the entire trail.

The group hasn't said much to me, but they sem like they're having fun together. They violated almost every basic backpacking rule that I've learned. They wore jeans and sweatpants (take forever to dry if they get wet). They washed their dishes in the stream (soap and food pollutes the water, which is the same water that other hikers drink). They walked around camp barefoot (dangerous for obvious reasons). The only thing it seemed they did right was store their food in bear canisters away from where they were sleeping.

Well, I'm going to bed. I'll see how I feel in the morning.

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