8: Cloudland shelter to Hanover, NH

Blazer and I woke up at about the same time. I ate some goldfish and tortillas, drank some water, and headed out. 16 miles to Hanover. 
It had been a warm night and it didn’t show signs of letting up any time soon. There wasn’t much water between me and Linda the Trail Angel’s house, either. I stood in a meadow and asked for wind. It came.

I soon made it to her house. I knew I was there when I heard shouts of “HIKER! OVER HERE!! SODAS AND PIZZA!!!” I smiled and waved and headed over. Two hikers greeted me and I sat down and ate and chatted for a while.

After I’d  had my fill and filled up my water bottles at her hose, I headed out.
The heat was relentless, though. My skin was fire. After barely any time, I made it to a brook and stripped down. The water was shallow but I managed to submerge myself, gasping as the cold water went over my head and neck. I left an oily sheen of sweat and dirt on top of the water as I washed away two days of hiking. And icy hot, I guess.

I rinsed out my shirt and shorts and let them dry in the sun while I sat on my pad, enjoying the quick break. Only 8 more miles to town.
Those 8 miles were hot, but beautiful. Part of the walk was through Norwich, VT.

And eventually I made it to Hanover. I wandered through town until I found a hiker (someone dirty with a backpack), then walked up and said, “hey, you going all the way?” He said yes, and that’s how I met Honeybuns. We walked down together to a pizza place that gives out a free slice of pizza to thru-hikers, and I met up with the hikers from the trail angel’s house there too (wok man and the count) as well as brother and sister and sweet feet and macgruber. We ate and laughed became fast friends, the way hikers do.
We went over to the Dartmouth Outdoor Club to charge electronics and empty food bags for a few minutes, and then Honeybuns and I went to explore. We ended up at a Chi Eta fraternity house, and were invited downstairs to observe the final round of the interfraternal beer pong tournament. It was as hot as a blast furnace in the basement, and we weren’t even the grossest people down there, or the smelliest.

We chatted with some students for a few minutes, then decided to hitch a ride down to the river to swim. The British fraternity told us there was a dock we could swim off of.
We picked up a hitch quickly– a guy turned around and offered us blueberries as he drove us down the rode to the river. He told us the dock was only for Dartmouth students, but if we followed a path, we would end up at river access. We thanked him and went into the woods.
Eventually we did end up at the river, and we jumped in, enjoying the cool water as the sun started setting.
We got dressed and tried to hitch back in to town, but had no luck. We walked back, and went to get gelato. Earlier in the day we’d been to the grocery store and a woman had stopped her car to hand us coupons for free gelato– couldn’t let those go to waste! After a cup of dark chocolate, we met up with the rest of the group at an Irish pub. We had nachos and fries and I got bored and asked a group of summer students to do cartwheels on the sidewalk for me. Wouldn’t you know it, they did?

Honeybuns and I walked around town some more, and discovered the visual arts center was unlocked. We enjoyed the exhibits and the air conditioning and the bathrooms. We walked back into the tent site, beyond the athletic field in the woods, and set up tents in less than desirable locations. That’s what we get for being lazy and letting everyone else get the good spots.

We watched shooting stars and traded trail stories, but eventually it was time for bed.
Miles: 16

Trip total: 126.5

MVP: leftover pizza that really got me through the rest of the day. That was clutch.

LVP: lack of water

7: stony brook to Cloudland shelter

It was a hot day. It was a hot night. I slept well with the boys and an old man named Golden and the SOBO Grandpa cowboy camping out past the shelter. And in the morning, we got up and joked around and ate, then trickled out of the shelter and down the trail.
The boys were aiming for a 26 mile day, but I wasn’t so sure.

I started off climbing down a ladder (at least it wasn’t a rock scramble!!).
And as the day warmed up, so did I. I was hot and sweaty and happy.

I took the side trail to the lookout, a private cabin that’s open for hikers to stay in. I climbed up on the roof to take a look around.

And then I climbed back down.

I sat and chatted with Tarzan and ate some lunch. We talked weather and, hearing that there might be rain tonight, I thought maybe I didn’t want to do 26 miles to tent in a lady’s yard. Maybe I’d go for a shelter instead.
I explained my feelings to this sympathetic bird.

I fell more in love with Vermont.

And then there was trail magic! Red hot was NOBO last year, and he and his family had a hiker feed. Tarzan and Sunny were there, and I enjoyed a red snapper and a regular hot dog. And cookies. And a coke. And some water. And then hiked out.

The day didn’t get easier though. The uphills were sucking it out of me. I stopped at a creek for a quick cool down. The blue bandana on my wrist is for…well, really anything. Wiping my nose in the cold, wiping sweat in the hot, and taking off to use as a wash rag in a creek. So I did that whenever I could to try and cool down, but I was still just zapped.

I was zapped, but the trail was beautiful.

I passed a section hiker doing a survey and handing out snickers. I wolfed that puppy down.

And then down I went, to Cloudland road. There were two shelter possibilities today: Cloudland shelter, which is no longer an AT shelter and is on private land but is open to AT hikers, or thistle hill. Thistle hill was a mile further and up another hill, and so when I ran into a section hiker named Blazer at Cloudland road and told him my plan to go to Cloudland, and he said he might join me, well, that was good news. I wasn’t *really* relishing a night alone.

The other good news was that there was Magic Water (uh, jugs of water) at the road; Cloudland was dry, so we filled up and headed out.
After a bit of a trek, we made it to the empty shelter off trail. Clean, empty, and lonely.
I ate mashed potatoes, tortilla, goldfish, and sour patch kids. And now I’m ready for bed. Happy, full, and ready for Hanover tomorrow.

Miles: 20.3

Trip total: 110.5

MVP: mashed potatoes. No, hot dog.

LVP: heat

6: Churchill Scott to Rutland to Stony Brook Shelter

I got up and just started hiking. I didn’t even brush my teeth. Sorry mom.
I got down to Route 4 and tried to hitch, but the bus came before I got a ride. Well, I guess I hitched the bus.

I went up to the Yellow Deli. The Yellow Deli is a deli and also a donation-only hostel. It’s…maybe a cult? There’s a farm. Everyone is very friendly. I went in for a shower and laundry. The shower was great.


I put on the hostel clothes (I went for a flowy skirt and yoga top so I could really embrace the hippie aesthetic) and started my load of laundry. Then I went outside and spread out the rest of my stuff in the sun so it could all dry out.

Eventually I realized I was sitting next to Mama Duck, a NOBO from the shelter the first night. We chatted, and he told me about his stay at the yellow deli. He was heading out in a minute though. I also saw fish and chips and his friend…whose name I don’t remember. They had all been at the Yellow Deli for at least two days. It sucks you in.
I did some laundry folding as my work for stay (lol) and finished up, then went over to Walmart. On my way, I ran in to optimistic dreamer. I’d met him with carpenter back in Manchester center. He was SOBO last year and is now doing a yoyo, headed NOBO with …little chicken? I’d seen them both briefly in yellow deli, but we had a brief chat on the street while I waited to cross. It was good to talk with him, and I felt better afterwards.
I bought some food and hit up subway for a dinner to carry out, then wandered around town trying to find lunch. I ended up with an ok Chinese place.

I caught the bus, chatting with Sidewind, a SOBO.

I planned on 10 miles to stony brook shelter and let me tell y’all, it wasn’t easy. I almost stopped at 2. But I kept on going.

Kent Pond was a pleasure to walk around. 
There was a boardwalk. The longest handicap accessible Boardwalk?

I climbed a giant hill and it was miserably hot and humid.

But eventually I made it here to Stony Brook Shelter. I’m here with Tarzan, who was at yellow deli this morning, it’s always sunny, and two SOBOs whose names I don’t remember. We had a good time. I like them all. I feel good. Only 38 miles of Vermont left!!

Miles: 11.9

Trip total: 90.2

MVP: egg roll

LVP: no free refill on coke

5: Minerva Hinchley to Churchill Scott Shelter

I didn’t sleep great. Neither did Renaissance, the thru hiker in the shelter with me. Luckily we were the only ones in there, so we could stay up late talking. In the morning I was slow to get around, but I did, eventually, get around.

I stopped at Airport Overlook to call my older sister and talk to her about the situation, then I uploaded a blog post.

I went down down down, then ran into Carpenter. We chatted for a minute, and then I moved on. There was trail magic.

I went up up up just to get the exact same view. Awesome. I think there’s a lesson here.

There were rock walls

And beautiful forests

And I stopped for a break, trying to cool myself off. It was hot, and my skin was hot and I couldn’t get enough water. I wasn’t eating enough and I never quite fixed that issue all day.

I made it to cooper lodge, 16 miles…and kept going. I ran into carpenter several times all day. I’m not sure where he was planning on going. We talked for a bit when I intended to eat lunch (I didn’t eat lunch; I filtered water, talked, and then left). I’m not angry about this situation, as I do love to hike alone, but it has been emotionally draining.
I was slowing down, hungry and tired and thirsty, but eventually I made it to Churchill Scott shelter. Renaissance was here, and Cinder and Snacks, two SOBOs. A section hiker came in late, asking if one of us had been hiking with a man named carpenter. Oh lord, give me patience if this continues for the rest of Vermont.

I had a hard time sleeping. I was crammed in against the wall, I didn’t really eat dinner because I was too lazy to get water, I need a 2 hour yoga session, and someone was snoring really loudly. How many Benadryl can I take without overdosing? Also mosquito bites. I have a lot now.
But I’m only 1.2 miles from the bus stop for Rutland, so I think I’ll go in there and resupply today, do some laundry, maybe take a shower. 48 miles left in Vermont!! And then…then I think I might flip down to Bennington so that I can actually FINISH this state, and head south into Massachusetts. I can see my friend Maureen in Great Barrington, finish that state all the way (finishing New Hampshire wasn’t in Carpenter’s plan, and having 15 miles unfinished in two states was going to kill me)….I won’t see the whites on this trip, but I will get to hike my own hike.
There are, perhaps, (most likely), many things I should apologize for that I haven’t. But in this case, having stated what my intentions were and having not been understood, well…I can be sorry that it happened, but I can’t really do anything about it. Frankly, I think the whole thing has gotten out of hand.
I have many failings, and I hope you won’t think less of me for this. I’m sure I’ll look back on this in years to come and wish I’d acted differently. Or maybe I’ll be proud of myself for sticking up for myself, for asking for what I needed and wanted and not compromising and bending over backward. Only time will tell.
Miles: 18.4

Trip total: 78.3

MVP: sour gummy worms

LVP: left foot