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

4: Peru peak shelter to Minerva Hinchley Shelter

Carpenter woke me up, which I suppose set the stage for a not super great day. I like to wake myself up.
I didn’t sleep well, too. I feel like six hours of yoga wouldn’t be enough time to stretch.
But nonetheless, I got up and ate and we headed out, with me stopping to get water.

The day had more bog boards, with the fog and mist giving it all a creepy vibe.

And soon I came to Styles (?) peak. It was a bit of a scramble. Here are some action shots.

Just over, I ran into Carpenter. We chatted for a second, then hiked on. We both stopped at the next shelter for another delicious sandwich lunch, joined by an adventurous squirrel.

And after lunch, the sun came out. Oh blessed day!! Everything was green and bright.

At a road crossing, I stopped to talk to a Forest Service guy named Bill. He knew Hugh from the Firetower, too. I asked if he knew any good interesting bits about the section we were in now, and he told me to look for very dark, almost black soil; that was from the charcoal industry in the 1800s. I missed it. He also told me that Little Rock pond had been mined by Native American tribes for centuries and that when they were building the shelter there, and archaeologist had been on site and found a point there that dated back 10,000 years. Amazing.
So when I got to Little Rock Pond, I sat in the sun and thought about all of the people who had been here at this water. Had they sat in the sun and wondered where their lives were going? Were they worried about what was going to come next? Or were they just happy to have sun? Did they watch the minnows and tiny dinosaur lizards swim?

Ten thousand years is a lot of people.
I rinsed out socks and hiked on.
I was shocked when I came upon the rock cairns. I heard voices but didn’t know who it was. And the formations took me aback. The voices were Radar, Points, and Moses. They were hiking a small section and they were fun. They took my picture and we chatted for a second, and then I took off. I was a little slow today.

But there were more. These took my breath away and stopped me dead in my tracks.

I sat down on the ground and drank some water, wondering about all of the people who had placed rocks there. Did I know them? Invariably, I knew some of them.

I placed a rock or two myself, so that if you ever went, you can say that you knew someone who placed a few rocks.

I raced downhill for a few miles, passed some sweaty Boy Scouts struggling uphill. I took a wrong turn and had to struggle back uphill myself. Whoops.
3.6 miles to go, and I found Carpenter at the side of the trail, setting up his tent. He didn’t feel like going to the shelter, or perhaps he didn’t feel like hiking with me anymore. Different expectations and a failure to communicate.
I won’t lie, I had a bit of a cry somewhere on a rock within those 3.6 miles. It was quite a stiff uphill and I was hungry and thirsty.
So now I’m hiking my own hike and figuring it out.
I got to the shelter and it was empty. A thruhiker, just back on the trail after a few weeks off to heal a broken foot (stress fracture) was just behind me, so we took the shelter while a bunch of Quakers camped around. We chatted quite a bit and had a very pleasant evening. Renaissance, his name is. For such a change in plans, I’m absolutely all right. Mom, don’t freak out when you read this.
So tomorrow I’m going to do 16 I think, to a shelter on top of a huge hill that’s not in great shape but then neither am I 🙂
And then the next day I’ll have 10 down in to killington for food and then back on the trail. Not bad!

Miles: 19.6

Trip total: 59.8

MVP: empty shelter

LVP: last 3.6 miles?

3: William Douglas shelter to Peru peak shelter

I woke up when someone nearly stepped on my head. It’s a risk you take when you sleep on the floor of a shelter instead of pitching your tent. 
I didn’t get up though. I curled up smaller to make a pathway and kept sleeping.
I eventually got up and ate, having a nice chat with Kiwi, a guy doing a LASH, and walked to the privy…and stepped in someone’s poop. Good grief, the things I endure. After I cleaned that off we hit the trail.
There was more rain, but it was only 6 miles to Manchester Center, our first town stop. On the way we ran into Splinter, a girl carpenter had hiked with in the Whites last week. She’s headed SOBO, so we had a bit of a chat and then moved on to try to hitch a ride into town.
And friends, it was my first time hitching a ride. We scoped out a good place to thumb (you need to be visible to cars a ways off, and they need to have room to pull over) and stuck out our thumbs.

Within a few minutes we had a ride. Several hikers up the road who had been out there before us were still left luckless; I felt smug.
Our ride was a very good looking young mountain biker who drove us all the way into Manchester Center and told us all the good places to eat and even gave us the low down on some of the shelters up ahead on the trail. He was a wealth of information.
Me in the back of the good looking bike rider’s car

He dropped us off with a million-watt smile and we stopped in to check out an outfitter, then wandered around town for a minute.
Despite all the great lunch choices, we ended up…

At McDonald’s.
We loaded up on groceries afterwards (we actually only needed junk food because carpenter packed too healthily and I was dying for chocolate and sour gummy worms) and stopped at a bakery for a fresh load of bread.
This is probably where I truly fell in love with Vermont. The whole experience of Manchester Center was amazing, but this bakery smelled like yeast and rich people. Everyone seemed to know each other. Everyone had on Birkenstocks and bought tea and Sunkist. Everyone was beautiful, especially the old people.

Ugh, Vermont.

We walked out of town a little bit and started thumbing for a ride back. Several people pulled over and said they were going part ways, but we held out for someone going all the way. What was most amazing was the mix of people who offered rides. A nice looking woman in her 60s; a young man. Finally a young woman pulled over and said she was going part way and we took her up on it and figured we’d walk the rest of the way or hitch another ride.

Once we got in, she asked our names; I told her I was Birthday Girl on the trail. She said since it was my birthday she’d drive us all the way. She was sweet and funny and I liked her a lot.
We got back on and wow were our packs heavy with food. It made the 10 miles to Peru Peak shelter absolutely miserable for me. Also it rained quite a bit.

I did get a chance to Ski Vermont though.

The climb up Styles Peak /Mad Tom Notch was catastrophic on my morale. I made a mental note to remember how I felt and the fact that I eventually made it for the next time I have no motivation to climb a mountain.
I stopped to see a vista. Great view. (Autocorrect said gray. Also correct?)

So…what goes up

Must come down

And eventually I checked to see how close I was to the shelter (Peru Peak Shelter). I guessed 1.5 miles. turns out it was only .4, so I started singing this ABSURD song about “half a mile to go, I’m gonna get there and eat a sandwich and put on dry socks and text stormtrooper and I hope no one can heeaarr me!” And before I knew it, I was there!
There are 7 of us here tonight, a mix of NOBOs and SOBOs. One SOBO, samurai blue, lives near the trail in southern Pennsylvania; we exchanged numbers so that I can do some trail magic for him when he comes through Tennessee and I can let him know when I go through his area. He’s done trail magic for a while and now he’s finally getting to through hike. He reminds me of Fresh Ground. Both great guys who have been dedicated to the trail; I think they’ll find that their dedication is returned to them on their hikes.
I had my sandwich for dinner, and my dry socks (I did not eat them, I put them on my feet), and also a cookie, because I needed junk food,and now I am tucked in bed warm and dry with a brook babbling (chatting, running its mouth) right in front of the shelter. The rain is falling off trees onto the shelter roof with the wind, and I am tucked snugly between warm bodies with gentle snores to lull me to sleep.

My entire body hurts and I smell like I’m molding, but I can’t imagine anywhere I’d rather be.

Trip total: 50.2

MVP: subway sandwich that I carried 10 miles

LVP: stormtrooper is 3 days behind me 😦

2: Goddard shelter to William Douglas Shelter

Is it effective if I write this in the style of Oregon Trail?
I woke up to rain on the roof of the shelter. I turned over and slept some more.

Eventually I got up. I headed out before Carpenter into the wet morning. The Firetower was first. I climbed it, because I could. I enjoyed the clouds.

I kept walking. There wasn’t much remarkable about the trail. It was nice, in a generic sort of way. It was green, the way all of the trail is right now. It was muddy and wet, the way Vermont is supposed to be, but really no more so than Tennessee or North Carolina right now.

That’s not to say that the mud didn’t get me. The mud certainly got me.

I hiked alone most of the day and enjoyed the time to think and reflect on life and friends and rocks and god knows what else. I met back up with Carpenter at lunch, where I enjoyed an absolutely delicious turkey and cheese sandwich. THAT will be a staple for my trips.

We were shooting for Stratton Pond shelter. We stopped at a Firetower just before there for a snack and while we were sitting, the caretaker came out. Hugh, as it turned out, had been the caretaker there for 48 years, off and on. He was the fire lookout back when they still had that, too. He was an absolute treasure. He told us that 14 people had gone missing in the Glastonbury wilderness, the area we’d just come through. The last one, in the 40s, I think, was the reason the Vermont state police were formed (I think I got that right!).

Anyways, we spent a good deal of time chatting with him. It’s not just the hikers that you meet; its people like Hugh who make the trail so interesting and incredible. He also said Benton MacKaye, who first came up with the idea for the AT, conceived it as a way to bring northerners and southerners together after the civil war.
I don’t know how effective that was, but I think it did work as a way to bring people from varied backgrounds together. Can you imagine me and Carpenter ever meeting? I mean, he lives in New Hampshire. Or me and Tinkerbell, who is such a treasure and inspiration to me.
Anyways, another thing to think about.

We hiked on to the shelter, but unfortunately it was beyond full. So we made a call to hike another 5 miles to a shelter .5 off the trail, hoping most people would be too lazy to go there.

We were…sort of correct. It was full, but there was room on the floor. So I’m on the floor about to pass out.
Miles: 25

MVP: dry clothes

LVP: so hungry

1: BHM to Bennington to Goddard Shelter

It’s been a busy summer. The last week, especially, has been a whirlwind of packing my apartment in Georgia, finishing up work, preparing for a conference in North Carolina the day my hike ends, and getting ready, of course, for the hike.
Oh, and giving a presentation on the work I’ve done this summer in order to hopefully secure a job. NBD.
So, I did all of that, because I had no other option. And on Thursday I turned in my badge and started hike preparations in earnest.
No woman is an island, and I could not have done all of this without my parents. My mom helped me shop for the conference and pack and take care of all of the little errands that have to be done in order to disappear for three weeks. Or more, really, because the conference comes directly after and then classes have already started while I’m at the conference…
I spent Friday morning with my nephew, playing Legos. “Look at my house, H!”
“Don’t you mean *our* house?”

The packing and errands and etc began in earnest once he left. My mom drove me to the airport and I gave her a hug, promising to keep her updated.
I weighed my pack as I checked in. 14 pounds with no food or water but including my hiking poles.
It’s funny– I stress constantly about every little thing. Work, school, traffic. But you give me a flight or a trip like this and I’m cool as can be. I mitigated my TSA risk by preparing an alternative plan in case they made me check my poles and tent stakes, and got to the airport early, but flying just doesn’t stress me out anymore. Thanks, French degree.

I did make it through TSA, with no questions asked. Go figure. My first flight was delayed but I didn’t worry about making my connection. I could walk fast.
When I boarded, I chose a seat near the front between two dudes, so I could deplane quickly and make my connecting flight. We talked the entire time. One guy asked for a trail name. I named him Tiny Truck. He gave me his number so he could bring me trail magic when I hike through Maryland. Either that or he was hitting on me. I’m not sure. Maybe both! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I hoofed it to my connecting flight and made it right as boarding began. I’m very good at walking.
I slept in weird positions the entire flight.
Carpenter and his sister Susan picked me up at the airport. It was so good to see him again!! The drive to Susan’s house was exactly what I hoped it would be–a tiny little New England town.
Sleeping in the most comfortable bed I’ve ever been in, I kept expecting Charles Wallace to be downstairs heating milk. He wasn’t.

But in the morning, Susan was downstairs cooking blueberry pancakes with the best blueberries and maples syrup I’ve ever had in my life. They were delicious.
We packed food and bags and eventually we were ready. I had a 23 lb pack; carpenter was at 25 lbs.

Susan took us to her daughter Sarah, who drove us out to her husband Sean, who drove us to Bennington, VT, where we started our hike. Well, first we stopped at the post office, where Carpenter mailed our first mail drop with food for us.

The trail was …a good first day. Some uphills, so my muscles knew what was up, and some flats, so I wasn’t too pooped.

And here’s some Indian Pipe for Stewart.

We made it 10 miles to the shelter at about 7:30. I was ready for bed already. After several weeks of networking and talking and chatting, I was ready for some time alone and to be quiet. I ate a quick small dinner and got in bed.
Day 1: complete.
MVP: bed

LVP: pack too heavy

Miles: 10.1