10: Hanover, NH TO Bennington, VT to Congdon Shelter (SOBO)

Honeybuns and I both started waking up as the sun came in through the small windows in the church library. We were a little slow moving, but we eventually found motivation to pack up. We left a note for the church and stood outside for a hitch back in to town.

We were fortunately in a school zone, so everyone had to slow down and stare at our lovely, innocent faces and long, stuck out thumbs. We got a ride quickly. An older woman, probably in her mid 70s, pulled over. She had neat, tidy grey hair and was listening to NPR in her neat, tidy sedan. We explained that we had stayed at the church and just needed a ride back into town. She let us in and we drove off.
She asked us about the trail, and told us that she hadn’t picked up hitchhikers since her kids were in college. Back then, she said, it had been safer, and everyone had done it. Her son had hitchhiked from British Columbia back to New England. We had a lovely ride, and she dropped us off right in town.
A quick stop in CVS for more alcohol swabs ended up with the pharmacist giving them to me for free. More kindness.
Back to Lou’s for another breakfast and more story swapping with Honeybuns.

And then off to the Hop for one last tour of the art before my bus.

We said goodbye, and promised to meet up for a section this fall.
I caught the (free!) bus to White River Junction. Once there, I waited for my train.

$17 later, I was on the Vermonter 55. From Brattleboro to the Brattleboro bus station where I spent a tense few hours waiting for another bus with a different section of New England. I learned about different DCF caseworkers, Crazy Sue, sis’s new stroller, and the man across from me had a huge hole in the crotch of his pants. They all somehow knew each other (two of them were sisters?).

The (free!) bus came. From there I transferred to a different (free!) bus at a grocery store. And on this last bus, I asked the bus driver if he could drop me off at the trail head. He said sure, no problem.
15 minutes later, he pulled off at the Bennington trail head, and I stepped off with a thanks and my backpack, crossed the road, and headed south. My flip flop section had started.
I walked up the stone steps, grateful for every minute I’d ever done on a stair stepper.

And then smooth sailing. I considered tenting on a mountain, to watch the meteor shower again, but decided I wanted at least another mile or two, so I pushed on to the shelter.
And I’m glad I did. I had fun talking to joyride and Mississippi. Joyride had a great backstory for his trail name, involving a hitch in Erwin, TN, a stolen car, an arrest, and white supremacists in jail. Mississippi gave me a contact at the southern end of Connecticut.
The trail is full of surprises. Who knew that carpenter’s tempter tantrum (and the more I consider it, the more I think it was a temper tantrum) would have given me a great zero with the NOBOs, and this incredible flip? I learned to navigate the public transportation system on New England (sort of). I sat in a terrifying bus station for hours with people I never would have encountered in any other way.
Back when I worked at the church, the pastors there first really taught me grace for people in circumstances I couldn’t imagine. Beyond pity or judgement. Sitting in the bus station, I was grateful for those lessons; here I was, smelling worse than anyone else. I am still privileged in many ways– the nutrition and care I had growing up will always be reflected in my bones and face, in my height, and in my skin; I looked different in some ways. But in other ways, I was somehow transient. We were connected by our dependence on the public transportation system (although, again, there is a system of trail angels and shuttles I could have called if I needed to, and I retained privilege).
Endless grace and comfort for the people who wait hours in hot, tiny boxes for a bus. Endless grace for the bus drivers who joke on the radios and turn around for a late passenger and know all the gravel driveways by heart. Endless grace for the DCF caseworkers who are talked about. Endless grace for the police officers canvassing the area for someone; cell phones came out as soon as the cops drove up and everyone started calling people. “I don’t know who they’re looking for! They’re showing everyone some picture.”
There was a little girl with her mother, and her school project, in the bus station. They bought a Pepsi and a Sunkist and they talked about school and she watched me read and they talked about Crazy Sue and Sis with the new stroller asking for a cigarette and then they left when the police came, wanting to get out before the cops came inside the bus station. She pushed her hair out of her eyes like my little sister used to, when she was a little girl who liked to wear dresses with pockets. And Sis came in with her new yellow stroller and her boy, he’s two now, and he put his chubby little arm up over his eyes to keep the sun out of them while she smoked outside with Pop. Jess left earlier because someone was going to come by looking for rent money that she didn’t have, so she and her boyfriend were going to the shelter, she guessed, is what she told Pop when he loaned her a dollar for a soda. When the woman came by asking for Jess, Pop lied and said he hadn’t seen her. Maybe she was up at the bar?
And Sis and the boy and I got on the same bus, along with the man who talked to himself and said the bus station was like the Wild Wild West. The boy ate cheese its and Sis got frustrated, but a man was at a gravel driveway to help her with the stroller.
And the man who talked to himself fell asleep.
And as I’m laying here on my foam sleeping pad in the woods, thinking about all of these lives I heard so much about today, I wonder what they thought about me– that stranger, on the bench, with the backpack. The one who got off the bus and disappeared into the woods. Or did they even spare a thought for me, when they were going about their lives?
Miles: 4.3

Trip total: 130.8

MVP: breakfast sandwich

LVP: right knee

9: a zero in hanover

I woke up and headed out of the woods, back in to town. I had arranged to meet Honeybuns at the art center for breakfast, so we walked over to Lou’s a cafe that has free donuts for hikers. We sat at the counter with our packs and stared at the menu. I ordered all the foods that popped into my head.
I started with my free crueler (aka a twist donut)– maple glazed. Honeybuns informed me that the crazy tubes I’d seen tied around trees along the AT were for maple syrup. I’d figured it was ridiculous property boundaries that made no logical sense.

The donut was top 3, maybe top 2. It was delicious.
Next came my muffin, warm and fluffy with giant fresh blueberries bursting inside of it. I died.
And finally, an omelette and a pancake and home fries. I stuffed my face and we shared trail stores and food stories and laughed while we ate.
Full and sated, we walked over to the DOC and waited while our electronics charged. the Count and Sunny came in, and we exchanged stories about last night. We laughed at the awards along the wall, and sat around lazy. Eventually Honeybuns and I walked down to CVS for me to buy bug spray and itch eraser and snacks.
We waited for my bus…and waited and waited and waited. A consultation with the Hanover Inn valets confirmed there was no weekend bus. Thanks google. Back to the DOC and an official zero for me!

Wok man, Sunny, Count, and Honeybuns were all taking a zero too. We decided to try to watch Dead and Breakfast, a terrible slasher flick they’d seen at trail angel Ljnda’s house. While Honeybuns and I called every trail angel listed to try and find somewhere to stay, the other guys went to brunch and set up an impromptu movie theater in the DOC.
The movie started (when we pressed play), and as the horrible acting went on and on, two important things happened: 1. Honeybuns had a former coworker, a travel nurse, message him and say that she and her husband were in the area and could she grab him (and he invited me) for dinner and a swim in the extended stay hotel pool and 2. One trail angel came through in a place to stay!
Honeybuns and I left for dinner with Nancy and Pete- clam chowder and then brats and macaroni salad when Honeybuns and I proved bottomless pits. There was wine and tequila and the Olympics and a riotous good time.
They dropped us off at St Barnabus Episcopal Church in Norwich, VT. The priest (?) was out, but a parishioner let us in and showed us around. He was tall and kind, with grey hair and the kind of jokes that faithful church goers love to tell. I could see in him so many of my favorite church members.

We’re joined by two SOBOs, the disciple and powderpuff.
I’m sleeping tonight on a couch in the library of a small New England church, with Honeybuns on the floor. It makes me think about my church families, and how they would welcome hikers if they were in hiker towns. There are lots of ways to show hospitality. I bet this church wouldn’t expect that one hiker staying here would be a section hiker with a billion clergy friends.
I needed the zero. My knees feel better. I found an ice pack in the freezer so I’m taking advantage of that. Honeybuns popped a blister for me, a big deep one that was right on the ball of my foot. Hopefully it will finish draining and healing tomorrow while I ride to Bennington. I’d like to hike in to a shelter tomorrow night. We shall see.

I’m going to miss my NOBO friends. I’m a little tempted to continue on north with them, but I want to see Maureen and the beautiful state of Massachusetts. I think y’all will enjoy this one. Just wait for upper goose pond.
Miles: 0

Trip total: 126.5

MVP: muffin? There was so much!

LVP: blister

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

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