Getting there slowly but surely.
Days miles: 1.1
I nearo-ed into Danby to catch the bus to Rutland to see a doctor. The bus schedule posted on the wall was from a different year, so I missed the first bus, and then the second bus, and when I finally looked the bus schedule up online, I realized the next bus didn’t come for another 4 hours. It was cold and raining out. I cried, called Ms. Janet to see if she was in the area, she gave me someone’s number who lived in the area, and he didn’t answer. I started hitching and got picked up by a man named John and his 11 year old daughter he adopted when she was 3. He told me he made a million dollars before he was 24, and his friend pilots helicopters for the president. I’d like to believe him but I’m skeptical. You never know! Really nice guy though. He dropped his daughter off at his mom’s house and took me to the doctor about 10 miles further out of his way, and that was very kind of him. I arrived at the doctor after my transportation troubles to see a “NO MORE WALK INS TODAY” sign on the door. They referred me to another doctor a mile down the street. I went to see them and they said they couldn’t see me because I didn’t have my insurance card or a copy of it. The tears welled up in my eyes again and the lady at the desk said they could see me if someone would fax it to them. My dad faxed it to them, and the doctor gave me antibiotics for the lymes, but didn’t do any blood tests. I don’t think I have the lymes though. From the doctor, I walked to the hostel at the Yellow Deli in Rutland, VT. This hostel is beautiful. There’s a women’s bunk room and a separate men’s bunk room. There are wooden bunk beds with mattresses, pillows, and quilts, an overflow pullout couch, clothes for when you do laundry, and all sorts of other fun things like soaps and candles, 2 showers, and bathrooms. It’s all very cozy. The Twelve Tribes runs the hostel. They are a religious, cult/community.
Days miles: 14.8
Still feeling exhausted. I left my bag at the hostel with the intention to catch the bus to Danby. I took a wrong turn, watched the bus pull away and then sat on the bench and cried. This was the last morning bus I could catch out to Danby. I called a taxi service and they said they could take me for $40. The woman who picked me up didn’t realize I had been crying and had a raging headache and she just talked and talked and talked. She talked about swimming in lakes, the sections she’s hiked, which road led to where, what her son is doing this Saturday morning, the weather, the hostel, how I’m going to have to rush to Katahdin because I’m so late, and how most of the other hikers had already come through. We finally got to the trailhead and I didn’t recognize where we were. I said hmm this isn’t familiar. I don’t think this is where I got picked… She cut me off with “This is where $40 gets you.” I said I meant that I think I was just a little ways up the road. She started telling me I must have gotten picked up in Manchester which is another town 20 minutes south. I just handed her the $40, said thank you and left. The hike was lonely. I only saw 3 other Northbound hikers and that was for a total of about 1 minute. I hitch hiked back to Rutland with an Indian dad named Uday. He was great and really funny. He stopped at an apple stand and sampled an apple but didn’t buy any because he thought they were too sour. I asked him what his plans for the night were and he said (Indian accent) “Eh. I don’t have any. Do you want to do something?”
Days miles: 21.3
Day 3 with the twelve tribes! I woke up, got breakfast ‘to go’ from the tribe, and caught the city bus to Killington. The twelve tribes provides breakfast and dinner every night for the hikers. The breakfast was eggs, rice, tomatoes, and onions and it was simple and really delicious. The hike was long. Usually on a slackpacking day I’m running down the trail, and bouncing along, but I think I’m not feeling like myself again yet. Still recovering from my sick day. I finished the hike just before dark and a trail angel, “Plans Too Much” picked me up and brought me back to Rutland. I was so grateful for his help. I really don’t love hitching alone. It’s stresses me out.
I have to say that I had a great experience with the 12 tribes. I had the opportunity to help them with some of their work and clean the deli with them for their monthly deli cleaning. They clean the deli everyday but they do a serious cleaning once a month. I spoke to a lot of the members, especially the women I was cleaning with. The members of the tribe seemed to me like a bunch of lost souls who found a family in each other. They eat, sleep, and breath religion. They live to serve their friends and their god. They were all so nice, and helpful, and welcoming.
Days miles: 16
Finally left the Yellow Deli Hiker Hostel after 3 glorious nights. Getting back on the trail after zeros, nearos and slack packing is always hard. I picked up my winter gear and a full 4 day resupply before hitting the trail. My pack was about 10 pounds heavier than usual. I was also without my group and freaking out about hiking alone for the first time in over a month with a certain person I’d like to avoid less than 10 miles behind me. Rutland has an airport and I wanted to go home. I called my mom and we agreed that it would be best if I got a ride forward to catch up to my friends, and tac this section onto the others I need to make up. And if I still wanted to come home after that, the option is always there. I called a trail angel and he was busy. I called a taxi service and they didn’t answer. And I called a shuttle service and they didn’t answer either. At a loss and still in tears, I decided to hike out before it got too late. I made it about half way up the first of many super steep hills for the day before I had another meltdown. This time I called my dad. I told him that I couldn’t get a ride forward and I didn’t feel safe hiking alone. He listed out a million other options, none of which included me getting on a plane and coming home. As I sat there in tears, wondering what I should do, Mighty Blue came walking up the hill. He gave me a pep talk and told me not to make any rash decisions about going home. Never quit on a bad day! Mighty Blue has told me before that he’s in a similar position. He misses his wife, he’s over the hike, and he’s ready to finish and go home. What keeps him going is that he so badly wants that picture on top of Katahdin. He also told me he was heading to the shelter I was trying to get to meaning I wouldn’t have to camp alone. This solved my biggest problem, my fear of camping alone. After he left, I got my life together and hiked 13 more hilly miles to the shelter where I found Smug, Mighty Blue, and section hiker Papa. I thanked Mighty Blue for talking me off the ledge. I don’t know if anyone else could have or would have.
Days miles: 20.4
Got up early today with a plan to shoot for the 20 mile shelter. The 20 miles of sharp little ups and downs I was seeing on my map weren’t so little in real life and they were killing me. Gone are the days when I could walk 7 miles without stopping. I took a break after 2 miles, and another after two and a half more. There was a deli at 16.4 miles in the day. I ate all of my food in the morning and told myself if I can just make it to the deli, I can relax for an hour and finish the last few miles uphill to the shelter. After a grueling day, I got to the deli. The deli has been closed since March. I sat on the steps of the deli and cried. Yes. I cried again. This has been the hardest week of my life. And also I was hangry. I’m allowed to cry. I tried to call and order for pizza. Nobody delivers to West Hartford. I looked up restaurants and the nearest one was 5 miles away. I asked the locals where they bought their groceries and they said in another town. I noticed a box of canned food on the porch of the deli. I don’t know if it was for hikers. I just want to throw it out there that hikers don’t usually carry can openers. I ate a pop top can of some kind of strange Caribbean peas. They weren’t good, but I didn’t care. After that, I set my sights on mandarin oranges, and pears. But how does one get in to a can without a can opener? Trekking poles. I smashed into the cans like a cave woman with my trekking poles. I was so hungry, I didn’t even wipe the dirt off the bottom of the pole. It took about 10 minutes of trying to make the perfect puncture wounds to get the hole big enough to get food out. And so I ate Caribbean peas, mandarin oranges and dirt, and pears and dirt for dinner. After I had some food in my belly, I was no longer sad or hangry, and I had energy to finish out the last 4 miles of the hike.
Days miles: 7.3
New Hampsha! Hiked an easy 6 miles into Hanover from the shelter. There were a couple of trail magic coolers on the way into town set up outside of people’s houses. The first one was empty, but the second had grapes, watermelon, Oreos, and Coke. There was also a list of trail angels who provide shuttles and places to stay for hikers. Hikers are also allowed to take advantage of the Dartmouth student union. Hanover was super nice and hiker friendly. There was a bakery that gave hikers a free donut, a bagel place that gave a free bagel, and a pizza place that gave away a free slice of pizza to thru-hikers. I hung out at the student union most of the day and blogged while I watched TV in a TV room by myself in the dark on a huge flat screen. I only got up once and that was to get a burrito with Beirut and Swamp Donkey. It was the perfect day. I headed out at 7:30pm to resupply and hit the trail around 8:00pm with Pocahontas, Turbo, Maverick, and Beirut. My foot has been bothering me and the pain is getting worse. As I pushed off a rock going uphill, I felt like something wasn’t right. The pain increased and I’m all gimpy now.
Days miles: 4.5
Spent most of the day in the emergency room. I didn’t have an emergency but I did need to get my foot x-rayed. It’s not broken, just a bruised bone. Yay! Yay? I don’t know if I’m supposed to be happy about this. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping this would be my ticket out. I called Tiggers Treehouse after my hospital visit and Karen came to get me and brought me back to her house. It’s the perfect little place for hikers. They have everything you need and a basement to hang out in with tons of movies. I only did 4.5 miles today, but that was enough for me. The big mile days were making me depressed and really stressed out. 17 miles seemed like an incredible task at the beginning of the day. I wanted to give up before I even started. I’ve extended the date I’d like to finish by and I only have to average about 10 miles a day to get there. 10 seems much more doable than 17 and takes a lot of pressure off.
Days miles: 17.5
Last big day until I hit the 100 mile wilderness. I pushed hard to make up for the nearo’s and get to a hostel by a certain date. Karen dropped me off at the trail this morning around 7:45. Ireland, who stayed at Tiggers Treehouse too, was supposed to get dropped off with me but he had to go back to get his umbrella. Yes, some people hike with umbrellas. I did a slow 5 miles and sat down to take a break. Sloth, Southbound, 2 other hikers, and Marathon passed me. Marathon was the last and he said they were going to the ice cream man’s house. The ice cream man is Bill Ackerly. He’s an older man trail angel who has free ice cream for hikers and invites them to sit on his porch, relax, chat, and play a game of croquet. I was up with my pack on in a minute. Marathon was my hiking buddy for the next 7 miles. He’s a super mellow guy from Ohio. He has degrees in philosophy and math and wants to get a job teaching. We got to Bill Ackerly’s around 2:00 and found out it’s his birthday today! There were about 15 hikers there, some playing music, some playing croquet, some playing hacky sack, and some just hanging out. Bill had sodas, pie, and ice cream. It was really cool to see everyone just hanging out, enjoying each other’s company. That’s a huge part of what this trip is all about. I left Bill’s in the rain at 4:15 to get to the fire cabin tonight. It was a 6 mile mostly uphill hike. 3 other guys left the same time as me, but I lost them very quickly because now I am slow (sigh). The COOLEST thing happened on the way up the mountain. I saw a group of highschool hikers with a guide coming toward me. And in the back of the pack was a hiker who looked like he didn’t belong with the high schoolers. He was a southbound thru-hiker. We stopped in our tracks and stared at each other for a second. It was Matt Groce! He’s Solitude’s friend that we stayed with in Boone, NC before trail days. He started his SOBO thru hike in July. I knew that was his plan, but I wasn’t sure if he made it happen, if he was still on trail, or where he was. And I also didn’t know if I would pass him on the trail even if he was still hiking. Such an exciting surprise. It totally made my day. He told me I was the first familiar face he’s seen, which made me happy because there are only 3 of the 9 people that stayed there still left on the trail. After that kewel moment, we parted ways and I continued my uphill journey to the fire cabin. I got there and claimed some real-estate on the floor. There are 10 of us here, we are warm and dry, and the rain is pattering on the roof. It’s a great way to end the day.
Days miles: 12.8
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