Coco and Magnus — Days 137 through 143 — Ganoderma, Cabins, and Bogs
Hi! It’s Coco! Catching up on trail updates! On with the program…
7/22 Wednesday — Day 137
- Under 500 miles!
- Climbed Mt. Killington. Halfway up a cold wind blew in even colder rain. When did this occur? Lunch! Meals are when the rain comes. Need rain? Cook outside. Magnus was battling exhaustion but with a small bit of rest, food, encouragement, and more food got us to the summit.
- Want to make it stop raining? Find shelter! Moments before we reached the shelter near Killington’s summit the sun came out and warmed everything back up. We dropped our packs, started the drying process, and took a side trail to the summit… well, at least to the top of the ski slopes and lifts. The shelter was pretty rundown and sad with graffiti and general disrepair. I was pleased to move on.
- Churchill Scott Shelter boasts campsites. This is incorrect. There is one campsite.
7/23 Thursday — Day 138
- 1700 miles!
- We neroed into the town of Killington, VT and checked into Inn at the Long Trail before 10am.
- Hiker boxes get better and better the further north we get as the SoBo’s start shedding their unnecessary weight and changing plans.
- We received a package from friends Ben and Stephanie! Thank you, friends! One thing in the package was coffee with ganoderma. With some swift internetting we learned that ganoderma happens to be a fungus that we frequently pass on the trail! All this time we could have been harvesting fungi and increasing the health benefits of our coffee!
- On the the recommendation of our friend Ike, we spent some considerable time at the pub at the inn. Certainly without his harsh bullying we would have never consumed pints of beer. Peer pressure. Also — we fulfilled a goal. We ate nachos in Vermont. It was also in an Irish pub which was not a part of the goal but made it even more off base. I almost stopped the waiter to request salsa when I realized that the smattering of tomatoes was the salsa. Texas forever.
7/24 Friday — Day 139
- There is an enormous boulder that juts into the dining room of Inn at Long Trail. A similar one exists in the pub. In both locales we were serenaded with Irish tunes. Naturally, this led to making up our own for the whole morning. Lots of mention of Gaelic winds and smiling eyes (with teeth).
- Kent Pond, Thundering Falls, and the camping areas near Killington are fantastic.
- Magnus and I stayed the night at The Lookout, a privately owned cabin a part of Lookout Farms that is open to thru-hikers. It was so great. (Future hikers: Go!) A steep ladder up the side of the cabin leads to a small platform that provides panoramic views. From here we had perhaps our first clear views of the Whites.
7/25 Saturday — Day 140
- One more trip in the morning to The Lookout’s crow’s nest showed clouds surrounding the Whites in the distance.
- Trail truth: Vermont is the South of the North. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming!
- We saw enormous moose tracks! No moose, yet.
- We heard a wild turkey doing a terrible job of trying to be discreet, but it was pretty fun trying to locate it.
- Future hikers: Good stealth camping spots on Ascutney Mountain.
- Magnus and I stopped in at On the Edge Farms for what Magnus called a “pregnant lady from a rom-com meal:” ice cream, bananas, a pickle, a hard-boiled egg, root beer, and some cheese.
- Passed old, boarded up houses and barns on many of the road crossings.
- For a long stretch we hiked between two beautiful stone walls which seemed to have been a former road of some kind. It was very calm and electric at the same time.
- I hung a bear hang! I did it! My fist bear hang of our entire Appalachian Trail adventure. Why? Magnus always does it. He likes it! I swear! Why would I ever want to diminish the happiness of my loving spouse? I’m not a monster. But I did the hang finally. Magnus was not entirely impressed with it as it wasn’t really “bear proof.” It was definitely “chippie proof” or “small child proof,” though.
- Muddy, metallic water. But water is water.
7/26 Sunday — Day 141
- Raaiiiinnnn! Sometimes it likes to greet your day. Stinky rain jackets galore.
- We wandered our way onto a wide road and a SoBo said, “Trail magic ahead! The pancake lady! Just ring the bell!” Then he was on his merry way. What. The. Hell? Magnus and I crossed a bridge and sure enough there was a large house with a garage with the AT symbol emblazoned on it and many packs outside. We walked up. Rang the bell. Immediately we were welcomed in and coffee was in my hand within one minute. Randy and Linda are trail angels of the highest order. They made a full breakfast for everyone in the room. I think there were six of us. Thank you so much! What a fantastic visit and morning.
- Black Bear’s husband Bruce/Batman was slackpacking her and offered to slackpack Magnus and me, as well. There were only about eight miles left in our day, but slackpacking sure does make the miles fly so we accepted his generous gift. Even though I wasn’t carrying anything except my poles, I still tripped and fell toward the end of the day. Seriously. I can’t stay upright.
- More trail magic. Going into Norwich, VT we passed four separate houses with coolers of drinks and snacks. Incredible! So much magic that we just passed most of them. It appears I do have an Oreo and Coke limit and I reached the limit. Thank you, kind strangers!
- We checked ourselves into The Norwich Inn, an establishment far more classy than typical hiker accommodations. Heck yeahhhhh. We enjoyed a beer on the large wraparound porch then retired to our room enjoy the gift of cable television.
- The general store in Norwich is clearly the place to be. It was lovely, lots of good resupply options, locally prepared foods, and they even held a small package that Red Panda left for us a few days earlier. Thank you, RP!
7/27 Monday — Day 141
- New Hampshire! Our 13th state!
- We hit the 80% mark!
- Here’s the thing. We were under the impression that Hanover, NH across the river was unfriendly to hikers and we needed a place to stay because we needed to visit the Hanover post office. We thought the wise choice would be to stay in nearby Norwich, VT. Hanover, apparently, has gone to great lengths to change their reputation. They are so generous to hikers. (Future hikers: Stay at The Norwich Inn if you like fancy digs. Stay in Hanover if you’re more interested in your budget and trail experience. You’ll come out on top either way.)
- Walking through the Dartmouth area we were instructed to go to Lou’s for a free doughnut. Really? Yes! A free delicious doughnut for each of us! Also there are a pizza and gelato place that offer things to thru-hikers, but we arrived too early in the day.
- Post office! We received a package from my mom filled with cold weather gear. Whee! It sure felt silly to be sweating and receiving Capilene leggings and down jackets. We sent a few things back to my mom to help offset the weight we’d add. Goodbye, bug nets and Kindle Fire. Tears. Thank you, Mom!!!
7/28 Tuesday — Day 143
- Sun! For an early lunch, Magnus and I stopped by Bill Ackerly’s place. He has been a trail angel for years. His porch and backyard are open and he gives ice cream making him known as The Ice Cream Man. We had the porch to ourselves for quite awhile and we took advantage of our resting opportunity. Bill did show up briefly before moving on to another social engagement. He was absolutely charming and lovely. As he drove away, he shouted out his window, “Long live Texas!”
- We climbed and climbed. Smarts Mountain was surprisingly difficult and unexpected. Slick enormous boulders slanting dangerously. A section involved rebar set into the boulders as steps.
- Our intention was to camp at the top of the mountain near Fire Warden’s Cabin. The camping spots were not good for tents, though fine for hammocks. The water source was little more than a puddle. The cabin was an academic text example of creepy. We chose to move on and found a great stealth spot just on the north side of South Jacobs Brook.
- On our way down Smarts Mountain there were some logs laying across a bog to assist passage. Bog logs, if you will. Usually, you just walk across them. These logs were no longer attached to their supports and sank into the bog when stood upon. Whaaat. The water was deep. We blazed around and safely made it to the other side. We later heard stories about others who took paths that weren’t as solid. One actually got stuck in the mud for half an hour and only could get out once she got mad enough about not being able to move.
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