Day 126 – OMG Shoes. Let’s Get Some Shoes!

I woke from sleep to people getting ready to head out and hike around 7AM. Didn’t they know it was about to dump rain? I went back to sleep just as it started pounding the tin roof. 90 minutes later I woke up to a light drizzle as the storm finished passing and only a few shelter inhabitants left.

Neo, Groundhog and I all had plans to head into Manchester, VT. All desperately in need of a resupply, myself also needing new shoes. Mine were ripping on both sides, to the point where I was concerned my foot might slip out. All that stood between myself and new shoes were 10 miles of muddy trail.

I slid on my wet socks and wet shoes after packing up and headed out. I embraced the suck and played in the mud today. Knowing my shoes couldn’t get any wetter and I had new ones on the horizon, I was a muddy little duckling today. It was liberating compared to the days prior of attempting and failing to keep my feet dry.

It’s not like I even had a choice though. With the rain that fell just prior to heading out, the trail was messier than usual. In fact, it was utter chaos. Puddles that would swallow you to the ankle (and did).

One strategy I have been using to leap over mud puddles, has been to use my trek poles to pole vault across to the other side. It only works if the puddle is smaller than a Volkswagen.

At one point in the day I looked down to see my phone missing from my hip pocket. Panic ran through me. While not the end of the world, losing a phone with my only ID and methods of payment, 2000 miles away from home was not ideal.

I had set my pack down about a quarter mile back and backtracked to find it. I ran into Groundhog along the way holding it up asking “Missing something?” He was a lifesaver. Groundhog, Neo, and I hiked on to the only vista of the day overlooking Manchester. We snacked and I consumed the last of my available food (minus sunflower seeds and an emotional support packet of oatmeal, IYKYK).

It was 5 more miles to the road crossing where I could hitch into town. The trail however seemed to stretch forever. Not because of the mud this time, but because the trail ran basically parallel to the road. I could hear cars but never really seems to get any closer to them. Eventually I made it to the road around 2PM. Just before getting to the road I washed all the mud from my feet and legs in a stream to make myself a more presentable hitchhiker to potential suitors.

I got a quick hitch into town from a car leaving the nearby trailhead lot. First stop was to The Mountain Goat, an outfitter for new shoes. They didn’t carry the Altra brand I’d been wearing for the last 1500 miles so it was time to try something new. I went with the Hoka Soeedgoats. They were the most comfortable pair I tried on and came well recommend from my fellow Texan and AT finisher Ryan “Kidzmeal”.

The shoes felt bouncy as I strolled through town to McDonalds. There I found Groundhog and Neo. We hung out there and people watched while our devices charged for the better part of 2 hours (lots of bad parking skills in Vermont).

Across the street was the Price Chopper grocery store where we resupplied. We ran into Sultry and a new face “PsyOp.” I’ve seen PsyOp’s name in log books since Virginia so it’s nice to finally put a face to the name. Sultry told us he was camped across the street behind the VFW and it sounded like a good plan.

By this time it was 7:30 and the desire to get to trail and hike (uphill) to the next shelter was not there. PsyOp is also former Army and we both went into the VFW to chat with the locals. We were welcomed warmly by the folks there who even bought us a round of beers. They stayed open well past closing for us but we eventually retired to our tents before 10.

Tomorrow should be a 17 miles day. A former hostel owner has reached out to host me so I’m looking forward to a shower and laundry.

Stow away in my pack for day 127 on the Appalachian Trail

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Comments 2

  • thetentman : Aug 19th


  • Ryan Gallagher : Aug 20th

    Enjoy the shoes, and I hope the trail dries up a bit when you turn East!


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