Gorham to Rutland: The Whites, A Guest Hiker, and a change of scenery.
Well its been nearly two months now since I stepped foot on this long ass trail. It’s day 59 to be exact. I’m 506 miles in. Almost 1/4 done the trail. 8.5 miles a day is my average including zeroes (a “zero” means a day of zero AT miles hiked). Today is my twelfth zero. Without my zeros, my daily average is 10.7 miles. At this rate I should be done in 198 days. I know what you’re thinking. Crazy slow right!! Seems like I can’t finish. I’m in Rutland, Vermont. Most of my original trail family is in Conneticuit right now. To top it all off, I am leaving for West Virginia today for the Clifftop Old Time Appalachian Stringband Festival. That will be 7 more zeroes before hiking another mile. That’s gonna be 19 zeroes.
I’ve had alot of leisurely fun these past two months in Maine and New Hampshire. I hiked through the two most technically challenging states on the trail at a nice slow pace. I got to know alot of hikers very well. I enjoyed a lot of scenery. Played so many tunes! I spent hours on mountain tops without the anxious feeling that I needed to be somewhere else. I’ve been living by phrases like “hike your own hike”, “smiles not miles”, and “you’re always exactly where you need to be”. I even had my best good friend Tereza Tomek fly all the way out here with her guitar to hike for two weeks! It’s been great! I’ve had very little intense physical exertion and I haven’t lost much weight yet. I’ve probably drank as much beer as I’ve walked miles. Nah just kidding haha. That would have to be 8.5 beers a day to make 506 beers in two months. But seriously though, I have drank a lot of beers, just not that much.
You can probably tell that I’m not worried about not finishing the trail. I WILL finish the trail! I have a plan. Hiking the AT requires a balance between fun times and extreme physical exertion times. When I get back from Clifftop it will be time to rack up the miles. I can put in a whole month of 20 mile days with no zeroes to put me right back on track. I got this! So before I do that, I will sit here at the Yellow Deli Hostel, drink coffee and tell you about my adventures in this past month.
The famous White Mountains. The pricey White Mountains. The touristy White Mountains. Don’t get me wrong, they were beautiful and challenging. How could you not enjoy a week straight of hiking above 4000ft elevation. They were just busy with tourists where as Maine was quite remote. The experience was very much what I expected.
The Mt. Washington day was fun. I was above treeline all day. I got to experience extreme winds in the morning going up Madison. 75mph at times! It was tedious, especially without trekking poles. I could lean my whole body sideways and the wind kept me standing. My pack straps whipped and flapped and stung my face, neck and chest. But it wasn’t like that all day. The rest of the day was sunny with clear views. We made it to Mt. Washington just in time for the last slices of pizza and chili dogs. It was a bit of a mind fuck to peak a mountain and suddenly be engulfed in swarms of tourists that drove their cars up the mountain to stand in lines, take photos and buy things from the gift shop. Then they drive back down.
The day ended at the Lake of The Clouds hut where we paid $10 to sleep in the “Dungeon”, which is basically a stone walled, concrete floored basement cellar with with two triple stacked bunkbeds slapped together with plywood and old 2×4’s. No matress, no lights, one small window. It was like paying rent in Vancouver. We didn’t complain though. Just made alot of sarcastic jokes.
Special Guest Hiker Tereza Tomek!
Definitely the funnest part of the journey thus far was having my best good friend and talented guitar player and songwriter Tereza Tomek join me on the trail for two weeks. We played so many tunes, hiked a few miles, downed so many IPA’s, and she taught me a thing or two about nutrition on the trail.
Lets just say she was less than stoked to see that pop tarts, chocolate bars and Knorr pasta sides were a main part of the hikers diet. I let her take over the resupply decisions and my diet changed quickly. My food bag was a little heavier but we ate the heavy fresh fruits and veggies first. My body thanked me with less farting. Tereza was also glad I farted less.
I think in this culture where ultra light packing is such a huge trend right now, we are focussing too much on light, dry food with high calories. It’s making us eat the worst stuff. Maybe it’s a good thing to sacrifice the weight and have a couple days on the trail with an apple, orange, grapefriut, and a few fresh veggies. If you eat it all in the first two days before they spoil, your pack will lighten quickly, and at least you will have some good stuff in your system. It sure was worth it! It was good to have a non thru-hiker like Tereza come and give some outside perspective on what was going on in this crazy culture.
So Much Music!!
Whenever I hang out with Tereza, we play alot of tunes! Like, a shit load! So that’s pretty much what happened. She rented a smallish guitar for the trip and strapped it to her already heavy back pack. By this time, after taking 4 zeroes to meet her in Portsmouth, NH my old trail family was way ahead of me. So when we got back on the trail, we started hanging with a new trail family. And so the jamming began. There was the kazoo extrordinaire and hype man “Honey Bun”, master of freestyle, “Funk Train”, “Thumper” on the drums who carved drum sticks out of two pieces of wood, and Tyler on the harmonica. We went to the top of a fire tower on a mountain and made a video of “Take Me To The Mountain But Not Yet” by Corin Raymond. Check it out here!
Tereza’s visit ended with us renting a truck and catching up with my old trail family in Manchester Center, VT. Since I talked about these guys so much Tereza had to meet them. So we partied the night away at a hotel and of course, played more tunes and drank more IPA’s. It was good to see Flatlander, Stretch, Mojo, and even the Kiwi’s Rocky and Ripper were there. We surprised Mojo by bringing our new friend Pringles along who hasn’t seen Mojo since the 100 mile wilderness.
The Solo Journey From Hanover to Rutland
After Tereza left, I made my way out of the Boston airport with the rental truck during rush hour and headed back to Hanover. Now my second trail family was ahead of me. So I got back on the trail solo. It was a big change. A big adjustment. As much as I like my solitude I can’t deny the feelings of lonliness I had during this time. Maybe because I became so accustomed to hiking with a trail family, maybe I just missed having Tereza around making all the plans and decisions, or maybe because the terrain in Vermont is a little more monotonous than the epic peaks of New Hampshire. Probably all of those things. Despite my mixed feelings, its defnitely what I needed. Lost in deep thought, I slowly made my way to the Yellow Deli Hostel in Rutland, VT.
The Yellow Deli Hostel
These people are so kind and giving. Last night they had an Irish jam and they invited me to join with my banjo. There was a guitar, a flute, a recorder, an accordian and a dulcimer! Not one of those mountain dulcimers either. This one had 72 strings and was played by a guy named Allahmish! It was my first Irish jam. I loved it. I could get into this stuff. Instead of playing one tune they would medley between 3 tunes! It took some getting used to since I’m used to old time and bluegrass jams but I had a hell of a time!
Stumbledorf: A Notable Character on the Trail
Just want to give a shout out to this kind gentleman and talented poet, Stumbledorf. I got to know him in Glencliff, NH. Here is a man who has seen and done more things than most of us will ever imagine. He’s served in wars that most of us have never even heard about. He writes some of the most beautiful poetry I’ve ever heard. He has seen humanity at its best and worst. The world needs more humans like this guy. I’m sure glad I met Stumbledorf and I hope to run into him again.
Anyways, that’s all for now folks. Its time for me to get on the highway and stick my thumb out. I hope to make it to Buffalo, New York by the 30th to meet up with my ride. Onwards to Clifftop… To play more tunes of course.
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Lol I love your updates!! I’m in Manchester Center. I hope to see you again even after your week off! I miss listening to you play. -Pringles
Hell yeah man! Great read! I’m super stoked to pick you up in Buffalo and head down to Clifftop!
Was nice meeting you on the abol bridge
Enjoy your adventure..love reading about it
Looks like you are having a blast and that is what it is all about. Keep it up man. Any issues Hammocking so far?
Ughhhh. Dude. We took a whole bunch of zeroes recently and I started getting into a race mindset, noticing myself feeling like I needed to get certain mileage in and almost feeling guilty about zeroes, losing the piece of myself that would get lost in the beauty and nature & what this hike is all about to me. Your post is exactly what I needed to read. Rooster and I miss having you around so much!!