Hikers Road Walk to Avoid Flash Floods
Bama➡️Baxter Day 141&142
Day 141: 3 miles
This morning we woke up fairly early in the motel and got to walking. We planned to do the 33 miles from Killington to Hanover entirely on the road. The trail was probably passable in most places. But we truly couldn’t be sure with the lack of information we had. All of us were just eager to finish out Vermont and get to New Hampshire where the flooding hasn’t been nearly as bad.
We set out and did a few miles along the road. The shoulder was nice and wide, so the walking was cruisy. I managed to do a bit of writing once again while I walked. That was very cool. Then a car pulled over and a guy got out to talk to us. He hiked the trail a handful of years ago and is a triple crowner. We talked with him for a bit and then he offered to drive us whenever we wanted to go.
There was a convenience store just a couple miles down the road, so we decided to take the offer and get a short hitch. We had actually talked in the morning about this possibility. I joked that we couldn’t try to hitch, but if someone offered us a ride without asking that we could consider taking it.
While we were in the car, the guy talked to us about the flooding and how it had impacted the town of Woodstock where he lived. He wound up offering to drive us all the way to Woodstock. We heavily debated it because we would be skipping the 10+ miles of additional road walk to Woodstock. But at this point we also realized that we were already skipping the miles on the AT. If someone is going to offer us a ride and an opportunity to skip the road, we had to take it. Even just a few miles into the day, the road was already beating down on our bodies.
He drove us into Woodstock, which took absolutely no time at all. Then he dropped us off at a local grocery store and gave us a jar of weed before heading off. What a guy! Inside the grocery store, we all got something to eat for breakfast. Then we sat outside to hang out and take a break before we continued along. Now we only had about 18-19 miles of road walk left for the day, which was a much less daunting number.
While we were sitting out in front of the store, a few people stopped to talk to us about our hike. One guy who lived locally told us about the hikers that he’s assisted in the past. He repeatedly offered to drive us to Hanover. Initially, we turned down his offer because we had already skipped some of the road walk. But as he kept offering, we once again realized that there was very little point to us road walking.
Like I’ve said before, I’m no purist. The fact that we are road walking at all is a pretty good indication of that. We came to the conclusion that walking the 30+ miles on the road was pretty pointless. It’s not a scenic walk whatsoever. And in some places where there is no shoulder, the road is genuinely dangerous. So we decided to take Jack up on his offer to drive us into Hanover. From there, we can get back on the AT and hopefully get back into a normal routine again of hiking along the actual trail. This last week has been a damn mess to our routine for sure.
Having to take so many unexpected zeros has been a bit demoralizing. We were previously on a pretty good schedule and getting in consistently big miles. So it’s been unfortunate to have to take so much time off, do so much road walking, and get so off track. That’s how it’s felt lately, at least. But when we got dropped off in Hanover, I could feel an immediate shift in our morale. I’m looking forward to crushing miles once again and roughing it on the trail. I look forward to the difficult terrain and long days ahead in New Hampshire.
Once in town, we stopped off at a coffee shop to hang out briefly. I got a delicious iced latte and sat outside. I wound up talking to my dad on the phone, which was really nice. He actually plans to drive up in a few days when we are going to be close to a town. That would be super cool. I haven’t seen any of my family in 4.5 months! So it would be great to see him and spend some time together.
All of us hung out on the street for a while before we decided to walk to a place called Molly’s for some drinks. We planned to spend the night in Hanover, so we really had no place to be. There were $3 margaritas at Molly’s, which we just could not resist. While we were there, another hiker, House, came and met up with his. He got in yesterday but had been waiting for some friends to catch up. All of us hung out at the restaurant for a while. I tried texting about eight different trail angels who sometimes allow hikers to stay over at their homes. But sadly, just about everyone was out of town or already hosting people for the night. Only a couple of people never got back to me.
When we left the restaurant, we headed down the street to a local coop. I got some citizen ciders there and then we walked across a soccer field to where the Appalachian Trail picked up. The trail actually walks right through the town of Hanover, which is pretty cool.
It felt so good to be back in the woods and on trail! Even just lying there in the dirt on the AT felt amazing. We were finally back home. All of us hung out in the woods for a long while. The guys bought a case of beers, so we all shot gunned one, because why the heck not. Then we talked and lounged for a while there. Later on, we wound up walking back into town to grab some food. We went to a pretty nice restaurant because it was the only thing open. I got brussels sprouts and French fries, which were good, but a little disappointing for the cost.
Then we headed back to the big field to lay around and hang for a bit. There were a group of Dartmouth students playing a game with a volleyball in the field. Boosted and House joined in with them and it was really fun to watch them all run around and try to keep the ball up in the air. We drank beers in the field and then decided to head back to the AT and set up our tents for the night.
While we were walking back, we ran into a guy that we had met earlier in the day. He’s visiting his grandfather in Hanover and is originally from Washington state. We talked about the PCT because he had spent a lot of time out there on his skis. It was fun to talk to someone who knew the area. We bantered a bit about the PCT. Then he whipped out a joint and offered to share it with us. We smoked with him and talked for a while. Then headed back to set up on the AT.
It was dark by the time that we were back in the woods. We all got our tents set up and sat out briefly all together. Then I headed into my tent to call it a night.
Day 142: zero day
This morning I woke up to it absolutely pouring rain. Once again, I was getting flash flood notifications on my phone. Which I am starting to get very tired of. I laid in my tent for a while before I could no longer resist the urge to pee. So I bundled up in my rain gear and headed outside.
The area where we were camped was already beginning to form large pools of water. It was pretty soggy and puddled even yesterday when we arrived. Even though it was a hot and sunny day out. I laid in my tent for a while longer and checked the radar. The rain wasn’t going to be letting up anytime soon. So I hollered over to the guys that I was going to start packing up. It would be nice to get our tents put away in case the area was going to get any more soggy and flooded than it already was.
Once I was ready to go, I headed over to the coop, which was a short walk. I got a coffee and a breakfast sandwich inside and then sat at a covered area with picnic tables. The rain was still coming down pretty hard and even blowing into the covered area. The guys arrived and we all checked the weather. It was looking like the rain was going to keep up all day long. There were flash flood warnings in effect for the area that we were in still. And I had zero desire to hike out into the mess of it all. We have gotten such bad weather lately. So if we are in town and are able to avoid it, then I want to. We took practically no zero days off this entire trail, so we might as well use some up now.
In the first 101 days on the AT this year, I only took seven zeros. And two of those zeros were for trail days. That certainly puts into perspective what we’ve been dealing with lately with weather. This is now our third zero day in the last seven days. Making today our tenth zero in 108 days on trail. I think that if we are in the mood to wait out some rain today that that is a perfectly alright thing to do. We earned it.
In the 142 days that I’ve been on this Bama➡️Baxter thru-hike, I have taken a total of 17 zero days, seven of which were on the Pinhoti trail, with no zeroes on the Benton Mackaye. That was about one zero every five days on the Pinhoti. I took it nice and easy on the Pinhoti and zeroed more regularly to ease myself into my long walk. It’s funny to think of how few zeros I’ve taken on this trail. Because last year on the PCT I took 153 days to finish and took well over 30 zero days. Every hike is different. That’s part of what makes thru-hiking so great.
We sat out at the coop for a while trying to figure out exactly what we wanted to do. All of us wanted to get out of the rain and get a room, but there was nothing remotely reasonable in Hanover. So we would have to hitch over to the neighboring town of West Lebanon, which was five miles away. We would just have to get a hitch over there at some point. But it seemed like there were plenty of accommodations there for us to find a place for the night.
While we were still at the coop, a group of about four southbounders arrived. It was cool to meet them all and talk with them. One of the girls had a dog, which was absolutely adorable. Boosted was happy to see that another dog made it easily through the White Mountains. We hung out with the SOBOs for a while talking. Then decided to get out on the road and try to get a ride into West Lebanon.
We stood out on the road for about five to ten minutes before a guy walked by us and asked where we were trying to go. He lived right down the street and offered to give us a ride in his van. So we walked over to his house with him and loaded in. While we drove, I booked a room for us in town on my phone. Then he brought us right to the hotel! Everything couldn’t have worked out better.
When we got there, we were a bit too early. But the guy let us leave our packs behind the counter, which was nice. Then we sat around in the lobby for a bit doing random stuff on our phones. After that, we decided to go grab something to eat. Sweet Pea and I wanted Panera, so we headed over there. But it was an absolute mad house! We got in and were able to order, but they were seriously understaffed, so it took a really long time to come out. Then we ate there quickly and began walking back.
When we got back around 1:00 p.m., we were able to check into the room. But we were disappointed to find that the guy charged us extra because of having more than two people in the room. I knew that if we were a family, he wouldn’t have charged us extra for the additional people. Personally, I think four people is a completely normal number to have in a two queen room. But what can you do, I suppose.
Once we were checked in, we pretty much immediately headed down to the pool and jacuzzi. That was definitely the highlight of the hotel for sure. It had an indoor heated pool and a hot tub and was still quite reasonable. The water felt so great on my body. What a great way to spend a day off!
After that, we hung out in the room and were able to shower and do laundry. I got a good bit of blogging done, which felt wonderful. Then we decided to walk down to a Chinese restaurant later on to pick up dinner. If there is any style of food that I’ve been craving to most on trail, it would be the broad category of “Asian food.” Sushi, Thai, Chinese, Korean bbq, you name it. Those are really the only foods that I actually crave anymore. Just about everything else had completely lost its luster to me.
I ordered crab Rangoons, dumplings, and scallion pancakes. A classic appetizer spread. And on our walk back, I got some drinks and a few last-minute resupply items. Then we went back to the hotel to lay around and eat Chinese food! I was so damn content. I laid in bed and ate like a princess. We watched TV and all just chilled out for the rest of the night.
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