Listening to My Body
The morning dawned overcast and slightly chill. Happily it did not rain overnight so the trail was only muddy in patches. I hiked 2-3 miles with Serendipity then continued solo up the slope of Stratton Mountain. It reminded me of the pacific northwest with beautiful pines, moss, and ferns. I climbed the firetower on the mountain’s summit.
I meant to descend but accidentally took the ridgeline trail, not realizing until I glimpsed the ski gondola through the trees. This added an extra 1.6 miles to the day, which was annoying as on the descent I began to feel pain in the medial area of my right ankle. I had noticed it the last 4-5 miles of yesterday’s hike and hoped it would heal while I slept.
It was a long 14 miles to VT 11/30, though I hiked the last four with All The Way and chatting helped the time pass more quickly. At the highway, I shuttled with him, Sonic, and Dinglebeary into Manchester, VT. We ate at a busy burger restaurant then resupplied at Price Chopper. Jeff from Green Mountain House had dropped us off earlier and returned to take us to his hostel. Serendipity greeted us, clean in her loaner clothes.
After a tour and starting a combined laundry load, we sat at the dining table to eat pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. The first one was only $1. I ate half then went to take a shower. Sonic, Serendipity, and I shared a room with one bunk and a single bed. I gladly claimed the top bunk. We bantered and laughed as we repackaged our resupply food.
Yesterday I decided my ankle needed a rest or it could get worse. Since the others planned to stop in Rutland, I got five days worth of resupply food so that I could push through to my next box and catch up to them. Serendipity surprised me by offering to nero with me and I happily agreed.
All The Way, Dinglebeary, and Sonic were scheduled for the 8:30 am shuttle so the five of us had breakfast together. The hostel had complimentary eggs, coffee, cereal, and various food left by other hikers. We had to be out of our room by 9 am, but Serendipity and I got to hang in the cozy common space. I had fun talking to a lady hiker named Four Eyes who had hiked the Arizona trail and been a Shenandoah Ridgerunner.
It was a chill day. Serendipity and I worked on our blogs, wrote postcards, and ate snacks. I also dried gear and cleaned one trekking pole. There was a fantastic bear-shaped footrest in the living room that I used to slightly elevate my feet. It was a great hostel that I highly recommend.
Mid-afternoon we got shuttled back to the trail. My ankle started hurting within the first mile, but the pain had shifted toward the back of my ankle. Plus it diminished as we climbed. Serendipity said the shifting was a good sign. We hiked three miles to camp on the summit of Bromley Mountain. The summit had a warming hut and ski lift.
We ate our dinner in the hut, chatting with a 17 year old hiker named Dam who is hiking the Long Trail. Money Stache showed up as we finished dinner. He and I taught Serendipity how to play Pokémon Go. It got chilly as dusk approached, making Serendipity & I decide that perhaps we do need more warm items for the White Mountains. We ended the day watching a colorful sunset.
I hoped for a beautiful sunrise to go with last night’s splendor, but woke to a fog shrouded summit. By the time I took down my tent, the fog had sunk below the summit, leaving a couple far off peaks looking like islands in a white sea. I hurried to depart as I had less than eight ounces of water to drink.
A couple miles later I was about to filter from a large puddle when French Fry called out that she found a water cache. I drank water and got a liter to carry. When I reached Peru Peak shelter, Serendipity was drying her tent on the tent platform. I did the same as mine got wet with condensation overnight. While we waited, we joined French Fry at the shelter’s picnic table.
At Lost Pond shelter junction, Serendipity and I checked in and had a snack. My right ankle was bothering me a little and she had low energy. We decided to make it a 17 mile day and camp by Little Rock Pond shelter, five miles ahead.
By the time I arrived, my ankle was hurting more and I was really tired. Yet I carried my dinner over to the lake-sized pond. While I ate I watched brown newts in the water. They floated with limbs outstretched or pulled their legs in close and sped along propelled by their tails. It was so peaceful at the pond. I gazed at the still water and pine forested shore, grateful for the reminder of why I am out here…. to be immersed in nature. I was in my sleeping bag by 8:20 and asleep shortly after.
I woke from an amazing night’s sleep and found that I had slept in until 6:30. Serendipity was already packed and went to breakfast at the lake. Once on trail I hiked briefly with a guy named Spidy. He started May 13. I was impressed by his pace, though he had a tiny pack with a weight of only 19 pounds including four days food and water. If I hope to do the PCT, I need to get my weight down further.
I caught up to Serendipity. Shortly after we came across trail magic at the road prior to Bear Mountain. Our benefactor was a man who went by Spineless Cougar. He said he always does trail magic on weekdays, which is less common. I was grateful for the perfectly ripe and juicy watermelon slices.
Mid-afternoon we crossed a neat suspension bridge over a river gorge. Serendipity was craving juice and asked if I’d accompany her to Gouchberg Farms Market & Deli. I was up for the adventure! She got us a ride from a nice lady. We ran into French Fry there and the three of us sat at a picnic table to eat. I got Serendipity and myself a ride back to the trail from a guy just leaving the store.
A couple miles from our destination we came across the “Katahdin 500 miles” sign. Wow, it seems so close! It was a 20 mile day to camp near Governor Clement shelter. The last mile really hurt my ankle. I think I need to keep my mileage sub 20 until my ankle has more time to heal.
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