Pinch Me, I’m In New Hampshire!
Crossing Over the Connecticut River into New Hampshire
I’m sitting in our travel trailer along the Connecticut River as I write this. My husband has rejoined moving northbound every 100 miles or so while working remotely. It does make it easier to resupply and shower off trail in campgrounds with washer/dryer access, however we have enjoyed the experience of staying in hiker hostels along the way. He followed my daughter and I in Virginia and returned home to North Carolina once we hiked on from Harper’s Ferry. My right knee has been talking to me over this past week through Vermont, so I’m taking 2 zero days in row to ice and rest before hiking into The Whites. I do feel an unsettling sense of disconnect by not being on trail a couple days in a row, but I have learned that listening to my body during this journey is what has allowed me to go the distance.
There are many trail experiences in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts to revisit, which I will post about in the future. Those states flew by so quickly. I enjoyed focusing on being present on trail and bonding with my daughter versus struggling with logistics to connect to adequate WIFI of trail. It became much easier and less stressful to post favorite photos and short blurbs on social media. Though I still have SO MUCH to share and recapture from those states!
The Beauty of Vermont
Vermont was one of the most beautiful states I have hiked through; a bittersweet parting from soft pine needle terrain and rugged views. The forest hardwoods took my breath away. Beech, birch and maples intermingling with pines – seemingly towering closer to the sky the more northbound we traversed. The lakes, ponds and bogs where perfectly spaced waypoints along the trail. We didn’t see moose, however their presence was made known along the higher elevations.
After a couple 85-90 degree days in Massachusetts, we were greeted with much cooler crisp temperatures in the higher elevation of Mt. Greylock, MA through Vermont. The mosquitoes, gnats and black flies had stopped chasing us down; but the cold rain visited daily during our last days into Hanover. On some early mornings in Vermont, it was difficult to decipher between fog or residual Canadian forest fire smog, but it never took away from the beauty of the trail.
During the first half of Vermont, the shelters were getting full by 4pm. NOBO’s, SOBO’s, Flip Flopper’s and Long Trail thru hikers were colliding. We hiked passed Little Rock Pond due to catching word that up to 30 hikers were planning on staying in the shelter and pitching tents that particular night. After nights of pouring rain while tenting, we checked into the The Long Trail Inn to dry out our gear and take hot showers. The following morning we found ourselves hiking in pouring rain once again. Somewhere between hiking as fast a we could between Stoney Brook and The Lookout, the rain subsided and the sun started peeking through the thick forest canopy. I was so hungry and so tired that laying down in the middle of the trail and eating half a jar of Nutella seemed perfectly acceptable; necessary actually!
Other Hikers on Trail
We did get word that 3 hikers we knew were temporarily derailed from hiking after being diagnosed with Lyme’s Disease in Vermont, so we retreated all our gear near Bennington. Running into tramily that we had not seen since Pennsylvania at the Bromley sky lodge was surprising and we enjoyed catching up on each other’s journeys! Our journey in Vermont was intermingled with 3 separate Springer Mt. Georgia NOBO AT thru hiking groups: a threesome of retirees who are on a strict schedule to Katahdin, a tight knit tramily of 6 that we had stayed with at Lost and Found Hostel in New York, and another all male tramily of 6-7. We leapfrogged with these 3 groups through most of Vermont and met other new faces we hadn’t seen before.
Top 10 Favorite Moments in Vermont:
- Climbing the Stratton Mountain Firetower to see 360 views of the NY Taconic Mountains, Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts, Glastenburry and Bromely in Vermont and some mountains in the New Hampshire northeast.
- Staying in the Spruce Peak Shelter; an enclosed cabin with bunk space for 12 and a working old wood stove
- Climbing Bromely Mountain early in the morning. We ran into tramily we met in Pennsylvania at the ski patrol lodge.
- Pitching our tent along Griffith Lake. We were the only hikers along the shore the evening we camped and awoke to a haunting 0% visibility thick fog over the water.
- Scrambling up the partially open ledges of Baker Peak with speculator views of Dorset Peak along the Taconic Mountain Range
- Hiking along Little Rock Pond with view of a large boulder face on the westside in the glass-like water reflection
- Walking down VT Route 103 to Goucheberg Farms Market and Deli. We had fun trying to catch a ride with a local farmer riding on his tractor, but there wasn’t enough room for 2 passengers. A patron at the deli bought us some coffee and a snack.
- Thundering Falls & Thundering Falls Boardwalk; the highest waterfall on the AT in Vermont
- The Lookout: an unofficial AT shelter and privately owned cabin with a ladder leading to a lookout on top of the cabin with beautiful views
- Crossing over the Connecticut River to the Vermont-New Hampshire border.
Closing In On The Northern Terminus
The Whites and The 100 Mile Wilderness are less than 500 miles away. I catch myself wondering if summiting Katahdin will be anti-climatic, knowing that I will be hiking the 3 southern states of Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee as a 2023 flip flop thru hiker upon reaching the northern terminus. There will be nostalgia and joy in “hiking back home” through NC. I imagine it will most likely be full of previous section hiking memories while creating new experiences on a journey to the end of a lifelong dream; becoming an Appalachian Thru Hiker. I still have to pinch myself, because I’m in New Hampshire!
Happy Trail Adventures!
Joanne Gigliotti, Lucky Penny on the Appalachian Trail
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