White Mountains to the Yellow Deli
The Yellow Deli. It doesn’t sound too interesting, but every North Bounder we passed either has a story, or you can tell expected to have a story but didn’t really get one. Thats because the Yellow Deli is Twelve Tribes Community owned, donation-based hostel, and apparently preys on thru-hikers and our lost souls to join their commune or “visit the farm”. No real preying (or praying, for that matter) is happening here, though. Lying unbothered in the sun on the back deck, I pluck random White Mountain memories and jot them down for further elaboration. I keep thinking that I should write something. I, like many of the hikers we passed, want a story to tell but just don’t really have one.
That’s one way to get people to keep reading, isn’t it? Saying I have nothing to say and nonchalantly mentioning that I am staying at what some call a cult-ish hostel and feel super at home with it?
Anyway, there is a lot to share, since my last post was written at Patty and John’s, two hours from Gorham NH, where we got off for our zero. As we went to grab our bags and hop back on the trail, Rooster realized he left his shoes at their house. The next road we would cross would be in two days, so being the trail angel that he is, John came back two days later to meet us with the shoes. Those days were rough, though. Not for me and my responsible Asics-wearing self, but for Rooster, who alternated between Crocs and bare feet.
After retrieving the shoes at Dunkin Donuts and adventurously purchasing their version of the Cronut, we were ready to hit the trail. Unfortunately, thunder storms were in the forecast for the next 2 days, so we decided to be responsible and wait it out. It got moved back a day. We waited it out. We were responsible for 3 whole days, just waiting. I was antsy and frustrated, but was healed by Rooster and Claw Hammer’s jam sessions, town food and a bottle of wine.
Eventually, we continued on to the presidentials. Madison was comprised of multiple rock scrambles. Picture piles of gravel, and then scale it to be 5,000 feet high. At the peak, just for fun, picture 3 thru-hikers decked out in birthday hats. Those 3 people would be myself, Rooster, and our friend Croc Fire. It was Rooster’s birthday and as we ate breakfast, I broke out the hats that I bought at Walmart and hid in my pack.
Let’s get cliche with this because why not: Things kinda happen for a reason sometimes. On Rooster’s birthday, the 3 of us also summited Mt Washington, which holds the highest recorded windspeed! To top it off, it was a beautiful, clear, and only partial-windy day, and “Ya know what they say: Each year, you can count the clear days on Mt Washington on less than two hands”; So, although there was a line to take a photo with the summit sign, a cafeteria building, and a road to the top, the hats drew the attention of fellow day hikers (and drivers) who sang happy birthday and showered us with Snickers.
The rest of the White Mountains are tough. It’s as tough to write about as it was to climb because all I could focus on was the task at hand. Getting to the next blaze, up to the next false peak, and the next peak. This is especially true on Mt Lafayette, which lead to the Franconia Ridge. Once above tree line, the goal became each step. The wind was so harsh that I couldn’t hear anything else. Every layer of clothing on my body was being pulled to one side. I would lift my trekking poles and have to firmly place them down before lifting my foot, which the wind would move before I could take a step. One step at a time across the top, with frequent stops to soak it all in. I kept screaming “This is so beautiful! This is so unenjoyable!” And that’s really the only way I can describe it. It was difficult and frustrating ..and holy shit was it gorgeous!
A day later, on the 4th of July we received a message from our friends Miryan and Brian from New York who happened to be 15 minutes from the next road we would be crossing. They picked us up at 8pm after a 17 mile day and brought us to the Franconia Inn, where we were treated to showers, burgers, wine, and a hot tub. I mean, the time off-trail is usually a strange experience. After being in the woods for days, we stumble upon unfamiliar towns with different cultures.. But then you add people who are like family to that sort of unexpected situation and it becomes the most surreal, incredible 12 hours you could imagine!
We are now in Vermont, which has been nothing short of amazing. The road walk from Hanover NH to Norwich VT was filled with hiker-friendly businesses and a ton of roadside trail magic. For whatever reason, though, Vermont is a breath of fresh air. The terrain is the enjoyable kind of challenging, and the trail angels are indescribably generous.
For all of you who find me to be sugar coating (I admittedly catch myself doing that), there is more that weave through the above stories and physical struggles. Emotions do come up, as I expected them to. The sadness, anxiety, and confusion related to previous experiences serve as a reminder that I am the same person and that I am not running away from what I feel. In fact, if you want to run away from your feelings, I highly recommend you stay clear of nature. You all know that’s a part of me, though. The good, the bad, and the sappy.
Now please excuse myself and my emotions, I’m on my way to “visit the farm” and I’m not sure when I’ll be back on the trail. Just kidding. I’m at a brewery, obviously. Cheers, darlings!
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