The Homeland: North Adams, MA to Hanover, NH
Disclaimer: We are actually about to head into Maine on Saturday, but I got behind in blogging so this post is all about Vermont!
Vermont: The Homeland!
Words cannot describe how happy we were to be in Vermont. As soon as we stepped foot into Vermont, everything changed for the better. It was a cloudy morning, and as soon as we crossed over the border, the sun peeked through the sky and the rest of the day was beautiful. After a steep climb, we basically walked along a ridge all day. It felt so great to finally be up high and to get some nice views with different scenery and landscapes. We immediately started running into Long Trail hikers who were just beginning their journey north.
- Sassafrass and Ascot: There have been so many hikers that we get along well with. Occasionally we meet fellow hikers who we hike with for a while and really enjoy spending more time with. We had passed Sassafrass and Ascot on the trail in MA and thought they’d be fun to hang out with some more. On our first night in VT, we both stayed in Congdon Shelter. We read in the register (which is essentially a “guest book” at each shelter) that it was Sassafrass’ birthday, so we made our chocolate mousse that we’d been saving for a special occasion and went over to their tent to surprise them with a little Happy Birthday rendition and some dessert. It’s really easy to become quick friends on the trail, and we had a great time over the next couple of days hanging out and playing Euchre with them.
- Cheryl’s House/West Townsend: During our stay at the Bearded Wood’s Hostel back in CT, we met a group of section hikers that were also from VT. They were such a fun mix of people! Before we left, they told us if we were near Stratton, we should give them a call and they’d come pick us up for the night. So we ended up calling them, and Cheryl and Andy picked us up that day. They live in the most beautiful countryside home with a million dollar view. Once we settled in, they took us to the West Townsend farmers market, which happens every Friday. Gosh, it felt good to be back in small town Vermont! That night we got to hang out with Cheryl, Andy, Abby, Joe, and all of their kids who were running around. Joe made the most bombtastic homemade Italian pasta sauce.
- Green Mountain House Hostel/Stratton: After a delicious diner breakfast at Dam Diner in Jamaica, Cheryl drove us into Manchester Center for our zero day. I got some new Solomon shoes after deciding that Brooks Cascadias were not going to be a sustainable choice for me anymore. I’d already been through 2 pairs in 2 months. We then hit up the Green Mountain House Hostel, which is by far one of my favorite hostels so far right alongside the Bearded Woods. Jeff, the owner, is a great guy who keeps the place super clean and hiker friendly. The next day, we slack-packed 15 miles SOBO up and over Stratton (we actually took the gondola down fo free!) and spent the night at the hostel again. Bonnie, one of the other section hikers who we met at the Bearded Woods, was nice enough to pick us up and drop us off. Thanks Bonnie! There was a good crew at the hostel that night. Silverback, Ironman Bill, Just Pete, Otter, Sassafrass and Ascot, Betsy, Mass, and others.
- Big Branch Shelter: This was an unexpectedly beautiful day. We heard thunder off in the distance, and although we thought it was going to rain, it never did. We caught back up with Timber, who we’d hiked with a bit back in MA, and we were the only ones at the Big Branch Shelter that night. The brook ran right in front of the shelter, so we took a dip before retiring for the night.
- The Yellow Deli, Rutland: We banged out a quick 16 mile day to get into Rutland to meet Donna, StarTrek’s mom. This hostel is amaze-balls! It’s run by the Twelve Tribes Community. A lot of folks say they are like a “cult”, but I didn’t feel pressured or preached to at all. Really, they’re just a bunch of friendly folks who make great food and Maté. Here, we also reunited with Spirit and Tao! It was so great to catch up with them.
- Killington: After a restful night at the hostel, StarTrek and I hiked 11 miles north, while Donna, Spirit, and Tao hiked 6.5 miles south. We all met at the top of Killington for the night. This was by far the most beautiful 360 degree view we’ve seen so far. It was a clear day, and we could see Camel’s Hump, Mansfield, the Adirondaks, AND the White Mountains! That night was COLD. It dropped down into the 30s, and StarTrek was quite chilly in his fleece liner sleeping set up. That was his wake-up call to get his real sleeping bag back before the Whites.
- GRASSROOTS Music Festival: After hiking down from Killington, Spirit, Tao, StarTrek, Donna and I all drove to Ithaca, NY for Grassroots Music Festival. We spent 4 amazing days dancing away to great music. Donna the Buffalo and Trombone Shorty were some favorites. I couldn’t believe we managed to stay up until 3am on Saturday! Way past hiker midnight. It was a nice break from the trail, but definitely not restful. Again, we had to say goodbye to Spirit and Tao, as they wanted to take a more relaxed pace than us. 🙁
- Becca White’s House: After an extremely challenging day where we got SOAKED to the core during an intense rainstorm (actually the first day I felt like quitting), we got to crash at my friend Becca’s house in Wilder, VT, which is near White River Junction and Hanover. This definitely lifted my spirits! It was great to see her and meet her mom, Mona. What a sweet, sweet family! Mona even took us out to breakfast at King Arthur Flour the next day.
- Hanover/JJ’s House: We hiked an easy 10 mile day into Norwich/Hanover. Right at the road crossing in Norwich, there were about 4 coolers of trail magic waiting for us. There is also a list of local people who house thru-hikers for free in the community! In town, there’s a hiker friendly cafe, where we met the famous Baltimore Jack. There’s also a pizza place that gives out free slices to hikers. What a great trail town. Unfortunately and fortunately, we had friends, JJ and Stephanie, who picked us up and took us to their house in Enfield, NH. We got to meet baby Marcy, who’s adorable, and relaxed for the night after making some cheese-less pizza!
More of New Hampshire and Maine to come later!
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