Trail Update #12: and then there were three… (…states left)!!!
Aaaaaaand I’m in Vermont, home of mud, black flies, Ben & Jerry’s.
But first, let me recap the last couple weeks:
The trail rumors were flying about a July 4th party being held right off a road crossing in northern New York. To be honest, I kind of raised my eyebrow at this, but my doubts were completely unfounded. Turns out it was the 14th or so year that Trail Angels and volunteers Bill and Amy had thrown a July 4th party for hikers. I hiked 23 miles to their house and was immediately rewarded with a hello, a hamburger, a shower and an offer to do my laundry! Bill and Amy hosted about 40 hikers that night, opening their home and yard and kitchen to so many strangers, and providing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for each of us! It was a great celebration with fireworks and a bonfire, and there I met up with OMG and Josie who I’ve known since Franklin, NC.
July 5 – 7
I headed out the next morning with OMG and we hiked 17 miles to Pauling, our last stop in New York. We got in early and had a couple beers in town with another hiker, Yahtzee, before heading to the city park where hikers can camp and shower. Josie camped there with us, along with Colby Jack and Powerade who had gone skydiving with Bill after the July 4th party. Josie, OMG and I headed out for Connecticut. It was a rough day for all of us, and I was slogging behind the other two when a southbound hiker stopped me and asked if I needed any info on the area. Turns out Julia had seen and talked to each of us in turn, and by the time she got to me she already knew that I was heading off trail the next day for my birthday weekend, and she offered to drive me to pick up my rental car! That conversation turned into Julia putting the three of us up for the night and taking us to pick up my rental car in the morning. OMG, Josie and I were going to use the car to slackpack ourselves before I headed down to met my boyfriend in New Jersey for the weekend, but the combination of rain and newfound mobility led us instead to a coffee shop where I taught them how to use Snapchat, and the we explored the towns of New Milford and Kent, CT.
July 8 – 10
I met my boyfriend in New Jersey where we celebrated my birthday over a long weekend doing the opposite of all things AT: river tubing, hanging by the pool, eating out, wearing normal clothes, milling around New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ and generally having a great weekend off. I sobbed in a Starbucks parking lot when we said goodbye.
On the way back to Connecticut, I picked up Slim Shady and his gang and took them off trail for dinner while I still had access to a car.
July 11 – 13
I didn’t have a great next couple of days. Being back on the trail was hard, and I got no joy from crossing the 1,500 mile mark nor the Massachusetts state line. But when I posted as such on social media I did get a lot of support and encouraging messages which really helped. I hiked two afternoons in a row in the rain, but ended the day on the 13th at Upper Goose Pond Cabin where I went swimming with OMG, got the last indoor spot on the couch, and ate delicious pancakes care of Bonnie in the morning.
July 14 – July 17
I hiked 20 miles out of Upper Goose Pond Cabin to Dalton, MA where I met up with Bec and Pack Rat, a couple I’d been crossing paths with since New Jersey. After taking an amazing hot shower at the community center, I camped with Bec and Pack Rat in Tom Levardi’s back yard. He has been supporting hikers for something like 30 years, and our overnight stay was no exception. In the morning he fed us coffee, hard boiled eggs, and donuts, and talked down our nervousness about the upcoming White Mountains of New Hampshire. Leaving Dalton, I hiked 17 miles to the top of Mt. Greylock and stayed at Bascom Lodge, an old CCC lodge that is now a restaurant and inn. My headphones broke on the way up the mountain to Greylock and I was cursing up a storm in the middle of the woods when who should arrive but Yahtzee to make fun of me for losing my shit. We all stopped at the cutest and most delicious little ice cream and sandwich stand in Cheshire, and then I headed to the lodge while the rest of the group stayed at a nearby shelter. They joined me for breakfast at the lodge, and then we hiked into North Adams to check out the most hiker-friendly Papa Johns in existence and resupply. From there we continued on and into Vermont where there were suddenly crowds again as here the AT coincides with Vermont’s Long Trail and here is where the northbounders generally start running into the southbounders!
July 17 – 19
I had only resupplied for three days, so I pushed a bit ahead of the others to get to town a day early. I found myself on the same schedule as another group that I have known since this he Smokies, which was nice, and we hiked two 20-mile days over Glastenbury and then Stratton Mountains leaving us all tired when we finally got into Manchester. Two nights ago I woke up in a puddle and had to move my tent in the rain at 10:30pm. Yesterday I hiked the entire day with flies buzzing in my ears and my knees and ankles are completely torn up from scteaching my bites because I’m too stubborn to use bug spray. But I’m now writing from the Green Mountain House Hostel which I highly recommend. Showered, clean, dry, fed and in real bed it’s hard to complain about much.
The general concesus among the northbounders is we are all ready to be done. Today we crossed the 3/4 completed mark at 1,642.5 miles, and maybe it’s that or maybe it’s being in the first of the final three states, but I have noticed a shift in the way people talk out here. There is definitely a ton of complaining, but we all seem to have reached a point where we finally believe we are going to finish (barring accident or injury, of course). People – myself included – are starting to make their summit plans and buy plane tickets home. Crossing paths with the Long Trail hikers, other section hikers, and the southbounders, the northbounders seem to be treated like – and feel like – high school seniors. Cross your fingers we all get to graduate! ?
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