Week 9 – Hanover, NH to Killington, VT
We sadly leave New Hampshire and adventure into Vermont in this episode of Dori’s Adventures on the AT! Follow us as we meet up with family and friends, and do a little hiking in between! The miles just keep coming!
Day 57 (Time – doesn’t really matter, 0 miles)
Today, we say goodbye (most likely for the last time) to Emily and Gray. We packed up our gear, said our farewells, and started heading towards our bus stop. We are planning on heading into Hanover for the day, then, later, getting picked up by my Uncle Aron, to head back to his ski home in Lincoln, New Hampshire. That’s right, we will be backtracking for the weekend! We will be spending the weekend catching up with him, my Aunt Kim, and their young son (somewhere in his teens) Turner and his friend Peter.
As we walked to the bus stop, with full packs, our poles in one hand, and groceries in the other, I suddenly heard a bus approaching. I turned, and there was our bus! But we weren’t at the stop yet! I waved the bus down and told Free Bird to start running! We both broke into a full sprint, or at least as fast a run as we could possibly manage. What a site we must have been!
“Free Bird! Speed up! I’m going to pass you!” I hollered as me and my 55 pound pack started thundering past her.
“How are you doing that! I’m running as fast as I can!” This entire trek, Free Bird’s pack has weighed significantly less than mine. So as I sprinted past her to catch the bus, my pack bouncing around on my back like a small child playing cowboy on their parent’s back, she could not help but burst out laughing as she continued to trot behind me.
Huffing and puffing, I reached the bus. “Thank you so much for waiting for us!” I managed to stammer as I attempted to catch my breath, climb the stairs, and keep from breaking out into a crazed laugh as I entered the bus. Free Bird was shortly behind me and off we went. We will be laughing about this one for a while I’m sure!
We took the short bus ride to Hanover and took care of business in town. By 2pm, my Uncle was close, so we made ourselves visible, standing in the middle of a field along the major road in town. I watched for his black wagon. Suddenly, there he was. “Uncle Aron!” I shouted.
He was looking on the other side of the road! Here we go again! I’m going to have to run with this missile on my back one last time! “Uncle Aron” I shouted again as I started to trot next to his vehicle. Finally he heard me and stopped the car. We hurried into the car, dumping our gear into the trunk, the car getting a little lower to the ground, and off we went, back to whence we came; Lincoln, NH.
After roughly one hour, and many stories later, we arrived at his ski home at Loon Mountain, dropped off our gear, then went out for dinner at a local burger joint. The food was great, but the company was better! It was fantastic getting the opportunity to catch up with Uncle Aron! We shared stories for the evening and waited for Aunt Kim, Turner, and his friend Peter to arrive later that evening, then called it a night. Tomorrow, we will have more fun in Lincoln with the family!
Day 58 (Time – too early, 0 miles)
Free Bird and I woke early this morning – too early! We have gotten into the habit of getting up early, normally rising with the sun, weather it shows itself or not. So, we made some coffee, then watched I Love Lucy episodes, as well as some other shows, while we waited for the rest of the family to rise. As the afternoon approached, Uncle Aron and Kim were ready to go out for the day, but Turner and his friend were still getting going. So, Uncle Aron, Kim, Free Bird and I, went to lunch without them.
After lunch, we returned to the home to grab the boys so we could all go play some miniature golf! We played a nice little course that was so perfectly called, Hobo Golf. Turner and his friend raced on ahead of us, and my Aunt and Uncle and the two of us stayed behind and played together. We had a blast!
After golf, we tallied everything up, and me, Turner and his friend, Peter all won! We tied for first with 49 points each! HA! Turner was so sure he could beat me! What a blast with lots of laughs!
After golf, we all stopped at an ice cream shop and had some delicious ice cream. We returned home, fat and happy, and got ready to go to the hot tub and pool. Aunt Kim was nice enough to let Free Bird and I borrow some bathing suites for the day! Thanks Kim! The pool was ice cold, but felt amazing on our aching knees. So in we went, watching little kids all around dare each other to jump into the freezing water. Some were brave enough. Others joined us by the steps, slowly wading their way into the ice cold water.
After icing our joints, we raced to the hot tub. That was MUCH easier to get into to! We soaked in the hot tub, relaxing the muscles that had been screaming for attention for weeks, and chatted for a while. Pruney and ready for dinner, we dried ourselves and left to head back home.
That night, Kim made us a fantastic taco dinner! How delicious! We ate our fill, then helped to clear the table for a round of Killer Bunnies! Killer Bunnies is a ridiculous card game that me and a friend, Jess, had learned to play many years ago. As the years have gone by, Jess and I have acquired the entire set of expansion packs, and have helped spread the crazy of Killer Bunnies! While living with my Aunt and Uncle two summers ago, I had introduced them to this game as well. They loved it and have been hooked ever since! Now having their own starter pack, we played a riveting game, full of chaos and mayhem. As the game came to a close, Free Bird, the person holding the fewest, most important, cards, won the game over Turner, who had ALMOST ALL the most important cards! What a hoot! We laughed endlessly, as Turner and his friend, Peter, laughed and rolled around in grief over the loss of the game, then all retired for the evening. Tomorrow we hit the trail and head for Vermont!
Day 59 (2:24pm – 5:07pm, 5.9 miles)
After a delicious breakfast and a hot shower this morning, we were off to the trail again. My Uncle stopped and bought us subs before allowing us to continue on. So, we happily ate those (I ate half to save my other half for dinner that night) and hugged goodbye before we were off. We were very interested in getting a picture by the Vermont/New Hampshire border, so we made sure my Uncle dropped us off by the bridge, instead of the trail head like he wanted to. We didn’t mind walking through town to get to the trail head since the AT technically went through town anyways. We bid him farewell and started our trek across the river!
After a brief picture, we were now in Vermont! Our trail took us along a busy road for a little while. I found the white blazes on this section of trail very interesting!
We made a few turns and were now on a small, residential road. Wow, I wasn’t expecting the first two miles of today’s trek to be on pavement! But on we went! Up and up this residential road we traversed, our feet begining to ache with the unforgiving pavement pounding them to a pulp. Finally, we arrived at the trail head, happy to see the woods once more. We took a short break, and were on our way, back into our home; the wilderness.
Today was just a short hike, knowing we would not be able to start until later in the day. So, shortly after starting in the woods, we arrived at the Happy Hill Shelter. Two other SOBOs, Dexter and Rabbit, a flipflopper, Wiskers, and a NOBO, Tucker, were already at the shelter, setting up their sleeping bags for the night. We all huddled together, expecting rain that evening and early morning, got to know one another, then called it an early night. Not a bad start for Vermont. We’ll see what the trail brings tomorrow.
The NOBOs we crossed today (the ones I got trailnames for at least)
Day 60 (8:27am – 4:30pm, 12.1 miles)
The leaves are slowly starting to change! Fall is starting to show her colors! The terrain continues to improve and we are able to cover a greater distance, much easier! Today, we are taking Elizabeth’s advice, a woman we had the pleasure of hiking with up to Hanover, and we will be hiking until 4:30pm. At 4:30, we will start looking for a place to set up our tents for the night. This should help us cover more miles. What we have been doing, up to this point, has been to pick a shelter and head for that. However, this has limited how far we can go. So we will start stealth camping and see how that goes! All we have to do is make sure we have enough water to cook for the night and the following morning!
We walked through the woods for the entire day today, taking in the beautiful surroundings as our feet enjoyed the soft ground, cushioning every step we took. What a difference the surroundings are, compared to both Maine and New Hampshire. It seems as though every state is a little different. How interesting!
We encountered a few different kinds of critters today as well. As we wound our way through the woods, with Free Bird several paces behind me, I stopped to take a short water break. As I sipped on my water, I looked at the winding trail ahead. There, on the trail not 100 feet ahead, I caught a glimps of a round, fuzzy, black bear rump! As I took a double take, thinking my eyes must have decieved me, sure enough, there was a large black bear heading down the trail towards us!
“Free Bird! We have a bear!” I shouted back to her.
The creature looked up at me and froze as our eyes locked. Knowing that loud noises tend to make bears turn and run away, I tried again. “Did you hear me, Free Bird? We have a bear!” The bear suddenly turned and trotted away, as I lost him around a corner of the trail. After Free Bird caught up, we waited a few minutes then continued on our way, on high alert for a mile after this bear sighting. No sign of the bear for the rest of the day.
Later, down the trail, we were joined by a few more, less threatening, critters.
I had seen a few of these salamanders on the trail, and chipmunks are always easy to spot in the woods. But this little chipmunk was not as afraid of us and allowed a quick photo shoot before scurrying off into the woods.
Vermont has really been interesting so far. In one day, we walk through many different kinds of forests, and even into some fields! Every turn holds a different scene and as the leaves continue to change, that will only add to the splender and beauty.
We walked and walked through the different forests, until 4:30 approached. With full water bottles, we started to look for a placed to camp. We expected it to take us 30 minutes to 1 hour to find a good spot, but one presented itself only minutes after we started our search.
Free Bird began to set up her tent as I set mine up a little further away. I staked my footprint into the ground, then set up the tent. All I had to do now was place the rain cover over my tent and stake that in. After the last stake was set, I was making a few adjustments and SNAP! What was that! I quickly realized the major pole supporting my tent was sinking towards the ground! Before any major damage could be done, I quickly unhooked the rain cover and lifted it off my tent to inspect where the noise had come from. My tent pole had snapped! The aluminum rode that held my tent above my head, had sheared and was slowly falling to the ground! Great! How am I going to fix this?
I pulled out the role of duct tape that I carried, and tried taping the damage. Nope, that didn’t work. Too much stress on the joint. I know! I’ll duct tape it, then reinforce it with string, tying it as tight as I possibly can, then duct tape it again! Nope! That didn’t work either. Still within shouting distance of Free Bird, I hollered, “Free Bird! We have a problem! My tent is broken. Can I share yours tonight?”
Having had to share a tent in the past, I knew we could fit, and after assessing the damage, she easily agreed to letting me stay in her tent for the night. “What are you going to do?”
“I’m going to have to shelter hop from here to town. Maybe I can contact the company to see if they can send additional poles or something. This shouldn’t have happened this early in the game!”
So, with what little reception I had that night, I quickly tracked down the contact information for the company that I bought the tent from, and shot them an email, in hopes I would hear back from them soon. If not, I will have to come up with another plan!
One stressful day later, we watched the sunset, then we snuggled in her tent and were off to dream land. Let’s hope tomorrow goes better!
Day 61 (8:10am – 3:30pm, 13 miles)
We woke this morning to the sun peering over the horizon. We have a long hike a head of us today, so we packed our gear and we’re off.
Somewhere early on, while I was waltzing through the woods, I stepped on something that moved beneath my feet and SNAP! I rolled my left ankle, BAD! Lucky for me, I destroyed all the ligaments in my ankles a long time ago, otherwise, this would have done it for me! I assessed the damage, recognized nothing was broken, and hobbled on my way. After a short while, the pain became less and I was able to walk normally. But this is something I will have to be VERY careful of the next few days! One more roll like that and I’ll be in real trouble!
Our journey today continues to take us through various scenery; fields one minute, woods the next. Vermont has been beautiful so far, and the leaves are slowly starting to change. We even got to see some wild turkey today! Sorry, I wasn’t able to snap a picture quick enough for that.
We climbed and climbed a never ending mountain, or at least it felt like it today, and arrived at a crossroads. One way pointed towards a lookout, the other, the trail continued on. Free Bird had dropped pack and was no where in site, so I could only imagine she went to check out the look out. Ok, I’m game! I needed the rest anyways. So, I, too, dropped pack, and up I trudged to the top of the mountain to see the lookout. It was stunning!
The story behind this wonderful building is there are landowners that own this building. They have graciously opened it for hikers and it stands and acts like a shelter! You can walk up the ladder to the top to see the sun rise and set and to watch the stars at night. Inside, it looks like any other shelter, except really nice, with a fire place!
“Can we pleeeaaaase stay here tonight!” Free Bird begged.
I was incredibly relieved to hear her ask this, since I was not sure how much farther I was capable of going that night. We already had all the water we needed, since we thought we were going to stealth camp somewhere further on. So why not here!
We made the long walk back to our gear, threw our packs on our backs on last time for today, and trudged back up the mountain. That night, we cooked dinner outside, sat on the front porch to eat, watched the sun set, set up our gear inside then climbed the ladder one last time to watch the stars come out to play. What a beautiful end to a long day. Once we had our fill of the stars, we retired in the nice cabin, that felt more like a home, for the evening.
Thank you, Trail Angels, whoever you are, for allowing us to stay in this beautiful cabin! It was a much needed treat after our long journey today!
Before turning in for the evening, I assessed my ankle once more. It had swollen up a little, but didn’t really bother me to the touch or to walk on. It is definitely a sprained ankle, and I know exactly which ligament I pulverized, but I’ll take care of it the best I can until we see my old college friend, Todd, in a few days in Killington! So I massaged it a little to reduce swelling, used some cream to help with the healing process, helped Free Bird with some aches and pains she was dealing with, then crawled into my sleeping bag for the night. No reply from the tent company regarding my broken poles yet. Oh well. At least we will sleep well tonight!
Day 62 (7:24am – 4pm, 13.5 miles)
Today we head to town! We are planning on stopping at a lodge called the Meadows Mountain Lodge. We’ll tent there tonight, then my college buddy, Todd, will come to get us tomorrow and bring us to his house! I haven’t seen him in YEARS! This will be fun!
My ankle is still swollen this morning, but not painful to walk on. We hit the trail, before breakfast this morning, as we were running low on water. So breakfast will have to wait until our first water crossing only a mile or so down the trail. Wow is it hard for me to hike, or do anything for that matter, without breakfast in my tummy! I felt like the walking dead! And I’m sure I must have barked at Free Bird because my body and mind were still in my sleeping bag somewhere! Sorry Free Bird!
Once we stopped for more water and had our breakfast, I could behave like a civilized human being again, and we continued our adventure on the trail. Along the way today, we played hopscotch with Rabbit, the SOBO we met several days ago. All day long, we would arrive at a location he was at, chat for a bit, then bid farewell, only to catch up to him again later that day. He’s heading for Rutland tonight, so we, most likely, won’t see him for a few days. But I have a feeling we’ll bump into him again. We seem to be doing similar miles at a similar pace.
There have been few opportunities for a view today. It seems as though most of Vermont has been inside the green tunnel, but it still holds its own beauty. We summited Quimby Mountain at some point today, but never truly knew when that official summit happened! I’ve noticed that the mountain tops, here in Vermont, have been obscure and most mountains are not named. Very interesting! My map said the first peak was the official top of Quimby, but Free Bird’s said the last peak was the top. Oh well. The critters stayed in the pack to stay warm for now.
We did get one view as we peaked through the ever changing trees, right before we approached a ladder. No big deal right. We’ve had ladders on the trail before. But no! This was a legit metal ladder! Not the wooden blocks nailed into rocks, or the log ladders we’ve gotten used to. I felt like I was climbing to do some siding on a home!
As we neared the end of our day, we approached a beautiful waterfall! A tiny building was at the bottom of the fall, adding to the beauty of the entire scene. This was a popular spot for tourists. We could tell because of the well groomed, gravel trails.
Only a few miles later, we arrived at our destination. What a gorgeous building! We checked in with the friendly woman that was running the place that day, Candice. She informed us she would be leaving soon and we would have free run of the facility. Talk about the honors system! She showed us where to shower, how to do the wash, and allowed us to use the common area for as long as we wanted that night, even though we were just tenting that evening. After thanking her profusely, we purchased a few bottles of beer, she provided us with a cooler to put them in, and we went to set up our tent.
We lugged our gear across a field in the back of the building and passed by a fenced in meadow. Suddenly, several goats and a donkey came charging towards us, eager to be fed. Sorry guys, we don’t have any food for you! They looked at us longingly as we walked past the fence and around the corner.
We set up tent near a trail head that would take us to town tomorrow. How convenient! Tomorrow we will walk through the woods to head to town, then return for Todd to pick us up! I can’t wait! For now, I will shower, do the wash, then relax and have a beer, or two, in the beautiful common area until sunset, then retire for the evening. Goodnight everyone!
Day 63 (time – endless, 0 miles)
After taking our time to get ready this morning, and learning we could keep our gear at the lodge as long as we wanted, we left to head into town. I am on a mission today! I still have not heard back from this tent company, not one peep! So, I’m hoping to find a replacement pole for my tent! If not, I will bump my tent to Manchester Center and order new poles online.
The only outfitter in town did not have a solution for my broken poles, and they were completely out of denatured alcohol, the fuel source I use to cook with, so I struck out today. Guess I’ll be bumping my tent and possibly using my pocket rocket, my back up fuel source, on the trail, instead of my cat food canister stove, if I run out of fuel! At least I have a backup!
We took care of a few other errands, then spent the rest of today at the Killington Welcome Center, reading books and working on my blog, as we waited for Todd to get out of work.
Around 5pm, he met is at the lodge, we bid farewell to our wonderful hosts, Bill and Candice, and went on our way to stay with Todd. A fantastic dinner, many catch up stories, a tour of where he works, and a fantastic tour of his home-in-progress later, we were ready for bed. We stayed up WAY past our bed times, chatting, catching up, sharing stories, and reminiscing, until none of us could keep our eyes open any longer. Todd graciously gave us his bed for us tonight! Todd you are officially a Trail Angel! It has been far too long since we have really chatted and seen each other! This needs to happen more often! But for tonight, Free Bird and I will get a good nights rest, maybe interrupted by a loving cat or two (Rocky or Cleo), and hit the trail tomorrow!
We have moved into another state, and are catching up with old friends! This journey has been fantastic; the terrain, scenery, family and friends. With so much more to go,I know there will be more spectacular views and stories to come! Till then . . .
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