Wetfoot and Arry, Vol. 20, Days 43-45: Racing the Post Office
Day 43: 15.2 miles
Not very stealthily camped once again. We have a long day tomorrow for what I call our sprint into Hanover. The post office closes at noon on Saturday so we will need to beat that to retrieve our mail drop or be forced to wait out the long weekend in town.
I miss the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel. I met an abundance of motivating NOBOs: Hawkeye, Sunshine (she was an anti-Sunshine Sunshine), Otter, Turtle, and Supe, to name a few. Supe in particular hyped me up about the upcoming trail in Vermont.
I had Vermont on my mind, so much in fact, that this morning when I called my boyfriend to tell him about all the great plans I had in my head for us to celebrate Labor Day, he was overwhelmed. My boyfriend told me to slow down planning things to fill our schedule because not everyone is on vacation. It took me only an instant after hearing that to change my mind about ending my hike this weekend in Hanover.
In a split second I resolved to hike all the way to Connecticut (because that’s where my boxes will run out). And you know what? That wishy-washy feeling I had felt this past week deciding between Hanover and Rutland is gone. Arry and I are going to Connecticut!
Immediately I knew this plan will be good. My boyfriend will have a few weekends to finish things around the house as he wants without my planning of things to do every moment interfering. Additionally, Arry and I will get to watch the leaves change for the fall, my favorite season!
This morning we passed the 400 miles! Woohoo!! It is a good feeling.
The trail was very smooth; rocks are the exception, not the rule. The new rule seems to be dirt or planks over boggy areas. We climbed Mount Mist without realizing it.
After Mount Mist, we crossed road after road. The sounds of traffic could be heard throughout a good portion of the hike. On one of the roads was a water cache! Thank you trail angels!
I began looking for signs of fall. On parts of the trail I admired freshly fallen red leaves. Fall is coming! The trees all looked fully green, so either I couldn’t see high enough into the branches to admire fall colors, or most of the leaves haven’t started to change yet.
We passed a lot of NOBO hikers. One girl pet Arry and she kept saying, “I love you so much.” Her obvious moment of joy made me smile inside that this girl could be made so happy in just a few moments by Arry is one of my favorite parts.
Eventually we started climbing Mount Cube. While this mountain is rocky and steep, it’s nothing compared to the Wildcats. I think this was the first mountain with switchbacks that we have climbed on the AT so far. It made the climb easier, but also felt prolonged.
We passed a father and son pair day hiking. They stopped to make sure this cute, little orange salamander made it safely across the trail!
Arry and I were almost to the summit when we came to a sign pointing to North Cube. Always adventurous we took the detour. I didn’t realize it was a .3 mile side trail, but the view was gorgeous. We sat there for close to an hour, I in the sun letting the warm rays dry my sweat, and Arry in the cool shade of a rock.
Once our beautiful break was over we hiked back to the AT, stopping of course to admire the view from South Cube. The sight was gorgeous. There were even fellow hikers to take our picture!
No hikers I’ve happened across have stopped at Hexacuba Shelter. According to my guidebook it is a unique six-sided shelter. I arrived at the water source to find only trickle. Staying wasn’t worth it I decided. We didn’t make the extra .2 mile excursion to experience the shelter. Sorry. I’m sure pictures exist somewhere.
Instead Arry and I hiked another half mile to an abundant stream where I filled up on water. Just past the stream we picked a stealth spot for the night. Of course the two poor NOBO hikers, Mr. President and Viking, passed on the trail and Arry huffed at them. In her eyes they were intruding on our camp spot. So we jumped down and said hello.
After the long day Arry is fast asleep. Tomorrow will be another long one. But to Hanover we will go!
Day 44: 17.2 miles
Whew! Early-morning start to a full day of hiking. We climbed multiple mountains and even though the trail gradient is easier than the beastly Wildcats we walked over large changes in elevation. But we made it! And now only 11 miles-ish to make it to the post office tomorrow!
Our morning started with a climb up Smarts Mountain. On the summit is a full cabin! While staying there last night would have been a exciting, it would have been almost a 20-mile day yesterday. I’m not sure we were ready for that yet.
At the cabin we took a break with one of the Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) trip groups that camped there last night. It brought back fond memories from college when I went on trips with my outing club. I really enjoyed exploring and learning with fellow students that shared my passion for the outdoors.
The DOC trip students were headed to Hexacuba Shelter today; too bad none of them have been there previously and could describe it.
The climb down Smarts Mountain was surprisingly long and rocky. As we were headed down we ran into Mojo and her pup. Mojo asked how Arry fared through the Whites and told me about the brand new Norwich Hiker Hostel. She even gave me their card!
The hostel’s card says $40 for bunk, laundry, shower, use of kitchen, breakfast of all you can eat eggs, pancakes and coffee. AND ALL YOU CAN EAT $1 BEN AND JERRY’S ICE CREAM PINTS! Is this real life?!?!
At the Trapper John shelter I refilled on water, plus an additional two liters as there would be no reliable water sources until a mile and a half after where we were planning to camp for the night.
I also called Frosty, the hostel owner, and told him about my predicament with my package. He recommended I text him approval to pick up the package and he would have it waiting at the hostel for me. He planned to check the post office Saturday morning, so I suppose Arry and I will still plan to arrive in Hanover early.
The Trapper John Shelter had a unique array of old rusty things. Just things. Like a sewing machine. They entertained me.
And then we were off, with six more miles hike to Moose Mountain Shelter before concluding for the night.
We climbed up Holt’s Ledge, then down Holt’s Ledge, and then finally began the ascent up Moose Mountain. Along the way we must have passed at least five hikers with dogs, and countless NOBOs.
One of my favorite areas we walked through, however, was a meadow by a pond. It was so completely unique to what we’ve hiked through before on this trail. Instead of dark greens, browns, and grays, the sun softened the greens and there were yellows, whites, and pinks! The fresh wildflowers smelled beautiful,and their strong scent filled the trail. It was so gorgeous in such a unique way!
About a mile and a half from the campsite I started seeing a lot of NOBOs. Weird, I thought. And then one of them told me a DOC trip group was camped at the lean-to. I can only assume no one wanted to camp near them.
Arry and I finally arrived at our tent site, a short way away from the lean-to. We introduced ourselves to the young, bright-eyed and bushy tailed youngsters. They do have a lot of energy. Did I have that much energy eight years ago?
Their trip leaders let them start a fire, which is apparently against trip rules. Strange, either they have different rules or my outing club didn’t follow them because we always had fires! Anyway, the students were nice enough to let my nasty, sweat-soaked socks and shirts lie by their fire. I’m excited for mostly dry clothes in the morning.
As I walk I have realized I worry a lot. Today I was constantly fretting: is the dog too hot, does she need more water, should I let her take a break, will I make it in time to the post office tomorrow, etc., etc., etc. It reminded me of a camp song we used to sing.
“Said the robin to the sparrow, I should really like to know, why these anxious human beings, rush about and worry so. Said the sparrow to the robin, friend I think that it must be, that they have no heavenly father, such as cares for you and me.”
It’s hard not to worry. My main concern, acquiring my post office package before the long weekend, wasn’t affected by how fast we hiked today. I happened to meet someone in passing that out of the blue gave me the name of a hostel I didn’t know existed that might help. So things do work out. The trail provides. But God also provides for you on the trail.
I think about how often I say the trail provides. But how often did I say life provided for me while not on the trail? And yet I can think of many examples of when things happened to work out.
And so now I shall worry about how I can not worry as I hike tomorrow!
Day 45: 10.9 miles
I learned a lot about myself today. I learned I made my goal to get to Connecticut and I’m not going to let small detours get in our way.
This morning I was unsure if Frosty was going to be able to pick up my package from the post office or not because the post office always asks to see ID. I planned to get into town by noon as a backup. My alarm woke me before the sun came up. I opened my eyes to pitch black. I couldn’t tell the difference between when my eyes were open or closed!
Unfortunately, my headlamp has stopped working. I don’t know why. The headlamp has served me reliably for several years and I suspect something broke in the wiring. So I laid and cuddled Arry until I could barely make out shadows, and then started packing up.
Arry and I were on the move before 6 a.m. Strange how just a few weeks changes what time the sun rises. What a change from when the sun rose at 4:30 a.m. in Maine and it would have been light for a few hours by this time already.
The summit of Moose Mountain South Peak was beautiful. We paused to admire the view. I reminded myself to take time to pause and not let worry control my day, thus making me miss experiencing the beauty out here. After all, the beauty in the journey is part of why I decided to continue hiking through Vermont.
We pressed onward, making good time with this easier terrain. Unlike the AT in Maine and Northern New Hampshire, parts of Southern New Hampshire took us through meadows. They are beautiful in a new way. We passed three roads, signaling we were getting closer to civilization, although I suppose from this point in the trail southward the number of road crossings increases.
When were near Velvet Rocks, just over three miles away, disaster struck! We lost the trail. The trail was difficult to follow in this section, and I ended up following what looked like paths where leaves had been trodden before. All of a sudden the path ended!
I pulled out Guthook and realized we were off the trail, but still close. We made our way back, and found a trail crossing with a sign saying AT north follow orange trail, and then another trail marked faintly blue, almost white. So we followed the almost white trail.
After a while I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. I checked Guthook again and we weren’t on the AT at all! Checking Guthook, my paper map and then Google Maps I couldn’t find what trail we were on or where it lead.
I called my boyfriend and said, “Come get me I can’t do this, I’m going to miss getting my resupply and I don’t want to have to wait two full days.” His response was, “OK, when you get to town I’ll head out.”
But you know what? His statement didn’t fill me with peace, and I realized in that instant that I wanted to, I needed hike to Connecticut, and that included overcoming these inconvenient parts.
I called Frosty, and he confirmed my second sinking feeling. The post office would not release my package to him. So Arry and I, with no alternatives, ran down the orange trail. I suspected we must have turned onto that trail when we “found the trail” previously.
Once back on the correct trail I checked my watch. It was just after 10 a.m., and we had 2.9 miles to go. Whew! “We could do this!” I told myself.
The AT was much easier to follow at this point, and we made our way over Velvet Rocks and to the Dartmouth campus.
By this point Arry had given up on my navigational sense. Every time I paused she would walk ahead of me as if to say, trail goes this way mom. Thanks doggo.
Eventually we made it! We walked out of the woods behind the Dartmouth athletic fields. What a strange sight!
With time to spare we picked up our package and were given a free doughnut!
We walked back to the Hanover co-op to grab a snack for lunch and eventually call our shuttle. There we found Yellow Bear. We met at the Hiker’s Welcome Hostel! It was nice to see a familiar face. Yellow Bear has a very go-with-the-flow personality, and decided on the spot to stay at the hostel Mojo recommended.
The Norwich Hiker Hostel is in its first year of business. You can tell they have some remodeling to do, but they are passionate about helping hikers. It was an extremely relaxing stay. Arry enjoyed sleeping on all the comfy things and of course we shared some ice cream!
That night as we sat around with the TV playing in the background, Back to the Future 3 was on. I didn’t pay much attention to the movie, but my attention happened to be piqued when Doc said, “Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”
Make it a good one, my friends.
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