Wetfoot & Arry, Vol. 23, Days 52 & 53: Rock Gardens and Pizza
Day 52: 14.5 miles
It rained tonight. I wasn’t expecting that. But it’s ok.
I can’t believe how fast we are cruising through Vermont. 15 mile days seem to take no time at all now. We made it to camp about 3pm, despite the fact that we took multiple long breaks, something I am enjoying changing about my hiking routine.
This morning we saw the rock gardens! They were so unique; white rocks stacked high to the sky, while other were precariously balanced on other rocks, limbs, and trees. It was a huge sprawling garden! I wonder who set them up and how long it took them.
Arry and I took a detour to see the White Cliff view. It was serene looking out.
We soon caught back up to Ice and Yellow Bear. Many miles were spent chatting about everything under the sun; it certainly makes the miles fly by. Before I knew it we were at the Little Rock Pond shelter.
Little Rock Pond shelter is a brand new shelter built in 2010 with four double bunks and a connecting pavilian with a picnic table! It must be the perfect shelter for cooking in the rain! It even is complete with a fire extinguisher. First shelter I’ve seen with one.
After a snack break, we walked to Big Branch shelter, filled up on water and took another snack break. Yellow Bear loves breaks, they’re growing on me, especially because with a pack Arry actually takes a break. Kind of.
As we walked Ice and I talked about our motivations for this hike. She gets cold easily, and isn’t sure she wants to hike thru frigid January weather. She said she’d be content completing half the AT, but she is open to where life takes her. It was nice to chat about realistic expectations, and someone who can understand going on trail to LASH.
The Vermont terrain has gotten rougher, but it is still relatively forgiving. The final part of our hike was a three mile climb up Mt Baker. The terrain on Ice’s app looked frightening steep, however Vermont made it very manageable with an abundance of switch backs.
Baker mountain had a view!
It was sunny and only 2pm when we arrived, our campsite was less than 3 miles away. So we laid in the sun and enjoyed the beautiful view. I aired my feet out, Ice “listened to her audiobook” (took a nap), Yellow Bear tested out his peak finder app, and Arry alternated between a spot in the shade, a spot in the sun, and chasing who knows what scents across the summit.
Yellowbear left first, I guess his weather app predicted rain. Ice, Arry and I laid on the summit until the sky began to darken. Apprehensive about getting stuck in the open during rain we headed down to Peru Peak shelter as the sky grew increasingly ominous.
Peru Peak is an older shelter, but still very well maintained. My gut reaction was to stay in the shelter. Note: always go with your gut.
Ice decided to tent on the platform next to the shelter. Yellow Bear tented much deeper into the woods, hidden from view. As the rain held out, I too decided to throw my tent up.
As we were finishing dinner it started to sprinkle.
Richard arrived. He is a Maine native who works in construction, and is an avid volunteer for the MATC in his spare time. Richards’s section is by South Arm Road and Old Blue Mountain. In his spare, spare time he section hikes the AT. Right now he is on vacation hiking!
A LT NOBO and an AT NOBO arrived not long after. Before they could share anything more than their names it started to pour.
I looked sadly at my tent getting drenched. I wanted to move it into the shelter, but I’m practicing being content with my choices just like my yoga instructor taught. And besides, I will be cozier in my tent tonight, just sadder in the morning as I am packing away a wet tent. But tomorrow is town day! So it will be alright, and I won’t have to worry about it getting musty.
During a respite of the rain Arry and I ran into the tent to snuggle just as the caretaker, Alex, showed up. The GMC has a few tent sites where they charge $5 to camp, to help cover upkeep costs, etc. I guess the GMC, like the AMC, have special cards for thru hikers where you pay at the first site and the rest are free.
Except the GMC caretakers must have run out of cards, because we recieved handwritten cards, ripped out of Alex’s notebook. But hey, if it works at the next site I won’t complain!
I keep looking up at the trees hoping they’re changing color. I see more and more fresh leaves on the ground, but the leaves still look green.
A lot of the sugar maples look like they are changing, but when you look at the leaves they have lots of tiny holes in them. Almost like an insect or fungus is eating them. I’m going to have to Google this when I get into town.
Day 53: 10.1 miles
Tonight Arry and I are cozy in the dawg house of Green Mountain Hiker Hostel. I’ve heard from many people that if you only stay in one hostel along the trail this should be the one. And for good reason.
We started early this chilly morning. Well early compared to the other hikers in the shelter. Richard woke up, said, “Wow you’re hiking out early.” Then laid back to sleep in what I can only imagine was a nice, toasty sleeping bag.
The climb started with a nice ascent up Peru Peak. I say nice because in Vermont it seems like we climb gradually, descend a little gradually, ascend a few steps gradually, and eventually we’re on the summit wondering how we gained so much elevation. There wasn’t a view at Peru peak.
We quickly continued on to Styles Peak, where there was a small view. It was still a bit foggy, so we imagined the view. We stopped for a short break, really enjoying the opening in the trees, but soon I became chilly and ready to move on.
So off I went! Arry, Yellow Bear and Ice followed in trace. And then the trail ended. Suspicious we weren’t actually on the AT any more, all three humans looked around for the trail. Unsuccessful, I told Arry to find the trail.
Without missing a beat Arry ran back up to the summit and down a trail. It was the correct path we should have taken. I wonder sometimes, how people hiking without trail dogs manage to not get lost.
Of course once we had started on the correct trail the sun came out. Oh well.
On town days I find it helps to remind myself to be in the present and enjoy the scenery around me. Otherwise I am so focused on getting to town, I couldn’t tell you what we saw or experienced! So I really focused on looking around me, on enjoying the trail, and the beautiful red and orange leaves that litter the ground.
After a gradual climb up Bromley Mountain, (sorry I feel like I’m repeating myself about this terrain, I just dont know how else to describe it!), we reached the top! I haven’t skiied here….yet.
The sun was out and the view was beautiful!
The wind was also out in force and we took refuge in the ski warming hut on the summit. Bromley ski patrol uses the hut during ski season, but in the off season hikers are allowed to camp there. If we hadn’t been bent on going to town it would have been a great, warm, and cozy spot to get a good sunrise and sunset!
After a snack we headed out for the final miles into town! The first part took us down a green circle ski run! I couldnt believe it. At first I wondered if the trail was the green circle for the entirety of the descent. “Would hikers in the winter get run over by novice skiers that can’t turn and avoid obstacles well?” I pondered.
Turns out the trail soon enters the woods, but it was an amusing thought.
We made it to VT 11&30 before noon!Motivation!
Supposedly, it is easy to get a hitch into town from this road. So we tried our hand at it. They say women, and people with dogs, have better chances hitching a ride. Between Ice, Arry and I we figured we had a good shot. So Ice and I got our thumbs ready while Yellow Bear checked Ubers as a back up.
There was plenty of traffic on the road. We watched dozens of cars drive past us and began to grow dismayed; we put a drop dead time on calling an Uber. Most of the cars passing us were from out of state.
Just before our drop dead, a Vermont car pulled over for us. Quickly our bags were in the trunk and we were on our way to the local Price Chopper!
I’ve only hitched once. It was in Colorado. I climbed Mount Evans, which happens to be one of the 14,000 foot peaks you can also drive up. In my stubbornness to take breaks I got attitude sickness so we decided to walk down the car path and attempt hitch a ride en route. A nice couple picked us up, dropped us off at the parking lot and drove off. I puked about 30 seconds later.
Our driver, Oliver, was headed to visit his mother. He had flowers in the car for her, how sweet. Oliver used to live in Montana and did some breathtaking hiking out west, he said. He hasn’t done any of the AT but wants to eventually.
As we drove Oliver asked what brought us to the trail and our takeaways this far in our journeys. It continues to amaze me that everyone heads to the trail for a different reason, and everyone walks away changed.
Oliver dropped us off and after thanking him profusely the pack split up. Yellowbear and Ice headed to grocery shop while Arry and I left for Manchester Pizza for lunch!
Craving pizza, I googled restaurants before we arrived and found Manchester Pizza right next to Price Chopper with outdoor seating!
We finally arrived and my heart fell. There were signs plastered everywhere saying only dogs that were guide dogs of the vision impaired were allowed in any area. I wanted pizza.
I rang their outdoor window bell, to the window that sold icecream, and asked if we could eat there. A man, the owner as it so happened, was outside as I asked the waitress. He took one look at Arry, declared she looked just like his dog, Nico, and said of course we could eat there, and to leave my bag outside right by their camera. Then I told him my dog’s name. He was flabber gasted and asked how I it was spelled…turns out that’s his name too!
I went inside and ordered pizza. The smells were tantalizing. I figured a large would be good enough. They brought out a massive pie out and I couldnt help but smile inside!
As I was feasting the woman from the ice cream window came to pet Arry, show me a picture of her dog, Nico, and give Arry a free scoop of vanilla ice cream! And I was afraid we wouldnt be allowed to eat here!
I didn’t finish even half the pizza! I boxed it up and we all called our shuttle.
Soon we were whisked away to the Green Mountain Hiker’s Hostel. Which is a hiker’s haven.
We arrived and Arry and I were taken to the Dawg House out back. It looked like a converted small barn right next to the horse pasture. Inside were two bunk beds, a table and chairs. Simple, but cozy. And a safe place to let Arry rest while I did chores and whatnot inside the main house.
Inside the main hostel was a kitchen, living area, bunk rooms, and bathrooms. Everything was covered in carpet and extremely clean. It looked like they had recently remodeled.
After a hot shower, and laundry I spent the night stuffing myself with Ben and Jerry’s, Oreos, and a few more bites of pizza. We even watched Night in the Museum from a giant collection of DVDs.
Richard showed up that night! He had hiked the ten miles we had and then slack packed five more miles. Great vacation in my book!
Now Arry and I are cuddling in our private room. I’m glad she was able to get some peaceful rest in. More miles tomorrow!
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