5.8 miles, 1646.1 overall (Green Mtn House hostel, Manchester Center, VT)
It has only been a few hiking days since I had my double zero but I need to get into town to resupply. I figure while I’m there I might as well get cleaned up and stay in a bed. Mouse informed me that the Green Mountain House Hostel is worth stopping for so I plan to stay there. When I called the proprietor (Jeff) the other day and inquired about space I was informed that the house was full but that an auxiliary bunk room was still available and that it comes with full house privileges. Works for me! The road to Manchester Center where the hostel is located is only about 6 miles from the shelter. Check-in for the hostel is at noon. I am supposed to hitch into town, resupply, then call Jeff for pickup. I figure if I’m at the road by 10 that still gives me plenty of time, so in the morning I sleep in.
Around 7:30 or 8 I get going in no particular rush. The trail follows a forest road for a while down to a view called Prospect Rock. I’m sad I didn’t push on to this point because it would have been an excellent place to camp, but I suppose I can’t have a perfect view every night. The rest of the trail down to the road to town is mostly flat to downhill. On the way down I catch up to Thunderstorm who stayed at the next shelter. We walk the rest of the way to the road together and I learn that he is a software engineer from Boston. I consider asking how he knew Zil (Bill Murray?) who got off the trail in North Adams but the opportunity never really arises. I was a bit fascinated by the odd pairing of these two and if I see him again I will probably explore the topic.
At the road I start trying to hitch. It is a busy highway and the trail crossing is at the top of a hill, giving little time for motorists to see a hitchhiker, decide to pick him up, and pull over. Thunderstorm decides to try hiking down the hill thinking he’ll have better luck but with no shoulder for a car to pull over and with a parking lot right at the trailhead I opt for staying here, at least for a while.
I stick my thumb out for the first time all trip. It feels odd and, while I’m sure I could get used to it and will probably need to do it more as I get into the remote areas of Maine, I’m still a reluctant hitchhiker. I don’t have to wait long for a ride, however my hitching is not necessarily successful. While I’m watching cars pass me a truck arrives at the parking lot and drops off two hikers. The driver asks if I need a ride and when I come over I see on his shirt “Green Mountain House.” It is Jeff the proprietor! He gives me a ride into town and on the way down the hill we stop to pick up Thunderstorm.
Jeff seems like one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He reminds me of Flanders in the Simpsons and I could totally see him saying “Okily dokily!” He drops us off at the EMS outfitter in town and tells me to call when I’m ready to go to the hostel. I head into EMS to pick up a new fuel container (dropping off the old one to be recycled), a new food bag (it appears mice may have eaten a hole in my old one), and I finally break down and get a lightweight carabiner to make hanging my bear bag even easier.
With gear shopping done I head a few doors down to a pizza place for lunch. While I’m considering what to eat the guy behind the register strikes up a conversation and informs me he is currently a VT student. He is heading back to campus in a couple weeks for cheerleading camp. It seems I will be seeing him on the field at football games this year! I order a spaghetti with meatballs and a beer (Otter Creek Copper Ale I believe). The spaghetti isn’t especially good but it does the trick. The garlic bread that comes with it is mighty tasty though and so is the beer.
After eating I explore the town a bit. I consider getting a second lunch at McDonalds but instead go to a coffee shop where I get a blackberry turnover and a coffee. Then I go to the grocery store for resupply. The tricky part of this resupply is figuring out what to get for dinner and breakfast. No meals are provided at the Green Mtn House so I need to buy food for these two meals. However it is incredibly hard to shop for one meal for one person. Eggs come in cartons of 6, as do bagels. Entemann’s products are all large for one person. I eventually settle on some raviolis for dinner, hoping that some sort of sauce will be available at the house left by some preceding hiker. For breakfast I will have a single serving pie with yogurt and a bagel.
All of my shopping completed I go outside where Thunderstorm is trying to fit his resupply into his pack. He has decided to stay in town and watch Spiderman at the movie theater. I’m tempted but would rather get cleaned up and hang around the hostel so I call Jeff. In just a few minutes he picks me up and whisks me away.
The Green Mountain House Hostel is excellent. It is actually a house completely dedicated to hikers. Jeff lives in a separate house nearby so hikers have one all to themselves. It is spotless clean and decorated with hiking memorabilia like maps, logos, etc. Since it is a house it has a full kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room all at our disposal. My auxiliary bunkhouse turns out to be in the barn out back but is equally nice in its accommodation. It has no smell of barn and seems to be sealed off from the rest of the building. It has 4 bunks but I am the only hiker staying in it tonight.
Other hikers staying the night include Trog, the Myakka Mules, and the Noodleheads. The Mules have decided to make dinner for everyone and are creating a pasta dish with a pepper, onion, and sausage topping. I don’t want my raviolis to go to waste so I cook them up and top them with the Mules’ topping. I also bought two ears of corn which I cook and devour with a bit of butter found in the fridge.
While I really enjoyed the uniqueness of Woods Hole Hostel this one may be my new favorite. It offers everything a hiker could want (shower, laundry, kitchen, place to relax/socialize, bed with linens, sodas, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, etc) for a very reasonable price. In fact it is so reasonable that I have to wonder whether Jeff even breaks even on the place! After dinner there is a brief meeting in which Jeff advises us of upcoming detours on the trail and determines at what times he will shuttle hikers back to the trail in the morning. Soon after it ends I head out to the bunkhouse for the night. Just before I lay down I hear a horse being put into the other side of the barn. Although the walls evidently aren’t soundproofed the horse is quiet and I quickly fall asleep, my alarm set so I don’t miss my shuttle back to the Appalachian Trail.