VT

The Hanover layover

July 17

6.8 miles, 1742.1 overall (Trail angel’s house, Hanover)
As I’m preparing to go to sleep in the evening I can hear something moving around in the distance. It slowly gets closer. I think for a second that it could be a hiker, but the sound is coming from off the trail. As it gets closer it is distinctly walking and it is larger than a squirrel. Finally I get the snot scared out of me when a deer, realizing I’m here, snorts before turning and bounding off. I can just make out the white of its tail as it leaves. Evidently very mad that I was in its path, it stops every few feet to snort again before continuing on. The episode reminds me that I’m not the largest animal in the woods out here.

In the morning I get up and packed quickly. I only have a few miles into Hanover and they are mostly flat or downhill. I pass a couple of southbound section hikers who got an early start from the next shelter. Apparently there were a lot of southbounders there last night, probably making the minimum trip out of town to the shelter. They must be late risers though because I never pass them on the trail this morning.

The miles pass quickly even without listening to anything today. A few times it begins to sprinkle and, just before I reach the road, it seems like it is going to pour. I stop to put my pack cover on and when I do the rain immediately stops. It seems the cover worked!

At the road it is a long downhill into Norwich. I pass cute houses with well-manicured lawns and realize I’m in an area with money. At one house I count room for 7 cars in its 2 garages, 5 in one and 2 in the other. It makes sense that there is money here since there is an Ivy league school in the town next door. I hope that this translates into great treatment of hikers rather than disdain for them.

On the road I pass a house that has a cooler out and a dish on top of a stool with a sign that says trail magic. I leave a thank you note as I take a gingersnap cookie from the dish and a sparkling lemonade from the cooler. The lemonade is surprisingly refreshing as I make my way into town. Pretty soon I’m hanging a right and heading out of the small town of Norwich and across the Connecticut River into New Hampshire. On the bridge I make sure to grab a picture with the VT/NH sign and on the other side I grab a picture with a sign for Hanover.

It is odd how we picture things in our heads differently than they actually are even when we have the advantage of seeing pictures. I have seen in other blogs and trail journals several photos of hikers crossing the bridge into New Hampshire and for some reason I always pictured it being larger. I also pictured the VT/NH plaque to be on the end of the bridge, not in the middle. As I cross the river and watch a rower sculling downstream I wonder how I could have pictured it so differently from reality. In truth most of the things on the AT are this way. I have not had the advantage of seeing all of them previously in pictures but often when I have I still sense a difference when I arrive myself.

I walk into the town and notice that classes must be about to start at Dartmouth. Students are walking the same direction I am on their way to campus. I pass what must be houses that are rented out to students. A girl finishes her run up ahead of me and I see her duck into a house. Moments later she is outside again, pulling on a shirt and walking ahead of me. Even after a run she smells good to my super duper thru-hiker sniffer which has become so attuned to the perfumes of soaps and detergents we wear so much without thinking about them.

Once I reach campus I go to the building that houses the Outdoor Club. The data book says I can stow my pack there while I do errands around town. I’m hoping I can also get a tour of the campus, or at least a map to show me where the key sights are. However nobody greets me when I walk in. I stand around for a minute, hoping to get noticed by some sort of welcoming committee or by a student who takes pity on me. Another hiker named Low Gear is here and suggests I try stashing my pack downstairs. I go down but there is no obvious place to leave it. I’m disappointed and decide I can see Dartmouth some other time. I leave the building and head to the outfitter where I know I’ll be greeted well and can probably leave my pack.

The outfitter is in the downtown area. I walk down the sidewalk along the trail and people smile to me, a sign of a good trail town. At the outfitter I place my pack down and ask about breakfast options. I’m directed to Lou’s which I’m told can be pricey but has the best breakfast in town.

At Lou’s I find the prices to be reasonable. For around $13 I get a coffee, french toast, scrambled eggs with cheese, home fries, bacon, sausage, and an English muffin. It is just the right amount of food for second breakfast. I’m somewhat sorry I plan to hike out tithe next shelter today because I won’t get to eat here again tomorrow.

My appetite satiated, I return to the outfitter to get my mail drop. I don’t need much since I entered town with 3 extra dinners already in my pack, so some of the food ends up going in the hiker box. The rest finds its place in my pack. Having performed everything that was required in town I consider getting the free food offered at the various restaurants. The bagel shop offers a free bagel but I eat one every day so I’m not excited by this. The pizza shop offers a free slice but t isn’t open yet. I decide to get cleaned up instead.

I walk to the rec center to see about a shower and laundry. The lady there is nice and soon I’m clean with my laundry in the washer. Low Gear and the Lionkillers arrive while I’m waiting. I play cards with the Lionkillers and we end up getting some leftover hamburgers and veggies from the senior center down the hall. I leave for a while to walk across the street and do a bit of shopping at the co-op, picking up a couple bagels, some tortillas, some additional snacks, and a fruit drink to have while in town.

By the time I’ve done my shopping, finished my laundry, and packed everything up it is mid afternoon. I only plan to hike out a mile to the shelter so I dawdle, waiting for it to cool off. While I wait the other hikers are arranging free night stays at the houses of trail angels. The rec center provides the list of names and numbers of people in town willing to host hikers. It is tempting, but I had planned to hike out. I do decide to stay in town for dinner though, even though this means I’ll be carrying an extra one. I hike back to town with the Lionkillers and P-squared for the pizza buffet.

I end up eating more than I thought I could at the buffet. The restaurant has Trivial Pursuit cards Ina box at each table and we pass the time trying to answer the questions. While eating it engine to pour outside and, although I probably could have already been at the shelter by now, I’m still thankful to be dry. I decide to go ahead and try to find a trail angel to stay with. Everyone else has been having luck with a woman named Betsy but it is good practice to try different people. I call a random name on the list and get no answer. While I’m calling the second random name the first calls back but, worried I might hang up on the second, I ignore it. The second never answers and, after waiting a few minutes, I try the first again. Still no answer. A third random name, same result. Tired of the game I call Betsy. She answers and informs me that I’ll be the 8th hiker she’ll be hosting tonight. Although it is a lot of hikers she doesn’t want anyone to be left out in the rain. We are to meet her at 8:00.

We kill the time by going by a coffee shop. I get a medium coffee and when I respond to the cashier that yes, I am hiking the trail, he tells me it’s free. I love Hanover. We sit outside despite a light drizzle and wait for 8:00. At the appointed hour we are at the meeting place. Two cars pull up, one a Prius driven by Betsy and the other a small Honda driven by her husband. Into these cars everyone piles, packs and all. A short time later we are at Betsy’s house which turns out to be right on the trail in Norwich. It also turns out she had trail magic placed outside today and I missed it. Oh well, more for someone behind me I suppose.

We all stay downstairs in the basement where several air mattresses have been inflated for us. It is cozy with some very plush carpet that I find my feet enjoying very much. We stay up for a little while talking to Betsy and her husband but it is already late. I head downstairs and turn in early. Tomorrow I am supposed to be in the early car back to the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: NH, VT | 2 Comments

The one with delayed gratification

July 16

19.5 miles, 1735.3 overall (Stealth camp)
I don’t sleep incredibly well. When I hung my food I wasn’t completely satisfied with it. I didn’t have much choice as there weren’t many other options for branches to hang it from, but as I went to sleep I worried that I would wake up to find my food gone. Each noise during the night wakes me as I think it is a bear getting my food. I’ll make sure to hang my food better when possible, but this also makes me realize something else about Vermont – it has incredibly noisy forests. As I go to sleep I can hear squirrels and chipmunks scurrying about, small twigs and branches falling somewhere in the distance, frogs jumping around, weird squeaks that I don’t recognize, and of course the rain. I wonder if I’m simply not used to the noises of New England forests.

I expect that as I’m leaving camp around 7:15 that I’ll be one of the last out but I’m actually one of the first. It appears the others may be heading to the nearer shelter only 12 miles away rather than pushing on to the next one 20 miles away. I get moving and the first few miles are an easy downhill to a road. On the way i already pass a few sobo’s who got an early start. At the road is a farm which sells ice cream, vegetables, pies, basically everything a thru-hiker could want. I arrive at the road at 8:30. The farm doesn’t open until 10. I consider waiting but it is too long and I want to make some miles today. Bobcat passes me while I’m deciding what to do. I push on disappointed.

The next several miles are annoyingly bumpy. We go up a few hundred feet so that we can go down a few hundred feet. Some of the uphills and downhills are through fields. The day is hot and I don’t appreciate having to walk in the open sun through chest-high grass. I much prefer the woods. We are rewarded for our work with a couple pretty good views though so it isn’t all in vain.

Eventually I reach a road crossing with another opportunity for food. This time I don’t arrive before the place opens though because it won’t open at all today. It operates 5 days a week and I’ve arrived on one of the other two. Blast! I am frustrated with my lack of foresight here and have to console myself with a reminder that I am doing more miles today so I can get into Hanover early tomorrow for elevensies.

A couple miles further I reach the shelter that the other hikers will likely wind up at today. I stop for lunch and catch up to Bobcat. I also meet Chicken Feathers and Princess Doah at the shelter though they are on their way out so I don’t get to talk to them long. The privy at this shelter is unique and worth mentioning. Imagine a small gazebo, just large enough to fit a toilet into, with plywood panels from the waist down and bug screen from the waist up. It is a new design that allows a 360 view of the woods and, perhaps, a breeze while providing some privacy.

Thankfully the miles after the shelter are mostly downhill. I make some good time and pretty soon I’m walking into West Hartford. In another sign of apparent lack of planning I didn’t even realize I was going to be passing through a town today. As I check the data book on the way in I realize this town has a store right on the trail! It turns out that although I was disappointed with both earlier opportunities for stuffing my face I won’t be disappointed a third time.

At the store I catch up to Bobcat again as well as Chicken Feathers, Princess Doah, and the Lionkillers who I haven’t seen in several days. Inside is a deli and a bit of a convenience store. Although I’m tempted to get a sandwich from the deli I remind myself that I am already carrying about 3 more dinners than I need and getting a sandwich would only cause that number to increment just as I’m about to get another mail drop in Hanover tomorrow. I settle for a root beer and an ice cream sandwich, choices which are also easier on the wallet. I sit inside to take advantage of the air conditioning while I eat. It is another hot day in Vermont, something I thought I had left behind back in the mid-Atlantics. Still, a hot day in Vermont only reaches 90.

Before I leave I also eat a Snickers out of my snack allotment for the day. I anticipate I’m still going to have a few extra snacks when I get into Hanover so it is worthwhile to stomach another one now. I briefly consider staying in town where several residents let hikers tent in their yards, but it would add miles to tomorrow’s hike. I force myself to put my pack back on and get going the last 4 miles to the shelter.

I am actually not wedded to getting to the shelter, but I do want to get past West Hartford. In the data book there appear to be a few promising locations for camping spots on the way to the shelter. Since I’ve heard the shelter doesn’t have any water I don’t have much motivation to get there, especially since it would mean carrying my water there. I decide that if I find a nice spot after filling my water that I’ll take advantage of it. I soon do find a spot that, though not established, is so obvious that when I stop to examine it I find a tent stake left behind by someone else. If it was good enough for someone else it must be good enough for me! I pitch my tent, throw my bear line, and cook my dinner. I’m in my tent by 7:30, even earlier than usual. This bodes well for getting out early tomorrow and I’m excited by the idea of second breakfast in Hanover.

Tomorrow I plan a half day of hiking. I’ll do about 7 miles into town. The Dartmouth Outing Club allows hikers to stow their packs so I’ll drop off my stuff and head to breakfast. I’ll take some time to see the Dartmouth campus before heading out of town, stopping at the rec center on the way out for a shower and possibly laundry. I know it has only been a couple days but the hotter it is the more yucky I feel. Besides, I can get a shower and laundry for $5. You can’t beat that with a stick. So tomorrow I’ll hike a mile out of Hanover completely clean and ready to tackle the beginning of the Whites in a few days on the Appalachian Trail!

Categories: VT | 2 Comments

My lucky day

July 15

16.6 miles, 1715.8 overall (Winturri shelter)
In the morning I wake just before 6 but I’m worried that Bookworm won’t be up yet so I try to go back to sleep. My body is adapted to this schedule though and I’m only able to sleep 10 more minutes before I have to get up. Fortunately when I do get up I find he is also up if not out of bed. I poke around for a little while, not in a rush to get hiking. I need to pick up a mail drop a couple miles down the trail and then I expect to have to go to an outfitter 0.5 miles off the trail that doesn’t open until 9 for some extra items. I don’t think I need to leave before 8. Just after 7 I go downstairs to get the breakfast that’s included in the room rate. The dining room isn’t open yet so I grab a coffee and visit with Instigator and Expeditor for a few minutes until it opens. The breakfast food is great for being included in the room price and I leave pretty satisfied with a broccoli and cheese omelette, home fries, toast, apple juice, and milk.

With my stomach full and the time after 8:00 I grab my pack and head out. On my way out I stop by the hiker box to see if anything good is in it. I’m in luck! Someone left a half can of peanut butter, one of the items I thought I might have to try to find at the outfitter. This may be my lucky day.

I hit the trail and after a short time I reach the Mountain Meadows Lodge. The place has a reputation for being incredibly hiker friendly. I had planned to stay there but as luck would have it I ended up arriving on a weekend on which they were already booked for a wedding so I could neither get a room nor tent on their lawn (hence my stay at the Inn). However they did still hold my mail drop for me. The man at the desk helps me find the box and then allows me to sit at the picnic table outside to transfer everything to my pack. While I’m organizing everything I’m chatted up by some of the guests who notice me and are curious about thru-hikers.

My mail drop turns out to have been perfectly packed. In addition to my new shoes (hooray!) it has just the right amount of snacks to get me to Hanover in a few days. In fact it probably has a bit too much gorp, so it turns out I won’t have to make a trip to the outfitter for extra stuff after all!

I hit the trail again hoping to get another 15 miles or so in today. I’m immediately attacked by a swarm of bugs. I have to wonder why they are so plentiful here but there were none at the lodge a quarter mile back. However they soon abate and I arrive at a trail to a waterfall. The data book says the AT goes right by it so I follow the trail down to a huge waterfall, the first I’ve seen in quite a while. However when I try to continue down the boardwalk just past the falls it is closed. I can see why. Sections of the walkway have been strewn about, most likely by Irene last year. I realize I must have missed a sign for a detour and I backtrack, finding it at the beginning of the waterfall trail. After a half mile road walk I’m back on track.

Next up is Quimby Mountain which looks like a beast. Luckily there is trail magic at the bottom! I stop for a break at a cooler full of grapes, bananas, apples, eclairs, and water. Then I head up the mountain which turns out to be as steep and as long a climb as it looked. Another good warm-up for the Whites, I’m sure. At the top I meet a sobo named Slippy who apparently met the people from whom the trail magic came and suggested the items it contained. He is friendly, the most talkative sobo I’ve run into yet.

On the other side of the mountain I take a break at the shelter. Instigator and Expeditor are there taking their break as well as a few new faces. I don’t stay long and soon move on. There are still a few moderate climbs ahead and I want to make it to the shelter at a good time. I’m also worried that it might begin to rain. The forecast in the morning said 80% chance and I felt a light sprinkle while at the shelter.

The miles aren’t too hard. They pass easily enough with the help of the audiobook. I enjoy how this section of trail switches often between deciduous and conifer forests. On the Long Trail section you could tell whether you were above 3000 feet based on whether or not the forest was predominantly coniferous. In this section the altitude no longer seems to matter and I walk through all kinds of forest, from deciduous to coniferous to mixes of the two and some sections that appear to have been planted because the trees are so sparse, evenly spaced, and similar sizes.

There isn’t much along this section of trail. The lone attraction today is a place called The Lookout which the data book describes as having a cabin and a tower. It is only 0.1 off the trail and despite the fact that it starts sprinkling again as I arrive at the side trail I head up to check it out. I’m not at all disappointed. At the top is a cabin with a sign explaining that it is private property, to enter at our own risk, and not to make any fires inside. On the outside a platform has been built on the roof with a ladder on the side of the cabin leading up to it. I climb the ladder, taking with me a snack and water, hoping to luck out with a great view. The view turns out to be so good that I spend almost 20 minutes enjoying it while I snack. I get a few pictures and even take a 360 panoramic video before heading down. I still have 2.5 miles left to the shelter and the view also gave me a look at the rain clouds that are gathering.

The rest of the miles are mostly flat or downhill except for a brief uphill of a couple hundred feet. I listen to some music on the way to help myself hike faster. The rain starts as just a sprinkle but it slowly gets stronger. I notice spots in the trail though that appear to be completely dry. I want to take a minute to figure out how they can be so dry in spite of a constant rain but I am in a hurry. As I reach the side trail for the shelter it feels like at any moment the skies could open up and downpour on me.

I am in luck as I reach the shelter damp but not soaked. There are a few hikers already there including Johannes, Dickel, and Bobcat. I set up my tent in the shelter to keep the inside dry and then move it out to a nice spot behind the shelter. The water source isn’t great and I need to scoop the water with my cup but I’m able to get a few liters without too much trouble. I set about cooking dinner in the shelter. As I’m cooking Instigator and Expeditor arrive as well as another hiker. They all squeeze into the shelter and I try to cook faster to make room for them. Pretty soon I’m fed, my dishes are clean, and I’m headed to my tent to end what turned out to be a lucky day on the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: VT | 3 Comments

My Irish pub

July 14

18.4 miles, 1699.2 overall (Inn at Long Trail)
The goal today is to reach the Inn at Long Trail. The hotel provides rooms at discounted rates for hikers when available and allows tenting for free across the street. Either option sounds good to me, with a room in the hotel being preferable. It hasn’t been too many days since I got cleaned up but it has been hot and, even worse, humid lately so I feel yucky already. I’m obviously not a warm weather hiker. To get a room I figure I should leave early, which is also a good idea considering I am camped only a few feet from the trail. I hit the trail just after 6:00.

I usually hike for a while before listening to anything but this morning I decide to start early. There is a large climb coming up over Killington Mtn not far into the day and I figure I may as well put something on now. I don’t get far though before I reach a road crossing and when I arrive I see a pleasant sight. There is a van there with a man behind it who appears to be laying out food. As I get closer I recognize both the man and the van – it is Santa’s Helper, the man who was providing trail magic way back at Wayah Bald near the beginning of my hike! He had mentioned back then that he does trail magic all up and down the trail and I had heard others mention that they had run into him but I didn’t expect to see him again. It turns out I am lucky because this morning he got out earlier than usual. It is 7:15 and he usually doesn’t arrive until later. I grab a soda and a snack, drop off my trash, and talk to him for a while. He is getting ready to get back on the trail and finish his last section – 270 miles to Katahdin. He plans to summit around the beginning of September which would mean I’ll pass him somewhere in Maine, so this won’t be the last time I see him.

As I get going again I reach a detour. I have heard about this detour from southbounders and from Jeff at the Green Mountain House. It is in place because of damage from Hurricane Irene last year which took out a bridge, however other hikers have been taking the old trail without a problem. I decide to take the old trail since it is shorter and I’ve been assured it is safe and easy. It turns out to be a good decision. Not only is the trail passable but it gives me some views of the damage caused by the hurricane. As I follow the trail along a large stream I can see trees that have been knocked over, lumber debris, and eroded stream banks. It is really impressive.

Safely through the detour I start my climb up Killington. It is about a 2000 foot climb but it is fairly gradual with switchbacks. I am engrossed in my book during the climb so it passes quickly and when I reach the top it doesn’t seem like it was that hard. Maybe I’m starting to get my climbing legs back just in time for the Whites!

On the other side of the mountaintop I reach a shelter and stop for a snack. The data book tells me the summit of Killington is accessible by a 0.2 mile side trail behind the shelter. I decide it is short enough and head up with my snack and water to take a look. Part way up the trail I find ski lifts with a great view of the valley below. There are stairs that lead up further so I follow them and at the top I find gondolas that are in service carrying dayhikers and mountain bikers to the summit from somewhere below. The view from this spot is about the same as the one from the ski lifts so I don’t spend too much more time. I eat my snack, drink some water, and head back to the shelter.

On the way down Killington I pass lots of day hikers on their way up. Some are on their own and others seem to be in tour groups of some sort. Near the bottom I stop for water and two hikers ask how much further it is. My first question to them is where are you going? To the summit they say. It is about 2:00 and it is 4-5 miles to the summit with 2000 feet of elevation. They also ask if the gondola will still be running when they get there. I consider talking them out of the ascent but they seem set on doing it. They also decide to give me some of their water, something I also consider a bad move on their part but they’ve made up their minds. I hope they make it up and back ok.

A couple miles further I find some trail magic at a bridge – Mountain Dews and water. Since I just got water I grab a soda and drink it while I hike. I only have a few miles left to the Inn and they go quickly. I run into some more day hikers on the way, one of which mentions that he went to Virginia Tech. I reach the Maine Junction where the AT separates from the Long Trail. The former heads to Maine while the latter continues north to Canada. I take the AT.

A mile later I reach the half mile side trail for the Inn and soon I’m at the front desk. The Inn only gives hiker rates to hikers who walk in. I ask if there are any left and it doesn’t look good. The man behind the desk says he was just trying to figure that out. Apparently there is one room taken by a single hiker. They call on the room to see if the hiker wants to split it and he says sure. I’m ok with it too since the room has two beds so I pay the incremental amount to the front desk for double occupancy in the room, get a key and head up. I wonder if it is a good decision since I don’t know the hiker I’m going to be splitting the room with, but I’m soon put at ease. His name is Bookworm and he seems like a great guy. He’s a little younger than I am and will be starting law school in a few weeks. For now he is southbound on the Long Trail. I get situated in the room and soon I’m showered and on my way down to do laundry.

The Inn has an Irish pub so while my laundry is running I go there to have a beer and start on dinner. I don’t see any other hikers but I take a seat at the bar. A soccer game between Brazil and Argentina is on tv. It must be a rerun because I can’t find anything about it online when I try to look it up on my phone. I order a Long Trail Ale and a blue cheese burger to eat while I marvel at the talents of Messi, who it appears scored a hat trick in the game.

By the time my laundry is done the Mules have joined me at the bar and I am drinking a Guinness. A musician is preparing for a live set at 7 and I order some Irish spuds (potato skins) because I’m still hungry. Eventually Five Pair joins us too. I get to talk to her for a little while before I head up to my room. It is early, but as a hiker I’m not able to stay up late anymore. Bookworm arrives not long after I do and I’m thankful that he is also on hiker time. We both go to bed by 9:00. Tomorrow I will resupply and continue north towards Hanover and the White Mountains of New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: VT | 5 Comments

The three superfluous miles

July 13

18.4 miles, 1680.8 overall (Stealth camp)
As I fell asleep last night I heard movement outside of my tent. I wondered what it could be and wondered whether I had hung my food properly. Soon one of the things moving around outside bumped into the tent! This startled me and I set about finding it to see what it was. When I finally discovered the culprit I had to laugh. The noises and bumps were being made by frogs which have become quite common around the trail, almost as common as chipmunks.

I wake by 6 and I’m “out the door” by 7. It is so much faster to get ready when you don’t have to take a shower or pick out clothes to wear in the morning! When I reach the Big Branch shelter Thunderstorm is there but everyone else has left. I say hi to him but move on quickly. I’m hoping to get in some good miles today. I have about 38 to go to get to the Inn at the Long Trail tomorrow and whatever I don’t do today I’ll have to do tomorrow. I soon pass the Ohioan who must have gotten an extremely early start from the last shelter, and at a road crossing I run into Five Pair and T.

I stay ahead of everyone as I listen to my Count of Monte Cristo. We head up a mountain and on the way up I pass a couple areas where people have made “rock sculptures,” towers of rocks. In the spirit of the activity I add a couple rocks to the towers. Finally I arrive at the shelter near the top of the mountain and I stop for lunch.

Lunch is quick and I’m back on the trail soon, heading quickly down the mountain. When I get to the bottom I realize there are two road crossings where I only remember one in the data book. I reach for the data book to check and – its not there. Shoot. It either fell out or I left it back at the shelter where I had lunch. I stow my pack in the woods and start up, hoping someone finds it and carries it forward. I pass Yellowtail, Sunroof, Five Pair, and T. None of them have seen it. Finally, 1.5 miles later when I get back to the shelter, I find it sitting on the log where I ate lunch.

With my data book back in hand I get down the mountain and find my pack where I left it. I rehydrate and fill up on water before setting off again. I head up Bear Mountain and down the other side, past the shelter where the Long Trailers plan to stop tonight, and head for a road crossing that has a restaurant. While I had been unsure about whether I should go before, now I see it as a reward for 3 extra miles hiked. I reach the road and hang a left.

The restaurant apparently closes at 2:30 but reopens at 4 as a pizza place. I arrive around 4:30 and the Mules are seated and have just ordered. I check the menu and find that I can order a 2 liter of soda. I also get a large pizza. 20 minutes later my pizza arrives and so do Five Pair and T. I’m able to finish all but a slice of the pizza. I could finish it all but I wouldn’t feel good and I still have to hike another mile to the shelter. I take it to go thinking I can eat it when I arrive.

Back at the trail with some leftover pizza and soda in my backpack (I put the soda in a platypus) I’m immediately met with a huge uphill on a rock scramble. It is still hot and with a full stomach it doesn’t go well. At the top I almost feel sick. I take my time walking to the shelter. On the way I can hear hikers ahead. It is The Birds and Achey Breaky. The Mules told me they had seen them at the restaurant and that they are carrying a 24-pack of beers. Great. When I get to the shelter I can hear them yelling and carrying on in the woods next to the shelter. I decide I don’t want to listen to them all night. I sign the register and push on, hoping to find a stealth camping spot soon because it is getting late.

Just past the shelter the trail goes uphill again. The pizza still hasn’t settled from the first uphill so I am forced to take it incredibly slowly. Once I reach the top there aren’t any camping spots so I have to go further. I walk through a field and over some fencestiles, not a good sign for camping spots. Finally I find a spot just a few feet off the trail. It isn’t an established spot but it is flat and just large enough for my tent so it will do. As I set up my tent I am attacked by bugs. I quickly throw a bear line on the other side of the trail and hang my food. Pretty soon I’m in my tent safe from the bugs, glad that I don’t have to cook dinner which would require more exposure to the bugs. Although it has been a few hours since I was at the restaurant I’m still not hungry due to the constant churning of food in my stomach since I left. This is a far cry from the perfect campsite I had yesterday, but every night can’t be perfect on the Appalachian Trail.

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Categories: VT | 4 Comments

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