The road less traveled…

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Unexpected Zeros and a plethora of Pianos – July 7ish

My stay in Hanover NH was a little bit longer then I first planned it to be. I arrived to town many hours earlier then Kat because I was expecting multiple mail drops that I wanted time to sort through and get organized. Once I arrived at the so-called “Hanover Outdoors” where my packages were sent, I realized I was in trouble. The store no longer existed. It was an empty building. Then I noticed a little sign on the door saying that any hiker packages were now being held at the post office. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but I arrived to the “store” on a Saturday afternoon, so I would not be able to retrieve my packages until Monday morning. Looks like Kat and I are going to be spending a little time in Hanover, NH.

Hanover does not have any Hiker Hostels which is unfortunate since the trail literally goes right through downtown Hanover. Luckily enough another hiker buddy gave me a list of phone numbers of people who let hikers stay in their homes, and also suggested that I call the same family that he stayed at, so I did. Karen and John were happy to have us stay, even for more then one night when I explained the post office issue. Once Kat arrived to town they came and picked us up and we were completely flabbergasted when we saw where we were staying. They have an entire room in their basement with a bathroom, kitchenette, TV, and 3 beds. It pretty much felt like we were staying at a Bed and Breakfast. The kitchenette had a pretty well stocked fridge and there was enough food to probably last us a week or two.

It felt amazing to get cleaned up and do our laundry, as always, and then Karen and John took us out for some famous Gelato! Apparently this Gelato place was voted #1 in Forbes magazine and it was obvious that it was the place to be on a Saturday night. The line was spilling out the door and they were quickly running out of flavors. After the lovely treat Kat and I were completely content watching “The Princess Bride” and dozing off in the fantastic beds.

Waking up on a “Zero” day is one of the best feelings in the world for a thru-hiker. Knowing that I didn’t have to get out of bed if I didn’t want to, and knowing that I didn’t have to put on my hiking clothes that still emitted strange odors even after being washed, and knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my milage for the day…all good feelings. Our day began by grazing on all the delightful food that was stocked in the kitchen. I had a couple of bagels with cream cheese, numerous cups of coffee, and eventually Kat got motivated enough to make egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches for both of us.

After a couple of hours of being completely lazy bums, including watching “Goonies”, Karen came downstairs and invited us up for coffee and tea. When we got up there she also started throwing pancakes and muffins in our direction and we thoroughly enjoyed our 2nd breakfast. Turns out she is a gluten-free vegetarian, and so is Kat, so they had a bazillion things to talk about. Karen offered to bring us into town for the afternoon and so Kat and I ended up wandering around and spending some quality hours in the local library.

The reason I enjoy Hanover so much is because of the pianos. You know how some towns have random sculptures of an animal or something sporadically placed around the town, well Hanover has refurbished pianos. When I first walked into town someone was playing the theme from Lord of the Rings. Each of the pianos were decorated/painted by a different club or group and had different themes. I ended up sitting at the library playing for a little bit. They even had some sheet music provided for “twinkle, twinkle little star.” And as I got up I was not aware that the bench was chained to the piano so I did a bit of an interpretive dance/stumbling. Hanover is also really welcoming to hikers, even if there are no hostels. There are a bunch of businesses downtown that offer free things to hikers. Once place a free slice of cheese pizza, another a free snickers bar, and another gives a free bagel. Its like they know all we care about when we get to town is food. And its true.

That evening back at the house, Karen and John invited us to join them for dinner. We had an amazing evening full of great conversation. One thing I enjoyed discussing most was Kilimanjaro. John had actually climbed it before so Kat and I were both picking his brain about the trip. Kilimanjaro is something that both Kat and I are interested in doing one day in the future and it was truly fascinating hearing all about it. We even watched a little bit of the video from his trip.

It was truly sad to pack up and go the next morning as it was a delightfully relaxing weekend. But we headed to the Post office, got all of our errands done, and started back on the trail. Kat and I were both thankful to meet Karen and John and experience their hospitality. Once again I was blessed with a place to stay on the trail when I needed it most. People like them who offer up their homes to complete strangers in time of need show how much love there is in the world, and I’m happy to be reminded of that.

Me, Logan, John, Karen and Kat at the Gelato Shop

Playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

Crossing State Line into New Hampshire

Enjoying some more ice cream!

Kat and I in the awesome room provided to us by John and Karen

 

 

 

 

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August 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A few more pictures

1. “The Vermont Vageboners” ready to tackle some serious trivia. It was supposed to be “The Vermont Vagabonds”, but apparently someone couldn’t spell.

2. Tequila shots and Operation game? It’s about to get a little bit crazy up in here!

3. Back Door getting her butt kicked by Inchworm.

4. Me and a group of Long Trail Hikers. We were at The Long Trail Inn where the A.T. and the L.T. split up. Sad to say goodbye to a fun group of people.

5. View from The Cabin Lookout.

6. Inchworm and Back Door cooking dinner at The Cabin Lookout.

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7. Good Morning Back Door!

8-10. Sunrise at The Cabin Lookout.

11-13. The Cabin, open for hikers to sleep in and had a platform on top of the roof.

14. Store right next to the trail where we had a lovely ice cream break.

15. Excited about the ice cream break.

16. Tattoos on my arm, matching niece, Isabelle.

July 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Pictures again

1. Beer and pizza after a long day on the trail.

2. Long story short: I didn’t take this trail…I took another tail…and it was still the WRONG trail.

3-8. Yellow Deli Hostel, Rutland VT

9. I came back to the Hostel to find a lovely fruit ensemble on my pillow. Such a welcoming sight.

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10. Hurricane Irene Trail Damage

11. Walking into Norwich, VT I see some trail magic. Always brightens up a hiker’s day. Yummy watermelon and chocolate banana bread.

12. Vermont/New Hampshire State Border

13. John, Karen and Logan took us into their home and gave us such wonderful hospitality while we were stuck in Hanover, NH for the weekend. Here they took us out for some fabulous Gelato. Such a great treat!

14. The incredibly long line for the Gelato place. Apparently it was THE place to be in town!

July 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Even More Pictures

1. On top of Mt Greylock, highest point of A.T. in Massachusetts.

2. Tower on Mt Greylock.

3. View from tower.

4. A nice leisurely evening at camp.

5.  Day 1 of hiking with Kat…Trail Name: “Back Door”.

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6. Day 1: Back Door realizing that her bag is not organized well. Time to repack.

7. At the P.O. in Manchester Center, VT. Back Door over packed and therefore sent home 10lbs of stuff.

8. 10lbs of stuff.

9. Back Door on the boardwalk.

10. White rocks lookout trail, the lookout was boring, but the stacked rocks were pretty cool.

July 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

More Pictures

1. This lil guy decided to have lunch with me

2. My first copperhead sighting

3. A nice stop for a break

4-6. The Goose Pond Cabin

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7. Taking a break at the “Cookie Lady’s” house. She hands out cookies and allows thru-hikers to tent in her yard free-of-charge. She also sells sodas, ice-cream and eggs to hikers and has a water spigot available. Awesome Trail Angel that has been doing this for more then 20 years.

8. The list at the “Cookie Lady’s” house of where hikers are from. I am the first one that claimed NEBRASKA!

9. Mr. Levardi and I. He let me and another thru-hiker stay in his house for free. We watched Pawn Stars and had Chinese buffet. He also had donuts and milk for breakfast. Another great Trail Angel.

10. Run-down shack

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

NYC Pictures

1. Grams and Rich, heading to NYC on the train

2. Grams, Rich and Joe in Grand Central Station

3. Me and Grams — Times Square

4. Rich and Joe — Times Square

5. Me and Joe on the ferry to Ellis Island/Statue of Liberty

6. Yup, its still there.

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7. Scenic shot

8. This is what we were really looking forward to

9. Yea! Nebraska Brewing Co.

10. Enjoying some food in one of NYC’s lovely drinking establishments

11. Rich, Michele, Grams and Joe at “Plan B” restaurant in downtown Simsbury, CT

12. The whole group, having a great dinner!

July 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Some pictures

1. James and his 2 dogs

2. Crossing the Hudson River

3. Ginormous Slug

4. 9/11 memorial painting

5. CONNECTICUT!

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July 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

4th of July…and then some.

Kat and I spent most of the 4th of July hanging out at the Yellow Deli Hostel, not wanting to leave. We went and saw Magic Mike – such a great way to celebrate our nations freedom. And thats all I’m going to say about that.

Later on we caught the bus to the trailhead that we needed to start at the next day. It was conveniently located near the Inn at the Long Trail that offers free camping across the street. So we set up camp and chilled with some other hikers and eventually we all set out to the Pub that was across the street. Sadly I saw no fireworks. But I did have a couple of beers and lose terribly in a couple games of darts.

Our first day back on the trail was fairly uneventful, but we stayed at an awesome cabin that was unlocked for hikers and had a platform on top of the roof. We were able to see both the sunset and sunrise and couldnt make ourselves leave until late morning.

I finally crossed the state line into New Hampshire. Bring on the Whites….I’m a little bit scared.

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Introducing: Back Door! A new chapter to my thru-hike.

I am going to try to sum up the last few weeks as best I can. My wonderful friend Kat has finally joined me in my adventure and we have been having a crazy wonderful time thus far. The first couple of days were rough, as it is on any person just starting out on a hiking trip. During those first few days Kat realized just how much crap was in her bag that she did NOT need. So after a few days we decided to head into a nearby town so she could send a whole bunch of stuff home. That was just one of the problems however. She was also starting to get blisters and pain in one of her ankles. It reminded me very much of those first few weeks for me in Georgia. Taking 15-20 minutes each morning just to administer foot care…oh the good old days.

Needless to say I am no longer doing 20+ mile days, but I much rather enjoy having a hiking companion with me.  Knowing that we will end up at the same shelter and having someone to hang out in towns with, it has definitely shaken up my hike for the better.

We spent some time in Rutland, VT so that Kat could rest up her ankle and it gave me a chance to do a little bit of slackpacking. We stayed at a place called the Yellow Deli Hostel. It was one of the most interesting places I have stayed at and was perfect for Kat and I because they offered “work for stay”. So instead of paying $20/night I helped them out for a couple of hours each day. My work included laundry, vacumming, wiping tables, dusting, and helping with food prep as well.  Its very obvious that they are not running a hostel to make money, they just want to give hikers somewhere to stay and rest up. While I was there they told me “You can stay a couple of days, or forever if you wish.”

The hostel is run by The 12 Tribes which is a religious community that is all about Love. I spent time in the deli talking to many different members of the community and even spoke with one girl who was a hiker, and once she got to this place she knew it was where she belonged. I learned about their ways while working with them for 2 days and can truly see how this could be the right path for some people. I’m not going to go into all the details of who/what it is all about, but if you wish to learn more check out this site: http://yellowdeli.com/our-history-vista

During our stay there the people were nothing but extrememly generous. They brought Kat food while she was resting her foot, they fed the hikers breakfast, while we were working for them they gave us food and drinks, they left us girls a fruit basket…for 2 days they were our family and that is how they treated us.  In addition it was a really nice and clean hostel. Not only was there a hammock on the back porch, but the girls room had a massage chair!

While in Rutland we spent time with a bunch of other hikers, Spoons, Inchworm, Avatar, and our first SOBO (Southbounder) Old Bay. One of these nights included an awesome trivia night at the bar across the street. While everyone else was busting out answers to science, history, geography and even Star Wars questions, I was the one who knew the R&B artist answers to the final question. I’m not sure if I should be proud about that, but I am.

Kat also received her trail name during this time. She wasn’t happy with it, but with other hikers there who acknowledged it, she really didnt have a choice. Her trail name is Back Door. Firstly because at the hostel she got locked outside the back door and had to call the deli for someone to come and let her in. Secondly, well….let’s just say that many inappropriate jokes were being dished out during trivia.

Slackpacking. I’m not very good at the waiting game so when Kat needed a day to rest, I decided to go ahead and climb Mt. Killington and get 17 miles out of the way. It was fairly easy to do on my own because there was a $2 bus that took me to the trailhead that I needed to be at. Well, this turned out to be one of the most frustrating days of hiking. I don’t want to get into details, because frankly talking about it still makes me kinda mad. So the quick version:

Basically I needed to take a blue-blazed trail to get to the A.T. and I took the wrong one. (hiking about 3 miles out of the way) Later I discovered there was another trail detour due to alot of damage from Hurricane Irene. I took the trail that was marked DETOUR, but apparently it was a different trail. Now after about 1.5 hours of walking, I realized that I was most likely not on the correct detour and was starting to get worried. I was not prepared to turn around yet and climb BACK over the 2 mountains I just climbed, so I kept going, wishing for the best. I walked by a house, it was empty. I took out my cell phone, no signal. I might have to sleep in the woods tonite…but I’m slackpacking so I have no gear with me for an overnight stay. After about 2 hours on this DETOUR trail, I pass another house that has cars in front of it. I’m a little nervous walking up to this random house in the middle of the mountains with solar powered stuff all over the house/yard, but at this point I’m pretty much out of options.

The door was open and I call out and nobody answers…a few moments later a man comes around the corner and scares the crap out of me.  And then I tell him how lost I got myself and ask him how far from the A.T. I am and it turns out the A.T. is literally right around the corner. I stay and chat with the guy for a while and he fills up my water and gives me some fruit and snacks before I leave. He also tells me that the DETOUR part starts right around the corner and that its ridiculous and I can take the trail if I want, my feet might get a little wet but that is all. At this point I’m so happy to be back on the trail, SCREW DETOURS! I keep my eyes on those white blazes like never before and make it through the hurricane damaged trail with no problem whatsoever. My slackpacking was supposed to be a 17 mile day, but with all of my lovely ‘DETOURS’ I hiked about 25 miles instead. 

 

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

6-20-12 Dear Massachussetts, why do you suck?

It got hot. I mean like sweat constantly dripping off of my face when I’m not even moving kind of hot. Then let’s throw on a 40lb. pack (yes, I know that’s a ridiculously heavy pack, I don’t want to discuss that issue right now). And then let’s go climb some mountains, and maybe go through some swamps and throw a crazy swarm of bugs into the mix….oh yeah, this hiking thing is looking really enjoyable now.

It’s gotten to the point lately that a few nights in a row I have skipped dinner. Okay, I ate some trail mix, but that doesn’t really satisfy a hungry hiker at the end of the day. I would literally get to my campsite and go into a frenzy trying to get my tent up quickly so I could dive in before I got eaten alive. Sometimes I would try to get water, but that depends on how dehydrated I was and how far the water was….and then I would sit in my tent, waiting for my body to stop sweating, and hoping that a breeze would come around to cool me off.

The water situation has also gotten ridiculous. At one shelter I scooped up some water into my gravity filter, and it was the color of pee. I was like 99.9% parched, but I still hiked another 2 miles hoping for better water (I found some at a hostel). And there were a couple of other places that the guidebooks warned might be dry, and wouldn’t you know it, they were. With the country going through this crazy heat wave, this is the week that having good water sources is really important, and Massachusetts sucks.

The only day I truly enjoyed Massachusetts was when I stayed at Goose Pond Cabin. I arrived there around 1 in the afternoon and once I jumped in the lake to cool off I decided to stay the night. The cabin is for thru-hikers and ran by the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) and has volunteer caretakers rotating every week. It was a great place to spend the afternoon and in the morning, the caretaker provided blueberry pancakes for breakfast. Totally worth the 0.5 miles off the A.T. to get there.

I really don’t have much more to say about Massachusetts. Other stuff happened, but nothing noteworthy. I’ll let the pictures say the rest. (Publisher hasn’t gotten these yet…)

July 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment