Well my friends, we are nearly 2 states down and 440 miles in. We camped just outside of Hanover last night and have been doing the usual errands in town today, although instead of a normal grocery store (or convenient store, as is sometimes the case) we did most of our resupplying at Hanover’s food co-op. Pretty cool place, lots of bulk dry goods, very few instant mashed potatoes though so that was disappointing. Most exciting about it was dehydrated refried bean flakes, which I read about in Backpacker mag, but the ones they advertised were a little pricy and had to be ordered. These were in bulk and just take a little hot water to prepare, so we’ll be eating some bean wraps for lunch this next week interspersed with our usual PB and dried fruit wraps. New menu item, woohoo!
But I should probably talk about what we’ve actually done so far. In Lincoln we were staying at the home of a guy named Chet, fairly well known among thru-hikers due to his unofficial hostel being the only one in the middle of the Whites, between Gorham to the north and Glencliff to the south. Chet has lived in Lincoln, has been a member of the hiking community all of his life, and knows the Whites better than anyone we’ve met, but is unable to hike due to a camp stove explosion in his home that burned a large part of his body, left him legally but not totally blind, and put him in a coma that led to other complications. Anyway, now Chet takes thru hikers into his home in exchange for barter, donation, or work, and he loves to talk with everyone who comes through. You know he hears the same stuff every time someone tells him about the rain and mud in Maine or how point the rocks are in Pennsylvania, but he just sits there and listens and says “right on” with a smile.
The hiking community really is extraordinary. Two nights ago Dad and I camped in the backyard/croquet field of a man named Bill Ackerly, known along the trail as the Ice Cream Man. Bill’s house is about 20 yards off the trail, and he’s put a sign on the trail inviting all hikers to stop by for free water, ice cream, and a game of croquet. He looks to be about 80 years old but apparently croquet skill only increases with age. When I walked up at the end of the day, he was officiating a game involving his sister and 3 other hikers; he said later that he likes to just watch sometimes to give other people a chance to win. Then he laughed and admitted he doesn’t always win. When I arrived, he shook my hand and, rather than letting go, pulled me along to his porch, saying “Take off your pack, sign the red book, then come back around to the screened porch and get an ice cream.” Let me tell you, that orange cream popsicle was delicious after 18.5 miles. A very polite man, Bill will talk about pretty much anything when the conversation goes dry but is a great listener too. He told us about bluebird nesting habits, the origins of croquet, and the Tibetan belief that prayers are carried up through the cosmos by “wind horses” (his whole porch is adorned with prayer flags). He sat and talked with us on his porch until it was time for bed, and offered that if it started raining too hard just to come in and sleep on his living room floor. He even has a porta-john in his backyard specifically for hikers. In the morning, as Dad and I were eating breakfast, he came outside and got the paper, read us the weather forecast, and offered us some coffee, which we gratefully accepted. Bills sons are hikers and were the inspiration for his incredible kindness. The hiking community was good to them, so he wants to return the favor. Plus he gets an endless stream of friends stopping by on summer afternoons, just for the price of some popsicles and water.
Upon arriving at the Hanover food co-op, complete with backpacks and sweat, we were greeted by another customer just outside the door. He asked if we were going north or south, and said that he had a friend going north somewhere in Pennsylvania now. Just before he left he said, “Do me a favor,” pulling a twenty dollar bill out of his wallet, ” and go get yourselves some cold local brews.” And let me tell you, we did just that. We each got a free slice of pizza for thru-hikers from the local from the local joint, and then chased those down with a 16 inch pizza and a couple of salads and some cold brews. This is truly that thing that people refer to as “the dream.”
Other than that, the trail has calmed down quite a bit. We left our Maine trail mates behind in the Whites and, since leaving those, haved upped our mileage again to an average 17 a day since Lincoln. Mt. Moosilauke was the last 4000 ft. peak we’ll get on the trail until somewhere in Virginia, so it’s we’ll really be cranking up the pace as long as the sun stays out an dries up some of the famous Vermont mud. We had 7 days of no rain in a row up until today! That’s a record for the trip so far.
In the past few days the flora and fauna changed dramatically. Wildflowers suddenly sprung up as we passed through our first fields, and we finally found some blueberries and raspberries ripe enough to eat. I only got a small handful, but man they made for a great PB wrap.
Hanover is interesting, because it’s a college town but it’s a super classy college town. The only fast food restaurant is a Subway, and as I mentioned before the only grocery is the co-op. It’s the first town we’ve passed through where the trail actually goes down the sidewalk, and so of course it was the first town we got lost in. Sidewalks are confusing after 5 weeks in the woods, where there is pretty much 1 obvious path and everything else is trees and bushes. But we found our way to the Dartmouth Outing Club HQ, where I am currently typing this blog. The club manages the 53 miles we just covered from Lincoln as well as some in Vermont, I’m not sure how much. We’ll be sleeping in a Vermont shelter tonight about 5 miles away. Which leads me to our schedule – a few people have asked about it, so I am going to throw out some rough dates of when we’ll be resupplying in certain towns.
Saturday, 7/11 – Killington, VT
Tuesday, 7/14 – Rutland, VT
Sunday, 7/19 – Bennington, VT
Tuesday, 7/21 – Cheshire, MA
I think a state away is as far as I’ll estimate. It was a lot easier to know where we’d resupply in Maine and New Hampshire, because there were so few options, but now that towns are more frequent it gets a little dicier to plan. Not to mention that when Vanilla Thunder starts thinking about town food, all previous plans go out the window. Anyway, Killington and Cheshire we’ll definitely be passing through because they’re so close.
Thanks again for reading and even more for commenting. I love hearing your comments and answering questions, so if there’s anything you want to read definitely throw it out. Now that I’ve gotten to use a computer, here are more pictures that weren’t taken with a phone.
Sorry if some of the pictures are a little hazy. With a wet pack and camera it gets hard to get that little lens dry. Anyway, have a good weekend and look for another post next week!