Funny thing: when the trail brings suffering, I feel as if it has been one continuous stream of the stuff. But when it’s beautiful and pleasant (though it is never just plain easy), I cannot imagine the trail any other way. Is it possible to live too much in the moment? Ah well–let’s enjoy this one:
Vermont reminds me of northwoods Wisconsin: the piney smell of the woods, the blue eyed lakes. We heard a loon’s eerie song and saw it leading its two young over the glassy water. We found the first wild strawberries (not yet sweet, but still exciting). The trillium are still blooming up here, except they are smaller and more intricately beautiful.
A couple nights ago, we stayed in a shelter on the top of Killington Mountain, our first major climb since Virginia, and watched the sun go down in the chilly evening. It felt good to push up the hill for 2,000 feet. Big climbs with big views are a great motivation for us.
My feet are healing from the monsoon, and the earth is slowly draining its puddles. My shoes officially reached dryness, after perhaps 200 miles of walking somewhere in the damp-to-wet spectrum. We have been blessed with the longest stretch yet of good weather on the trail: four days! May it last until Katahdin!
We had an excellent stay in Manchester Center… Thai curry, convenient resupply, and a friendly local outfitter who not only volunteered (!) to visually make sure my unwashed feet didn’t have jungle rot, but had a hiker box loaded with just-expired energy bars, someone’s leftover gourmet freeze dried food, a cute ballcap that will be my mosquito netting support, and a spare hiking pole for J, whose poles are in the shop being repaired. (A hiker box is a give-a-penny, take-a-penny affair that can be found at various hiker-friendly stops in trail towns.) We stayed a night at the excellent Green Mountain Hostel. For $50, we got a quiet, private room, a pint (each) of Ben & Jerry’s, sodas, neat trail maps and AT magazines, a shuttle to and from the trail, laundry (including loaner clothes so you can wash every stitch), toiletries, a full kitchen, and pancake mix to make up breakfast the next morning. Thank you, Jeff! Some people figure that because we are “dirty” out in the woods, hikers won’t mind if their town digs are filthy or vermin-infested. Some hikers don’t–but Zippy and I really appreciate cleanliness and a bit of luxury.
We are near the New Hampshire border now, with fewer than 500 miles left, and it’s getting exciting! Soon we will be in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We are looking forward to them, despite the last 20% of the trail being, according to conventional wisdom, 80% of the work. A crazy southbounder we met way back in Tennessee in March or April (who had started his hike in Maine in August 2012… that’s eight months out, yeesh) told us to live it up here. To dip into the swimming holes, and enjoy the vistas. “The last couple states are the fireworks of the trail,” he said. “Enjoy the show.”