Stealthing in Vermont [mile 1463.4; SOBO 445.0]
Turns out, last night I was 7 miles from Hanover. I didn’t know how far or near I was, but I wanted to maximize my chances of getting everything done and hiking out to the next shelter, so I hit the trail at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM.
That’s something I won’t repeat.
Sure, I was thinking. Nice easy terrain, beautiful trail, well blazed. I wanted to try a little night hike, and these are the safest conditions. Gentle, even! And it gets me to town that much sooner!
Well, let me tell you. At this time of year, 5:30 is full dark. Black! And it was so wet yesterday that the ground was steaming up fog even at 5:30. And that nice, gentle terrain blended perfectly with that nice, even trail, so everything looked like trail. And those nice blazes are wonderful until you hit the first double blaze—change of direction, but to where, in that dark foggy sameness?
So I got my night hiking in, I tried it, yup. Not again! At least not alone. Ultimately I had to go so slowly that the return on investment wasn’t worth it. The earliest I’ll start from now on is 6:00… but my usual 7:00 feels better. The day’s got greater momentum by 7:00.
I hiked. I hiked more. It was hot at 7:00 and it got hotter and muggier as the day went on. I hiked yet more. There was so much moisture in the air that I felt like I was breathing water. The local temperature hit 93; I don’t know what the heat index was, but somebody said it was 100.
I was going to skip laundry, remember. But the Trail had other ideas! Toss your careful planning out the window, y’all; you’re a wind sock, and the Trail’s going to dictate how you’re going to proceed. Case in point: At around 9 AM on this hot, sunny, muggy day—the day after fierce rain, when things are always slippery—I slipped off a bog bridge and went hurtling into a swamp. I went into the mud up to my shoulder, and my pants were just dripping in muck. I looked like a cartoon character! A muddy, dripping, filthy cartoon character.
What can you do? I laughed. Then tried to email somebody about it. Really, it needed a picture, but nobody was around, for which my dignity was highly grateful.
So the Hanover itinerary was out the window. I had to do laundry.
Luckily, the outstanding Black Community Center has a hiker basement where hikers can shower and do laundry! That was my original plan, but I’d misread the blurb in AWOL and thought they were only open on weekends. Wrong!
I had a glorious shower, did glorious laundry, and resupplied at the glorious grocery store. Then I ate a cheeseburger and hit the trail with just enough time to get here before the rain. I really wanted to buy a new sleep mat, but the outfitter is out of business and I didn’t have time to get to the EMS and still get camped before dark.
Hanover’s my new favorite town! What a fabulous place—college town and trail town! I should have gone to Dartmouth. I could have loved it here! 🙂
After town came an abysmal 2.5-mile roadwalk. The last 1.5 of it was uphill and hard… with a 100-degree heat index, no shade, and me with a freshly stocked pack that must weigh 35 pounds. It was brutal!
But here I am! In Vermont! Crossing state lines is so surreal. I’m used to getting into a state and staying there for what feels like years. New Hampshire was a blip! I feel like I should be in it for another month or so.
One final note about Vermont. The people! I was a quarter mile in, when a girl passed me on the sidewalk. She pulled out her earbud and gave me a big smile and said, “Welcome to Vermont!” Then a lady blew her horn and gave me a huge wave! Then another lady waited for me in her car at a crosswalk, and when I started to run (Philly habit; pedestrians in crosswalks are target practice there), she grinned and said, “You don’t have to run! I don’t get points for hitting you!” (Which was funny. Maybe she’s from Philly.) Then another lady pulled over and said she left trail magic in a cooler at the top of the hill! (I didn’t find it, but I was panting and boiling and just wanted to get under the trees.)
Anyway, tomorrow’s weather’s supposed to be hellish—more torrential rain. It’s thundering now; it’ll take quite a storm to break the back of today’s humidity.
And that’s it! I’m in Vermud. 🙂
Oh, I glued my shoes. We’ll see how that holds. And my air mat broke some more, so I started things in motion to get my winter one from home. I’d still rather find something at an outfitter, though. Hope I can sleep on this one!