To recap: The night of entering Hanover, New Hampshire was not a good one. I was kicked out mid laundry, clothes wet and soapy in the pouring rain. The following day came with a little bit of sunshine and I could sort of dry my things out. Smelling like a bucket of detergent, I went to Lou’s bakery, a place well known among hikers for the free doughnut you receive upon arrival. The sugar rush put me in a better mood for a while.
Spirit called me and told me that she stayed with a trail angel the previous night and that he had room for me the following one. The relief of finally having dry and clean clothes made the rest of the day more enjoyable. I met up with Spirit and we spent a few hours at the library, writing blog posts.
As it got later in the day, we made our way to the trail angels house. The trail actually goes straight through Hanover and crosses the border into Vermont. Bill and Betsy’s house is located a little further up the road. Well there, I got another shower and Bill even did my laundry for me!
In the morning, Bill and Betsy made us breakfast before it was time to hit the trail again. Miles don’t walk themselves after all.
In Vermont I made a new friend, Sun Chaser. A tall, wavy haired hiking machine from Texas. Slowly but surely I am trying to bring him down in to the world that is thru hiking and eventually triple crowning (hiking the PCT, AT and CDT). We have several similar interests. A few of which are hiking (obviously), photography, film making and just the outdoors in general.
I, Spirit and Sun Chaser camped together in a field. A great spot, although a little wet.
The next day everything was wet with dew. We packed up and started the walking for the day. At a road crossing not far ahead a family had set up a snack stand on their back porch. Being hungry hikers we naturally stopped for a while to have ice cream sandwiches. As we were sitting there, Rabbit from South Korea came rolling in. None of us had seen him for weeks and we all thought he was miles ahead. After spending too long on the back porch, we headed out together.
Vermont was all up and down, up and down. Over green hills and scenic farmland. Through dense, vibrant forest we came out into the open and sat down to dry out our things.
As we were taking a break, I saw two familiar faces coming up the hill in the other direction. It was Russ and Emi! Two of my best friends from the PCT and a part of my first trail family. Now going by Krafty and Blackbird, they’d been hiking northbound on the AT from Georgia. We sat for at least an hour, catching up before heading in different directions. It’s a wonderful but sad thing, these long trails. The strong connection you make with people also means having to say difficult goodbye’s.
The rest of the day was relatively uneventful, as some days are. The following day however, was full of events. We began with Thunder Falls, a nice spot for a break. Thereafter we had decided to go in to the city of Rutland, driven by the hiker hunger.
Well in Rutland we made our way directly to The Yellow Deli, famous for delicious sandwiches, among other things. As we entered, we were greeted with cold drinks before being seated. Shortly we sat down and ordered. I got the veggie burger without much expectation. Our food arrived and what happened next was euphoria in my mouth. In a perfect mix of salty, sweet and spicy my taste buds were dancing from having probably the best veggie burger of my life. I won’t add a picture because it simply will not do it justice.
After savoring every single bite, we all left to resupply for the upcoming stretch.
We all hitched out together, our little group of four nationalities. Spirit from Canada, Sun Chaser from the US, Rabbit from South Korea and yours truly from Sweden. It had started to feel something like a trail family.
The trail worked out in a way where you could hitch into Rutland from several different roads. So we did only a day after hitching out, definitely not driven by the superb food of the Yellow Deli. They also run a hiker hostel and do it well. A lot of people recommended it so we stayed the night. Now the people who run the deli and hostel are a subject of controversy, but I won’t go into that. You’ll have to look it up. Regardless, the place is one of AT tradition and we couldn’t pass it up.
After spending a bit longer in Rutland, the city’s issues became more apparent. An opioid problem hiding behind the facade of old, impressive buildings, to name one. Therefor, finally leaving the city behind felt good.
So here comes the reason for the title of this post. The southern half of Vermont is mud. Forget your idea of a trail. There is none. It’s mud. All of it. Feebly we’d hop from rock to rock, avoiding the mud. Eventually however, one slip would render it all useless. Days of hopping are surprisingly more strenuous than days of walking.
It’s so bad, that people on the AT call the state “Vermud”. I don’t have any pictures of the actual mud because I was probably too busy cursing it.
For the last day in Vermud, I hiked 26 miles to make it up Bromley Mountain. A scenic ski resort on which you can camp. I got there in the evening and met another southbounder, Cheeto.
The last night in Vermont was spent watching a spectacular sunset with several other hikers. Sun Chaser and Cheeto among them. Spirit was behind and Rabbit ahead. As the sun had set, I went to set up camp on the platform of the ski lift, looking up at the star spangled sky as I drifted off into sleep.
Early the next day I left Vermont behind. I entered Massachusetts and almost instantly, or maybe because I was imagining so, the trail changed.