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 I’d bitten into a tide pod, 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.
Trail Angel Recovery
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. First things first, I got another shower. Bill even did my laundry!
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.
New And Old Friends
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-of-no-return 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 related (obviously), photography, film making, and just the outdoors in general.
Spirit, Sun Chaser, and I camped together in a field. A fantastic spot, although a little wet.
The next day everything was wet with dew. We packed up and started walking. 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 by to eat 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 the dense, vibrant forest, we came out into the open and sat down to dry out our things.
As we took 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 beautiful but sad thing, these long trails. The lasting connection you make with people also means having to say painful goodbyes.
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 sweet spot for a break. After that, we decided to go in to the city of Rutland, driven by the hiker hunger.
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 Yerba Mate before being seated. Before long, we were seated and put our orders in. I got the veggie burger, not expecting much. I’ve had too many rubbery and tasteless veggie burgers to set my expectations high. Our food arrived, and what happened next can only be described as euphoria in my mouth. In a perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spicy, my taste buds danced from having the best veggie burger of my life. I won’t add a picture because it simply will not do it justice. Also, I may have eaten the whole thing before I had the chance to take a picture, let alone breathe.
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 started to feel like a trail family.
The trail worked out in a way where you could hitch into Rutland from several different roads. So we only hiked a day after hitching out, definitely not driven by the Yellow Deli’s superb food. 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. Therefore, leaving the city behind felt good.
Is There A Trail, Or Is It All Mud?
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. After 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 imagined so, the trail changed.