Day 42: Churchill Scott Shelter to The Lookout hiker cabin, VT (19.2 mi)
I can’t believe we’ve been living in the woods for 6 weeks!
We had a fairly uneventful morning. Smooth and nice trail. We split from the Long Trail early this morning (which heads to Canada).
Took a break at an overlook with a nice view of Killington Mtn. Descended to Kent Pond where there was a nice lodge. Drank some electrolytes, used the bathrooms, and as we were about to leave, dark rain clouds and wind rolled in quickly and it looked like it was about to pour. We waited about 20 mins, no rain, so decided to hike on.
We had a pretty long and steep climb after that. Once we were at the top, the weather started to change and it started to really seem like it was going to rain.
We had a 3 mile descent until the next shelter, so we really tried to haul ass to get there before the storm. The thunder progressed and got louder and every 10 mins or so the sky got a shade darker. The booming thunder made me skittish like a little child afraid of storms and forced me to run. I seriously felt like I was running out of fear of getting soaked. I have never really felt that way about rain, but after the scary hypothermic incident yesterday I was a bit traumatized.
We got to the shelter just in time! It didn’t open up and pour like I expected it to (considering the very loud thunder), but it did rain for a little while. We hung out with some section hikers and then headed out once the shower was over.
It was late now and we still had 8.2 miles to go, with a LOT of climbing. It was tough. I sweat so much. We finally made it to The Overlook and it smelled of mouse poop inside the cabin. Last night a mouse chewed through my dry sack and my odor proof heavy duty food bag and chewed off part of my water bottle holder. We also noticed while cooking dinner that they had been all over our kitchen stuff because our kitchen bags REEKED of mice, EW! We tucked the bags into our ziplock trash bag.
We shared the cabin with an older couple, Grandma Shorty and Plod Along, who had been through SO much adversity since their start in GA in February. They were a funny couple, and we were so impressed and inspired by their tenacity at 61 years old! The 360 view from the rooftop deck was especially breathtaking.
Day 43: The Lookout to Steve’s backyard, West Hartford, VT (20 mi)
Today was an easy day. The trail was all easy walking and we were actually able to run many parts of it. We got an early start which was awesome. On trail by 6:30, and with the nice cool morning and easy terrain we were able to cover ground with minimal effort.
Just as we reached a road crossing where we took a break, we took a quick dip in a stream to rinse and cool off. Then we took a midday break at Firefly and Loon’s back porch with a pretty big bubble of SoBo-ers. It was just starting to get quite hot, so the break was much needed.
We had some climbing to kick off the afternoon and the next 4 miles to the shelter were brutally hot. It was so humid out and we were quite sweaty.
We got to the shelter and just as we arrived it started to rain. There was no warning thunder this time. In fact, it was quite sunny out still. We were so glad to take our break while waiting out the short rain storm.
We started up again and about 10 minutes in it started to lightly rain again. No problem though, the trail was easy and I decided to run (the rain only lasted like 45 mins or so). I had so much fun running today. Pack was light because tomorrow is our resupply day and the trail was a nice easy downhill for most of the afternoon.
We arrived in West Hartford, a very tiny town with a few houses strewn along a road, and set up camp in the backyard of former thru hiker (of the PCT) Captain Stash. He had a gazebo with outlets, picnic table, drinking water and a nice little swimming spot. It felt like such an oasis after such a long day.
Day 44: Steve’s backyard, West Hartford, VT to Hanover, NH (10 mi)
Slept in a bit this morning. Started the day out with about 4 miles of climbing, mostly easy, with a few steep sections. After the climb it was mostly downhill with easy piney path. I was able to jog parts of it and we booked it to Hanover in one full stretch with no breaks.
We hit Norwich, VT and had a lot of road walking in Norwich into Hanover. We crossed the Connecticut River into NEW HAMPSHIRE! Woohoo! We also hit the 600 mile mark at this time as well! Yay!
We walked into a cute section of town near Dartmouth College with tons of restaurants and cafes and we landed at The Skinny Pancake and got vegan lunches there (Fresh Feet with the savory crepes and me with the Bahn Mi).
We then walked over to the North Face outfitter and picked up our resupply package (THANK YOU SONYA AND ALEX!) and got some odds and ends at CVS (earplugs and Gold Bond for Fresh Feet and lithium batteries for our GPS tracker which had run out the last few days). Then a very nice shuttle driver (Dave Avery) picked us up and drove us to EMS & L.L. Bean, waited in the parking lot with an audio book while we shopped, and drove us to our homestay. I got a new hat, it’s neon but lightweight - I accidentally left my visor and pink headband at a shelter. I also got a new dry sack for my food bag since the rodents had chewed a hole in my old one. Fresh Feet got a new fanny pack and some permethrin.
Dave drove us to our Trail Angel’s house where we took hot showers, did laundry, and retreated our clothes with permethrin. Our Trail Angel, Gregg Cook, was at a movie with his sister, so we made ourselves at home until he came home. I was blown away by his generosity. He had beds set up for hikers in the back of his house and just let us into his home without even meeting us. His adult children had made him photo albums of each hiker he had taken in since 2011. He has hosted over 600 strangers in his home over the years! I thought the albums were so sweet and it reminded me of my family and brought a few tears to my eyes. I think if my dad lived on the AT he would be a trail angel like Gregg, and it touched my heart to see all the pictures and stories in the albums.
Gregg came home and we visited for a bit. He teaches a class at Dartmouth on the AT! How cool! He then took us into town where we got Thai Food for dinner (thinking of Fresh Feet’s hit Thai song at this time...)! Then a different shuttle driver drove us back to Gregg’s house (which was about a 10 min drive from Hanover).
Hanover is trying to be the most hiker friendly town on the AT and has a list of Trail Angels with their numbers posted at various hiker boards. Trail Angels are just super generous people who take in smelly, dirty strangers into their homes or give them rides. Some leave out food and coolers or let you camp in their yard. It amazes me how many people have such big hearts for us out here.